Tanya Reinhart was born in 1943 in Israel where she was raised by her unmarried mother, who was a communist. At the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Reinhart earned a BA in philosophy and Hebrew literature in 1967, followed by an MA in philosophy and comparative literature. She then went on to receive a Ph.D. in liguistics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where her thesis supervisor was Noam Chomsky. She was politically active with both the Communist Party and the Young Communist League.
Reinhart subsequently served as a professor of linguistics and cultural studies at Tel Aviv University for more than 20 years. At various times in her career, she also held teaching positions at Columbia University, Duke University, MIT, New York University, the University of Paris, and Utrecht University in the Netherlands. Some of the courses she taught were in the fields of art, literature, and media studies.
Reinhart lectured and wrote about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and became a pro-Palestinian activist. Her 2002 book, Israel/Palestine: How to End the War of 1948, was highly praised by Edward Said, who wrote that “Tanya Reinhart’s Israel/Palestine is the most devastating critique now available of Israel’s policy toward the Palestinian people.”
In a 2002 interview, Reinhart stated that “Israel should withdraw immediately from the territories occupied in 1967.” The following year, she wrote: “What Israel is doing under Ariel Sharon far exceeds the crimes of the South Africa’s white regime. It has been taking the form of systematic ethnic cleansing, which South Africa never attempted.”
In her 2006 book The Road Map to Nowhere, Reinhart charged that Israel had originally obtained its land “through ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinian inhabitants.” Reinhart justified the violent Intifada of 2000 as the last resort of a long-suffering people:
“No matter how successful the present ethnic cleansing is, as long as the occupation continues, the Palestinian resistance will continue as well, and as everyone knows, nothing can stop desperate people from turning to terror.”
As a natural outgrowth of her contempt for Israeli government policies, Reinhart avidly supported divestment initiatives and other boycotts against Israeli interests. She also helped organize solidarity campaigns with Palestinian academics at Birzeit University on the West Bank, and against the Israeli occupation of Lebanon. Moreover, she was an active participant in protests against Israel’s construction of the long partition wall in the West Bank.
In addition to her teaching duties and political activism, Reinhart was a columnist for the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharnot. She also wrote numerous articles for the Israeli CounterPunch, Indymedia, and Znet websites.
In 2006 Reinhart was dismissed from her post at Tel Aviv University. In December of that year she relocated to New York, explaining that she could no longer live in Israel due to its mistreatment of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories.
Reinhart died in New York on March 17, 2007.
Portions of this profile are adapted, with permission, from Stand4Facts.org.