|Boycott Calls Against Israel|
|Former Israeli Ronit Lentin Behind Conference on the Case of the Academic Boycott of Israel at Trinity College Dublin|
|Ronit Lentin, a retired professor of sociology at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) is behind the conference "Freedom of Speech and Higher Education: the Case of the Academic Boycott of Israel" scheduled for 12 September 2017 in TCD. Interestingly, the call for papers is published only on the blog of "Academics for Palestine," a group which has been set up to build the academic boycott of Israel."
Although the call for papers states: "The conference does not propose to debate the pros and cons of the academic boycott of Israel but rather to make links and draw lessons about the role of the public university in fostering academic freedom, and the freedom to express critical, even if controversial views." This façade of neutrality, however, is misleading. Lentin is the chairperson of "Academics for Palestine" and published a letter in support of the academic boycott of Israel in the Irish Times earlier this year.
The topics of the conference are: Academics as political actors and advocates; Challenges to academic freedom and the freedom to dissent; The practice of academic boycott and academic freedom; The effects of ‘lawfare’ and disciplinary measures on support for the academic boycott of Israel; Comparisons with previous academic boycotts, such as the boycott of Apartheid South Africa.
The keynote speakers include Steven Salaita who will speak on “Freedom to boycott: BDS and the modern University.” As well known, Salaita was denied an appointment at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign because of his egregious Facebook posts and tweets against Israel.
Lentin herself has drawn fire in Ireland because of her controversial mixing of academics and activism. In the summer of 2004 she published an article "From racial state to racist state" on the Irish referendum amending the citizenship law that would deny Irish citizenship to people born in Ireland unless one of their parents was an Irish citizen. Lentin opposed the referendum and urged an inclusion type of citizenship. She proposed a debate on "how the Irish nation can become other than white (Christian and settled)," and suggested "privileging the voices of the racialised and subverting state immigration." She ended with an appeal "to do all we can to defeat the citizenship referendum."
Since then Irish nationalists react with anger to her. In 2014, a group of nationalists painted graffiti in protest of an art exhibition criticizing European folklore at TCD, because it is "the base of operations for Israeli born Jewess Ronit Lentin, Ireland’s leading architect of spreading multiculturalism and mass immigration." They also called TCD a "Jewniversity" because it is the "base of Israeli born Jewess Ronit Lentin, who is agitating for the destruction of Irish ethnicity." Another blog, run by the Celtic Party, suggested that "the nice Jewish Lady" is guilty of felony, as her call for “subverting state immigration” is understood as breaking the law under "Offences Against the State Act, 1939".
But Lentin has her work cut out for her. Last week the Trinity College Dublin Student Union voted down a motion that called for a “college wide boycott of the state of Israel”. The vote comes after Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) were fined for protesting a talk with the Israeli ambassador to Ireland. SJP tried to argue that it was a peaceful protest, but TCD administration argued that it represented an attempt to shut down the event.
By boasting that the TCD "was an early and important supporter of the academic boycott of Apartheid South Africa" Lentin and her conference co-organizers seem to hope that the boycott of Israel would not leave the TCD agenda.
IAM will report on further developments.
|U.S Court Advances Lawsuit Against the American Studies Association |
|The United States District Court for the District of Columbia has ruled that four professors can sue the American Studies Association (ASA) over its academic boycott of Israel. The professors’ lawsuit, Bronner v. Duggan, can go ahead after the ASA asked the court to dismiss it. The Court also rejected ASA’s claims that the case infringes on its First Amendment rights.
The plaintiffs, Simon Bronner, Michael Rockland, Michael Barton, and Charles Kupfer, members of the ASA during its vote to boycott Israel, sued ASA representatives, Lisa Duggan, Curtis Marez, Avery Gordon, Neferti Tadiar, Sunaina Maira, and Chandan Reddy, who were involved with the ASA in different capacities during the relevant time period. The Court proceeds with three out of four claims, for waste, for breach of contract and the violation of the D.C. Nonprofit Corporation Act.
The ASA is an academic association with approximately 5,000 members from more than 90 American universities and colleges.
To recall, the ASA’s national council voted unanimously on Dec. 4, 2013 in favor of a resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions. The ASA explained that Israel is responsible for curtailing academic freedom of Palestinian inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza.
ASA has a long history of anti-Israel activism which intensified during Israeli actions in Gaza. In Jan 2009, an open letter in the Lebanese paper the Daily Star, directed to President Barack Obama, featured the signatures of all the defendants, as well as Anat Matar and Rachel Giora of Tel Aviv University and Kobi Snitz of Weizmann Institute, and requested to "hold Israel accountable for its criminal violence and its illegal acts, until we cease to supply it with the means to pursue a course of domination and expansion, with arms and warplanes, with finance and diplomatic support. In wake of the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, your recent expression of "deep concern" is not enough. It is time for constructive disengagement from Israel, financial, diplomatic, military. What worked in the case of South Africa, divestment and pressure, may finally work in the Middle East."
Still, some were surprised when, in 2013, the boycott resolution was passed. The then ASA president, Curtis Marez, did not dispute that other nations had a worse human rights records than Israel but added that “one has to start somewhere.” In an apparent effort to defend himself from charges of double standards he explained that unlike the Palestinians who requested the boycott of Israel, civil groups in countries which had oppressive regimes did not ask the ASA for a boycott. It probably did not occur to him that civil groups in oppressive regimes would hardly dare to ask an international body to get involved.
According to John Stephens, ASA's executive director, the organization registered an increase in contributions following the boycott amounting to almost $40,000 in the first year, with a total of $49,000 specifically designated by donors to support the boycott resolution. The ASA claims to have spent $20,000 of these funds on a media strategist and boycott-related expenses during annual meetings.
Yet, both plaintiffs and defendants are happy with the Judge ruling. Palestine Legal, a group providing legal support and advocacy for Palestinian activists in the U.S, announced the ruling is a significant victory for the defendants because the judge dismissed the plaintiffs claim for ultra vires acts, that is, acting beyond the purpose of the ASA. The Judge wrote: "The boycott resolution was aimed both at encouraging academic freedom for Palestinians and strengthening relations between American institutions and Palestinians... Thus, it was not contrary to the ASA’s express purposes".
IAM will update the readers when court convenes next.
|Blurring the Lines between Scholarship and Activism: "The Politics of Boycotts" in the Journal Radical History Review|
|The Radical History Review announced that its issue 134 of May 2019 would be devoted to the "politics of boycott," a code for BDS.
