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Reinhart, Tanya 1943-2007 (Tanya Miriam Reinhart)

Reinhart, Tanya 1943-2007 (Tanya Miriam Reinhart)

PERSONAL:

Born 1943, in Israel; died of a stroke, March 17, 2007, in Montauk, NY; married Aharon Shabtai (a poet). Education: Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel, B.A., 1967, M.A., 1969; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ph.D., 1976.

CAREER:

Writer, linguist, historian, political activist, public speaker, and educator. Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel, professor emeritus of linguistics and media studies; New York University, Global Distinguished Professor of Linguistics. Taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA; Columbia University, New York, NY; the University of Paris, France; and the University of Utrecht, Netherlands.

WRITINGS:

Haside Umot Ha-olam, ha-mahlakah le-hinukh uletarbut ba-golah shel ha-histadrut ha-tsiyonit haolamit (Jerusalem, Israel), 1971.

Shemonah Be-ikvot Ehad, ha-Mahlakah le-hinukh uletarbut ba-golah shel ha-Histadrut ha-Tsiyonit haolamit (Jerusalem, Israel), 1971.

Ir Ketanah Va-anashim Bah Meat, ha-Mahlakah lehinukh ule-tarbut la-golah shel ha-Histadrut ha-Tsiyonit ha-olamit (Jerusalem, Israel), 1974.

Ben Ha-patish Veha-magal: Perakim Meha-sefer, ha-Mahlakah le-hinukh ule-tarbut la-golah shel ha-Histadrut ha-Tsiyonit ha-olamit (Jerusalem, Israel), 1974.

Anaphora and Semantic Interpretation, Croom Helm (London, England), 1983, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1984.

Mi-Kubizm Le-Madonah: Yitsug Ve-subyekt Be-omanut Ha-meah Ha-esrim, ha-Kibuts ha-meuhad (Tel Aviv, Israel), 2000.

Israel/Palestine: How to End the War of 1948, Seven Stories Press (New York, NY), 2002, 2nd edition, 2005.

The Road Map to Nowhere: Israel/Palestine since 2003, Verso (New York, NY), 2006.

Interface Strategies: Optimal and Costly Computations, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 2006.

Contributor to periodicals, including Znet and Israel Indymedia. Author of regular column for Yediot Ahranot (daily newspaper in Israel); author of column for Counterpunch (an online magazine).

SIDELIGHTS:

Tanya Reinhart was a writer, peace activist, and a staunch advocate for Palestinian's rights. She was a vocal critic of the Israeli government and its policies toward Palestinians. Her critical analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict earned her a worldwide audience for her writings and newspaper columns. She was a retired professor of linguistics and media studies at Tel Aviv University, and a Global Distinguished Professor of Linguistics at New York University. In 2006, Reinhart had plans to "quit as emeritus professor at Tel Aviv University in protest against her Government's handling of the Palestinian issue," reported Penelope Debelle on the Age Web site. Not only was Reinhart a sharp critic of the Israeli government's treatment of Palestinians, she was also an activist that backed up her opinions with genuine dedication and meaningful personal acts.

Born in Israel, Reinhart was raised in Haifa by her mother, a single parent and a member of the Communist Party. After earning B.A. and M.A. degrees at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, she came to the United States to study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. There, she earned a Ph.D. in linguistics under the tutelage of Noam Chomsky. She taught at several different universities throughout the world. Upon returning to Israel, Reinhart took up a post at Tel Aviv University, where she was an active professor for more than twenty years. Reinhart "was a multidisciplinarian and also taught and published on art, literature, and media studies," noted Victoria Brittain in a London Guardian obituary. "Those who attended her media studies lectures remember how, amid fierce debate, students' mindsets and lives were changed by her analysis, encouraging them to read between the lines of their country's writers. Her moral indignation flared quickly, but she was also given to long and patient discussions with her students."

Reinhart was also a sought-after speaker for organizations and institutions around the world. In 2006, for example, she gave the Edward Said Memorial Lecture at Adelaide University in Australia.

Over time, Reinhart's displeasure with the Israeli treatment of Palestinians intensified. At one point, she found parallels between the Israeli-Palestinian issue and the deadly policy of apartheid that once divided South Africa. With this parallel firmly in mind, Reinhart supported the academic boycott movement against Israeli colleges and universities.

