CiF Watch exclusive interview with Smadar Bakovic, who fought anti-Zionist bias in UK Academia & won!


An Israeli postgraduate student at Warwick University (in Coventry, UK)  recently prevailed in efforts to have her dissertation re-marked to a distinction after it was originally given a poor mark by a professor who promotes academic boycotts of Israel.

Smadar Bakovic had repeatedly told the school she was uncomfortable with the professor, Nicola Pratt, overseeing her master’s dissertation on Israeli Arab identity.

Professor Pratt is an anti-Israel activist who, following Operation Cast Lead, was one of more than 100 academics who wrote to the Guardian saying “Israel must lose” and calling for the UK to implement BDS against the Jewish state.

Ms Bakovic, 35, who lives near Jerusalem, spent a year challenging Warwick’s original rejection of her appeal against the decision to allow Professor Pratt to supervise her.

She was told last week that her re-marked dissertation had obtained a distinction, with a score 11 points higher than the original mark given by Professor Pratt.

Upon contacting Ms. Bakovic, she agreed to answer a few of my questions:

Adam Levick: First, congratulations on your success in having your dissertation re-marked to a distinction after it was originally given a poor mark by Professor Pratt. How do you feel about prevailing?

Smadar Bakovic: It was a hard, frustrating year. I had to spend a whole year writing letters and reports to the university, and even had to appear in a video-conference with the university’s Complaints Committee, in order to persuade them that an injustice took place. A WHOLE YEAR. 

I did this for myself, for Israel, for Jews and for all other minorities all over the world who are being discriminated on the basis of where they come from or anything else. I am sure that had I been gay or black and professor Pratt were to sign petitions to boycott all gays and/or blacks, the university would have kicked her out a long time ago, and petitions would not be necessary, as the act would have been so disgraceful to the university.

But Israel and Jew hatred are a free for all – not meaning that all British people are racist, but there is definitely an atmosphere within UK academia and other fields such that one can be anti-Semitic without paying the consequences. As if there is justice for all, BUT for Jews and Israelis. I feel great. I won the battle. But the war is not over yet.  The most disgraceful thing is that the university is STILL backing Pratt and saying that she is “exemplary.” Would the university defend her were she against ANY other minority? No. Pratt would be already looking for a new job.

AL: Can you briefly explain how you first realized Professor Pratt was biased against you do to the fact that you’re a Zionist?

SB: I first came across Pratt when one evening, there was an event in which the Palestinian society (can’t remember its name) invited a Jew from Jews for Justice for Palestinians.

The message the event sent to the audience was: Israel should not have been established (but since now it is too late for that, some political solution should be reached), it is a murderous Apartheid regime, etc….Professor Pratt was the moderator for this.

She was also connected to other activities on campus, so I knew this was something she was regularly involved in. Then, when I saw that she was allocated to me, a red light came on immediately, and I did some research about her on the Internet.

It took me exactly 2 seconds to see exactly what she was about – one of the largest supporters of the academic (and other) boycotts of Israel, who signs petitions accusing Israel of “ethnic cleansing” and being an “Apartheid state.” Even she (on her site on the Warwick page) calls herself an activist.

I then knew that I was dealing with a self-defined anti-Israel academic, who really calls to boycott Israeli academia, meaning Jewish Israeli academia, which makes her also an anti-Semite.

If I were Muhammed Jaber but with an Israeli passport, then I am sure Nicola Pratt would not at all object to having me in the university, even if I were to apply from an Israeli institution which she calls to boycott. Additionally, Pratt, in her feedback of my dissertation said that I was pursuing Israeli and Zionist lines and perspectives.

What is a Zionist perspective, or an Israeli one?

Obviously, she doesn’t acknowledge that Israel is a pluralistic, democratic state, so there are MANY different opinions about everything. She also put down anything I wrote which was even slightly from the Israeli perspective and said “surely this is the perspective of the Israeli government.” (And she reduced points for this).

AL: As The JC reported, following Operation Cast Lead Pratt was one of more than 100 academics who wrote to the Guardian saying “Israel must lose” the war and calling for the UK to implement a programme of BDS. What are your broader views about the fact that such racism against Israelis seems so egregious within the UK media and Academia?

SB: Nicola Pratt and her likes think that everyone should be treated equally, except Israelis and Jews. Meaning that she has no problem with Iran, Hezbollah, and she doesn’t call for the boycott of Iran or Lebanon.

Her obsession, as is the obsession of many others, is ONLY the “evil” coming out of Israel, the ONLY democracy in the Middle East, where woman and minorities have rights, and where they can vote and participate in all walks of life. The only place in the Middle East where human shields are not used, and where the army has strict guidelines about when they can fire.

This to her and to her like is the only point – Israel represents to her everything that is evil, the cause of everything that is bad in the region.

On my dissertation, she also claimed that my claim that minorities in the Arab Middle East don’t have equal rights is incorrect – that the only aspect in which they are discriminated against is religiously. And she is an “expert” on women in the Middle East. So you see? Nothing is as evil as Israel. And when something is evil…..well, you know what should happen to it.

This is why they compare Israel and South Africa  – South Africa was an Apartheid state which was illegitimate. And because of its illegitimacy, it had to be eradicated.  She and the BDS movement are smart – they don’t explicitly say let’s boycott Israeli Jews, but, rather, let’s boycott Israeli institutions. While it may not be okay in most circles to explicitly say you hate Jews, hating Israel is just fine.

In effect, Pratt knows that, unlike other forms of racism, racism against Israel is often condoned, and she probably never thought that this would become an issue. And the response of the university shows that to a great extent, she was right! They know exactly who they can pick on. I say, enough of this!

