When Reactionary Politics Become University ‘Ethics’

By Dr. Tim Anderson
Source

gaza 999 1726d

Quite a number of people have asked me what is happening with the review of my ‘suspension pending expulsion’ from the University of Sydney, following managers’ attempts to censor some of my public comments.

I give an update here, along with the discussion of one matter that emerged in discussion with Provost Stephen Garton, at the Review Committee yesterday. That concerns the management attempt to advance reactionary politics under the guise of ethics. My infographic on ‘Gaza casualties’ (above) helps illustrate this point.

The Review Committee is an internal university process, with a panel of three comprising one management representative, a staff representative and an independent chair. Yesterday they heard from me and Stephen Garton. They will deliver a report to university management within 2 weeks. If the report goes against Stephen’s demand to dismiss me from my position, the report will be sent to Vice Chancellor, Michael Spence. Managers are not obliged to adopt the committee’s recommendations but they usually do. The report will be public and management may look bad if they reject the results of their own process. At the same time, because it is their own process, I do not expect a report that will be fiercely critical of management. Actually, I have no idea how the committee will report. If this process does not resolve the matter, I do have some legal options.

Lobbyist incited attacks on me began back in January 2014, as a result of my writing and campaigning against the dirty war on Syria. These attacks were led by the Murdoch media, which resumed attacks at the time of (and to assist) Donald Trump’s April 2017 missile attacks on Syria. Recall that fake chemical weapons pretexts were used back then. See my most recent article on this:‘WMD take two: chemical weapons claims in Syria’.

In 2018 the chief lobbyists against me were Channel Seven (like the Murdoch media, deeply invested in Israel and supporting every single US intervention and war in the Middle East) and several public and private friends of Israel. The Zionist lobby has always conscripted a few parliamentarians to join in, especially those who have traveled to Israel on their regular junkets.

I became aware that several other academics in Australia (Jake Lynch; Sandra Nasr; Scott Poynting) and in the USA (Angela Davis; Marc Lamont Hill; Rabab Abdulhadi) were also under attack from Zionist lobbyists. Our criticisms of Israel, and support for the Palestinian people, is always said to be ‘anti-semitic’. That influences some feeble minded people.

My Review Committee was not interested in the activity of lobbyists, just the actions of the managers and their allegations against me. I rejected all the allegations, over 2017-2018. Most in 2017 were to do with my alleged ‘inappropriate’ criticism of journalists for their war disinformation; then I was attacked in 2018 for some perceived insults to Israel, buried in the background of two social media posts.

My defense was based on intellectual freedom grounds (not to be censured unless there is ‘harassment or intimidation’), that management used wrong standards for intervention (saying simply they considered some comments ‘inappropriate’ or ‘offensive’) and that an asymmetric media war was carried out, with managers, on the one hand, demanding secrecy from me and on the other issuing media releases against me and a colleague.

Much of the hearing involved a discussion with Stephen Garton, who had made the findings of ‘misconduct’ against me in 2017 and 2018. He appeared as the sole ‘witness’, but the proceedings were much less formal than those of a court.

Stephen’s responses over my ‘Gaza casualties’ graphic (which I use in my teaching materials) revealed our different assumptions about history and pedagogy, but also his political values in viewing the Gaza casualties graphic as both ‘offensive’ and sanctionable.

I had criticized him for focusing on a distorted Israeli flag in the background, and ignoring what the graphic was really about, i.e. (1) an analysis of civilian casualties and (2) how to identify independent and biased (self-serving) sources of evidence. That second part forms part of a series of teaching slides on ‘how to read controversies’. Stephen was only interested in what seemed (at high magnification) to be a Nazi flag superimposed on part of the Israeli flag. This was not even visible, at normal magnification. Whatever that might mean, a wider question arose.

Stephen said he felt the fact that the Palestine flag was presented correctly, while the Israeli flag was altered and placed vertically, showed an ‘imbalance’ or a lack of ‘even-handedness’. He commented that my unit of study ‘Human Rights in Development’ seemed a “good course”, but that the graphic “undermined the credibility” of my teaching. He added that the imagery of an altered Israeli flag was “not necessary”. I asked him if he was talking about even-handedness in relation to apartheid Israel? He responded along these lines: “Well you can produce studies saying Israel is an apartheid state but I can produce just as many saying it is not”.

I told the committee that I see the matter differently. My course ‘Human Rights in Development’ begins by looking at imperialism and self-determination, and the history leading up to the twin human rights covenants of the 1960s. Both begin with the right of peoples to self-determination. That is a right placed in international law by the formerly colonized peoples, as a reaction to and rejection of imperialism and colonization. As a result, no educational process in the 21st century should have to regard colonial regimes as ‘morally equivalent’ to anti-colonial movements.