This should come as no surprise. MARHO: The Radical Historians Organization which was established in 1973 and has 1,500 members, is the publisher of the journal. MARHO is affiliated the American Historical Association (AHA). The MARHO statement of purpose is to "examine important new scholarship, and analyses of the uses and abuses of history in the popular media, history museums, and other public forums".
The journal Radical History Review, is published by Duke University Press. According to the editors, it publishes Marxist and non-Marxist radical scholarship in jargon- free English. "It aims to scrutinize conventional history, stimulate theoretical discussion and political analysis, encourage controversy over current historical questions and suggest new ways of teaching history."
Natalie Rothman and Andrew Zimmerman are the host editors of "Politics of Boycotts;" Rothman is from University of Toronto, history department, and Zimmerman is a professor of history at the George Washington University. Both are veteran supporters of BDS. Rothman has signed the call "900 US, other Academians call for divestment and pressure against Israeli apartheid" in 2009 and also the PACBI petition in 2011.
Zimmerman signed the "International Scholars' Statement on Gaza" in 2014. He chaired a session on “Historical Perspectives on Boycott Campaigns: California, South Africa, Palestine” at the American Historical Association (AHA) annual meeting in 2016. According to the description, this AHA session "seeks to contribute historical depth and comparative breadth to recent discussions around the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign in support of Palestine by focusing on the history of boycotts. This panel will explore the different genealogies of boycotts as political practice. By contextualizing diverse boycott campaigns -- from the United Farm Workers' Delano Grape Strike in California in the 1960s, through the Academic Boycott of South Africa, to the current Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement initiated by Palestinian civil society organizations -- panelists will consider the unique forms of transnational activism and scholarship such campaigns have engendered in North America and around the world. By situating the current BDS campaign in support of Palestine in relation to past boycott campaigns, we can ask questions about how effective different political boycotts have been, what obstacles they have faced, as well as what forms of solidarity and geopolitical visions they have helped articulate."
To recall, a proposed resolution in favor of boycott was defeated at the AHA Annual Meeting on January 11, 2016: "Those in favor of the resolution claimed that, since the AHA was committed to protecting academic freedom, it should take a clear stand regarding Israeli restrictions on student and faculty activities in the Occupied Territories."
In a sense, the forthcoming issue is continuation of the discourse in the AHA dressed up in academic garb. In spite of the self-proclaimed aim of the journal to use plain English, the call for papers is full of neo-Marxist, critical scholarship verbiage. The issue promises to contribute to the "historical depth and comparative breadth" to the discussions around the BDS campaign "in support of Palestine", intending "to create a broad basis for historical and strategic discussion by exploring a variety of spatio-temporal scales of political action opened up by boycott campaigns, from visions of global solidarity to hyper localized social movements, and from the strategic deployment of historical comparisons to claims of singularity."
While they "recognize that not all boycotts are progressive", they "welcome studies that challenge conventional ideas of what a boycott is." The issue editors seek to put the Palestinian case on the same ontological plane as the "campaign during the Irish Land War, the abolitionist boycott of sugar, the non-cooperation movement in colonial India, the anti-Nazi boycott, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and the international cultural and academic boycott of Apartheid South Africa." For this, they "seek studies that would be useful to activists as well as theoretical or comparative reflections on the present and future of boycotts as a form of nonviolent political action."
Hidden inside all this jargon is one clear message: The BDS should be considered an act against oppression on par with the boycott of the apartheid South Africa, the anti-Nazi boycott, the fight of the abolition against slavery and segregation in the United States and other egregious acts of suppression.
|Women’s Day, Feminisms, Womanism and LGBT in the Service of Israeli Apartheid Week Montreal, March 6-15, 2017
|In April 2016 IAM reported on Canada as a Battleground of BDS. In particular IAM noted that 45 members of staff in McGill University have signed a declaration endorsing BDS. McGill is certainly a battlefield for pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel activism. For example, CKUT, a non-profit, campus-community radio station based at McGill University, has posted a notice of activities of Israeli Apartheid Week in Montreal.
IAM notes that the promotion for Israeli Apartheid Week Montreal 2017 was already announced in March 2016. There is a long list of local groups endorsing it.
The organizers of the Montreal even have focuses on women issues and includes "International Women’s Day Demonstration" and "Indigenous Feminisms & Womanism". They recruited Nahla Abdo', an Arab feminist scholar and activist, to discuss "the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their land, their right of return and the obstacles that face them as well as the resistance that has been mobilized in Palestine and Internationally to stop the Israeli Government’s Illegal Settlements and to help Palestinians acquire their right of RETURN."
Another featured activist is Simona Sharoni. To recall, in August 2016 IAM reported that "Simona Sharoni, Former Israeli Scholar Promotes False Allegations Against Israel." In her presentation, sponsored by BDS-Concordia, Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights-Concordia and others, "Compassionate Resistance and Solidarity: Envisioning Post-Apartheid Palestine" she will examine "the ethics and politics of solidarity initiatives designed to end the Israeli occupation. Special attention will be devoted to the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, its successes and challenges." Sharoni is said to be "Informed by an intersectional feminist analysis and her lifelong involvement in pursuing social justice," and will be also discussing "ongoing projects designed to ensure that post-apartheid Palestine is an exemplary democratic society with justice and equality for all."
The organizers have also focused on the LGBT rights. "From the images of ISIS throwing gay men off towers in Syria to the media rhetoric following the Orlando nightclub shootings in 2016, over the last several years LGBT Arabs have found themselves at the crossfires of global ‘clash of civilizations’ discourses." Saleem Haddad, a queer Arab activist, who "will examine the challenges facing queer Arabs in reclaiming their own narratives," and will also "examine the impact of Israeli government pinkwashing" and will "survey the growing xenophobic discourse about the ‘homophobia’ and ‘misogyny’ of Muslim and refugee communities in Europe and North America." He will discuss what "the global rise of the far-right means for LGBT politics, and how LGBT Arabs have begun to fight back."
The Montreal event is fairly representative of the coalition which the Palestinians have put together to promote BDS. Unsurprisingly, members of this coalition are highly reluctant to discuss the fate of women, gay and transgender in Muslim countries. In a 1993 article on feminism in the Middle East, Nahla Abdo' questioned Simona Sharoni on the striking absence from her writing of the impact of Muslim fundamentalisms. In response Sharoni "expressed her deep concern about the impact of this phenomenon on women, acknowledging the rise of Muslim and Jewish fundamentalism in the region." Somewhat remarkable, Abdo' added that Sharoni "also relayed to me her sincere reluctance to engage in a discussion on Muslim fundamentalism due to her simultaneous identity as an Israeli Jewish feminist."