AL: I was very moved by the fact that you said you fought this battle for Israel. Can you please elaborate?

SB: Nicola Pratt, and those who think like her reject Israel’s right to exist and especially to exist as a Jewish state, separate Israel from all other states. In effect, what they are saying is that Zionism, which represents the national aspirations of the Jewish people, is illegitimate, evil and racist. But yet they have no problem with their own states having been born out of nationalism…or being defined as a Christian [or Muslim] state (in name, in customs, in the way of life…).

This has only one answer: if Israel should not exist and Jews should not be able to define themselves as they want, then Jews themselves don’t have a right to exist as free people, as this is the only place they have where they can be guaranteed to live freely without the oppression of anti-Semitism. If Israel won’t be a Jewish state, then we all know what will happen to the Jews who reside there.

Pratt calls to boycott all Israeli institutions, in EVERY way – not to accept applications, not to host Israeli professors, to stop any UK and EU cooperation between themselves and Israel. ONLY Israel. It is not like she is saying, look the Middle East is all violent….look what is happening now with the Arab Spring…..thousands are being killed…..let’s boycott them all. No, to her ONLY Israel is the problem in the region. This is not only anti-Israel bias, but also blatant anti-Semitism….singling Israel out as the Jew among nations, where everyone else is pure, and Israel is bad. This is unacceptable.

AL: As Harry’s Place noted, it seems odd that, given the obvious potential for conflict between you and Pratt, that the dissertation wasn’t second marked to begin with.  Was this possibility ever discussed?

SB: There are two points here. The dissertation was marked by another professor (who is not an expert in the Middle East) who gave me a higher mark. But with Pratt’s low mark, the total mark was very low. This, however, is not the point. Because from the very start, I could not write the dissertation freely – my real politics and beliefs were suppressed, that it doesn’t matter how many people would have marked it, it wasn’t something I really wrote and believed in.

When it was marked again, I changed a few sentences which were only there because I knew Pratt’s political orientation. This is why I based my entire appeal on what the department didn’t want me to find, the Charter of Statutes, in which paragraph 20 details this issue, where you can’t be politically intimidated when writing. You can find this here.

The dissertation could have been marked by 1,000 more people…but since its content was “biased” anyway…what was the point?? It is not only about the mark – the university violated my right (signed by the HM Queen) to write freely without any intimidation.

When I wrote to the department about Pratt, BEFORE starting to write, and I even sent them links as to Pratt’s desire to boycott Israel, they said I *had* to work under her. They didn’t want to understand what was going on. Any other minority would have been treated differently (ALL minorities should be protected from such bias).

AL: Finally, can you tell us a little about the petition being circulated asking that Professor Pratt be fired for such unprofessional conduct?

SB: The petition was not started my me, but was brought to my attention. I am surprised, positively of course, that people are finding it and signing this. I see this as a great window of opportunity, at a time when Jews and Israelis are usually intimidated and silenced, to fight against this type of racism and discrimination.

This must be done while we can, before the momentum disappears. Professor Pratt should not be a part of Warwick, or of any other reputable institution, as she supports racism against a very specific group – Israelis and Jews. Anyone who believes that the academic world in the UK should be liberal, open-minded and inclusive should sign this. Each of us might face discrimination one day, and we have to support each other in combating it. I urge everyone to sign it.

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/fire-professor-nicola-pratt-now/

Smadar BAKOVIC, December 23, 2011, Israel.

UPDATE:

Like the Facebook Page of “Fire Nicola Pratt

UPDATE 2:

Per The Jewish Chronicle, Nicola Pratt is being investigated by the agency that reviews the performance of universities.

159 comments on “CiF Watch exclusive interview with Smadar Bakovic, who fought anti-Zionist bias in UK Academia & won!

  1. The petition signatures now stand at over 380. One signatory called Tal at 384 or thereabouts expressed a concern I had.

    Tal is coming here to study and is alarmed that she might experience the same destructiveness as Smadar.did.

    I hope Tal will post here where we could perhaps also post some helpful information or get some to her via Adam.

    • A vital question to answer to aid any future person with the same issue. I know that the local Warwick JISoC is unable to help and had suggested the CST – does anyone else have a suggestion?

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    • “Older comments” link below, Infidel.

      I see Smadar is having her character besmirched, She works for Honest Reporting so has to be dishonest.

      It is astonishing how many rotten individuals are in universities. The dark side is celebrating Cast Lead lies.

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  8. I remember Smadar attending parties at Saint’s Bar and Evolve instead of doing her work. Basically she didn’t get the grade she wanted so she whined and played the religion card. How brave.

    • Is Leibowitz your real name? Why don’t you give me your name and email, so she can reply to you personally. Clearly a creep like you hasn’t the imagination to see how a supervisor with a worldview radically antithetical to you own, even to your existence qua Israeli Jew, could cause a student immense problems. She requested a change of supervisor. Negligently, the university did not provide it.

      And since when did doing a masters preclude attending parties or going to bars? Are you some kind of queer, asexual robot?

      • No my real name is Abdullah Mohsen Farangeez Al-Khateer Sheikh…Yes Leibowitz is my real name, surprising is it not? I understand having a supervisor “with a worldview radically antithetical to you[r] own” can be disturbing. All I’m saying is Smadar showed more interest in Grey Goose than her dissertation during her time at Warwick…Oh and by the by, I studied there too.

          • What is the PSC? I was there when Smadar was studying in Warwick, just telling you folks what I saw. If you don’t think Saint’s Bar is a real place, look it up on google. Saint’s Bar Leamington Spa.