Israel’s several dozen racially discriminatory laws, its occupation, and theft of Syrian, Lebanese and Palestinian land, its racial ideology and its denial of equal citizenship to Palestinians all give it the character of a colony and, in recent years, that of an apartheid state. Under international law an apartheid state is a crime against humanity and the international community has a responsibility to see it dismantled. This is not me saying this, this is a series of UN statements and reports. See my 2018 essay ‘The Future of Palestine’. See also the excellent report prepared for the UN in 2017 by Richard Falk and Virginia Tilley, ‘Israeli practices towards the Palestinian people and the question of apartheid’.

When it came to my text, Stephen cited one of my comments (“How to read the colonial media, and untangle false claims of ‘moral equivalence’. The colonial violence of Apartheid Israel neither morally not proportionately equates with the resistance of Palestine”) and my research article (‘The Future of Palestine’) as part of his ‘allegations’ of 26 October 2018.

Even though my comment specifically disavowed moral equivalence for colonial regimes, and the research article discusses parallels between the racial ideologies of Nazi Germany and Israel, he did not object to them. He accepted that context was always important but relied on a fragment of imagery which he claimed was ‘not necessary’.

What was he doing here? He refused to engage with my textual arguments but attacked an associated image, ostensibly because it was not fully explained.

I concluded that Stephen’s insistence that my ‘Gaza casualties’ graphic was both ‘offensive’ and sanctionable came from his reactionary and outdated political views. He was attempting to elevate reactionary politics to ‘ethics’. I say that is illegitimate.

Advertisements

The (Attempted) Silencing of Tim Anderson

By Jeremy Salt
Source

Tim_Anderson_ff309.jpg

To me the Zionists, who want to go back to the Jewish state of AD 70 (destruction of Jerusalem by Titus) are just as offensive as the Nazis. With their nosing after blood, their ancient ‘cultural roots,’ their partly canting, partly obtuse winding back of the world, they are altogether a match for the National Socialists. That is the fantastic thing about the National Socialists, that they simultaneously share in a community of ideas with Soviet Russia and Zion. [1]

The Blumenfelds were here on Friday; I disagreed violently with him about Zionism, which he defends and praises, which I call betrayal and Hitlerism. [2]

The usual conversations for and against Zionism, which I equate with Hitlerism. [3]

These comments are taken not from the diary of Tim Anderson, whose employment at the University of Sydney has been terminated over a graphic he showed his class of a swastika stamped over the Israeli flag, but from the wartime diary, kept from 1933-1945, by Victor Klemperer, cousin of the famous conductor Otto, son of a rabbi, baptised as a Protestant, but suffering from the same cruelty and sadism as all other German Jews because he was regarded as ‘ethnically Jewish.’

The comparisons Klemperer could make in the 1930s cannot be made by a Sydney university lecturer in 2018, following the sacking of Tim Anderson by the Acting Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney, Stephen Garton.

For Jews, the swastika was the symbol of unrelenting evil. Palestinians bombed and shelled by Israeli tanks and planes emblazoned with the Star of David may well feel the same about this hijacked Jewish symbol. Who is doing greater damage to this symbol, Tim Anderson or the state of Israel?

Zionism and Nazism are linked at many levels. In the 1930s, through the Ha’avara (Crossing or Transfer) agreement signed between the Nazi government and the Zionist Federation of Germany, Jews could travel to Palestine – and only to Palestine – as long as they purchased German goods that could be exported with them. Through this means, about 60,000 German Jews were able to pay their way out.

Ideologically, an Aryan German state and an exclusive Jewish national state were the mirror images of each other, with German Zionists and not just the Nazis talking about purity of race and the danger of mixed marriages. The Nazi government did not want Jews in Germany and the Zionists did not want them to be there. Palestine was their solution to a common problem.

Adolf Eichmann’s visit to Palestine in 1937, most probably to inspect Zionist colonies, was very short because the British allowed him to stay only one night. The SS officer, Baron von Mildenstein, however, stayed for six months, writing glowing articles about Zionism and the ‘new Jew’ for the Nazi newspaper Der Angriff (The Assault). His visit was commemorated by Goebbels with the striking of a medal showing the swastika on one side and the Star of David on the other.

While Haa’vara was a pragmatic and ideological arrangement that suited both sides, the approaches the ‘extreme’ Irgun group made to the Nazis was purely ideological. The Irgun wanted to establish the same kind of national-racial Jewish state in Palestine as the national-racial Aryan state the Nazis were creating in Germany and they approached the Nazis accordingly.

