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LISA HAJJAR Printer Friendly Page
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  • Professor in the “Middle East Studies” and “Law and Society” programs at the University of California at Santa Barbara
  • Condemns the United States and Israel for their supposed use of “torture” against Arabs
  • Supports Palestinian terrorism against Israelis


Born of a Finnish mother and a father of Syrian descent, Lisa Hajjar is a professor in the “Middle East Studies” and “Law and Society” programs at the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB), though she utterly lacks credentials in either field. She holds a PhD in sociology from American University in Washington, DC, but has no training in law or legal studies, is not qualified as a Middle East scholar or researcher, and has extraordinarily few bona fide publications even in sociology. Nevertheless, UCSB has granted her tenure as well as its “Pious Award” for her “research.” Hajjar was also among the UCSB faculty members to participate in the Not in Our Name anti-war campaign opposing the U.S. invasion of Iraq

Before coming to Santa Barbara, Hajjar taught “military law” at Swarthmore. There she engaged in partisan, one-sided indoctrination in her classroom, as is revealed by the syllabi of her courses there. Her required reading list was a who’s who of far leftists, communists, and haters of America and Israel. Among her proclamations at Swarthmore, was: “While the United States voices outrage about Saddam Hussein, it goes on tolerating human rights violations and other misdeeds by regional allies.”   

Hajjar has also served as an editorial assistant and writer at MERIP, a fanatically anti-Israel, pro-terror “think tank” in Washington, DC.  She is a member of the board of editors (alongside Columbia University’s Joseph Massad) of the Journal of Palestine Studies, a partisan propaganda journal that features the writings of such alleged “scholars” as the PLO chief and commonly refers to the creation of Israel as an-Nakba (“catastrophe” in Arabic). The Middle East Quarterly describes the Journal of Palestine Studies as a “PLO propaganda organ disguised as an academic journal.” Similarly, Orbis (in its Fall 1988 edition) describes the Institute of Palestine Studies, publisher of the Journal of Palestine Studies, as “an arm of the Palestine Liberation Organization.” Stanford’s Joel Beinin publishes his anti-Israel propaganda pieces there, as do Israeli anti-Semites favoring the destruction of their own country.  Professing her commitment to debunking the false “popular belief that Western history constitutes a progressive move from more to less torture,” Hajjar has made an entire academic career out of condemning the United States and Israel for their supposed use of “torture” against Arabs. “There is no reason to doubt,” Hajjar writes, “that torture has been systemic and pervasive, or that authorization can be traced up the chain of command, or that this has seriously damaged not only the immediate victims but also our national institutions and America’s image abroad.” She denounces American “abuses of the human rights” of the al-Qaeda terrorists in Guantanamo Bay and the prisoners of war at Abu Ghraib. She served on the “world tribunal” that found Saddam Hussein’s Iraq innocent and the U.S. guilty of war crimes and human rights abuses. The tribunal further concluded that “the occupation of Palestine, Afghanistan and all other colonized areas is illegal and should be brought to an end immediately.” 

Among the “scholarly articles” Hajjar lists on her vita are many propaganda screeds that appeared in such publications as: the anti-Israel, pro-terror Middle East Report; In These Times; the MERIP organization’s web page; and Amnesty International Magazine. Among her articles was a partisan defense of Palestinian mass murderer Marwan Barghouti. Her vita lists no more than six articles she has published in refereed journals, hardly enough to get a faculty member tenure in any serious academic department.  

Hajjar is the author of a recently published pseudo-scholarly book, Courting Conflict: The Israeli Military Court System in the West Bank and Gaza, a broadside assault against Israel’s military courts, which often try Palestinian terrorists.  Israeli civilian courts do not have jurisdiction in the West Bank and Gaza Strip for the simple reason that these areas are not formally annexed to Israel, although Palestinian terrorists convicted in military courts may appeal to Israel’s Supreme Court.  The book is less an analysis of the military courts than it is a partisan denunciation of Israel’s presence in the “occupied territories” and an open endorsement of the rights of Palestinians to murder Jews. 

While conceding that “a history of Israeli interrogation of Palestinians has never been written, and the conditions do not exist for such an undertaking,” Hajjar confidently charges that Israel routinely uses torture against Palestinian prisoners. Among the primary sources she cites are: screeds in Tikkun Magazine; the “Palestine Research Center” in Beirut; and the late neo-Nazi anti-Semite Israel Shahak. Hajjar’s book has been lavishly praised by pro-terror Islamic fundamentalist web sites.   

Hajjar does not hide her support for Palestinian violence. She writes: “Because Palestinians are stateless and dispersed, their struggle for national rights has taken ‘unconventional’ forms, including guerrilla warfare.  The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which emerged in the 1960s to lead this struggle, has been castigated by Israel, and to a lesser extent the U.S., as nothing but a terrorist organization.  This typifies the use of the terrorist label to non-states in their struggles against states. . . . Since most Palestinians have identified politically with the PLO, it was easy for the Israeli state to relate the repression of Palestinians to the imperatives of Jewish/Israeli national security. Generally speaking, everything connected to Palestinian nationalist activities and especially to the PLO was considered a security threat which (sic) could justify limitations and restrictions of rights.”Hajjar is a radical feminist, but one with little real interest in the position of women in the Arab world and with no concern at all over Israeli women being murdered by Palestinian terrorists. She seems to believe that the main cause for Arab feminists should be destroying Israel. She is highly praised by Neve Gordon – a lecturer in political science at Ben Gurion University who was arrested for serving as a “human shield” for Palestinian murderers, and who wrote a sycophantic piece about Holocaust Denier Norman Finkelstein, comparing Finkelstein ethically to the Prophets in the Bible. 