            • @ Leib

              Wow so because she was seen in the pub, that makes her a lying cheat? Think that may cover every uni student.

              • “because she was seen in the pub” more than in the library, “that makes her a lying cheat”.

                • And you followed her, every time she went to the library, did you? Or to the pub…

                  You sound like a pitiable, resentful jerk.

            • Who said the bar wasn’t real? It sounds like you were keeping tabs on Smadar wherever she went, and feel resentful that she ended up getting a distinction. Clearly she is capable of sound academic work.

              She felt tha Nichola Pratt stifled her efforts, and that the university should have arranged a change of supervisor, as she had asked, and was entitled to do.

              It was not over religion (clearly you have not been following the case closely), it was because Pratt was avowedly anti-Zionist, and discounted even the possibility that Smadar could put an academic pro-Zionist case. Given that Smadar is an Israeli Jew, and that probably most Israeli Jews would describe themselves as Zionist, that was a highly discriminatory and unjust position for Pratt to take, which, Smadar claims, adversely affected her work. Her complaint was upheld.

              But, as I said, you sound like a pitiable resentful jerk, who seems to have had a thing for keeping an eye on Smadar wherever she went.

              • “She felt tha Nichola Pratt stifled her efforts, and that the university should have arranged a change of supervisor, as she had asked, and was entitled to do.”

                It is university policy not to change supervisors on a whim.

                “It was not over religion [...] Given that Smadar is an Israeli Jew, and that probably most Israeli Jews would describe themselves as Zionist, that was a highly discriminatory and unjust position for Pratt to take”

                So it was about religion. Unless Judaism is a political ideology nowadays.

                “the possibility that Smadar could put an academic pro-Zionist case”

                So Pratt’s criticism that Smadar was taking Zionist views as proven truths is well-founded.

                • “She felt tha Nichola Pratt stifled her efforts, and that the university should have arranged a change of supervisor, as she had asked, and was entitled to do.”

                  It is university policy not to change supervisors on a whim.]

                  It wasn’t a ‘whim': she had a serious problem with Pratt, which the university acknowledged it hadn’t acknowledged.

                  “It was not over religion [...] Given that Smadar is an Israeli Jew, and that probably most Israeli Jews would describe themselves as Zionist, that was a highly discriminatory and unjust position for Pratt to take”

                  So it was about religion. Unless Judaism is a political ideology nowadays.

                  “the possibility that Smadar could put an academic pro-Zionist case”

                  So Pratt’s criticism that Smadar was taking Zionist views as proven truths is well-founded.]

                  Smadar was entitled to argue a Zionist case (however Pratt defines ‘Zionism’). Smadar’s objection that Pratt appeared to forbid the arguing of anything or case she perceived as ‘Zionist’ seems well founded. Pratt exceeded her remit as supervisor: she was not entitled to censor or mark down the expression of Smadar’s views because politically she objected to them.

                  It sounds prima facie as though you too approve of such censorship, so no suprise you’re unhappy with Smadar’s successfully appealing and winning a distinction for it.

                  You do sound like a prize jerk.

                • Why do you feel the need to answer my comments 5 times over? Having trouble building an argument?

                  1. Again, you yourself said that Smadar was discriminated against because she was an Israeli Jew. Disagreeing with me on the point that that the issue is about her religion is just disingenuous.

                  2. Pratt did not censor anything, Smadar’s “watered down” dissertation was the product of her own self-censorship out of the ill-placed belief that a professor cannot distinguish between her academic life and her personal one. Key words in your preceding comment: “appeared to forbid.” It is more Smadar’s misinterpretation of Pratt’s academic capabilities which put her in this situation. She is entitled to mark down statements, especially in such a subjective course as politics and international relations, based on the political inclinations. The only thing Pratt did, was point out that Smadar stuck too closely to a certain political discourse and accepted it as the truth. That is fair comment. It so happens that said discourse is Israeli/Zionist rhetoric so all of you get your panties up in a bunch. Furthermore, Smadar is not entitled to argue a Zionist case. She is not in front of a court of law defending Zionism. She is doing a dissertation on x y or z, whatever her subject is. It is also her duty, as a budding scholar, to look at this subject without the lens of political affiliation.

                  3. I am not on the university faculty but I have done Comparative American Studies at Warwick and was overall very pleased with my experience there. I will not disclose my full name on a public website to which everyone has access. I still have some self-respect and desire to protect my privacy.

                • Leibowitz, if you came here to try and make these one-eyed numpties see sense, I salute you. But forget it, this lot are as bad as the PSC and Hamas when it comes to being biased.

                • [Why do you feel the need to answer my comments 5 times over? Having trouble building an argument?].

                  Because not all points occurred to me in the course of one comment.

                  [1. Again, you yourself said that Smadar was discriminated against because she was an Israeli Jew.]

                  In a sense yes: a priori excluding a position that probably most Israeli Jews hold (that, say, the fundenmental nationalism that bore Israel has at least some legitimacy: I do not know precisely what Pratt defined as ‘Zionist’ nor to what she applied it in Smadar’s work). It would be similarly discrimatory to insist that any other student had to accept that the birth of their national state was, say, fundamentally illegitimate.

                  But the primary discrimination seems to have been on taking or assuming a political premise of which Pratt did not approve (though, again, we do not know what she excluded for its being ‘Zionist’. And there is evidence that suggests Pratt’s discourse is suffused with her own political assumptions and arguments), a premise anyone of any ethno-nationality could have taken i.e. it was Pratt who couldn’t keep her political agenda out of the relationship.

