NY university faculty union exercises weapons-grade sophistry in anti-Israel 'resolution'
Sometimes, a question can be constructed so as to contain a pre-designed answer rather than to inquire. The classic example of such a "loaded question" comes from classical Greece: "Have you stopped beating your father?" Saying "yes" acknowledges having beaten your father in the past; saying "no" means you're still doing it.
Fast-forward from ancient Athens to the present-day City University of New York, and take a look at its faculty union's "Resolution in Support of the Palestinian People":
Whereas, as an academic labor union committed to anti-racism, academic freedom, and international solidarity among workers, the PSC-CUNY cannot be silent about the continued subjection of Palestinians to the state-supported displacement, occupation, and use of lethal force by Israel; and
Whereas, beginning on May 15, 2021, the escalating violence against Palestinians in East Jerusalem and Gaza killed hundreds of Palestinians, injured thousands more, and destroyed entire neighborhoods, including hospitals, schools, and residences; and
Whereas ... Israel's pattern and practice of dispossession and expansion of settlements, dating back to its establishment as a settler colonial state in 1948, has been found to be illegal under international law, international human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch and B'Tselem have designated these practices of Israel as "apartheid" and a regime of legalized racial discrimination perpetrated against the Palestinian people; and the International Criminal Court has opened an investigation into these practices; and
Whereas ... state-sponsored policies of settler colonialism link the Palestinian struggle for self determination to the struggles of Indigenous people and people of color in the United States; and
Whereas [I am sure by now you get the idea of CUNY union's whereases] ...
RESOLVED, that the PSC-CUNY condemns the massacre of Palestinians by the Israeli state; and be it further
RESOLVED, that in fall 2021, the PSC-CUNY facilitate discussions at the chapter level of the content of this resolution and consider PSC support of the 2005 call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS)[.]
Those "whereases" inject a lot of assumptions into the question of "why was there a war between Israel and Hamas?" to reformulate it, in the worst tradition of "have you stopped beating your father," into "has Israel stopped being an apartheid state oppressing (nay, massacring' inoffensive Palestinians?" The wise men of CUNY answer in the "RESOLVED" section with a resounding "NO" — by a whopping majority of 84-34.
I am sorry to say it, but this is exactly what is nowadays called "sophistry" — because the assumptions loaded into CUNY's "resolution" are lies from start to finish. There is no Palestinian state — not because of "Israel’s pattern and practice of dispossession and expansion of settlements, dating back to its establishment as a settler colonial state in 1948," but because of the Palestinian rejection of the Israeli state as "a settler colonial state" rooted in their self-righteous reading of Arab history, which turns a blind eye to Arab conquests in the seventh century that engulfed what is now called Palestine, and the prior existence of the Jewish state in that area between approximately 1,200 B.C. and A.D. 300, allowing Palestinians to play innocent victims of Israel's "settler colonialism" while anywhere outside present-day Saudi Arabia, "Palestine" included, Arabs themselves are settler-colonialists. In fact, there is no difference whatsoever between what happened to the Middle East, North Africa, and Spain after the death of Mohamed and what happened to the Americas after the voyages of Columbus except for the means of transportation used to "settle-colonize" those respective areas.
Israelis are not "settler-colonialists," and they are not fighting, but rather fighting back. They are not aggressors and occupiers, but defenders and liberators. That's an important difference.
The CUNY union at least should have mentioned in its resolution the 4,000 rockets Hamas rained on Israel. Nor is there any connection at all between the "Palestinian struggle" and "self determination." They could have had it seventy years ago if they wanted — but they do not care for such little things as "self-determination." To them, only the destruction of Israel would do. Nor does the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have anything to do with the "struggles of Indigenous people and people of color in the United States." (Nor — it should be noted — do those latter have anything to do with racism, certainly not in BLM's view of what racism is, meaning any attempt of law enforcement that affects a black person.)
The bizarre thing is that the sophists who signed this resolution apparently see themselves as academics. In that, they are totally wrong. Sophists are not academics. Sophists seek victory in an argument no matter the cost, lies being a legitimate tool. For them, attaining truth —something academics ultimately strive for — is not a goal at all.
This morphing of the present-day academia into a tool of public sophistry raises a question: do universities like CUNY that are no longer the seat of academic inquiry, but of political sophistry, deserve public financial support? This is not a "loaded question" at all.
Image via Max Pixel.
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