Professor Farhad Malekafzali teaches political science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Or, at least, that’s what he’s supposed to teach. If you read his final, according to students, he actually teaches anti-Israel canards for a living.
Posing as a moderate on the Israel-Arab issue, Malekafzali instead associates with the radical anti-Israel group “Students for Justice in Palestine.” He has told students at rallies that Zionist Jews only began moving to Israel in the 20th century, ignoring centuries of historic Jewish connection to Israel. He has also said that before any negotiations take place, Israel must withdraw from all territories won in the 1967 Six Day War. And yes, he’s a member of Change.org.
But it’s what Malekafzali teaches in the classroom that’s truly disturbing.
According to one of his students, a recent final exam asked students to explain, “why, in reality, Israel has never faced an existential threat from its neighbors.” He asked students to “discuss Israel’s policies toward Gaza since 2005.” And he told students to “Compare and contrast in depth the arguments advanced in Mearsheimer and Walt, The Israel Lobby and Plitnick and Toensing, The “Israel Lobby” in Perspective.”
This isn’t just anti-Israel. It’s anti-Semitic.
Israel, of course, has always faced an existential threat from its neighbors. Malekafzali assigns noted anti-Israel Holocaust minimizers like Norman Finkelstein to his students to show them just how Israel is the great Satan in the region. He quotes the anti-Semitic canards of Walt and Mearsheimer, which suggests that pro-Israel Jews control American foreign policy.
In class, reportedly, Malekafzali teaches that Israel essentially started the 1948 War of Independence and blithely ignored international UN boundaries – although it was Israel that accepted the UN mandate, and the Arab countries that united to attack it. He calls the reality “more complex.” He teaches that all the Palestinians who left Israeli territory were expelled, as opposed to any of them leaving voluntarily (hundreds of thousands did). In a page straight out of the Palestine Liberation Organization playbook, he reverses history, calling Israel’s history “simplistic and self-serving.” He says that Israel was responsible for the Yom Kippur War. Apparently, he denies any connection between Hamas and Iran.
This is propaganda. It is not history.
But that’s how Israeli history is taught at too many of our major universities. Revisionist Israeli history is all the rage, with Israel as the bad actor and the Arabs who routinely attack Israel as the victims of Western colonialism. It’s a photo-negative version of history first touted by Edward Said, and it predominates across the country.
The question, however, is how those who teach it are qualified to do so. Israeli history is not a series of Jewish misdeeds. It’s a history of bringing civilization to a region that has virtually none, and of building up a country from the ground up that treats its own Arab citizens better than Arab countries do their citizens. Has Israel made mistakes? Of course. But the campus preference is to cast every Israeli mistake as a concerted attempt to commit genocide, and every Muslim attempt to commit genocide as a misconstrued, happenstance coincidence.
If Malekafzali is truly teaching this sort of propaganda, he’s doing his students and the university a disservice. If he’s quoting Holocaust minimizers to do it, he’s going further than that. His job should certainly be on the line for this sort of indoctrination.
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