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Pro-Israel Bias In Academia Casts Shadow Over Claim Of Being Scientific Authority, Says Expert

22.02.2024 12:27

Pro Israeli academics criticized for using the Holocaust to shield Israel from genocide allegations ‘Academic community lost its claim to scientific authority,’ says Abdelwahab el Affendi, Sudanese British philosopher.

The academic community has lost its claim of being a scientific authority and dominant in disputes, said an expert, as some academics remain silent over Israel's attacks on Gazan civilians while condemning Hamas for the Oct. 7 attacks.

Abdelwahab el-Affendi, an academic at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies in Qatar, told Anadolu that a large number of academics and centers issued public statements condemning the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas as genocidal but remained silent about "Israel's massive and much more destructive attack on civilians."

"This process snowballed in the media, with claim and counter claim. Thus, the academic community lost its claim for scientific authority and being the judge in such disputes rather than just parts of the propaganda machine of this side or other," Affendi said.

Affendi, a Sudanese-British philosopher, said "the main point of contention is affirmation versus denial of Israel's genocidal actions in Gaza."

"Both sides agree that the indiscriminate attacks on civilians and destruction of infrastructure, medical facilities, livelihoods, and the obstruction of aid are at least war crimes or crimes against humanity. Most agree that it falls under the Genocide Convention. However, pro-Israeli scholars and propagandists hold that these were merely collateral damage in a just war, so cannot be counted as genocide," he said.

The genocide researchers that aim to deny what happened in Gaza have "lost their credibility and status as researchers," he said.

Noting that it is not difficult for academics to maintain objectivity on serious issues such as the Israel-Palestine issue, he said: "In fact, taking sides is inbuilt into genocide research."

"Atrocities and war crimes are serious enough, and it is criminal ... to support them, even more serious to vote in the UN in favor of their continuation. At the same time, genocide denial or its encouragement are also crimes, especially after the International Court of Justice found that they are most probably occurring," he added.

Regarding the effects of the Israeli case at the ICJ, he said: "Most of the authors who partially admit the genocidal actions of Israel in Gaza, the endless Nakba, take refuge in the apparent impunity of Israel due to the Holocaust. I think the ICJ ruling has put an end to this excuse, and restored some meaning to the Holocaust and Genocide Studies."

He also criticized pro-Israeli genocide studies scholars for using the Holocaust to shield Israel from genocide allegations.

"The focus on the Holocaust as both the paradigm of genocide and also a unique and unrepeatable event complicated the field since a paradigm cannot be unique. At the same time, Israel's possessiveness of the Holocaust has been used to affirm Israeli impunity against accusations of genocide, and reject any application of the genocide prism to the Palestinian case, or describe the Nakba as a slow-moving genocide, as some authors have done," he said.

Israel launched a deadly offensive on the Gaza Strip following a cross-border incursion by the Palestinian group Hamas on Oct. 7. The ensuing Israeli bombardment has killed at least 29,313 people and injured nearly 70,000 with mass destruction and shortages of necessities.

The Israeli war on Gaza has pushed 85% of the territory's population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water, and medicine, while 60% of the enclave's infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice. An interim ruling in January ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

*Writing by Gozde Bayar and Gizem Nisa Cebi -

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