Lenni Brenner has covered all the details in his two books, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators and 51 Documents: Zionist Collaboration with the Nazis. Francis Nicosia has written on the Zionist-Nazi connection in his 1980s book, The Third Reich and the Palestine Question. In Italy, Mussolini provided the Irgun with training facilities for four years at the Civitavecchia naval base.

In conversation with a rabbi Mussolini once described Vladimir Jabotinsky, the founding father of ‘Revisionist’ Zionism and the guiding light of the Irgun, as ‘your fascist.’ The Zionists also cooperated with the Nazis in occupied Hungary.

These dealings between the Nazis and both mainstream and ‘extreme’ Zionism were initiated at a time of a global Jewish economic boycott of Germany and have since been seen by many non-Zionist Jews as betrayal.

Benzion Netanyahu was for a time Jabotinsky’s personal secretary. Jabotinsky wrote of building an ‘iron wall’ against the Palestinians. Of its nature Zionism is extreme, so Jabotinsky’s ‘revisionism’ was simply more extreme or perhaps, better put, more open and less hypocritical about its aims, intentions and methods than the mainstream.

The Irgun and Stern Gang terrorist organizations were revisionists and two Israeli Prime Ministers, Menachem Begin (1977-1983) and Yitzhak Shamir (1983-4 and 1986-90 and 1990-92), were Irgunists. They came into office as terrorists and had committed even greater crimes by the time they left it. The sly and duplicitous Benyamin Netanyahu, the son of Benzion, has faithfully followed in their violent footsteps.

As human beings we make comparisons all the time. It is natural to look into history for parallels with Zionism. Algeria under French rule and apartheid South Africa quickly spring to mind. In both countries, the atrocities committed against the indigenous people over a long period of time were shocking but still not on the same scale as the massacres and dispossession of the Palestinians.

Historically, ideologically and in the racism and criminality of the Israeli state, Zionism is comparable with Nazism, whether the Zionists like it or not (and of course there is nothing they hate more). Palestinians suffer from institutional, structural, incidental and casual racism and violence at the hands of Israeli soldiers, police and the civilian population. The wellspring of these crimes is an ideology which reduces Palestinians to second-class human beings, and in the minds of some Zionists, not humans at all but insects.

Snipers along the Gaza fence who have killed hundreds of Palestinians, including women and children, and wounded tens of thousands more congratulate each other on their sharp shooting and are congratulated by their politicians. Massacres from the air and the ground evoke not a quiver of conscience in Israel’s leadership, which, along with many if not the majority of Jewish Israelis, regards every Palestinian as the enemy and an actual or potential ‘terrorist’ whose killing is justified whatever the circumstances, whatever the means and whatever the age of the victim.

Violent West Bank settlers are protected by soldiers and police, whatever the crimes they commit. Hebron is one of the most racist patches of earth on the planet. What goes on there was once described by the Israeli journalist Gideon Levy as a Jewish settler pogrom against the Palestinians but whereas pogroms under Russian rule in the Pale of Settlement were short-term attacks, the Hebron pogrom has been a continual process since 1967, just as the Nakba has been continual since 1948.

Two communities in hostage, one to the Nazis and one to the Zionists. A spokesman for the University of Sydney described Tim Anderson’s montage as ‘disrespectful and offensive.’ How much more disrespectful and offensive is the state of Israel?

Tim Anderson is not allowed to say or depict what he thinks. Others are, as long as they belittle him, and as long as they support the packs of terrorists – their ‘rebels’ – who have torn Syria to pieces at the behest of the governments that have armed and financed them and attacked the Syrian military on their behalf.

The Australian media has never reported Palestine truthfully. It repeated the lies told over Iraq and Libya and for the past eight years it has carried on this ignoble tradition by feeding misinformation, disinformation and lies over Syria into the Australian cultural mainstream. Except in its own mind, it is the purveyor not of ‘news’ but propaganda, packaged and presented on behalf of the Australian government and its distant masters.

Tim Anderson has tried to tell the truth, the way he sees it. The more vulpine elements in the media have relished his downfall. They hate him because his truths threaten the false narrative they have been spinning on behalf of the governments, including the Australian government, who are fully complicit in the war on Syria.

Ultimately, though, it was not Anderson’s defense of the right of the Syrian people to defend themselves that led to the termination of his employment, it was his view, shared with Victor Klemperer and many Jews since his time, that Zionism and Nazism have much in common.

