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Editorial Article

Ireland: Trinity College’s Ronit Lentin promotes Israel's Destruction through the Academic Polysyllable

By Lee Kaplan, www.isracampus.org.il

Born in Haifa, but a long-term resident of Ireland since 1969, Ronit Lentin is a professor at the University of Dublin’s Trinity College in its Department of Sociology. Because Trinity College has ambitions to be a world-class university, it often imitates some of the sillier fads in American universities. These include turning “anti-racism” into the mantra of the enlightened. Trinity’s Academic Committee decided to put Lentin in charge of several programs at Trinity, including one that awards a Master of Philosophy in "Racial and Ethnic Studies." Lentin is a militant and passionate supporter of the demands of Palestinian Arabs against Israel. She supports their "narrative" regarding the Middle East conflict, a "narrative" serious scholars dismiss as fiction.

Lentin has produced several books and articles, all on the central theme of societal racism, or “racialism” as she prefers to call it, using the term once applied to Nazi ideology. She insists that nationality or “exceptionalism” as defined by a state constitutes racism against less powerful groups within that society. This is vogue in some quarters. Lentin frequently cites the anti-Israel theories of the late Baruch Kimmerling, Oren Yiftachel, Yehouda Shenhav and - most notably - Ilan Pappe, best known for his campaigning on behalf of the annihilation of Israel. Lentin can be frequently seen at the side of Pappe at anti-Israel demonstrations and symposiums in which the anti-Israel Israelis are the icons

In Lentin’s jihad against “racism,” she ends up supporting and justifying the world's worst racists and misogynists: Islamofascism and particularly the Palestinian segment of that movement. How so?

A quick surf through Lentin’s personal website, entitled "Free Radikal," tells a lot about her. Neutrality and objectivity play no role. She is a self-described “radical,” even choosing the spelling of her site as “radikal” (how nonconformist and anti-Anglo-Saxon of her!). Her website consists almost entirely of Palestinian propaganda against Israel.  Throughout the site Lentin expresses her “rage” against Israel for daring to defend its civilians from rocket attacks.

In the middle of the recent "Cast Lead" battle against terrorism in Gaza, Lentin wrote: “The war in Gaza is entering its seventh day with the Israeli ground surge in force as I write. I feel entirely helpless and nearly immobilized by rage. But reading Ilan Pappe's 'Israel's righteous fury and its victims in Gaza' in Electronic Intifada helps to make sense of the murderous attack.”  Who exactly is Ilan Pappe? Well, he is another expatriate hiding in the British Isles, a fanatical ex-Israeli who openly advocates Israel's annihilation. Pappe is best known for fabricating an imaginary "massacre" by Israel of Arabs in the town of Tantura - one that never took place at all. Pappe's libel was partly financed by PLO money. Lentin frequently appears alongside Pappe on the podium of politicized pseudo-academic anti-Israel advocacy conferences.

Electronic Intifada is a PLO funded website affiliated with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) , a pro-terrorism advocacy movement. Pappe’s article there accuses Israel of genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza, without any mention of the 10,000 missiles fired into Israeli communities by Hamas in Gaza that precipitated the recent military campaign to stop the missile firings. In addition, Pappe blames the war on Zionism and on Jews having a national homeland. He totally ignores the Hamas Charter that calls not only for the complete destruction of Israel but the total extermination of the world’s Jews. He is the "expert" celebrated by Lentin and used to teach her students.

Lentin adds: “My work on the commemoration of the nakba (sic) by Israelis links me to the need, as Pappe argues, to historicize (sic) this conflict from its inception, and the Zionist ideology which (sic) has engendered ethnic cleansing and the dehumanization of Palestinians ever since 1948 and before.”  Lentin’s use of the word "nakba," meaning catastrophe in Arabic, as a word to describe Israel's very existence illustrates her indifference to scholarship and academic neutrality.  We wonder how her employers at Trinity would respond if she described Ireland's very existence as an atrocity and offense to the English, one in need of violent overthrow.

