Would the University of Illinois HireFire Nathan Glazer?

6 Aug

Personally, I disagree with the notion that anti-Semitism can be explained, justified, or understood in light of Israel’s actions. But if you think an academic should be hiredfired for saying something like that, you would have had to have been prepared, back in 2002, to fire Nathan Glazer for saying just that at a conference at NYU:

Nathan Glazer, the well-known Harvard University sociologist sometimes associated with neoconservatism, suggested that whereas historically antisemitism was rooted in “illusionary” beliefs about Jews, today’s antisemitism is often a reaction to Israeli actions. And he said that such “hostility can be reduced and moderated by [Israel’s] policies.”

Glazer, as I recall, said considerably more than that. Among other things he said that since Israel claims to speak in the name of all Jews across the globe, its defenders should not be  surprised when its enemies apply that claim to all Jews and begin opposing them as Jews.

7 Responses to “Would the University of Illinois HireFire Nathan Glazer?”

  1. Alex Bowles August 6, 2014 at 10:58 pm #

    One’s a normative claim and the other is a positive claim. I completely understand the broader issue of academic freedom but this post is misleading and doesn’t help.

  2. BillR August 7, 2014 at 7:29 am #

    Benny Morris, the famed Israeli historian (and no friend of Palestinians: “something like a cage has to be built for them”) said as much:

    The fear of territorial displacement and dispossession was to be the chief motor of Arab antagonism to Zionism down to 1948 (and indeed after 1967 as well).


  3. escott August 7, 2014 at 11:16 am #

    Corey writes, “Personally, I disagree with the notion that anti-Semitism can be explained, justified, or understood in light of Israel’s actions.”

    Yet anti-Semitism is often exposed in LIGHT OF THE DISCUSSION. It’s surprising to hear odd notions of Jewishness expressed by people (even Jews) when you engage their reasoning.

    Anti-Semitism is a touchy subject, as is all prejudice. We avoid the discussion , even when it’s necessary.

    Glazer may be correct, “hostility can be reduced and moderated by [Israel’s] policies.” So can be said for every person and Nation. Would expecting Israel to be more enlightened be a prejudice?

  4. Aaron Gross August 7, 2014 at 5:28 pm #

    You’re trying to whitewash what Salaita actually wrote by comparing it to this. (And by the way, I agree with what you attribute to Glazer here.) Among other things, Salaita wished that tens of thousands of innocent people would “go missing,” in the context of the violent kidnapping of Israeli teenagers. The controversy is mostly about how he expressed his views. There are plenty of anti-Zionist professors out there.


  1. What Exactly Did Steven Salaita Mean By That Tweet? | Corey Robin - August 8, 2014

    […] should say, as I already have, that I disagree with this understanding of anti-Semitism today. But I think it’s the only […]

  2. Yes, Steven Salaita Was Fired, And No, It's Not Defensible - Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money - August 9, 2014

    […] Conveniently, Nelson provides the context of a previous tweet that makes it clear what Salatia was trying to argue here: “By eagerly conflating Jewishness and Israel, Zionists are partly responsible when people say anti-Semitic shit in response to Israeli terror.” Now, I don’t actually agree with this argument, and I think we can reaffirm that Twitter is a poor medium for making too-clever-by-half points with potentially inflammatory terminology. But as evidence of anti-Semitism, this is nothing, unless you think Nathan Glazer is an anti-Semite. […]

  3. Do Jewish Actions Ever Cause Anti-Semitism? - September 24, 2014

    […] — current events. And that’s why, as Brooklyn College political scientist Corey Robin noted, in 2002, the esteemed Jewish sociologist Nathan Glazer not only attributed contemporary […]

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