Tim Anderson has been under attack for years. Now Stephen Garton has brought down the hatchet. He has no known specialized knowledge of the Middle East. There is not the slightest doubt that he has come under heavy pressure from the Zionist lobby, the defender of a violent, racist, criminal state, to shut Tim Anderson up. Anderson has even been banned from walking into his own campus.

Garton is in no position to judge whether there is any basis for comparing Zionism to Nazi racism yet he has passed arbitrary judgment. Other academics have rallied to Tim Anderson’s defense so this is a battle which the Zionists and Stephen Garton may yet lose.

Even though his life was in danger, Victor Klemperer refused to go to Palestine. He knew what the Zionists were up to. They were going to take Palestine from its people and he wanted no part of it. Zionism was a doctrine, which as a man of conscience even in the most trying conditions, he despised.

Yet what this son of a rabbi wrote in his diaries in the 1930s cannot be said, or implied, by the superimposition of a swastika over the flag of Israel, in an Australian university in 2018.

Endnotes

[1] Victor Klemperer, The Klemperer Diaries 1933-1945 (London: Phoenix Press, London, 2000), June 13, 1934, p.66.
[2] April 22, 1935, p. 113
[3] May 26, 1940, p.326.

University of Sydney Unwilling to Tolerate Freedom of Political Expression

By Marwa Osma
Source

tim_394de

Australian professor, Dr. Tim Anderson, was suspended from the University of Sydney after showing his students during a lecture a picture of an Israeli flag partially covered by a swastika accompanied by a text, which compared Israeli and Palestinian attacks and deaths.

Tim Anderson, a senior lecturer in the department of political economy, replied to the suspension saying the university has violated his right to “intellectual freedom”.

The decision by the University’s Provost Stephen Garton was without any doubt essentially motivated by Professor Anderson’s research and public statements on Syria, Iraq, and Palestine including Anderson’s carefully documented book entitled “The Dirty War on Syria”. In his book, Dr. Anderson reveals the “unspoken truth” through careful analysis concluding that the “war on terrorism” is fake and that the United States is a “state sponsor of terrorism” involved in a criminal undertaking.

The provost also reprimanded Anderson for sharing the same image online from his personal Twitter and Facebook accounts, and for making it available for download on the online learning platform Canvas. As per, he proposed that the professor’s employment be terminated.

Sydney University academics had a different opinion than that of the university’s provost though. By the afternoon of Friday, December 7, 30 academics, including several emeritus professors, had signed an open letter arguing that academic freedom was “meaningless if it is suspended when its exercise is deemed offensive.”

The university academics criticized the suspension of an academic who merely showed students material featuring the Nazi swastika imposed over Israel’s flag, saying it was a body blow to academic freedom.

It was not the first time that Dr. Tim Anderson’s solidarity with anti-imperialist states was causing controversy. Federal ministers also criticized Dr. Anderson for visiting Syria and North Korea, where he expressed solidarity with their incumbent leaders and operating governments. Amid a media barrage to try to drum up public support for US-led military attacks on Syria and North Korea, the corporate media launched an extraordinary vilification campaign against academics seeking to expose the lies behind the US cruise missile strike on Syria in the 1st week of April 2017.

When asked about the reasons behind the University of Sydney’s decision, Dr. Anderson implied that it was because of his criticism of the war propaganda in the western media including the lies that the corporate media has told at different times. There are also some Zionist lobbyists, who have also pushed to get him suspended, according to Dr. Anderson.

On his Facebook page, Dr. Tim Anderson wrote a text explaining that his suspension is the “culmination of a series of failed attempts by management to restrict” his public comments. Dr. Anderson then explained that these “petty and absurd” complaints have been ongoing for the last 18 months. Concluding that in his view, they represent an unusually aggressive regime of political censorship, in which no decent university should be involved.

What has been happening with Dr. Tim Anderson is clearly a witch-hunt and an open attack on basic democratic rights, above all free speech.

The clear logic of this suspension is that anyone who questions any aspect of the colonial states’ foreign and military policy is guilty of challenging the western mainstream narrative and should therefore be sacked.

However, academics like Dr. Tim Anderson have a responsibility to educate the public, especially in face of the constant misinformation from the West’s corporate and state media. Likewise, it is our duty as academics, journalists, and students to unconditionally defend his right, and the right of all academics, political activists, workers, and students, to oppose the drive to war and to exercise freedom of political expression whether we agree with their political views or not.

And as Dr. Anderson asked of us all in his Facebook post I ask you all again, examine the graphic below and decide for yourself whether or how this infographic might be ‘offensive’.

anderson11 5bb82

%d bloggers like this: