†This is the complaint that "Achoti" has filed in March 2004 to
We hope you can call attention to these violations in your forthcoming faculty meeting so that our complaint might help reformulate the scientific relations between your department and Israeli Anthropologists working from Israeli universities and with the Israeli Anthropological Association.
Mr. Goldberg, Esq.
Israel's State Comptroller
P. O. Box 1081
Send via Registered Mail, RA#10996186-0-IL, Return Receipt Requested
The Hebrew University, Jerusalem;
Tel Aviv University;
Bar Ilan University;
Ben Gurion University, Beer Sheba
The Essence of the Complaint
Clarification of the reasons for the almost complete absence of tenured Mizrahi faculty (Mizrahi = Oriental, Heb. - Jews who immigrated to Israel mainly from the Arab World) faculty, and the total absence of Palestinian-Israeli faculty from Anthropology Departments in Israeli universities.
Clarification of the reasons for the total absence of Mizrahi and Palestinian-Israeli women from both junior and senior faculty in Anthropology Departments of Israeli universities.
Violation of Mizrahi and Palestinian-Israeli intellectual property rights with regard to the financial gains Israeli anthropologists make out of their cultures.
Absence of an ethics code for the practice of Anthropology in
Ahoti (Sistah) - For Women in
All Israeli universities are public, and thus are largely funded by our tax money. Nevertheless, these universities in general, and their Anthropology departments in particular are part and parcel of the violent exclusionary machine owned and operated by
We, Mizrahi and Palestinian citizens of Israel, men and women alike, were always the main research objects of Israeli anthropologists, who made international careers on our backs. Our dispossession dutifully provided the raw materials leading to the proliferation of scholarly articles and books that endowed Ashkenazi (=European Jewish, Heb.) researchers with university tenure-track appointments, merits and promotions. These FTEs were accompanied by monies for Ashkenazi 'field' work among us, by large budgets for international conferencing, to present the _field_-work and generate further publications, by various career development funds, by budgets to purchase imported professional literature, etc. Moreover, the monthly salaries of most Israeli anthropologists were depending on the innocent cooperation of Mizrahi and Palestinian 'informants'.
Paradoxically, this Anthropology muffled our political claims to our cultures. We still are waiting to share not only the prestige, but also the monetary gains with those extracting their monthly pay out of the anthropology they write and lecture about us. Their tenured positions not only endow them with disposable incomes out of our traditions and histories, but also with lifetime job security. Furthermore, they are granted with the freedom to choose their course topics and graduate advisees, and with generous budgets for international networking, large enough to allow family members to join. They lecture only 5-8 hours a week for only 30 weeks a year. In exchange they get a 12-month yearly salary and with free sabbatical years for research, writing, or just cogitating. They usually spend their sabbaticals abroad. In addition to the social prestige, they get benefit and retirement packages way above what the average salaried worker receives in the tight job market of a small country like
While our grandparents, parents and ourselves have always been the raw materials of this discipline, for us, the gateways to making a living out of Israeli Anthropology are yet to open. Israeli Anthropology departments are almost purely staffed by Ashkenazim of the old, secular, socialist-liberal, upper class establishment. That is, Anthropology departments continue to be characterized by ethnic and class homogeneity when it comes to faculty selection. One can count on ONE finger the number of tenured Mizrahi Anthropologists in
In all Western academic institutions, Anthropologists are obliged to a 'human subjects' ethics code. They participate in the everyday lives of the people they study. They get exposed to the most intimate secrets of the people they study. Western associations' ethics codes have designated measures of punishment and suspension for those violating the confidentiality between the researcher and the people s/he studies. We assume that such a code would also require Anthropologists to refer to the intellectual discourse of the studied population. The Israeli Anthropological Association has no code of ethics, and universities do not require either faculty or students to sign any 'human subjects' protection statement.
Devoid of any ethic defenses, we exist only as a population to be studied. We are deprived of the occupational right to become anthropologists, yet continue to serve as the research tools that move the kogs of the Israeli ethnographic industry. Ahoti therefore demands back the intellectual property rights to ours and our parents' cultures. We ask that Israeli Anthropology faculty cease our treatment as noble savages, preferably locked in our picturesque 'immigrant' border villages, in our Palestinian villages that lack infrastructure, or in the ultra-orthodox ghettos, just so that we are unable to dare ask the homogeneous White faculty to accept us into its rank and file as equals.
One striking example to our exclusion is of the late Prof. Abner Cohen. His worldwide contributions to the discipline of social-cultural Anthropology have been beyond dispute. Cohen held an endowed chair at the London School of Oriental and African Studies. He had immigrated from
Another example is Prof. Smadar Lavie, from the working-class town of
Yet another example is Prof. Nahla Abdo, born and raised in
A recent example is that of Prof. Rhoda Kanaaneh, born and raised in the village of `Arabeh in the
Yet another example is that of Prof. emeritus Mishael Maswari Caspi, who immigrated to
The situation described above would be treated as phantasmagorical by respectable Western academic institutions. Rather than searching for crafty excuses to justify a flawed state of asymmetry in power relations, during the last decades, Western Anthropology has been careful to allocate FTEs to those belonging to populations that were once only to be studied and then textualized by the West. We assume that the possibility to argue that an African-American is unable to study other African Americans because his or her research would not be scientific enough, but rather, ideologically slanted, would be considered sheer nonsense. To the best of our understanding, in the
** 48% of tenured faculty at the Stanford Cultural Anthropology Dept. are non-White minorities.
** 30% of the FTEs at the Barnard-Columbia Anthropology Dept. belong to the populations Israeli Anthropologists would consider only as 'research objects'.
** 25% of the U.C. Berkeley Anthropology Dept. FTEs are members of non-White minorities.
Ahoti-For Women in
Ahoti requests the Israeli State Comptroller to research the reasons for which in all Israeli Anthropology Departments there is only one tenured Mizrahi, and two junior, yet to be tenured Mizrahim, who were raised in the comforts of Western Europe, and immigrated to
Additionally, Ahoti-For Women in Israel is asking the State Comptroller to find out why there has never been any allocation of Anthropology FTEs to tenured Mizrahi and Palestinian Israelis in a manner that might reflect our contribution to the development of Israeli Anthropology.
Moreover, Ahoti asks the State Comptroller to inquire why, up until now, no FTEs, junior or senior, have been allocated for Mizrahi and Palestinian-Israeli women in neither university nor college Anthropology departments.
We wish to express our thanks to the ombudsperson at the State Comptroller office for the time and thought s/he will dedicate to handle our complaint.
Orna Zaken, CEO.
†In case you wish to receive a copy of the original, signed complaint, and/or the statistical charts regarding the complaint, from our official stationary, please send us your fax number to† ++972-3-525-0959