The reluctance of scholars to debate the fate of women and LBGT is a testimony to their intellectual bankruptcy. It does not serve their case and hurts the case of the Palestinians.
|The Battle over BDS in the UK|
|In November 2016 IAM reported of a debate that took place in the Scotland University College Union. In early 2016, the UCU Scotland passed a motion calling to host a seminar on possible boycott of Israeli universities. Consequently, the UCU received legal advice that it would be unlawful for the union to support a boycott. The seminar went ahead with two papers presented; Professor Emeritus Jonathan Rosenhead came out in support of a boycott and Dr Alastair Hunter opposed it. The UCU published these proceedings which can be seen below.
The Scottish case is symptomatic of the legal battle in the UK. The UK's Secretary of State for Communities has recently unveiled new moves to stop local councils from boycotting Israel. The local councils will now be legally forbidden from boycotting companies and countries unless restrictions have already been put in place by the central government. The UK government’s statement on this decision specifically highlighted Israel as an example of particular note and made it clear that councils will not be able to “discriminate on geographical or other grounds”. Starting in October 2015, the British government introduced regulations making it difficult for councils to use their pension funds to pursue ethical divestment policies, by giving the government the power to veto them. In February 2016 the Cabinet Office issued guidelines intending to discourage procurement boycotts by the exclusion of certain companies from bidding for public contracts.
The UK government's move is seen by some as potentially stepping up the war on the BDS movement. The London based Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, an Arabic news website, noted as much in an article calling the new move "unethical". The article was written by a researcher whose PhD studies focuses on the influence of the Israel lobby in the United Kingdom. The author argued that the new UK government regulations followed "years of grassroots local government activism by Palestinian solidarity activists."
As already noted, Palestinian solidarity activists muzzle speeches by Israeli speakers. In addition, the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the UK has skyrocketed.
The dire situation on the campuses has prompted governmental action. Last week, Jo Johnson, the universities minister has written to the chief executives of higher education institutions, reminding them of their responsibility to ensure students do not suffer “discrimination, harassment or victimisation”. He added that, “This will include events such as those that might take place under the banner of ‘Israel Apartheid’ events for instance. Such events need to be properly handled by higher education institutions to ensure that our values, expectations and laws are not violated.”
IAM welcomes the decision of the British government to curb anti-Semitic and anti-Israel activities on the British campuses and would continue to report.
|'Israeli Apartheid Week' on Our Doorstep|
|The annual 'Israeli Apartheid Week' (IAW) said to be "an annual international series of self-organized events (rallies, protests, lectures, cultural performances, concerts, films and workshops) held in over 250 cities, communities and campuses across the globe," is up and running again.
To create a buzz, the official Facebook page announced a "Call Out," first on 14 December 2016 then again on 2 February 2017, intending to "mark 100 years of Palestinian resistance against settler colonialism, since the inception of the Balfour Declaration." It would take place all around the world between March - April 2017.
In the United States, the name was changed to Palestine Awareness Week. As in previous years, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) is a key player. SJP announced it had more than 80 chapters at American universities as of 2010. While they promise the event to be the biggest ever, in reality, so far, the activism has been somewhat subdued.
In Britain, a number of campuses including Goldsmiths College, Kings College London and University of Manchester are said to hold events between 27th of February to 3rd of March. Israeli advocates have pushed against these events. Michael McCann, director of Israel-Britain Alliance, was quoted as warning university heads not to use campus facilities to host “false and inflammatory propaganda;” he added that students supporting Israel Apartheid Week on-campus should be regarded as anti-Semites, as per the Working Definition of Anti-Semitism which was adopted by Prime Minister Theresa May.
In South Africa, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation is sponsoring IAW. Proponents claim that IAW is endorsed by more than 85 organizations, trade unions, embassies, youth movements and other groups including South Africa’s governing party, the country’s largest student group and SA’s largest trade union federation. Eager to link the alleged Israeli apartheid to that of South Africa, the organizers proclaim that the "IAW raises awareness of Israel’s apartheid policies towards the indigenous Palestinians. Israel’s discriminatory policies are now also affecting Africans."
However, at home, some Israeli academics have been describing Israel as an apartheid state. Following Oren Yiftachel, the architect since 2002 of the comparison between Israel and South Africa's apartheid, Menachem Klein, professor of political science at Bar Ilan University has followed suit in 2003. And again in a recent article "Israel is Moving Rapidly Towards Apartheid State," Klein was quoted to this effect, asserting that under a one state scenario "Israeli is now moving very rapidly towards an apartheid state."
IAM would follow the Israeli Apartheid Week activities and continue to report.
|From the BDS of Israel to Academic Boycott Against the US|
|The old saying that the Jews are the canaries in the coal mine comes to mind when looking at the academic reaction to President Trump’s executive order banning entry to citizens of seven, predominantly Muslim countries, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia.
As well known, the American courts, which questioned the legality of the document, refused to uphold the ban.
But this did not satisfy the academics who almost unanimously opposed the ban. For example, L. Rafael Reif, the president of MIT urged the faculty and students to join a protest in Boston to make their rejection of these policies heard. "Yet I would like us to think seriously about the fact that both within the MIT community and the nation at large, there are people of goodwill who see the measures in the Executive Order as a reasonable path to make the country safer. We would all like our nation to be safe. I am convinced that the Executive Order will make us less safe. Yet all of us, across the spectrum of opinion, are Americans. In this heated moment, I urge every one of us to avoid with all our might the forces that are driving America into two camps. If we love America, and if we believe in America, we cannot allow those divisions to grow worse. We need to imagine a shared future together, if we hope to have one. I am certain our community can help work on this great problem, too, by starting right here at home."
Some are very curious to see the impact on conferences. For example, Justin Weinberg, an associate professor of philosophy at the University of South Carolina conducted two polls to figure out how the travel ban could affect the two meetings of the American Philosophical Association that fall on the 90 days ban (until April 27th, 2017).
Some of the philosophical responses to his question are worth noting:
• "Isn’t the point of a boycott to hurt those responsible for some kind of injustice, thereby causing them to reconsider their unjust ways? If so, I fail to see 1) how this boycott will hurt the Trump administration and 2) how this will lead to any kind of change. Furthermore, it seems that now, more than every, philosophers and academics need to come together, and conferences are a wonderful way to do this. Why stifle one way of banding together just when we need most to band together?"