                  [ Disagreeing with me on the point that that the issue is about her religion is just disingenuous.]

                  No, I meant Israeli Jew qua an ethno-national group. You define ‘Jew’ solely religiously, which strongly suggests you lack elementary knowledge about something on which you otherwise pronounce with affected authority.

                  [2. Pratt did not censor anything,]

                  How do you know?

                  [Smadar’s “watered down” dissertation was the product of her own self-censorship out of the ill-placed belief that a professor cannot distinguish between her academic life and her personal one.]

                  And she may well have been correct. It may well have been that Pratt was incapable of supervising some one who did not take her anti-Zionist position, that her political activism indeed entered the relationship.

                  [ Key words in your preceding comment: “appeared to forbid.”]

                  I certainly doubt Pratt explicitly forbade anything. But by, say, excluding anything she considered ‘Zionist’ would have, could have, appeared to Smadar as tantamount to censorship, and would have been, in my view. In any case, I can see how it could have a demoralising effect on a student, and adversely affect her work in a way that constitutes an abuse of the teacher-student relationship.

                  [It is more Smadar’s misinterpretation of Pratt’s academic capabilities which put her in this situation.]

                  How do you know? Have you access to sources that we don’t? Do you know Pratt, were, are you friends with her, and has she been giving you her side of the story?

                  [She is entitled to mark down statements, especially in such a subjective course as politics and international relations, based on the political inclinations.]

                  Then presumably she should mark down
                  a) Herself
                  b) Others, for taking an anti-Zionist position.
                  [The only thing Pratt did, was point out that Smadar stuck too closely to a certain political discourse and accepted it as the truth.]
                  a) How do you know that is +all+ she said
                  b) How do you know of what she said it? According to Smadar, she said it of something and in such a way that a second supervisor was prepared to give for it a distinction.
                  c)
                  [That is fair comment.]

                  It depends on what, precisely, Pratt was excluding as ‘Zionist’ or ‘Israeli governmental’. Smadar didn’t think it was, nor, according to her, did a second supervisor.

                  [It so happens that said discourse is Israeli/Zionist rhetoric]

                  Asides that all, in a sense, is rhetoric, how do you know that what Smadar said was +mere+ rhetoric (let alone that what I believe about Israel or Zionism is +mere+ rhetoric)? Do you have access to sources we don’t?

                  It sounds as though you have similar prejudices to Pratt: you are predisposed to dismiss any political position or premise not your own as +mere+ rhetoric.

                  [so all of you get your panties up in a bunch. Furthermore, Smadar is not entitled to argue a Zionist case.]

                  a) We are all political creatures
                  b) We are all human, and we all argue on the basis of premises that, to make the argument, have to be taken as a given
                  c) Pratt evidently feels entitled to argue on anti-Zionist premises
                  d) We do not know what Pratt excluded as ‘Zionist’. Prima facie it was something a second supervisor thought perfectly reasonable.

                  [She is not in front of a court of law defending Zionism. She is doing a dissertation on x y or z, whatever her subject is. It is also her duty, as a budding scholar, to look at this subject without the lens of political affiliation.

                  a) We do not know what Pratt labeled as ‘Zionist”: it could have been taking an position or assuming any premise that Israel wasn’t born in sin, or isn’t an apartheid state.
                  b) Then tell that to Pratt, who evidently feels entitled to argue both on an anti-Zionist, if not pro-Palestinian Arab Muslim and Christian, but anti-Jewish, nationalist, premise.

                  [3. I am not on the university faculty but I have done Comparative American Studies at Warwick and was overall very pleased with my experience there.]

                  So, because you were happy and had no problems with your experience, someone in a very different subject, in very different circumstances, must be making it all up? And your elementary confusion of the ‘Jew’ issue suggests you really don’t know what you’re talking about.

                  [I will not disclose my full name on a public website to which everyone has access. I still have some self-respect and desire to protect my privacy.]

                  I am not sure that admitting to keeping tabs on a woman’s social life, or her time in the library; or pronouncing with authority on an academic relationship, or academic matters, of which you lack even elementary knowledge, evinces much self-respect. More like a profound ego and excessive self-worth.

                  It sounds more like a jilted lover, or stalker-obsessive, than either academic or respectful of self.

                  No wonder shame deters you from disclosing your name.

                • [So it was about religion. Unless Judaism is a political ideology nowadays.]

                  Not very academic, are you? It’s you who’s saying that Smadar’s political issue was a religious one.

                  If you got a distinction from Pratt (or anyone) arguing on the basis of that, you didn’t deserve it.

                • ‘It is university policy not to change supervisors on a whim.’

                  Having taught undergraduates, I must say the issue of whether a student agrees or disagrees with my views or position does arise. As a teacher, I am not allowed to censor or discount a student’s views because I disagree with them, or even find them objectionable. I have to allow the student the same right most of my lecturers allowed me: to argue my case. It doesn’t matter what you argue, in a sense, so long as you adduce evidence to back your view. I don’t have to agree with the interpretation of the evidence. The argument has to have a certain integrity.

                  I am especially careful with students who +radically+ disagree with me, and am very careful not to dismiss their argument on the basis of that disagreement.

                  It sounds as though Pratt was not so careful, indeed to have let her personal political views adversely affect the marking her student’s work, even stifle their argument.

                  That is +bad+ teaching. It is unprofessional and it constitutes an abuse of the student’s rights and time.

                • [It is university policy not to change supervisors on a whim.]

                  You speak as thought for the university. You’re not on its faculty, are you?

                  And how about a full name? Else you are making attacks on Smadar’s integrity without having the integrity to say exactly who you are, and what you did or do at Warwick University.

