[Marxism] Fake News Release Targets Scholars and Student Critical of Israel
lnp3 at panix.com
Mon May 20 07:07:56 MDT 2013
Chronicle of Higher Education
May 20, 2013
Fake News Release Targets Scholars and Student Critical of Israel
By Peter Schmidt
A Stanford University student and two American scholars critical of
Israel are among the victims of a rough new tactic in the fight over
public opinion on the Middle East: a fake news release that attributes
to them inflammatory criticisms of Iran and a long list of Arab nations.
The fake news release falsely depicts the student and scholars as
leaders of a campaign to boycott Iran and the Arab world. Although
obviously fraudulent to anyone who knows them and their views, it was
reprinted and characterized as real on the Web site of the Palestinian
News Network, a journalistic organization, which took it down last week
after being alerted by The Chronicle that it was a hoax.
The release "is playing with peoples' lives, and it is really reckless,"
said Persis M. Karim, coordinator of the Middle East studies program at
San Jose State University, who is falsely quoted in it as delivering
harsh denunciations of the governments of Iran and several Arab nations
and of the militant Palestinian group Hamas. She said she worries the
hoax could put her in the sights of "extremists in the world, and in our
own country, who can do physical harm to people they disagree with."
Among the other targets of the hoax, Joshua D. Schott, a Stanford
University junior who is co-president of the campus group Students for
Palestinian Equal Rights, is quoted in the fake news release as pleading
with Israel to invade Iran and Syria and "wipe out" their ruling classes.
John J. Mearsheimer, a professor of political science at the University
of Chicago who has argued that an "Israel lobby" distorts U.S. foreign
policy by pushing an agenda at odds with American interests, is not
quoted in the fake news release but is falsely listed at the end as a
media contact. Mr. Mearsheimer said the release "is patently ridiculous,
and therefore it is not worth paying it much attention."
The release is very similar in its wording to fake news releases
distributed in New Zealand last year and in Britain in 2011.
The origin of the fake news releases has not been established. All three
purport to come from boycott campaigns that in fact do not exist, and
all falsely attribute to critics of Israel harsh condemnations of Arab
nations and Iran. All three claim that the boycott campaigns have the
support of long lists of activists and organizations previously known as
critical of Israel's policies toward the Palestinians.
'Harass and Intimidate'
Mr. Schott, the Stanford student, said he was alarmed by a line in the
latest one saying it was being distributed "to 450,000 media,
government, and NGO activists around the world via Internet, Twitter,
Facebook, My Space [sic]."
"I don't want people thinking I actually said or did those things," Mr.
Schott said on Friday.
Ms. Karim, who also is a professor of English and comparative literature
at San Jose State, said she had asked the campus police to investigate
but had been told that tracing the source would be difficult.
The release first appeared on the Palestinian News Network site on April
19, the same day Ms. Karim was holding a workshop on teaching the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict that some pro-Israel activists criticized
for what they said was a biased list of speakers. A new version of the
news release surfaced last week as the controversy over the workshop
continued, with San Jose State fielding an open-records request asking
for documents and correspondence related to the workshop and its financing.
The Middle East Studies Association of North America and its Committee
on Academic Freedom last week sent San Jose State's president, Mohammad
H. Qayoumi, a letter expressing concern that the attacks on Ms. Karim
pose a threat to her academic freedom. The letter also says the group is
concerned that the information produced by the university in response to
the open-records request about the workshop "could be used to harass and
intimidate individuals involved in the workshop, whether as organizers
or as participants."
The letter urges President Qayoumi "to issue a strong and clear public
statement expressing the university's support for academic freedom in
general and that of Professor Karim in particular, and its firm
condemnation of the smear campaign being waged against her."
Patricia Lopes Harris, a San Jose State spokeswoman, said on Friday that
the university is "very supportive of academic freedom" but does not
plan to issue the letter of support for Ms. Karim requested by the
scholarly association. "Our concern," she said, "is that no matter what
we put in that letter, it will be perceived as taking a political position."
More information about the Marxism