• "While that’s the usual understanding of boycotts, I think the purpose here is better understood as showing solidarity. As in, “we the boycotters are distinguished from those barred from attending conferences in the US only because we come from ‘safe’ countries; we refuse to employ that unjust privilege to our advantage.”"
• "I’m pretty strongly against this boycott because (a) it piles further harm on those who are already being harmed by Trump, which in my view includes all of US academia (b) it most seriously harms those who are amongst the hardest hit by the ban, those who are unable to leave the US; (c) from what I have seen academics are already protesting with all their hearts and don’t need me to point out that this is unacceptable; (d) I think Trump would love anything that weakens academia."
• "I must not be the only one that thinks this boycott movement is bizarre. Boycotting a *conference* makes no difference to the Trump administration, in fact, with them already putting gag orders and conducting “PR” reviews on scientific output from federal agencies… this movement will be much celebrated!"
• "If the US government has decided that hundreds of people with legal right to enter are not good for the US, I don’t want to be good either. This is a legitimate and reasonable way of protesting against an act of barbaric discrimination."
• "Boycotting as a collective “obligation to signal” is on incredibly shaky grounds in the absence of meaningful agreement amongst actors on its semiotic and normative value."
An Australian media reported "The peak bodies representing universities in America and Canada have also issued statements condemning the ban. The Association of American Universities has called for its reversal, saying that the ban threatens to cause “irreparable damage” to the academic reputation of the US. Over 20,000 US faculty members and 51 Nobel Laureates have signed a petition voicing concern and urging Trump to reconsider the executive order on immigration."
Others were more dramatic, stating that the "Trump order threatens global research". Australian professor, Ian Jacobs, Vice Chancellor of the University of New South Wales said, “How can it be that the US, which has countless Nobel Prize winners and top universities of the calibre of Harvard, Stanford and Yale, might suddenly bar the world’s best and the brightest from entry - or worse, re-entry - into its classrooms and laboratories? ...The world badly needs collaborative university research between nations... The best universities have always opened their doors to talent from anywhere in the world, and the US has been a massive beneficiary of that spirit, which encompasses not only academic ability with entrepreneurial drive, but also a strong belief that higher education and research are bulwarks against ignorance, intolerance and inequality.”
Considering that none of the seven countries are exactly known for being an academic powerhouse, it is hard to see how a temporary ban can inflict such a severe damage as Professor Jacobs suggested.
But this is not the real point here. If the academic damage was an issue, then surely more scholars would have spoken out against the anti- Israel BDS advocacy which has swept the campuses.
The real point is the hypocrisy of the academics who are only too happy to consider a boycott on “politically appropriate” targets, first Israel and now the United States, as the following petition to boycott American conferences makes clear. Some 5000 scholars from around the globe have already signed a call to a call to boycott American universities conferences. Not surprising, a number of Israeli academics signed it as well, Anat Matar, Tel Aviv University; Rachel Giora, Tel Aviv University; Kobi Snitz, Weizmann Institute of Science; and those who live abroad, Haim Bresheeth, SOAS, London; Uri Horesh, University of Essex; Ronit Lentin (retired) Trinity College Dublin; Dr. Tamir Libel, Barcelona Institute of International Studies, Spain;
Academics who aspire to a higher moral ground need to know that hypocrisy and double standard erode their legitimacy. The Jewish canary in the coal mine is not just a warning about grim developments on the horizon; it is also a reminder that the road from here to there is paved with elevating hypocrisy to a defining principle.
|BDS on Campus: Is a Rollback in the Making? |
|After years of ascendancy, the BDS movement and the academic infrastructure that supports it maybe taking a turn back. Three recent cases are indicative of this trend.
The conference organised by Oren Ben-Dor and Ilan Pappe questioning Israel's right to exist, originally slated to take place in Southampton University, U.K, and cancelled, in its new iteration, it was scheduled to take place in University College Cork, Ireland in March 2017. However, the UCC administration has not issued a permit because of safety concerns. The UCC stated that security infrastructure and staff is inadequate for the event, requesting that additional security and costs the organizers would have to cover. The administration also announced that a revised date for the conference needs to be agreed by the university, but cannot take place during the term and should not clash with exams. No new date has been set yet.
In Canada, Dr. Anthony J. Hall, a pro-BDS professor who claimed that Zionists were behind 9/11, is facing disciplinary action. Hall was suspended from University of Lethbridge in October 2016 and is now referred to the Alberta Human Rights Commission. Hall's videos and comments in social media have been characterized as anti-Semitic, supportive of Holocaust denial and engaged in conspiracy theories. A hearing at the Commission could take some years to conclude.
It is well known that Students for Justice for Palestine (JSP) is a leading promoter of BDS on Western campuses. The group organizes anti-Israel events and harasses Jewish and Israeli students. The group has scores of chapters on campuses, but its recent request to open a chapter at Fordham University was denied. Fordham administration stated its reasons, that there are "no registered student clubs the sole focus of which is the political agenda of one nation, against another nation... For the university's purposes, the country of origin of the student organizers is irrelevant, as is their particular political stance. The narrowness of Students for Justice in Palestine's political focus makes it more akin to a lobbying group than a student club. Regardless of the club’s status, students, faculty and staff are of course free to voice their opinions on Palestine, or any other issue." In response, Samidoun: Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network announced a solidarity rally for Fordham SJP at Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus. The JSP is planning to engage the Palestinian community in the United States to protest. A number of Palestinian groups have written to the University demanding a retraction of the decision, including the National Lawyers Guild with members such as Bina Ahmad, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights steering committee member and human rights attorney and Lamis Deek, a New York based Palestinian human rights attorney.
IAM will report on these and other cases as they develop.
|Responding to "Delegitimization of Israel, BDS initiatives and the recruit of Israeli academics"
|We received several comments to our post "Delegitimization of Israel, BDS initiatives and the recruit of Israeli academics".
Adi Moreno wrote that "from reading your words I get a very uncomfortable feeling of persecution and silencing. Do you maintain that any academic who supports the movement of BDS is an enemy of Israel and anti-Semite? And if in publishing the names of Israeli and Jewish speakers who expressed support for this position are you trying to narrow down their moves? Can supporting the boycott as a call to non-violent resistance be an intellectual position which is legitimate, even if not acceptable by you?"