                • [It is university policy not to change supervisors on a whim.]

                  It +should+ be university policy to do everything possible for a student to fulfill her academic potential, not stifle it before it has a chance to flourish through incompetent or insensitive management.

                  Would you put a gay student under a right wing evangelical Christian supervisor, who thought homosexuality was deviany? And who campaigned regularly against it?

                  Would you put a Palestinian student under an Israeli Jewish ultra-Zionist supervisor, who thought that Palestinian nationalism was essentially terrorism?

        • OK, well, I have emailed her, and I be interested in how she responds.

          I any case, I am a PhD student, but I know how dispiriting it can be if you have to wrestle with your supervisor to get your point across, or if he or she dismisses your efforts, especially on ideological grounds. I am a reasonably clever, diligent chap. But I recall that, during my masters, a relationship with the lecturer on one of my courses was very demoralising, for that reason. It can happen, with real human beings. The fact you are insensitive to that, or think you are impervious to it, suggests a lack of humanity, and an inhuman streak, in fact. Students are human beings, and a bad supervisor, or supervisor who behaves badly, or abuses their power, to stifle a student’s efforts, can make the student feel her efforts are pointless and futile.

          • Add to that that this is a foreign country to the student and what kind of impression would she get of us?

            There is a signatory to the petition who expresses concern about her plan to study here.

          • Zkharya – I have had the odd anxiety about the potential for some kind of awkwardness WRT a student, based on my political views – in practice this hasn’t been a problem (yet!). I think this is quite a complicated case, but Leibowitz’s comments – or particularly his/her initial comments about going to the bar etc – just seem spiteful. Lots of very high achieving students find plenty of time to go out drinking

        • ‘ understand having a supervisor “with a worldview radically antithetical to you[r] own” can be disturbing.’

          Then you can understand how it can adversely affect a student’s work, can’t you?

          So, what’s your beef?

          You weren’t a student of Pratt’s too, by any chance? Or one who happen’s to share her views?

          Or did you have problems similar to Smadar’s, and now wish you had taken action?

  9. Zkharya and Ariadne – your points are excellent and so true. It is sad that Leibowitz finds such low and unimportant points to respond to this debate. I mean, if someone claims X about a student because they go down the pub, then it means they really have NOTHING to say, as EVERY student in the UK goes down the pub….more than once. In fact, I have looked up this woman and not only did she write a book (which I am sure Leibowitz did not…) but she has also been engaged in many Israeli-Palestinian activities and conferences. More than Leibowitz has, I am sure, even without looking him up. So the issue of the pub is just so senseless that I have no idea where he got it from. Maybe he was drunk?? I nearly want to burst out laughing. Poor Bakovic. She goes down the pub….but wait, in one of the interviews, it says that she was on a distinction track…..so I say, if someone can go down the pub and be on a discinction track, all power to them. And it has NOTHING to do with whether Pratt and the department were wrong – which obviously they were!

    • I searched on Smadar’s name, Annette and also found the book and a short paper she wrote after a conference and also after 3 years of talking to Israeli Arabs after the second “intifada”,

      Smadar seems a person full of goodwill. That isn’t a statement we could make about Israel-haters.

  10. By the way, Zarka and Ariadne, what you are saying is also true – I think Leibowitz is somewhat scary…..if he was following Bakovic, as obviously he can remember HER actions so well, then this is a cause for alarm…who knows what his intentions were when he did that…I mean bars are FULL of people on the weekends……was he stalking her?? The UK is quite an alarming place at times, when it comes to partying and all that….I would be alarmed if I were Bakovic and keep this fact in mind. Very good point, people.

  11. Since I do not seem to be able to reply directly to your post, I will post my answer here zkharya.

    First of all let me present my heartfelt congratulations for you being able to construct an argument in one post with paragraphs and sub points. It is a true sign of intellectual development.

    1. Yes I define Jew solely in religious terms because that is how it is and should be defined. If Jew meant a national/ethnic group, then being Jewish would not be something one could change.

    2. All your questions concerning the possibility of me discovering facts you ignore can be thrown right back at you. How do you know what Smadar is saying is the absolute truth? As the “victim” of “discrimination” she obviously, and legitimately, has a story tainted by her experience meaning it is prone to some form, even slight, of exaggeration or bias.

    3. I wholeheartedly agree with you on the point that we are all human beings. Turk, Palestinian, Indonesian, Cherokee we are all human. And yes we argue based on premises we take to be true. But political ideologies, which are essentially opinions, can never taken to be absolutely true and should constantly be questioned. That is what Pratt tried to make Smadar understand, but, as this whole overblown situation shows, evidently failed in doing.

    4. At the end of the day, you–and not just you as a person, but the community posting on this website which agrees with your views–take Smadar Bakovic’s statements as being the only right source of information in this. Please consult the following link- http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/newsandevents/pressreleases/statement_on_recent/ If at all, a prestigious university’s press release is a more credible source of information than the victim.

    • ‘Jewish’ has had ethno-national connotations for most of Christian and Islamic, never mind, Jewish history. Zionism is Jewish nationalism. Jews have have been regarded as an ethno-national group for most of the last 2000 years, at least.

      Jewish history clearly isn’t your speciality. Perhaps you should listen, or think, before you pronounce forth, in future?

      You began by accusing Smadar of idle- or fecklessness, to which you imputed her low mark. Now you grant her some ‘legitimately’. An improvement.

      You clearly have no problem with Pratt’s anti-Zionist ideology or premises excluding what she perceived as ‘Zionist’ (as yet undefined) in Smadar’s work. The new marker doesn’t seem to have had a problem with it, whatever it was.

