The epicentre of global antisemitic activity is – astonishingly – academia. Anti-Zionist, antisemitic academics beget more anti-Zionist, antisemitic academics, all scratching each other’s backs and agreeing with each other.
It is almost impossible to follow a research path on the subject of Israel unless you have spent several years mentored by an Islamist, a Marxist or someone who claims Palestinian heritage. If you show potential as a professional anti-Israel propagandist, or agree to research an area that they choose for your study – your fees may all be covered. Once holding your PhD, you join a club whose members praise each other’s books, sign off each other’s grants – and block access to anything and anyone that does not fit the anti-Israel profile. As a group you actively seek to silence dissent. Hey – you even get to co-sign letters to the Guardian. It is a self-protecting global factory that churns out activists who hold PhDs and who all hate Israel. This isn’t academia, it is taxpayer-funded, Islamist-sponsored, antisemitic, propaganda. This propaganda is the central pillar upon which western antisemitic, anti-Zionism is supported.
In opposition to this, we must stop spending our time putting out fires and begin to address why these fires keep starting and where the fuel for them is all coming from.
Jews on campus – a type of ‘dhimmitude’
Jewish people today on campus can be tolerated, protected or abused. At no point are they treated as equals. The best they can hope for is protection and tolerance in a hostile environment. It is reminiscent of dhimmitude under Islamic rule. On the campus the prevailing wisdom is that their beliefs in Jewish identity are fundamentally wrong.
The Woke doctrine of ‘systemic racism’ holds that Jews are ’white’ and that they are guilty of establishing the ‘settler colonial’ state of Israel. Post-colonial, post-modernist, Marxist thought dominates the universities in which they are ‘permitted’ to study, and they will be tolerated provided that they ‘behave’. In these halls Zionism is a dirty word which is equated with racism.
Jewish students can wave their flags in secret rooms but must not do it where it can provoke. They are offered the protection of being allowed to be wrong within a superior system of thought – or in other words they are second class students. If they are abused, it is far less serious than an offence against someone from the Muslim, BAME or LGBTQ communities. If an academic is responsible for the abuse (see Bristol, Leeds, Warwick) it is the academic who will be protected and the complaining Jewish student who will be victimised – even if the student can prove abuse. Academics fiercely resist the protection for Jewish students that the government is trying to implement. Jewish students that bow down before their masters will be given special favours and status. The best analogy I can find is Dhimmitude.
It has got so bad that there are some universities which are virtually Judenfrei. Why would an openly pro-Israel Jewish student want to go to a University where they will be vilified by other students and victimised by lecturers? What an indictment of the failure to deal with the problem that Jewish students choose a University not by the course content or the quality of teaching – but by the extent of antisemitism that they will encounter.
The activists and their academic grandchildren
Anti-Israel academics on campus are mostly regarded as individuals and pro-Israeli groups often treat them as toxic islands. I would argue that this is a deeply mistaken strategy. Academics are products of the environments in which they develop – and much of the toxic development takes place on campus – in the very place in which they study or teach. Lecturers and especially PhD supervisors can pass their bias and hate onto their students as swiftly as they hand over their knowledge. Students are radicalised on campus. Take this example:
Hilary Aked (PhD) is writing a book on ‘the UK Israel lobby & anti-BDS movement’. Aked, a long time anti-Zionist activist is fixated on pro-Israeli organisations in the UK – and just as importantly, the ‘Jewish / Zionist’ money that supports them. Aked has worked for David Miller at the ‘Zionist money‘ obsessed ‘Spinwatch’, and written for hate sites like Electronic Intifada.
It wasn’t always like this. At Oxford, Aked was Deputy Culture Editor at the student magazine Cherwell, and used to write about music and theatre. After graduating from Oxford, Aked took an MSc in Development Studies at SOAS and became editor of the student magazine there. It seems SOAS sparked the anti-Zionist flame. From SOAS, Aked took up PhD research at Bath.
Hilary Aked first came to my attention in 2015, when North West Friends of Israel claimed to have been duped by Aked, into handing over information they had believed was for PhD research. That information turned up in a rancid Electronic Intifada article as an ‘expose’. Complaints were made to the University of Bath – which predictably, dismissed the complaint. No doubt Aked’s supervisor helped calm the water. Who was Aked’s PhD supervisor at Bath? Professor David Miller.
David Miller, who is something of a conspiracy theorist, has recently been suspended by the Labour Party for talking about the Labour party and ‘Zionist money‘. Jewish students at his current university Bristol, have said they are ‘sick of worrying about him’.
Miller has spent much of the last decade obsessing about Zionist funding and even blaming ‘Zionists’ for the rise of Islamophobia. Aked has also spent much of the last decade obsessing about Zionist funding and blaming ‘Zionists‘ for the rise of Islamophobia. It is reasonable to ask the question of whether Hilary Aked would be obsessing over Zionist money today – if she hadn’t been supervised by Professor David Miller.