One reader responded to Moreno that the International BDS movement does not recognize the Jewish people's right to their own state and therefore is illegitimate. As for those BDS supporters working in the Israeli academia, they are hypocrites because they draw salaries from government institutions they wish to boycott. No organization can employ someone who work blatantly against it. Boycott activity by a university researcher is equivalent to that of a salesperson in a retail store who convinces customers not to buy from his store.
Another response came from Dr. Tamir Libel who seemed to question IAM's credibility: "I am interested to express my protest in regard to the outrageous allegations against the Rosa Luxembourg Stiftung. I do hope that the directors of this important German foundation will take appropriate legal means to settle the issue."
It is not clear why Dr. Libel is so worked up about our description of the RLS. The Foundation is named after the Polish Communist revolutionary, Rosa Luxemburg and, since its inception has supported radical socialist activities. By its own admission, the Stifftung takes great pride in promoting progressive causes in Israel and beyond. The personnel chosen to run the regional offices reflect this trend. Dr. Katja Hermann, the head of the RLS in Ramallah, has a long record of promoting activities which are hostile to Israel. She, like many other Western pro-Palestinian activists, has hoped that a third intifada can dislodge Israel from the territories.
Moreover, the conference resolution endorsing academic boycott of Israel which was supported by 400 participants at the 7th International Conference of Critical Geography held in Ramallah at the end of July 2015 was supported by Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung. Clicking the link leads to the conference supporters, a list of logos following the statement "We are grateful for the support and/or generous donations from" and Rosa Luxemburg is one of them. Of course, the RLS can support its favored causes. But it takes a special kind of intellectual arrogance to describe our fact-based post as "outrageous allegations."
we repeat, Israeli academics who delegitimize Israel live in a particularly insidious bubble, protected by tenure and the most expansive set of academic freedoms in the Western world. And the tax payer is left with the bill.
|Delegitimization of Israel, BDS initiatives and the recruit of Israeli academics|
|A number of BDS attempts took place recently that need to be addressed. The good news is that the MLA vote on the boycott of Israeli academic institutions was rejected. The bad news is that the Palestinians recruit some Israelis and Jews to lead the calls for boycott.
This time Ariella Azoulay, Daniel Boyarin and Judith Butler were on hand to lend their support. The MLA Commons which links members for scholarly collaboration posted a statement by Azoulay: "The Palestinian-led BDS movement thus aims to mobilize the international community to respond to a triple call from within that advocates: full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel, an end to the military occupation of the Palestinian territories, and the right of Palestinians who were expelled in 1948 to return to their homes."
Other Israeli academics endorsed the boycott but anonymously due to the 2011 boycott law.
Also disturbing is that the cancelled conference questioning Israel's right to exist which Oren Ben-Dor and Ilan Pappe planned at the University of Southampton, has moved to the University College Cork in Ireland, to be held on March 31-April 2, 2017. A statement by the organizing committee which includes five academics from University College Cork, declared: “Recent developments in some countries – particularly in the US and the UK – have evidenced an chilling repression of academic freedom when it comes to critique of Israeli state policy. The history of this conference reflects these developments. Originally it was planned to hold the conference at the University of Southampton, but growing pressure on academic freedom in the UK forced a decision to move the conference to Ireland.” It seems that only two out of the 45 speakers are supportive of Israel.
The conspiracy theorists are working overtime a blog of Rehmat World promotes hatred against Jews. Rehmat stated about the Cork conference "Jewish whining aside – Ireland’s ties with the Zionist entity remain resolutely unchanged despite the best efforts of various Irish human rights NGOs such as B’tselem, Gisha and al-Haq – and Palestine solidarity activists."
Interestingly enough, in 2013 the Irish University Times published an op-ed stating that Ireland is the most anti-Israel country in Europe, that Ireland has a “bizarre obsession” with Israel, that the Palestinian plight is a ‘fashionable’ cause for Irish leftists who are hypocritical and inconsistent because they ignore the more urgent crises elsewhere and that the focus on Israel is the latest manifestation of Irish anti-Semitism. In a response, an Irish pro-Palestinian activist wrote that "Ireland’s ties with Israel remain resolutely unchanged despite the best efforts of various Irish human rights NGOs and Palestine solidarity activists." The conference questioning Israel's right to exist certainly proves him wrong.
Some of the BDS attempts never got public attention, but they deserve a look because they represent a robust network. Some 400 participants at the International Conference of Critical Geography held in Ramallah in 2015 supported a resolution endorsing Academic boycott of Israel. The conference website states that "during the final session, conference participants voted overwhelmingly for a strong resolution drafted by the ICCG 2015 Organizing Team to sign onto the Palestinian Academic and Cultural Boycott and the broader Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. The ICGG Steering Committee also unanimously supported the resolution." Both the Antipode Foundation and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation have sponsored this boycott initiative.
But there are other spheres of sponsorship by Antipode and Rosa Luxemburg targeting Israel. For example, Antipode International Workshop Awards which "intended to support radical geographers holding events," was given to Roi Wagner and Ariel Handel of Tel Aviv University and Mada al-Carmel in Haifa for a “Summer School of Critical Palestine/Israel Studies,” granting them the sum of $10,000. No doubt that this critical studies would be critical of Israel but not of the Palestinians.
This is not the first time that Antipode sponsors anti-Israel events intending to taint Israel in negative colors and question its legitimacy. For example, by establishing a new field of research: On 8 June 2012, the "Radical Geography Community" of Antipode Foundation posted an editorial titled "Intervention – Past is present: Settler colonialism in Palestine" by several Palestinian activists including Antipode International Advisory Board member Omar Jabary Salamanca and Antipode Staff Reporter Kareem Rabie. The Settler Colonialism initiative began by them with the 2011 conference by SOAS Palestine Society, which "gathers together a series of contributions on settler colonialism and Palestine, and attempts to bring the question of settler colonialism back into Palestine Studies...It is our hope that this issue will catalyse creative, collaborative work that puts the settler colonial framework firmly on the agenda of Palestine studies."
The Rosa Luxemburg Palestine office not only supports the Palestinian calls for boycott but also promotes a Third Intifada, as stated by the head of the regional office of Palestine: "The 'intifada of youth' is developed within of Palestinian society as a legitimate form of resistance against the occupation regime". Their website is hostile towards Israel with images of the separation barrier, soldiers and checkpoints as the center of Palestinian lives. The Israel office of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation offers young Israeli students and scholars to apply for grants. Invitations are being delivered to the social Science community through the Israeli social science network.