      I am inclined to listen to a student if she has problems such as this, as did, belatedly, the university, which admitted it had not taken Smadar’s concerns seriously.

      Had she gone to you, she would have had a thin time of it. Thank heavens you were not in a position in charge of students’ welfare!

      So far as I can see, Pratt’s a priori political and ideological premises adversely affected Smadar’s fulfilling her academic potential. I am glad this has been redressed, as should you be.

      • It is regrettable to see you have regressed back to answering in several posts. Here I was, having such high hopes for you. :(

        1. Jewish history is not my specialty, but neither does arguing seem to be yours. You have not answered why I think Jewish is purely a religion; instead you have sent me to consult literature and inform myself.

        2.Read again. I’m not saying Smadar has any legitimacy. I’m saying her account of what happened to her is tainted by her experience. In that context, it is legitimate for it to be tainted because she is the “victim” and has “suffered” and thus it is normal she has some sort of bias.

        3. Seems like a lot happens to you: taught undergrads, crippled by a private surgeon. Next you’ll be saving little kittens in trees. If you are such a scholar of all things worldly, why bother answering a low-life unemployed pervert who hides behind a pseudonym on a website read by a community which would not change their view of the world even if hell froze over?

        • ‘It is regrettable to see you have regressed back to answering in several posts. Here I was, having such high hopes for you.

          1. Jewish history is not my specialty, but neither does arguing seem to be yours. You have not answered why I think Jewish is purely a religion;]

          Ah, you mean this:

          [Yes I define Jew solely in religious terms because that is how it is and should be defined. If Jew meant a national/ethnic group, then being Jewish would not be something one could change.]

          It very often isn’t or wasn’t. Not for European, Arab Christian or Islamic antisemites, for instance. Hence their expelling most of their Jews, in the 19th and 20th centuries, from this world, or, before 1914, mostly to America; after 1914, mostly to Palestine or what became Israel.

          Before 1805, and the decree of the French Republic, the only way a Jew could leave his deemed ethno-national group, and become a citizen of the state in which he resided, was by apostatising i.e. converting to Christianity, and ceasing to be Jewish.

          Jews have been regarded as a religious and ethno-national group for most of Jewish history.

          The Greeks and Romans regarded Jews as an ‘ethnos’ or ‘natio’, for instance, as did their Christian descendants, or rather as an ethno-national group exiled or dispossessed as a punishment for their rejection of Jesus and the prophets. As did Muhammed and his Muslims, who inherited that tradition from the Christians.

          And Jews too regarded themselves as a people exiled and dispossessed, which is why orthodox Jews have prayed thrice daily for over a thousand years for g-d to restore the people of Israel to the land of Israel.

          That is, in a sense, the origin of modern Jewish nationalism, or Zionism, which answers that ancient yearning, and which was fulfilled when, for the first time in 2000 years, an empire ruled the land that was conducive to Jews returning, a time when Jews had most need of refuge. A convergence of need and opportunity.

          So your assertion that Jewish identity has never had any kind of ethno-national component is wrong. In fact it is only in comparatively recent times that to some it has ‘merely’ a religious aspect. In fact 1805 would probably be the earliest: that was probably the first time in history, in fact, when Jews could become the +nationality+ i.e. French of the state in which they resided, without first ceasing to be Jews, not just the last 2000 years.

          In pagan antiquity, Jews could become citizens, but they still were regarded as Jews by ethnos/natio, unless they wholly gave up their Jewish practices. Ancient accounts record that Jews who wished to become athletes and compete in Greco-Roman games, had to disguise their circumcision, in order to compete.

          It was the French republicans who first defined Judaism as +merely+ a religion, to which a French national citizen could adhere, like a suit of clothes.

          But the Emancipation was slow to penetrate eastern Old World Christendom (it scarcely did Arab Islam): even in the USSR, every Jew’s papers had, Natsionalnost, Evreiski: Etho-nationality: Jewish. And was the basis of state discrimination, or ‘Anti-Zionism’, as the state called it.

          That had +nothing+, or little, to do with religion, to practice of which was effectively prohibited.

          And most Israeli Jews originate in Old Eastern Christendom, or Arab Islam i.e. the places where a Jewish ethno-nationality came to be most assumed.

          [instead you have sent me to consult literature and inform myself]

          You should. Seeing as its a lot to do with my PhD subject, I feel I have the authority.

          [2.Read again. I’m not saying Smadar has any legitimacy. I’m saying her account of what happened to her is tainted by her experience.]

          “As the “victim” of “discrimination” she obviously, and legitimately, has a story tainted by her experience”

          Like it would be tainted chiefly by some one else’s experience…

          [In that context, it is legitimate for it to be tainted because she is the “victim” and has “suffered” and thus it is normal she has some sort of bias.]

          That doesn’t even make sense.

          You’re saying that because she is a victim (as the university agreed, of insensitive management, at least), she is biased?

          [3. Seems like a lot happens to you: taught undergrads, crippled by a private surgeon. Next you’ll be saving little kittens in trees.]

          No. Crippled. So have to spend a lot of time behind a desk.

          [If you are such a scholar of all things worldly, why bother answering a low-life unemployed]

          Says you, not I.

          [pervert]

          you? I said your precise knowledge of Smadar’s comings and goings was stalkerish, especially her social life. How could you know, unless you also attended these places?

          [who hides behind a pseudonym]

          Zkharya is not a pseudonym. Or are you talking of you?

          [on a website read by a community which would not change their view of the world even if hell froze over?]

          Because this pervert i.e. you has used the misfortune of a student to attack her and her cause, some of which I share in.