Israel wasn’t Miller’s original focus either. Miller’s academic journey took him to Glasgow University where he did his PhD research as part of the Glasgow University Media Group. In 1998, David Miller’s expertise and field of study was Northern Ireland. His early work – even those pieces dealing with issues of influence on the press or government, doesn’t even mention Israel. Miller’s PhD was supervised by Professor Greg Philo.
If you recognise the name Greg Philo it may be because he recently co-authored a book defending Corbyn’s record on Antisemitism (David Miller was another of the co-authors). Philo has been using his platform to attack Israel for two decades (go back to 1998 and nowhere during a 4500 word in-depth interview with Greg Philo are Israel, Zionism or Palestine even mentioned.). Philo has taken part in Palestine Solidarity Campaign events. An interview with him was even published on the Jewish Voice for Labour website. Philo has been referred to as ‘Corbyn’s favourite sociologist‘.
Philo – Miller – Aked. An academic family with an anti-Israel obsession.
‘Activist’ Professors such as Greg Philo and David Miller are teachers, lecturers and especially in the role of supervisor, have enormous influence over PhD candidates.
Tom Mills is at Aston University. He is currently a Lecturer in Sociology. Mills is also currently accepting PhD students for supervision:
All of the keywords are in his list of ‘projects’. ‘Elites’, ‘neo-liberalism’, ‘media’, ‘Islamophobia’. This is because Mills was also part of the inner circle of David Miller’s Spinwatch. His supervisor at Bath where he received his PhD – David Miller. Another in the same family is Dr Mike Berry from the University of Cardiff. Berry is another of Corbyn’s ‘favourite sociologists’. He took his PhD whilst at Glasgow University as part of the Glasgow University Media group – his supervisor? Greg Philo.
It becomes possible to build a (partial) academic family tree:
In every corner
This exercise can be performed on any campus. A few academics at UCL have recently published an attack on the IHRA definition of Antisemitism. In 2019 UCL adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism. However, there was a pushback from some academics represented on UCL’s Academic Board (an advisory body representing academics at the institution). The AB set up a ‘working group’ to examine and report on the issue. Their final report about tackling antisemitism, became an ‘enabler of antisemitism‘.
Their report also launched into an unnecessary, bitter, personal and irrelevant attack on a Jewish activist. The chair of the Working Group is Dr Seth Anziska. At UCL, Anziska’s research and teaching focuses on Israeli and Palestinian society and culture, modern Middle Eastern history, and contemporary Arab and Jewish politics.
Khalidi was allegedly a spokesperson for the PLO in Beirut at a time when the PLO was shocking the world with its terrorism. No stranger to antisemitism, Khalidi recently stated during a radio interview that Israel supporters would “infest” the American administration.
When Daniel Pipes launched an attack on Khalidi’s appointment at Columbia, it was none other than his faithful student Anziska, who came to his defense. When Rashid Khalidi wrote his book Anziska helped him with the launch. In return when Anziska wrote his book ‘Preventing Palestine’ guess who helped him launch the book – you guessed it – his old supervisor Rashid Khalidi.
This means that the person who was chosen to lead UCL’s examination of the IHRA definition of antisemitism, spent years being academically shaped by an ex-PLO spokesperson.
Illusions in the media
These connections are hidden but they are everywhere. In 2018, the Guardian published one of their ‘academic letters’ belittling antisemitism. It contained a list of about 17 academics. Only when you research the list, do you begin to see the connections:
The Philo academic tree with Miller, Berry and Mills is clearly visible. There is a part of at least one more family in there as well. Justin Schlosberg was supervised by James Curran – a Professor at Goldsmiths, so was Aeron Davis.
On and beyond campus
These networks – and they exist in almost every faculty – must be mapped, especially when they extend beyond campus. Alan Macleod is a journalist and is a Senior Staff Writer for MintPressNews. He has also written for the Guardian. His Twitter feed and articles contain many lies about – and deep hostility towards, Israel:
MacLeod has a PhD, he received it at Glasgow University whilst with the Glasgow Media Group – his supervisor was Greg Philo.
You may not have heard of MacLeod – but what about Clayton Edward Swisher? He is one of the key brains behind the Al-Jazeera ‘stings’ against the pro-Israeli advocacy groups. Swisher was Director of Investigative Journalism for Al Jazeera Media Network. He also has a PhD. The award came from Exeter University and his supervisor was the Marxist revisionist ‘historian‘, Ilan Pappe.
This is not just about hostile lecturers and journalists. This is a journey into the heart of the anti-Israel network.
Nor is it restricted to the UK. The network extends globally. Take Jeremy Wildeman at the University of Ottowa‘s Human Rights Research and Education Centre. He publicly writes anti-Israel articles. He has a PhD from Exeter – supervisor: Ilan Pappe. There are 100s of examples. Our academics spread out across the globe. Taking the poison with them.
