Scholars accuse Duke of publishing 'academic anti-Semitism'

Kyle Perisic
Leadership Institute Intern

  • Duke University Press is taking flak from pro-Israel scholars for publishing a book by a Rutgers University professor that some consider "academic anti-Semitism."
  • The book alleges that the Israeli Defense Force systematically maims Palestinians "in order to control them," but critics say the claim lacks data, and question how the book passed the peer review process.
  • Rutgers University Professor of Women's and Gender Studies Jasbir Puar makes some outrageous claims about the Israel Defense Force in a new book, The Right to Maim: Debility, Capacity, Disability.

    In the book, Puar claims that the Israel Defense Force (IDF) has "shown a demonstrable pattern over decades of sparing life, of shooting to maim rather than to kill."

    "This is pseudo-scholarship, with no data to back up the fallacious theories."   

    “This is ostensibly a humanitarian practice,” she notes, but charges that it is really a means of "creating injury and maintaining Palestinian populations as perpetually debilitated, and yet alive, in order to control them.”

    [RELATED: Students pressure Rutgers to discipline anti-Semitic prof]

    This is not the first time Puar has made anti-Semitic claims in an academic setting. In a 2016 lecture at Dartmouth College, she claimed that Israelis harvest the organs of Palestinians and also accused the Israelis of committing field executions and performing medical experiments involving the deliberate “stunting” of bodies.

    Sergei Kan, a Dartmouth anthropology professor, told The Dartmouth that Puar’s statements were “academic anti-Semitism,” and others have called into question Duke University Press’s editorial process.

    Asaf Romirowsky, a Middle East historian and executive director of the anti-academic boycott organization Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, asked how a respected academic press came to publish the book.

    "This is pseudo-scholarship, with no data to back up the fallacious theories," Romirowsky told The Washington Free Beacon. "On the other side, there is so much data to counter Puar's claims about Israeli policies. It's a compliment to call the book academic garbage—and now it gets the imprimatur of a university press, making it a legitimate secondary source that will be taught and cited."

    [RELATED: Rutgers disavows prof's overtly anti-Semitic Facebook posts]

    Duke University Press uses a single-blind review process, which means the reviewers see the author’s name, but the author does not see the editor’s name.

    The last step in the publishing process is final approval by the Editorial Advisory Board, which has 14 Duke faculty members who review their publication "to ensure that the name of Duke University appears only on publications that have met high standards of peer review."

    While Puar was on tour for her book, she refused to let anyone record her talks and even cancelled a lecture at Fordham University after finding out that it would be recorded and made available publicly. She later threatened to sue anyone who publishes the transcript of her talk at Vassar College.

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @KylePerisic





    Kyle Perisic

    Kyle Perisic

    Leadership Institute Intern
    Kyle Perisic is a Leadership Institute Intern, and reports liberal bias and abuse on college campuses for Campus Reform. He is originally from Minnesota and graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a double major in English and Political Science. While in college, Kyle was a member of various student organizations, worked in government relations, and worked on several political campaigns.
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