If Brooklyn-based “feminist” and Palestinian apologist Linda Sarsour is the progressive-left flavor of the month, George Mason University international law professor Noura Erakat is a more intellectually significant, up-and-coming player in the growing Western, anti-Jewish, Israel-hating business.
Approximately fifty people attended Erakat’s keynote address at the recent UC Berkeley conference on the fiftieth anniversary of the Six Day War, “6 Days, 50 Years: 1967 and the Politics of Time.” The conference was part of a larger University of California project “hosted in conjunction with Universities of California, Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara.”
In her talk, “Taking the Land Without the People: International Law and the 1967 War,” Erakat raised such leading questions as “How has an exorbitant register of death and destruction as experienced in the Gaza Strip during Israel’s most recent military offensives become tolerable in the language of law?” and “How has the Palestinian use of force been delegitimized to the point of extinguishing armed resistance by criminalizing all of it?”
The loaded nature of Erakat’s questions will be obvious to anyone with a passing grip on the history of the Jewish people under thirteen centuries of Arab-Muslim imperial rule. Given the lack of human rights for non-Muslims throughout the Middle East, it is laughable that she could ask them with a straight face.
Erakat asserted that the 1967 Israeli victory established “the machinery of occupation” whereby villages were established for the indigenous Jewish population in Judea and Samaria allegedly in direct contravention of international law.
Her principle argument was that the presence of Jews in Judea and Samaria represents a violation of the 4th Geneva Convention prohibiting states from moving people into territories occupied through war. As a skilled attorney and professional harasser of Middle Eastern Jewry in the U.S., Erakat acted as though her interpretation of international law is self-evident when, in fact, it is highly dubious.
Whatever the meaning of the Fourth Geneva Convention in terms of Jewish people building housing for themselves on Jewish land, Erakat rightly noted that Israel faces major international push-back. The “international community,” or so she stated, is opposed to land acquired via war and perhaps more importantly, the Palestinians simply would not allow it. The irony of such a position seemed entirely lost on her.
Naturally, Erakat also dragged out the whiskered canard that since the Six Day War, Israel has used national security as a mere “cover for further colonization.”
If the war was a war of national self-defense, which it was, then Israel has some legal and ethical “wiggle room” for its allegedly aggressive “settler-colonial” behavior. But, according to Erakat, the Six Day War was not defensive. On the contrary, it was a war of Israeli-Jewish aggression against its largely innocent Muslim neighbors.
The fatal flaw in Erakat’s approach, if not from a legal perspective then certainly from an ethical one, is that Arab and Muslim peoples oppressed “their” Jews as second and third-class non-citizens from the rise of Muhammad until the demise of the Ottoman Empire in World War I.
The Jews of the Middle East are the only people in human history to regain sovereignty after millennia of ethnic cleansing of their homeland. Like the Christians in the Middle East and Europe, Jews suffered the Arab-Muslim imperial conquests from the seventh-century until their failure at the “Gates of Vienna,” which marked the line of Jihadi advance into Europe in 1683.
If the Arabs of the Middle East wish to be viewed as victims of Jewish aggression, it might be helpful if they would stop the genocide of the Christians in the region. It would also be helpful if their religious leaders would stop teaching their children that killing Jews is beloved in the sight of Allah.
One cannot, after all, claim to be a victim of secular racist oppression while ruining millions of lives with religious racist oppression. From an ethical or moral perspective, it simply does not work that way.
Finally, this represents a difficulty within Middle East Studies, more generally, because it is an academic field grinding a political axe against both the West and the indigenous Jewish population in that part of the world.
People are beginning to realize the truth of this matter but, unfortunately, no one has told Noura Erakat.