In her writing, Reinhart also championed the cause of the Palestinians. In Israel/Palestine: How to End the War of 1948, she takes the stance that her country of Israel is oppressing the Palestinians who live there. For Reinhart, Israel has constructed an elaborate and far- reaching propaganda campaign that portrays them as willing to cooperate but thwarted by Palestinian treachery, while depicting the Palestinians themselves as unwilling to compromise and unreasonable in their own demands. In the book, Reinhart carefully explores the reality of the situation, using as her basis reports from the Israeli media. "In the Israeli papers you can find much more about what is going on than in any outside coverage," Reinhart remarked in an interview on ZNet. This does not mean, she explained, that Israeli journalism is any more liberal or critical than that found in Western newspapers. Instead, "part of the reason it is more revealing is its lack of inhibition. Things that would look outrageous in the world, are considered natural daily routine," she commented.

Reinhart reports on some of the realities faced every day by Palestinians and Israelis, related I.C.F. Spry in the National Observer—Australia and World Affairs. For example, only twenty-two percent of ancient historical Palestine is ever under discussion by Israel and Palestine; the other eighty-eight percent is closely held by Israel. In Gaza, "6,000 Israeli ‘settlers’ occupy one-third of the area, and one million Palestinians are squeezed into the other two-thirds," Spry reported. Gaza itself functions as little more than a large prison, and Palestinians who live there are kept in dire poverty. Israeli promises to remove settlers from Gaza are carefully constructed to make them easy to renege on.

In the ZNet interview, Reinhart explained that one of her goals for the book was to show that there is "still also another alternative open to end the war of 1948: the road of peace and real reconciliation. It is amazing how simple and feasible it would be to achieve that. Israel should withdraw immediately from the territories occupied in 1967." This simple solution, however, remains perhaps the most difficult to implement. With this book, Reinhart "accomplishes the formidable task of adding insight into a subject that is written about endlessly, and doing so without equivocation but also without slipping into raw polemics. There is a refreshing bluntness and candor in her work that makes the political analysis particularly compelling," remarked Robert Jensen in the Nation. "The picture Reinhart paints of the contemporary situation is honest, realistic, and extremely harsh," Jensen continued. "Yet she remains hopeful about the possibility of real peace and reconciliation."

Reinhart died of a stroke on March 17, 2007.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Nation, January 6, 2003, Robert Jensen, "Occupation Blues," review of Israel/Palestine: How to End the War of 1948, p. 34.

National Observer—Australia and World Affairs, autumn, 2003, I.C.F. Spry, review of Israel/Palestine, p. 62.

Tikkun, March-April, 2003, review of Israel/Palestine, p. 80; January-February, 2007, Jerome Slater, "The Need Not to Know: The American Jewish Community and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict," review of The Road Map to Nowhere: Israel/Palestine since 2003, p. 65.

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, May 1, 2007, Jane Adas, "In One of Her Final Lectures, Tanya Reinhart Discusses ‘The Spirit of Struggle,’" profile of Tanya Reinhart, p. 48.

ONLINE

Age Web site,http://www.theage.com.au/ (October 11, 2006), Penelope Debelle, "Academic to Quit Post in Anger over Israel," profile of Tanya Reinhart.

Tel Aviv University Web site,http://www.tau.ac.il/ (January 28, 2008), biography of Tanya Reinhart.

ZNet,http://www.zmag.org/ (November 8, 2002), interview with Tanya Reinhart.

OBITUARIES:

PERIODICALS

Guardian (London, England), March 21, 2007, Victoria Brittain, "Tanya Reinhart: A Versatile Israeli Academic, She Spoke Out against the Conflict with Palestine."

New York Times, March 23, 2007, Margalit Fox, "Tanya Reinhart, Sixty-three, Pundit on Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Dies."

ONLINE

Democracy Now,http://www.democracynow.org/ (March 19, 2007), Amy Goodman, "Israeli Author, Peace Activist Tanya Reinhart Dies at Sixtythree," transcript of radio obituary of Tanya Reinhart.

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