This toxifies NGOs as well. Take the ‘Information and Research Center – King Hussein Foundation’, which partners with universities, global organisations such as Microsoft, governments and NGOs across the world. The Director’s name is Dr Aida Essiad . She supports BDS and has won a prize for her book on ‘Zionism and Land Tenure’. She studied on a scholarship at Exeter, was supervised by Michael Dumper. Pappe was one of her examiners. Michael Dumper is another pro-Palestinian academic at Exeter. He received his PhD at Exeter in 1991. In his acknowledgements, he credits Walid Khalidi for ‘giving him the idea for the thesis’.
And do not forget that in a recent expose on Wikipedia bias, some editors were shown to be obsessively spreading disinformation – it should come as no surprise to learn that when their identities are exposed – they turn out to be academics. All roads lead back to campus.
A few more examples
In 2017 at a conference at the University of Sussex I caught Dr James Eastwood spreading lies about Israel. Eastwood did his PhD at QMU but was a child of SOAS. His PhD supervisor was Laleh Khalili, an Iranian-American Professor and anti-Israel activist – who received her PhD at Columbia.
Another of Khalili’s supervision ‘successes’ is Akanksha Mehta, who managed to combine attacks on both India and Israel in her thesis. Mehta is now a lecturer at Goldsmiths. Elian Weizman – an Israeli – is another. Her thesis was on anti-Zionism inside Israel. Weizman, a hard-core BDS supporter – is now teaching ‘Israeli politics’ at SOAS.
The UK doesn’t just send these academics out – it also receives them. In 2018 I was barred from entering a public anti-Israel campus event at Warwick. The talk was given by Dr Siggie Vertommen, an academic at KCL, who had received her PhD at Ghent University in Belgium. Her PhD supervisor was Prof. Sami Zemni. Zemni is a former Director of the Center for Islam in Europe. Both Vertommen and Zemni signed an anti-Israel, pro-BDS petition in 2014. Several other Ghent PhD candidates also signed the BDS statement:
- Pascal Debruyne – PhD supervised by Sami Zemni.
- Koenraad Bogaert – PhD supervised by Sami Zemni.
- Marieke Krijnen – PhD supervised by Sami Zemni.
Siggie Vertommen is now working as a research associate in the Department of Sociology at Cambridge University.
These nests can turn up in unexpected places – here are some PhD topics recently covered at the University of Kent:
- Deconstruction and the question of Palestine : bearing witness to the undeniable (Declan Wiffen)
- ‘Bulwark against Asia’ : Zionist exclusivism and Palestinian responses (Nora Scholtes)
- Forms of exile : contemporary Palestinian life writing (Sophia Brown)
- Reading the Israeli/Palestinian conflict through theater : a postcolonial analysis (Azza Harass)
‘Doctor’ Sophia Brown has since written anti-Israel articles in the Independent. The suprising element about the Kent examples is that these were not written in the history or politics department – but in the ‘School of English’. The common theme here is that they all have the same supervisor – Professor Caroline Rooney – a long time anti-Israel academic.
Defenders of antisemitism
It must not be forgotten that whilst British Jews and their allies were battling hard against hard-left antisemitism in the Labour Party, Corbyn’s staunchest defenders did not come from the unions or the industrial towns – they actually came from academia.
Dozens of events were set up involving academics, to label the allegations of antisemitism a ‘smear’ and to tell everyone how wrong the Jews were. Suggesting the whole thing was all just so Jews could defend their ‘racist state’ and ‘oppress / kill’ Palestinians.
These are academics who were actually belittling allegations of anti-Jewish racism, and defending a political party that was soon to be found guilty of having broken the law, by having discriminated against and harrassed Jews.
The Labour Party were the first political party to be looked at by the EHRC Commission since the fascist BNP- and it was the academics who tried to defend it. Imagine being a Jewish student on one of these campuses!
Scratching the surface – time to dig deeper
Although it took a long time to put together, this first report does not even scratch the surface. Academia is the epicentre of the spread of antisemitism. The three key anti-Israel libels, Apartheid, ethnic cleansing and settler colonialism – all need and receive academic legitimacy. There is no opposition to all this. This is not one side of an argument, but rather, in many quarters, this is the only side being presented.
There are approximately 130 universities in the UK. In my upcoming research I intend to look at all of them, to draw a map – that highlights how and where this anti-Israeli propaganda is being spread. Following the academics can also highlight areas outside of academia (eg NGOs, media) where we can expect hostility. We will know where it must be countered. Knowledge matters.
We also need to know which academics are opposing the IHRA definition of antisemitism and how many of them are in academic families, such as some shown in the examples above.
There are some universities that only have one or two problematic academics, there are others such as Exeter, Warwick and SOAS that are factories, or central hubs for spreading hate. We have been putting out fires for too long. If we want to counter the hostility, we first have to properly understand it.
This project will take several months but the outcome will display the whole network of anti-Israel activity as it has never been seen before.
This research can be split in a modular fashion so please contact me if you wish to lend a hand. Send me names of hostile academics if you have some. Additionally, if possible, do think about helping to financially support this project – either by setting up a monthly donation (Patreon or PayPal), or making a one-off donation to help to support this important work.
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