Intelligent move

The aftermath of faulty intelligence is all too apparent these days. So, here’s a tip you can take to the bank: Professor Uri Bar-Joseph of Haifa University will definitely be coming to San Francisco State University this fall. It’s a slam-dunk.

Bar-Joseph, an expert on intelligence and national security, will teach several courses at SFSU as this year’s Richard and Rhoda Goldman visiting professor in Israel studies.

He likely will teach a course on intelligence (naturally), another on international relations, and a third on the Israeli-Arab conflict. He also might find time to teach a course focusing on terrorism.

Bar-Joseph’s intelligence skills did not extend to knowledge of SFSU’s history as a cauldron of anti-Zionism in the 1980s or more recent unpleasantness during the heyday of the intifada. He acknowledges that his Arab-Israeli course won’t please everyone — but that was never his goal.

“I don’t hold extreme Zionist views about the conflict [though] I am a Zionist and believe in the state of Israel and it should exist,” he said in a phone interview from his Israeli home.

“I want this country to live happily and peacefully but I don’t think the blame for the Arab-Israeli conflict is to be directed only to the Arabs. Lots of it has to be Israel’s responsibility. And this is what I am going to teach in the course.

“Whoever doesn’t like it, that’s life. They can argue. After class I am happy to make debate.”

The professor acknowledges that he is “not objective.” At the same time, he says, “Nobody can be.”

“Still I think it’s important to help a student understand not only what happened, but how the people of the Middle East feel about the conflict,” he said. “And I think I can do it, certainly for the Israelis. I’ve also read a quite a lot of what Palestinians have written about the conflict, and I believe I can put this into the class as well.”

While getting his doctorate in political science at Stanford University, Bar-Joseph concentrated on the role of intelligence. Since then, he has put his expertise to practical use: He not only teaches undergraduates, he teaches high-ranking army officers.

The SFSU job will a homecoming of sorts for the Stanford Ph.D. “San Francisco was my backyard,” he said. “I liked the city a lot. Good restaurants, wonderful views. But students don’t go to the opera house or concert hall. I had a stipend, and that was it. Otherwise, I really enjoyed the city.”

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi is the managing editor at Mission Local. He is a former editor-at-large at San Francisco magazine, former columnist at SF Weekly and a former J. staff writer.