At least five of Hajjar’s articles are featured on a PLO web site. Together with Steve Niva, a pro-terrorism faculty member at Evergreen State College in Washington State and a Counterpunch columnist, she is a disciple of the late Edward Said, whose 1978 book Orientalism asserted that it is impossible for Westerners to write valid accounts of Middle Eastern affairs because their ideas are tainted by cultural biases. Hajjar believes that Said’s writings set in motion “lasting reverberations throughout the academy.”

Hajjar also writes for The Nation, where she openly endorses numerous conspiracy theories. She writes inter alia: “While neo-conservatism may help explain much about American military and foreign policy after 9/11, it doesn’t account for the legal reasoning that set the conditions for the torture scandal.  For that, we need to look to the Federalist Society, an organization established by right-wing lawyers in the early 1980s to redress ‘liberal bias’ in American law schools and the legal profession.  The thinking and influence of Federalist Society types who dominate legal positions (and judicial appointments) in the Bush Administration are laid bare in the torture memos, which document the triumph of international law-averse officials in the Justice Department, the Pentagon, and the White House over dissenting voices in the State Department and sectors of the professional military.”

Lisa Hajjar may be at her most dishonest when she is co-authoring political propaganda together with Stanford University professor of history Joel Beinin.  In Alyssa A. Lappen’s words, Beinin “denounces American ‘imperialism’ on Al-Jazeera Television. A former Zionist, he refers to jihadist suicide bombers as ‘martyrs.’ He praised Mideast scholars for ignoring the issue of terrorism, and he regularly repeats the most twisted and paranoid claims of Islamist regimes as though they were historical fact.”  Beinin is the former president of the Middle East Studies Association.

Hajjar and Beinin were among the professors signing a statement before the Allied invasion of Iraq, warning that Israel was planning to conduct genocidal atrocities against Arabs the moment the U.S. troops landed in Mesopotamia. When that proved to be wholly untrue, they issued no apology or retraction.
Hajjar is a co-author and collaborator with Beinin in a number of projects, including Palestine, Israel and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A Primer. It is widely reprinted in many places, including anti-Israel pro-terror web sites such as “From Occupied Palestine” and sites that are fronts for the PLO. In The Primer, Hajjar and Beinin begin with the proclamation that religion plays no role in the Arab war against Israel and that it is all a “struggle over land.” They claim that religious Zionism developed after the Six Day War, but in fact it developed in the nineteenth century.  They claim that the Six Day War triggered messianic religiosity among Israelis, whereas the evidence suggests that Israelis became more secularist after 1967 than they were before.  Beinin and Hajjar also reveal their biases by what they do not report, such as the mass immigration into “Palestine” of Arabs from neighboring countries starting in the late nineteenth century, and their counting of all Muslims, including Turks, as “Palestinian Arabs.”   They write, “In 1920 and 1921, clashes broke out between Arabs and Jews in which roughly equal numbers of both groups were killed.” This statement gives the impression that Jews and Arabs were equally involved in murder. In fact, the Jewish dead were murdered by Arab pogromchiki, whereas the Arab dead were rioters shot by British troops.  Hajjar and Beinin write further: “In 1921, the British divided this region in two: east of the Jordan River became the Emirate of Transjordan, to be ruled by Faysal’s brother ‘Abdullah,’ and west of the Jordan River became the Palestine Mandate. This was the first time in modern history that Palestine became a unified political entity.” But in fact, it was clearly a division of Palestine into an Arab two-thirds and a remaining third earmarked for Jews.  Though the Hajjar-Beinin version of the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem claims that Jews expelled Arabs from their land, history shows that those Arabs actually fled at the direction of their commanders to escape the battle zones created when the Arab fascist states invaded Israel and tried to annex all the lands of Western Palestine. Beinin and Hajjar also repeat the now-discredited myth about how Arab civilians in Deir Yassin were “massacred” by Jews.   The Beinin-Hajjar account of the Oslo Accords is that “the PLO accepted this deeply flawed agreement with Israel because it was weak and had little diplomatic support in the Arab world.” It is now known, however, that the PLO “accepted” the Oslo deal only in order to get control of the West Bank and Gaza and use those lands as terrorist bases from which to attack Israel. The PLO had no intention of abandoning terror and murder, nor its ambitions to seek Israel’s annihilation. Yet Hajjar and Beinin say nothing about how the PLO violated each and every clause in the Oslo Accord almost from the instant it was signed.

Hajjar and Beinin are at their most dishonest when they tell the saga of the failed Camp David II conference:  “Although Barak offered a far more extensive Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank than any other Israeli leader had publicly considered, he insisted on maintaining Israeli sovereignty over East Jerusalem. This was unacceptable to the Palestinians and to most of the Muslim world.”  Actually, Barak there offered Arafat not only East Jerusalem but control of the Old City of Jerusalem as well, including its Jewish shrines.  Arafat turned Barak down because the deal did not provide for the immediate annihilation of Israel (also known as the “right of return”), which is in fact the PLO’s minimal demand.

This profile is adapted from the article "The Jihadnik Prof at UC-Santa Barbara," written by Steven Plaut and published by FrontPageMagazine.com on June 7, 2005.



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