Wednesday, April 1, 2009
I previously discussed the case of Boston College Professor Eve Spangler and her course Social Justice in Israel/Palestine here: Boston College: Course Credit for Anti-Israel Activism. This is a BC course in which college students are indoctrinated in correct thinking on Israel, shipped off to the Middle East where they get a Birthright Unplugged-style tour, and then are expected to return home to engage in anti-Israel political activity.
If you didn't have enough information to get the point of what was happening by reading what was provided in that previous posting, as further evidence I offer into evidence the course syllabus which has been forwarded to me. Here is the Word doc. This course is such a blatant example of simple political indoctrination in the guise of academics that it's almost laughable. Someone at BC should tell the people at Birthright Unplugged to go get their own funding and stop trying to indoctrinate the kids on the back of tuition paying parents. In fact, some tuition paying parents should start saying something.
Take a look at the doc. It's actually worse than I imagined it would be. Far more blatant. Let's cite a few examples:
This seminar is designed to prepare students for a study/immersion trip to Israel/Palestine during winter break. We hope that the curriculum will accomplish three major tasks:
- The readings will present a variety of descriptive materials about a part of the world that is little known to most Americans. The selection of readings reflects the paradox that Israelis and Palestinians are equally stakeholders in a just peace and that relations between them are highly unequal - the relations of an occupier and the occupied.
Attention: We are here to learn, but we're going to establish the framework right from the start. We know who's to blame, and no dissent will be tolerated in this regard.
- The class discussions and written assignments will provide an analytic framework to help students ask and answer such basic questions as: what happened to set Israel/Palestine on a collision course? How could this long-standing conflict be transformed to produce a just peace? What would a healthy economy and a healthy state in Israel/Palestine look like? How do religious narratives create models of right living and responsibility toward others in the context of Israel/Palestine?
- The project that students are asked to design (in the seminar) and to implement (upon their return) should allow students to test their capacity for using their education to do good in the world.
There is a healthy economy in one 'Israel/Palestine' -- it's called the Israeli economy. Of course, I'd make some adjustments to the economy and state, but I somehow don' t think they're the same adjustments that Prof. Spangler would make. Oh, and when you come home, we expect you to put the indoctrination we put you through to work.
...On the trip, the primary form of service is bearing witness - to the sufferings and strengths of occupied communities and the courage and wisdom of dissidents...
Only Arabs are occupied. Only Israelis are 'dissidents.' Get the slant?
...While reading both Palestinians (Karmi, Khalidi, Jawad, Masalha, Said) and Israelis (Rogan and Shlaim, Morris, Kimmerling and Migdal, Segev) narratives, students should be asking themselves: "What happened here?" remembering not only that narratives trump facts, but that these narratives operate within a field of unequal power...
Narratives trump facts?!? Whoa Nellie. With that tendentious reading list I'm not surprised that narratives trump facts. Further slanted presentation of "facts":
A sustained, just peace in Israel/Palestine depends also on the development of a robust economy or economies. To study past and possible future economies in the region, we will be looking at the historic work of Alexander Scholch who documents an industrious and prosperous 19th century Palestine. From there we will look at trajectories of de-development (Roy), labor policy (Farsakh) and business development (Bahour). On the Israeli side, we will consider Friedman's analysis of Israeli capitalism and the alternative views of Klein and Halper, who emphasize the degree to which Israeli capitalism relies on militarism as its engine of growth.
We have all kinds of analysis here: We have the kind that blames Israel and the kind that holds Arabs blameless. Economics? Sure, we have Marxists, Anarcho-Syndicalists, Socialists, Leftists...you know, variety... This sort of slanted presentation is the theme, and becomes insidious when you realize how these facts are then to be regurgitated:
...Please be sure to use the reading materials in constructing your answer...
...still others argue that there is no "real" history, only competing narratives, in which power, not truth, determines the outcome. Drawing on our readings and discussion, how does the Israeli-Palestinian history illustrate each of these perspectives? Based on this, how do you now view the uses and abuses of history, using specific examples from our work...
...(1) We have examined three images of the Israeli occupation of Palestine: genocide, apartheid, and sociocide. Which of these organizing concepts, if any, do you find most persuasive and why?...
(2)...Please bear in mind, that your peace plan should reflect Rouhana's ideas (namely that reconciliation requires a sense of history, a sense of justice, and a sense of power) as well as Lederach's (that states, NGOs, and grass roots movements must all be involved and their actions aligned) .
(3) If you were advising the European Union or the Quartet, what would you urge them to do?
Please be sure to draw on the reading materials in constructing your answer...
On and on. See the pattern? We provide the slanted reading material and witnesses, then expect you to give back the expected answers. Garbage in, garbage out. Control the data and you control the range of possible conclusions that can be drawn. Even a curious and independent-minded student is limited by the rules of the game to stay on the path that's been marked out for them. Leave the path on risk of failure.
Students start this thing ignorant by definition, yet they emerge from this so called course of studies worse off than when they started. What's worse, they're then sent off into the world as an army of marching morons, sallying forth to influence policy and inflict their ignorance on the rest of us under the command of one unscrupulous "educator."
This is academic manipulation, fraud and malpractice at its worst. Eve Spangler should go off and recruit for the ISM in her spare time, not abuse her captive student audience to work out her personal demons at university expense.
Update: National Review's Phi Beta Cons picks up the post, and Fred Schwarz notes:
What's a little odd about this class is that the professor, Eve Spangler, is a sociologist whose main area of research is workplace safety. A while ago she started getting interested in anti-Israel activities, and eventually, being an academic, she decided to teach a class about her latest fascination.
It's no surprise Spangler has no academic grounds to be teaching this class, but that's fine as it's clearly not an academic class.
Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: Boston College SC367: Textbook Indoctrination (and worse than you thought).
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