          • zkharya

            I know that you don’t use a pseudonym. I remember talking about you once in a topic here and later realising that I was also posting alongside you, not realising.

            I think your insights here are very useful. I suspect Smadar might have gone to Warwick expecting a kindred spirit. What she got seems to have been the Three Wise Monkeys.

          • 1. The social constructs you refer to during antiquated times, no longer or scarcely apply nowadays. As you have said, more recently Jew, Jewish and Judaism have been perceived to be solely a religion. That Jews belong to a common ethnic or national group of Semites, I accept. But that being a Jew is equal to being English, Welsh, Hutu or Blackfoot that I refute. Else (and again you have failed to refute that point) one could not convert to or from Judaism. I’ve never heard of a Jewish Muslim.

            2. Yes I am saying that because she is a “victim” she is biased. Finally you have understood what was clearly set out in my posts. I shall not forget to send you a Hallmark e-card for such a feat. I am also saying it is normal for her to be biased and you–not just you (again) the whole community–should not let that bias affect your judgment.

            3. Evidently you failed to perceive the irony in my last question in the previous post. Please excuse me for assuming you had a relatively high degree of intellectual development. I ask you to accept my heartfelt apologies for that mistake.

            • “more recently Jew, Jewish and Judaism have been perceived to be solely a religion.”
              If that was the case then why in the law of England and Wales are Jews not only included in the legal definition of a religious group but also in the legal definition of a racial group?
              I quote, from the Crown Prosecution Service booklet Racist and Religious Crime-CPS Prosecution Policy, 2003
              “There has been a legal ruling that Jews and Sikhs are included in the definition of a racial group.”

              As Sikhs are in a similar position, both a racial and religious group, would you argue that they are also only a religion?

            • ‘1. The social constructs you refer to during antiquated times, no longer or scarcely apply nowadays.’

              The USSR? 20th and 21st century Arab (and other) Islam and/or nationalism? The Holocaust? This is all historically very recent.

              From these, or their aftermath, is whence most Israeli Jews came.

              ‘As you have said, more recently Jew, Jewish and Judaism have been perceived to be solely a religion. That Jews belong to a common ethnic or national group of Semites, I accept.]

              I wasn’t even going that far. Simply that Jewish has had an ethno-national component for most of certainly Christian and Islamic history, even until recent times. Certainly from early, and much of subsequent, Arab Muslim and Christian nationalism, including often the Palestinian variety.

              [ But that being a Jew is equal to being English, Welsh, Hutu or Blackfoot that I refute.’

              Most Israeli Jews disagree, especially since many or most were at least in part excluded from their ancestral societies on that basis, seeing most cultural Christians and Muslims would have disagreed for most of Christian and Islamic history, too.

              ‘Else (and again you have failed to refute that point) one could not convert to or from Judaism.’

              One can change ethno-nationality. Jews used to have to do it by apostasy. It was the only way. Very few tribal boundaries are entirely impervious. One could become ‘Greek’, in antiquity, for instance.

              In modern times, one could ‘Russify’. In the 19th century, many Jews tried to, but they had to abandon, or all but abandon, Judaism first. Even in the Soviet period, they had to.

              ‘I’ve never heard of a Jewish Muslim.’

              Uri Davis?

              [2. Yes I am saying that because she is a “victim” she is biased.]

              So, she was a victim? Yes, she was.

              Presumably for you all victims are biased…

              [Finally you have understood what was clearly set out in my posts. I shall not forget to send you a Hallmark e-card for such a feat. I am also saying it is normal for her to be biased and you–not just you (again) the whole community–should not let that bias affect your judgment.]

              Presumably you think that of all victims and ‘their communities’,

              [3. Evidently you failed to perceive the irony in my last question in the previous post. Please excuse me for assuming you had a relatively high degree of intellectual development. I ask you to accept my heartfelt apologies for that mistake.]

              Oh, I think it was more a Freudian slip than irony…

              • 1. Thinking Judaism and being Jewish is an ethnicity or denotes belonging to a notion is the product of Jewish RELIGIOUS philosophy. The idea of a Jewish ethnicity has no basis. It is the product of religious doctrine. Jews are not an ethnicity in the common meaning of the word. Jews are part of a religion. Uri Davis reluctantly calls himself Jewish because he realizes this concept of the ethnic Jew is fallacious and has been imposed by centuries of dogma. It is a concept born out of religion, a fake construct to suit particular needs. One person cannot change his ethnic or national background. If you’re born Pashtun you cannot become Tajik or Baloch. You base your argument solely on the Jewish exception.

                2. Yes all victims are biased towards their own story. They are human too, we shouldn’t expect them to look at their situation from an objective point of view. Evidently since most of the people posting here so easily dismiss the University’s claims and elevate Smadar’s to the rank of infallible truth, they are also biased.

                • ‘The idea of a Jewish ethnicity…is the product of religious doctrine.’

                  In a sense, yes. But it resulted in Jews’ being regarded as an ethno-national group for most of Christian and Islamic history, even until very recent times e.g. the USSR.

                  ‘Uri Davis reluctantly calls himself Jewish because he realizes this concept of the ethnic Jew is fallacious and has been imposed by centuries of dogma’

                  Didn’t stop him converting to Islam.

                • ‘The idea of a Jewish ethnicity…is the product of religious doctrine.’

                  In a sense, but it is more complex than that e.g. in the bible, Israel and Jews are still called a nation, as they are in Hellenistic, Roman and Christian and post-Christian times. Even tribes and ethno-national groups have their own peculiar ways.