The battle over the boycott of Israel is in force and Palestinians recruit Israeli academics in their efforts to delegitimize Israel.
|Israel Boycott Vote at the Modern Language Association (MLA) on January 7, 2017|
|A few months ago IAM reported on a group of activists, members of the Modern Language Association (MLA), who have been engaged in promoting the boycott of Israel. The MLA vote on the boycott of Israel will take place in January 7, 2017. As IAM noted, the MLA has some 24,000 members and is a hugely important academic association. The group "MLA Members for Justice in Palestine", that was founded in 2014, have tried before. in June 2014, MLA members failed to pass a resolution that condemned Israel, though the proceeding debate was harsh. For example, Elizabeth Jane Ordonez, professor at the University of Texas and a signatory to the MLA Members for Justice in Palestine petition, called opponents "Zionist attack dogs" in a forum debating the issue.
A graduate student who wrote under a pseudonym for fear of retribution from pro-BDS faculty furnished the report below. The report notes the several procedural steps are involved.
The voting body comprises the 297 members of the Delegate Assembly of the MLA. Three resolutions have been placed before the Delegate Assembly: one in favor of a boycott of all Israeli universities; the second, opposing academic boycotts in general; the third, condemning the suppression of academic freedom at Palestinian universities by the Palestinians themselves (the Palestinian Authority and Hamas).
The resolution which is passed at the Delegate Assembly would be forwarded to the general MLA membership for ratification. Only ratified resolutions are binding. In order to be ratified, two conditions must be met. The resolution must receive the majority of votes cast; and the ‘yes’ votes must represent at least 10% of MLA’s membership in order to constitute a quorum.
MLA Members for Justice in Palestine invited members to attend several sessions promoting the boycott motion:
53. “Association Presidents’ Perspectives on Boycott” Thursday, 5 January, 1:45-3:00 p.m., Franklin 8, Philadelphia Marriott
116. Town Hall Meeting for MLA Members Thursday, 5 January, 5:15–7:00 p.m., Grand Ballroom Salon E, Philadelphia Marriott
245. Open Hearing on Resolutions Friday, 6 January, 10:15–11:30 a.m., Grand Ballroom Salon D, Philadelphia Marriott
277.Open Hearing of the MLA Delegate Assembly Friday, 6 January, 12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., Grand Ballroom Salon D, Philadelphia Marriott
510. MLA Delegate Assembly Saturday, 7 January, 11:00 a.m., Grand Ballroom Salon GH, Philadelphia Marriott
MLA Members for Justice in Palestine encourage members to "bring anyone who will join you: we want to create a sense of supportive buzz and swell prior to the Delegate Assembly (DA) meeting. The DA only allows delegates to vote on the resolution, but any member present can speak to the issue, and in other associations the presence of supportive members has proven to be very effective in encouraging a vote in favor of the resolution."
In an effort to dissuade the MLA from voting on the BDS proposal, lawyers from the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law (LDB) sent a letter to the president and executive director of the MLA. The LDB letter contended that the BDS motion “seeks unprecedented action from the MLA that is far beyond the capacity and powers set forth in the MLA’s corporate charter” making it “inconsistent with the mission and programs that the MLA reports to the IRS.”
Those opposing the boycott motion should attend pro-boycott meetings to counter the "sense of supportive buzz and swell."
No doubt the MLA meetings will be stormy. Should the boycott motion succeed, IAM would report on the developments.
|TAU Shlomo Sand endorses BDS|
|IAM reported last August on a study-tour to Israel/Palestine conducted by Le Monde Diplomatique. Participants were expected to meet, among others, Shlomo Sand, the retired Tel Aviv University professor. Sand, a former member of the radical anti-Zionist group Matzpen utilized his tenured position to publish highly controversial books which denied the existence of the Jewish people and/ or their link to the Holy Land.
Many of his critics claimed that Sand has been a professional provocateur. Also known as a political activist, he published an article in Haaretz in March 2015, "All Israelis Should Vote for the Arab List". But now he is onto something new. Although calls for BDS are illegal in Israel, Sand simply ignores the law. In a recent interview Sand endorsed BDS. He asserted: "I think the world has to put boycotts and sanctions against Israel." Sand explained that those who boycott Israel do not want to destroy the state but pressure the government "to stop the occupation." He noted that "If Europe decided to boycott Russia because of Crimea, there is not any reason European states and the United States cannot start to put pressure on Israel". Sand also stated that "I think the pressure today is not a danger to the existence of the Israeli state. We don’t really have military enemies today" and that "the only hope to save Israel from itself is pressure from outside."
Sand has been criticized by many of his academic peers who say about him "when it comes to Israel, Sand is less historian than upper-middlebrow conspiracy theorist." For instance, Lynn Levin, who teaches English Literature at Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania, wrote in response to his interview, "Sand proves himself to be one-sided and propagandistic." Levin refuted Sand's arguments to conclude "I do not think that Shlomo Sand’s thinking is very helpful." Levin wrote, "Sand, along with Israel’s most implacable enemies, favors BDS." She explained that, "BDS is basically an attempt to isolate and stigmatize Israel under the mock position of asserting high moral principles. In a self-serving comment, Sand says that he is not in favor of the BDS academic sanctions because he is an academic himself. He is pro-BDS as long as it does not apply to him." She dismissed his arguments: "His charge is baseless and launched not from facts and data... [and he] says nothing of prejudicial attitudes of Palestinians."
But Levin and the legions of Sand's critics miss an important point. Sand, as a professional provocateur, adopted the provocation tactics of Matzpen. However, unlike his former colleagues who ended in the proverbial dustbin of history, Sand became a superstar in the radical circles because of his academic credentials. Tel Aviv University, which promoted him despite the fact he published outside his field of expertise, French culture, gave this former postal clerk (during his Matzpen days) an academic legitimacy.
|MESA Annual Gathering to Host a Special Session on BDS|
|If anyone had doubts, the BDS initiative is still around and the Israeli public should prepare for many years of battle on this front. Next on the calendar is the upcoming Middle East Studies Association (MESA) annual conference which will be held in November 17-20 in Boston. MESA, with nearly 3000 members, is considered the most important association of Middle East studies. It describes itself as “a private, nonprofit, nonpolitical, learned society that brings together scholars, educators and those interested in the study of the region from all over the world.”
