by Israel-Academia-Monitor

We see often Israeli academics recruited by Palestinians to promote their cause. But this time there is a twist. An article on various media outlets,[1] including Inside Higher Education, reports on harassment of a former Israeli scholar, Simona Sharoni from SUNY Plattsburgh University. It says that "on 6 September, Sharoni says she was informed by a school administrator that an individual had made five requests under New York's Freedom of Information Law asking for records on her hiring, employment history and participation in academic conferences. According to Sharoni, Sean Brian Dermody, assistant to the vice president for administration and director of management services at SUNY Plattsburgh, asked Sharoni to help with the request by locating the records and turning them over. The next day, Sharoni says, Dermody sent a follow-up email asking her to give him all correspondence in her possession related to her hiring."

Sharoni explains that this harassment is due to her highlighting "parallels between Palestinian victims of Israeli violence and victims of sexual assault." Quite contrary to Sharoni's assertion, some years ago an MA thesis by Tal Nitsan at the Hebrew University[2] blamed Jewish Israeli men, in particularly soldiers, for racist behavior, that is, refusing to rape Palestinian women.

Outlandish as her analogy is, Sharoni is another Israeli activist promoting the Palestinian cause and calling for BDS. In 2014 she was among the 100 members of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) who signed a petition calling to boycott Israeli academic institutions.[3]

Sharoni has also travelled to promote her message. An IAM post from August 2015 noted that Sharoni gave a talk at the Arab and Islamic Studies at Exeter University, a well known hub of anti-Israel activity connected to Ilan Pappe. In her talk "Violence, Resistance, and Solidarity in Israel and Palestine: Feminist Perspectives," Sharoni explains that "By focusing on gender and resistance, this book addresses dimensions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that are often overlooked or altogether ignored by politicians, ordinary scholars, and the mainstream media. Unlike conventional accounts that portray the conflict as a primordial, intractable war between two collectivities with competing claims over the same territory, the analysis featured in this talk exposes the power asymmetries and systemic injustices at the heart of the conflict. The talk chronicles the gendered aspects of the conflict and resistance acts in both Palestine and Israel with special attention to the situation on the ground in the aftermath of the July 2014 Massive Israeli attack on Gaza. Using an original framework that foregrounds feminism as a theory of anti-oppression and liberation the talk offers an original analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the prospects for its resolution." Sharoni gave this same talk on a number of campuses at the time.

Not unexpectedly, this Institute does no deem it important to organize an event on the treatment of women by ISIS, Al-Qaeda or other occupying forces. As IAM noted, the constant emphasis on Israel is a good diversion technique, it is politically correct, and pleases the Arab funders of Western universities.

Equally interesting, there is even a direct link between Rachel Corrie and Sharoni. Corrie, which was accidently killed while protecting a house from demolishing in Gaza, was a former student of Sharoni at Evergreen State College in Washington State. In a press release after Corrie died, Sharoni stated that she influenced Corrie's decision to go to Gaza.[4] On this issue, Haaretz's Nathan Guttman explained that[5] "After the terrorist attacks of September 11, she [Corrie] decided to join a group of activists in Olympia. She contacted all the organizations but decided to focus on one that deals with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to a large extent as a result of conversations with Simona Sharoni, a former Israeli who taught Corrie at Evergreen College and told her about what was going on in the territories. From there she came to the International Solidarity Movement and got the idea of coming to the territories."

The Sharoni case at SUNY Plattsburgh University joins a number of other cases which touch upon the boundaries between academic freedoms and political activism against Israel. IAM will report on future developments.







This is an Israel-Academia-Monitor editorial note. It appeared September 19, 2016 and is archived at

Return _________________________End of Story___________________________ Return