Asaf Romirowsky: Challenging Norton Mezvinsky's Stance on Isreal

Historians in the News

[Asaf Romirowsky, writing at the website of the Middle East Forum (a Conservative website run by historian Daniel Pipes).]

A newly formed"educational think tank," the International Council for Middle East Studies (ICMES), is poised to influence U.S. policy toward the Middle East in ways that could further harm American interests in the region. It will be led by Norton Mezvinsky, a radical anti-Zionist who recently retired after a 42-year-career teaching Middle East history at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU). If Mezvinsky remains true to form, ICMES will advocate for holding U.S. policy hostage to the fallacy that Israel is always at fault for the region's troubles.

ICMES found a welcoming home at the International Law Institute (ILI) at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. And according to Mezvinsky, ICMES's goal will be to build cultural bridges and promote faculty and student exchanges between the United States and Middle Eastern countries.

An immediate question comes to mind: with whom will those bridges be built? That Mezvinsky's new organization is being parachuted into ILI, a group that according to its website"raises levels of professional competence and capacity in all nations so that professionals everywhere may achieve practical solutions to common problems in ways that suit their nations' own needs" is most disturbing. We should question how such a politicized individual as Mezvinsky could operate"practically" and decide what are the needs regarding Israelis and Palestinians when he has devoted his entire career to demonizing Israel.

For example, in 2002 Mezvinsky participated in a weeklong teaching institute for Connecticut middle and high school teachers on the Middle East. Among the myths he perpetrated on his students, as recorded by an attendee, was that:

Palestinians were pushed out of their homes due to the 'Absent-Present Laws' that stated that if people who owned the land weren't on it at a given time, the land was turned over to the JNF (Jewish National Fund); and Israel has created refugees, and has intensified oppression.

Jonathan Calt Harris later reported that Mezvinsky told the entire class of teachers that, contrary to historical fact,"'the well-armed and well-funded Israelis' fought the Palestinians in 1948, but did not mention that armies of five Arab countries first invaded the U.N.-sanctioned Jewish state."

Close observers bear witness to Mezvinsky's influence on his students. Rabbi Stephen Fuchs of Congregation Beth Israel in West Hartford, a participant in the teaching institute, said that,"[Mezvinsky] has slanted the views of a whole generation of students about the Middle East. I am concerned that he has created a negative atmosphere toward Israel."

Mezvinsky endorses the infamous 1975 UN General Assembly Resolution 3379 that declared Zionism a form of racism. Furthermore, his biased views resemble the propaganda fed to eighth graders in Saudi Arabia, who are taught that,"the blood of non-Jews has no intrinsic value" and that, therefore, the killing of non-Jews does"not constitute murder according to the Jewish religion." Such blatant anti-Semitism has nothing on Mezvinsky's claim that Judaism teaches"the killing of innocent Arabs for revenge as a Jewish virtue."

He also places the sole onus for the Palestinian refugee problem on Israel while never acknowledging the estimated 750,000 Jewish refugees who were expelled from Arab lands. That many of those Arab refugees left under pressure from neighboring Arab countries to facilitate the destruction of their Jewish communities is yet another example of how the Arab-Israeli conflict has been taught at CCSU absent any effort to provide historical context or scholarly balance...
Read entire article at Middle East Forum

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