Among the many panels this year, BDS merits a special session. Titled "BDS, MESA, and the Politics of Academic Associations", the program states that "as several hundred MESA members have signed calls for academic boycott, this panel explores BDS as a political and intellectual strategy as it relates to academic associations in general, and to MESA in particular... The panelists, representing different areas of expertise in Middle East studies, offer insights on the practice of BDS, its significance and interventions in the contemporary higher education system, the relationship between politics and scholarship, and question of responsibility. They also reflect on the role of and the pressures on MESA in particular and academic associations more broadly."
Organizers of the BDS session are Samera Esmeir, Joshua Stacher, Kent State, Sherene Seikaly, UC Santa Barbara. the Chair is Samera Esmeir, UC Berkeley and the discussants are Michelle Hartman, McGill; Charles Hirschkind, UC Berkeley; Huri Islamoglu, Bogazici; Mary N. Layoun, Wisconsin Madison; Judith E. Tucker, Georgetown. None of which presenting opposing views to BDS. As IAM stated previously, MESA has been the home of the late Edward Said and his many followers with a long history of anti-Israel opinions. Because of its prominence, the MESA paradigm – a mixture of neo-Marxist, anti-colonial, and anti-Israeli themes – has dominated scholarship and classroom instruction on the Middle East and Islam.
MESA has a long history of calling for BDS. For example, during the 2007 MESA gathering, Omar Barghouti, the co-founder of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) discussed the academic boycott of Israel and argued that "the privileging of academic freedom 'circumscribes the moral obligations of academics.' He told the panelists that international law 'explicitly couples academic freedom with obligations'" and compared the situation to South Africa.
As IAM reported, in November 2014 (MESA) approved a proposal adopting the rights of its members to support an academic boycott and end cooperation with Israeli academic institutions. The proposal was passed by a majority of 265 against 79; it "affirms the right of MESA members to engage in open and transparent discussion of the boycott of Israeli academic institutions in the context of the Annual Meeting and other forums"; and it "affirms the right of the memberships of all organizations to discuss, debate, and endorse or not endorse the BDS campaign."
In the November 2015 gathering, two panels focused on BDS. With regarding to MESA’s bylaws which describe the organization as being “nonpolitical," an article at the Inside Higher Ed mentioned Zachary Lockman, former MESA president, who discussed how MESA’s definition of being "nonpolitical" has evolved over time to permit it to protest academic freedom violations around the globe. Yet, Lockman stated that, with one exception during the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait “the association insistently refused to speak out on conflicts in the Middle East itself.”
Not willing to discuss the conflicts in the Middle East while calling for the boycott of Israeli academic institutions is hypocrisy at its best. All fair minded members of MESA should raise this point. Double standards hurts the academic legitimacy of the organization.
|Scotland's University College Union (UCU) Seminar on Academic Boycott of Israeli Universities|
|A seminar outlining the pros and cons of an academic boycott of Israel will be held on the 16 of November in Glasgow by the Scottish University College Union (UCU), the Scottish chapter of the union of academics, lecturers, etc. Dr Alastair Hunter of the University of Glasgow will outline the cons, Professor Emeritus Jonathan Rosenhead, London School of Economics, and chair of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine, will discuss the pros. The UCU received legal advice that it would be unlawful for UCU to support a boycott, but the attendees will be able to discuss and consider the subject further.
Scotland has served as a battleground of BDS for quite a while. IAM reported in April this year that Edinburgh University Student Association (EUSA) debated a call to boycott Israel. The motion was passed by 249-153 votes.
Outside the academy, there were a number of boycott procedures in the last several years. In March 2013 Clackmannanshire, one of Scotland's smallest councils has taken the decision to boycott Israel, comparing it to South Africa during its apartheid period. Its motion stated "Clackmannanshire Council condemns the Government of Israel for its continuing illegal occupation of Palestine's East Jerusalem and the West Bank and for its continuing illegal blockade of Gaza." In August 2014, the Scottish government issued a procurement notice to local authorities which "strongly discourages trade and investment from illegal settlements". Following this non-binding notice, four Scottish councils Clackmannanshire, Midlothian, Stirling and West Dunbartonshire voted for a boycott of ALL Israeli goods. In October 2015 Scotland’s Green Party passed a motion calling for the boycott of Israel and the removal of Hamas from a European Union list of terrorist organizations.
But in February 2016 the British Government published a press release "Putting a stop to public procurement boycotts." It noted that the "Guidance published today makes clear that procurement boycotts by public authorities are inappropriate, outside where formal legal sanctions, embargoes and restrictions have been put in place by the government. " More specifically, it stated that "Town hall boycotts undermine good community relations, poisoning and polarising debate, weakening integration and fuelling anti-Semitism. Locally imposed boycotts can roll back integration as well as hinder Britain’s export trade and harm international relationship. All contracting authorities will be impacted by this new guidance including central government, executive agencies, non-departmental public bodies, the wider public sector, local authorities and NHS bodies. Any public body found to be in breach of the regulations could be subject to severe penalties."
Still, in June 2016 the general assembly of the Scottish University College Union debated a motion that "seeks to commit the union to support for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel." But the Union has "received legal advice from leading counsel that it would be unlawful for the union to call for or support such a boycott. Past motions on this subject have been passed by Congress but then on legal advice have been declared void and of no effect."
As stated in the British Government press release, the connection between the calls for boycott of Israel and the rise of antisemitism is unmistakable. In July 2016 a two-year study was published, titled "What’s Changed About Being Jewish in Scotland", it has found that public attitudes have changed dramatically in the past two years, with many Scots now scared to reveal their Jewish identity. The report was commissioned by the Scottish Government and was carried out by The Scottish Council of Jewish Communities. The report blamed an “unbalanced political comment”, lack of confidence in the police and widespread anti-Israel sentiments.
The UCU seminar is going ahead and pro-Israel members should attend the debate. Attendees must be UCU Scotland members and should register in advance by Monday 7 November.
|Palestinian Influence on Arab States to Accelerate the Boycott of Israel |
|During the last year Israel has put much of its weight into fighting BDS. Equally important, in recent months Israel has been liaising with a number of Arab states such as Saudi Arabia and some African countries. As a result the Palestinians have doubled their efforts to boycott Israel. As our May 2015 conference demonstrated, Qatar has been a leading force behind this new initiative.
The Doha Institute hosted a three days academic conference on how to bolster the boycott of Israel, “Boycott as a Strategy to Counter Israel’s Occupation and Apartheid: Present-day Realities and Aspirations,” held in Tunis, Tunisia, between the 4th to 6th of August.