                • ‘Uri Davis reluctantly calls himself Jewish because he realizes this concept of the ethnic Jew is fallacious and has been imposed by centuries of dogma’

                  So, he converted to Islam, whose centuries of dogma also saw Jews as an ethno-national group, exiled and dispossessed, for their rejection of Jesus and the prophets; especially in recent times, when Arab or Arabic speaking Jews were defined by Arab Muslims as non-Arab, Jewish nationals?

                • ‘Yes all victims are biased towards their own story.’

                  Well, at least you now accept she was a victim.

                • ‘One person cannot change his ethnic or national background’

                  Not their past, no. But their present identity, yes. But that is true also for Jews.

                • ‘It is a concept born out of religion, a fake construct to suit particular needs.’

                  Pretty much all identity is constructed.

                • ‘Jews are not an ethnicity in the common meaning of the word.’

                  They are here. They are in the U.S. Hispanics, African-Americans, Irish, Japanese. And Jews, inter alia.

                • Uri Davis’s identitity has been “‘fine-tuned over the decades. “It has gone through a number of stages. In my autobiography in the mid-1990s I described myself as a Palestinian Jew. That has now changed to a Palestinian Hebrew of Jewish origins.'”

                  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/aug/23/uri-davis-interview-israel-fatah-palestine

                  He omitted to mention that he cannot call himself a Jew for legal reasons: a convert to Islam under Palestinian law ceases to be any kind of Jew. If he described himself as even a secular, ethnic Jew, he’d be apostatising from Islam (a capital offence, or worthy of imprisonment), and guilty of ‘Zionism’ (also a serious offence), and would lose his position in Fatah, and probably his Palestinian passport.

                  But he says ‘of Jewish origins’. His ethnic background doesn’t change.

        • ‘Seems like a lot happens to you: taught undergrads, crippled by a private surgeon. Next you’ll be saving little kittens in trees.’

          Wow. It’s a good thing you aren’t a liaison officer for disabled students, isn’t it?

          Such sensitivity. Such humanity.

          • Zkharya – this person is a complete creep. Given that there are quite a few unknown or ambiguous factors here, I’m perfectly open to arguments which cut NP some slack (which absolutely does not mean questioning Smadar’s integrity) – but Leibowitz just seems to want to smear someone in a truly unpleasant way, and that comment to you just goes to show what a horrible person s/he is. Annette’s point about Smadar getting distinction marks throughout the first part of the course goes to show what stupid reasoning s/he is using.

    • ‘If at all, a prestigious university’s press release is a more credible source of information than the victim.’

      Odd reasoning, as if the prestigious can never victimise…

      Well, the university has already acknowledged that it fell short in its duty of care towards their student. I think she is entitled to ‘get her story out’, and I know how ruthless institutions can be in covering themselves.

      I was crippled by a private surgeon, without hope of justice or redress, never mind cure. There is little more brutal than a professional body in burying its victims. I understand her frustration, anger, and desire for justice.

      • The press release raises quite a lot of questions. What is “exemplary” for example? It could be that the supervisor was always available as agreed. for example. And marked assignments. It doesn’t mean that the administration was privy to what was said between Smadar and Pratt.

        If Smadar did well in whatever she had to do along the road to her dissertation why would the dissertation then fall by the wayside? It isn’t as if she was on a course where she could shine when writing at leisure with open reference books but be caught out in a timed exam.

        We aren’t going to know everything in this case but adminspeak can conceal a lot.

  12. The press release in old news already. The university contradicts itself. In the press release, they admit that Bakovic was awarded a chance to do either A or B, which means the department was wrong. But in the article in the JC, they exclaim they stand by the original mark, meaning there is no problem, and while the university decided to give her another chance, there was no problem and the original mark was fair. THIS DOES NOT MAKE SENSE, considering the student was allowed to have the dissertation remarked. This is nt a credible answer!! Besides – the university in its press release tries to avoid answering the main question s- HOW DID THIS HAPPEN in the first place?? What went wrong in the department? Who was in charge of this catastrophe which later back-fired? How come a professor who calls to exclude a whole nation is employed by a UK university? Why wasn’t she listened to the FIRST TIME (shouldn’t have taken more than a first time in a respectable institution…the number of times is irrelevant after the first time)….and more and more and more…..Good press release for a place which avoids dealing with what is really important – namely, how did this happen in a UK university?? In short – had the university listened to the student, all of this would have been resolved privately, without any media and exposure. A good lesson for everyone, I think.

    • JC article dated 22 December. Press release dated 29 December. Press release trumps JC article statements. ‘Nuff said.

  13. Leibowitz, you know not what you are saying! But enjoy your senseless accusations, like someone going down the pub! Really mature. Enough said about this….what a waste of time!

    • “you know not what you are saying!”

      Is that REALLY the best answer you have? Or are you too scared to admit you are wrong? Is it so hard to believe 22 precedes 29? I admit, it might all be a plot by Hamas or Al-Qaeda. Who knows…

  14. Leibowitz – I am saying that someone whose argument is initiated by the fact that someone goes down the pub can’t and should not be taken seriously and that any such “argument” is an utter waste of time.

      • Leibowitz! What a superior intelligence and arguments…
        Your alma mater must be a real scholarly institution with professors like Pratt and students like yourself.

      • OK: I suggest you shut up. Go get drunk at your pub with your intellectual hooligans and write a paper about your obsession with Jews.

    • Peterthemagyar is probably very much in support of the anti-Semite Viktor Orban.

      A big mistake seggfej. I’m the resident Mossad delegate in the Jobbik party and advising Gabor Vona on Jewish matters. Please don’t tell anybody…

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