Lentin’s website is festooned with the image of a clenched fist, leaving no delusions in anyone's mind that she might be a pacifist. This is the clenched fist taken from various violent movements, such as the Black Panthers in the US in the 1960’s. Her sociology courses are exercises in classroom indoctrination into her political extremism.

Teaching in Dublin, Ronit Lentin is far removed from the Qassam rockets striking Ashkelon and Sderot. She is ensconced in Irish comfort as she promotes those out to kill Jews in the land where she was born. As a program director in the Sociology Department at Trinity, Lentin held an international conference of academic Israel-bashers, titled Palestine as a State of Exception. The themes discussed were the "Palestinisation" of ethnic and racial conflicts (because you know everything oppressive in the world is tied to the Palestinian claims against Israel); "globalization" of the conflict; the "theorization" of Palestine as a .state of exception; and the centrality of the memory of the 1948 Nakba (catastrophe at the creation of Israel) to the contemporary understanding of the conflict. Lentin is the sort of academic whose favorite method of analysis is the emission of polysyllables.

Her main attempt at demonizing Israel has become popular among anti-Israel academics and their acolytes, "Thinking Palestine." It is a propaganda diatribe being touted by pro-terror web sites like "Electronic Intifada." The book contains essays from Israel-hating Israelis like Yehouda Shenhav and Ilan Pappe, but also contains her own commentaries against Israel, in which she brands it a racist regime for refusing to self-destruct in order to satisfy the Arabs.

According to her own resume on the Trinity website, she organized the IIIS international conference ‘Palestine as state of exception: A global paradigm’. It centered on the idea of Israel being destroyed and "replaced" by a bi-national state with an Arab majority. In other words, she wants to turn Israel into a sort of Rwanda. Conference proceedings were published in the book she edited, "Thinking Palestine" (London: Zed Books 2008). Lentin’s bio in it proudly states she is also currently working on monograph, provisionally titled: "Co-Memory and Melancholia: Israelis Commemorating the Palestinian Nakba."  That should sell well in Iran.

In "Thinking Palestine" and in many of her other articles and papers she describes Israel as a “racial regime”, a bit amusing for anyone who has seen the mixture of racial features on people walking the street of Israel. She claims Israel’s existence is based only on military force, security and intelligence and that these things make it a racial regime. Using such logic, if Jews in Israel defend their homeland, that must also be a racist regime.

According to one reporter, in a speech she gave about her book to academics and journalists at the London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies, she defended terrorism by the Palestinians in their “struggle” to regain “their” “homeland,” which is to say – Israel itself. She repeatedly declared that armed “resistance” is “legal”, and even suicide bombings against "military targets" (like children?) are justified. She did not volunteer to be blown up herself in the name of her ideology. We would sure like to hear what the heads of Trinity would think if Lentin were similarly to celebrate the terrorist atrocities of the IRA!

There is no doubt she is proudly “anti-Zionist.” She states in "Thinking Palestine,": “I am deeply committed to the de-objectification (sic) of the Palestinian subject. I am, however, well aware of my problematic position as an (exiled) citizen of Israel, and as such a member of the perpetrator group, in relation to representing Palestinian subjectivity (sic).” More of those silly polysyllables!

In effect, Lentin acknowledges she is a traitor to the Jewish people, her only interest in her Jewishness as something to exploit in order to lend credibility to the enemies of the Jewish people. She also is of fond of using the false application of “colonialism” (a la Edward Said) to the very existence of the Jewish state. Palestinian Arabs mostly emigrated to what is today Israel and the Occupied Territories at the same time the Jewish Zionists did, before the 1930’s. They lived, like the Jews there, under the yoke of British colonialism. Virtually no Arabs lost their homes when masses of Jews migrated into the Land of Israel. But don't confuse Lentin with facts!

