The 1990s saw the beginning of the rise of the post-Zionist trend in the humanities and social sciences departments of Israeli universities. The post-Zionist approach views Zionism as a colonialist enterprise founded on injustice and the exploitation of the native Palestinian population, from the earliest Jewish immigration to “Palestine” to the establishment of the State of Israel on the ruins of the exiled Palestinian people, the destruction of its cities and towns and theft of its land and property during the “War of 1948”. Post-Zionist schools of thought are based on a variety of theories, primarily Marxist and post-colonialist. However, they all share several fundamental traits: the belief that the Jewish character of the State entirely prevents it from being democratic; the demand for the establishment of a “state of all of its citizens” that would make invalid laws and symbols that favor the Jewish nation (e.g. the Law of Return, the flag, the anthem, etc.); and the demand for recognition, accompanied by symbolic, material, territorial and demographic compensation (i.e. partial or complete recognition of the Palestinian “right of return”) for the injustices wrought on them by the Zionist movement. The most significant milestones in the rise to power of the post-Zionist worldview in Israeli academia were the establishment of the journal Teoria Uvikoret (1991) and the publication of the Hebrew book Israeli Society: Critical Perspectives (1993). The group of critical sociologists who form the backbone of the post-Zionist movement gradually took over the sociology departments on many campuses and continues to hold them captive to this day despite the widespread opposition of the Israeli public.
This position paper investigates whether and to what degree a post-Zionist bias exists in the sociology departments of Israeli universities and whether fair and substantial representation is given to Zionist philosophy as well. The study primarily relies on a review of the syllabuses of relevant courses in these departments and a comparison between the references to sources with a Zionist orientation and the references to sources with a post-Zionist orientation. Research findings indicate that all Israeli universities, except for Bar Ilan University, exhibit a clear post-Zionist bias in their sociology departments, a phenomenon which is exceptionally severe on campuses in Tel Aviv and Beersheba. Out of 46 relevant courses that were examined in all Israeli universities, a significant post-Zionist bias was found in twenty-one courses, a slight post-Zionist bias was found in nine additional courses and only fifteen courses were found to have either no bias or a pro-Zionist one. Extremely biased courses were found at Tel Aviv and Ben Gurion Universities, one of which presented 74 post-Zionist sources versus thirteen Zionist sources, another presented 31 post-Zionist sources versus zero Zionist sources and one presented 25 post-Zionist sources versus one sole Zionist source. The final count for all courses studied was 139 Zionist sources versus 420 post-Zionist sources, a ratio of one to three.
In addition to the review of syllabuses, this position paper contains two additional chapters. One presents selected passages from the textbooks that are repeatedly included in syllabuses. The other chapter examines the rise of a generation of post-Zionist researchers who follow the teachings of the senior academic Prof. Oren Yiftachel. An addendum chapter investigates the activities of academic research institutions affiliated with sociology and political science departments in Israeli universities. The primary findings of this chapter indicate that, of those studied, five research institutions either directly or indirectly promote a post-Zionist agenda: The Walter Lebach Institute for Jewish-Arab Coexistence at Tel Aviv University, the Jewish-Arab Center at Haifa University, the Humphrey Institute for Social Research, the Negev Center for Regional Development and the Chaim Herzog Center for Middle East Studies and Diplomacy at Ben Gurion University. Conferences organized by these institutions are almost exclusively characterized by a strong leftist bias that is philosophically extreme and fails to present other views adequately, giving the impression that these conferences are no more than an insider and exclusive meeting of Israel’s radical leftists.
An additional finding is the close-knit cooperation between the academia and radical leftist organizations such as B’Tselem, Yesh Gvul, Machsom Watch, Courage to Refuse, etc.
The proposals of this position paper are anticipated to be published in the coming months.