Lentin insists that Jews colonized "Arab lands."  Most Israelis are indigenous to the Middle East, but Lentin insists that even Yemenite Jews are European colonialists.  Lentin readily admits she is not objective at all in her condemnation of Israel - she is opposed to the Jewish state and will cooperate with those who wish to see it destroyed, at certain points even accepting violence to do so as legitimate:

Lentin has herself said about her own book:

“My argument is that if we read the state of Israel as a racial state, established in order to re-affirm the superiority of ‘the Jew’ over ‘the (Palestinian) native’, reading Palestine as a state of exception (in terms of ‘condition’ rather than ‘nation-state’) allows us to re-invest the Palestinian subject with a potentiality of the ‘insurrection of subjugated knowledges’ (sic), which includes, inter alia, violent resistance to colonial oppression as a means of re-assuming subjecthood (sic). While hugely disturbing for those contemplating the arbitrariness of armed resistance, and for the victims of such resistance, this reading makes way for discursive and interpretative control by Palestinian subjects who, even in empathetic readings, have hitherto largely been theorized as victims, or ‘bare life’. That such a reading is no longer acceptable is evidenced, inter alia, in the recent ‘future vision’ documents published in 2007 by leading Israeli Palestinian organizations, calling for the abolition of the Jewish character of the state which, their authors argue, stands in the way of their equality (see e.g., Ghanem 2007; and Pappe in this volume).”

In Lentin’s logic, it is Jewish self-determination that is "exceptionalist" and racist. Never mind that Israel provides equal rights for Arab-Israelis and other minorities by law. Lentin ignores the aggression and imperialism of pan-Arab nationalism and Islamic clerical fascism.

There are various writers Lentin promotes and supports in her book "Thinking Palestine," all of them people who despise Israel and some who despise Jews. Her rhetoric gives her away; anyone using logic to question her definitions is dismissed as a “colonialist.” “Resistance” (terrorism against Jews) is intellectually justified as a means to fight this "colonialism" and racism. The only Israeli writers who hold any interest for her are those self-haters seeking the extermination of their own country.

In "Introduction to Thinking Palestine" she writes:

“Like many anti-Zionist Israelis, whose ‘road to Damascus’ tales often date back to the wake of the 1982 Lebanon war, I too have my account (Lentin 2007). In recounting these Israeli anti-Zionist Damascene tales, the moment of conversion is crucial and how this is recounted indicates our sense of self and current political positionality (sic). However, auto-biographical accounts are ultimately about the teller rather than the told, regardless of our conviction that our personal auto-biography is about empathy and solidarity. Thus, despite the good intentions, in much Israeli research on Palestine the Palestinians often get erased, their voice subsumed by the voice of the powerful colonizer, leading to a degree of appropriation that we are all guilty of (see my chapter in this volume).”

Some might call Lentin's meandering "theories" Edward Said Lite. Like Said, Lentin only considers what she wants to promote in her anti-Israel extremism, ignoring any simple facts that debunk her.

Lentin has signed a petition calling for the economic and cultural boycott of Israel and even calling for international troops to intervene against Israel in Gaza. In 2005, she signed a petition demanding that former PM Ariel Sharon not be allowed to address the General Assembly of the UN, stating that he was a “war criminal” and containing other libels. She has signed another petition demanding that Sharon be indicted in the Hague for protecting Israel’s citizens from terrorism. 2005 was one of the worst years in terms of suicide bombings and casualties for Israel. While she expresses a passion for immigrants who want to come live in Ireland, she deems it racist when Jews are allowed to immigrate to Israel.

Equally curious is Lentin obsession with describing herself as an “exiled” Israeli.  If she is exiled, does not that make Israel her legitimate homeland? And would that not make Israel a legitimate homeland of Jews?  So on what basis is she "exiled?" And is she not an illegal occupier of Gaelic lands?

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Articles appearing on IsraCampus.Org.il are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinion of IsraCampus.Org.il