The conference organizers seem to cast their efforts in analytical terms. They state that, in order to improve the boycott of Israel, a "careful consideration and study to better understand its importance and the best means by which it can be bolstered" is needed. Some of the questions raised are "is the boycott movement merely a protest movement that responds instantaneously to Israeli aggressions? Or is it, instead, a complete strategy with both medium- and long-term aims? What role is there for Arab states, and émigré communities to play in the boycott movement? To what extent can Palestinians living both within the Occupied Territories or within the Green Line be expected to take part in the boycott movement?"
It is worth noting that behind the launch of the Doha Institute in 2014 is Azmi Bishara, a former member of the Knesset, wanted in Israel for espionage, who is the general director of the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies in Doha, Qatar.
Also, the Arab League has been holding its 90th conference on the Arab boycott against Israel in Cairo from the 2nd to the 4th of August. Delegates from Palestine, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Algeria, Iraq, Sudan, Morocco, Mauritania and Yemen were expected to attend.
Alhayat, the London-based Saudi newspaper which reported on the Arab League Conference, quoted Salman al-Harfi, Palestine's ambassador to France. He stated that a ministerial meeting will be held in September in the United Nation's General Assembly to prepare for an international peace conference before the end of the year and to "evaluate what we have reached in French and international efforts".
IAM will keep reporting on these developments.
|Push for Israel Boycott at the MLA Convention in Jan 2017 by the "MLA Members for Justice in Palestine"|
|The "MLA Members for Justice in Palestine" is a group founded in 2014 that works tirelessly to boycott Israeli universities within the Modern Language Association (MLA). In June 2014 MLA members failed to pass a resolution that condemned Israel, though the preceding debate was strenuous. Jonathan Marks, a professor of politics at Ursinus College, noted in the Chronicle of Higher Education that, the rhetoric used by sponsors of the MLA vote to boycott Israel was extremely harsh. For example, Elizabeth Jane Ordonez, professor at the University of Texas and a signatory to the MLA Members for Justice in Palestine petition, actually called opponents "Zionist attack dogs." She wrote: "moves to seek justice and opportunity for Palestinians (or to remove obstacles to achieving those goals) are countered by Zionist attack dogs. When the Zionist lobby railroads its way through Congress, universities, and civil society no request is made for equal time for the other side." But, the MLA chose not to consider the proposed resolution endorsing the boycott of Israeli universities at their annual conference in January 2015. Instead, the MLA’s delegate assembly organizing committee convinced the sponsors to withdraw the resolution for further discussion until the annual meeting in 2017.
Now the vocal group "MLA Members for Justice in Palestine" has been working hard to assure a boycott vote during the next annual convention on the 5th to 8th of January 2017. To this end they gathered 386 signatures for their petition and embraced a number of authors to showcase Israeli apartheid. For example, they adopted J. M. Coetzee, a famous South African novelist and recipient of the Jerusalem Prize for the Freedom of the Individual in Society granted on April 10, 1987 by the late Jerusalem mayor Teddy Kollek. While Coetzee had used the podium during the ceremony to call on his country to dismantle apartheid and its system of racial segregation, he had no criticism for Israel. In fact, on another occasion, in 2010, Coetzee found faults with the Palestinians. He wrote, "the leaders whom the Palestinians have produced thus far strike me as midgets. And if by some chance a savior were to emerge, my guess is that he would pretty soon be gunned down."
Notwithstanding, MLA Members for Justice in Palestine reported that Coetzee, who has participated recently at the Palestine Festival for Literature in Ramallah, compared Israel to apartheid South Africa. He stated that in Jerusalem and the West Bank, "we see a system of enforced segregation based on religion and ethnicity, put in place by an exclusive self-defined group to consolidate a colonial conquest, in particular to maintain and indeed extend its hold on the land and its natural resources. Draw your own conclusions.”
MLA Members for Justice in Palestine also reported that six of their members have recently visited Palestine's Birzeit University for a discussion on how to succeed in their attempt to boycott Israel in the upcoming annual conference in January 2017.
There is little doubt that the fight over BDS in the MLA is going to heat up between now and January. As already noted, MLA, with almost 25,000 members, is a hugely important academic association. The outcome of the BDS would be an important test of the strength of the pro-Palestinian movement in the United States, especially as legislative and legal moves to counter it have been put in place.
IAM would provide further updates on this important issue.
|The BDS Movement is Advanced by the LA Times|
|The battle of BDS in the U.S, has sparked a ferocious debate over First Amendment issues, a debate that IAM has covered.
As can be seen from the article below, the Los Angeles Time supports the right to call for boycott as protected speech. The paper dismisses charges that support for boycott is akin to antisemitism. This is hardly surprising, since in 2009 Los Angeles Times published an op-ed by Professor Neve Gordon of Ben Gurion University calling for the boycott of Israel. Arguably, the high profile of the LAT helped to mainstream the notion of BDS which was pretty marginal at the time.
The LA Times is wrong to dismiss the accusation of antisemitism off hand. As IAM emphasized, both the EU and the US State Department have concluded that some elements in the BDS phenomena could be construed as anti-Semitic.
First Amendment issues are taken very seriously in the United States and, ultimately, the courts would determine the legal status of the BDS. Until such time, the debate would go on.
|The Importance of the Working Definition of Antisemitism: Pro-Palestinian Activist Christoph Glanz as a Case in Point|
|Christoph Glanz is a German pro-Palestinian activist who is connected to Uri Avnery and Ellen Rohlfs of the Institut für Palästinakunde in Bonn (IPK).
His planned lecture at the University of Oldenburg, “BDS – the Palestinian Human Rights Campaign Introduces Itself,” prompted Sara Rihl, a local politician and a student member of the senate of the University of Oldenburg, to demand the cancellation of his talk from the organiser, the Protestant Student Association (Evangelische Studierenden Gemeinde, ESG). She referred to the speaker as a “known anti-Semite,” working for an “anti-Semitic organisation.” As a result, the ESG cancelled the event, and Glanz took Rihl to court.
A number of Israelis wrote in support of Glanz, for example, Judith Bernstein, "I am appalled that you designate Mr Christoph Glanz as anti-Semite. We have invited Mr. Glanz to Munich to inform about the BDS movement...I myself am a Jew, born in Jerusalem and defend myself against this comparison which is trivializing the Holocaust. "Do not buy from Jews" was directed on racial grounds against all Jews... By contrast, the BDS campaign directed against the policies of the Israeli government. Once it ends the occupation and the Palestinians get the same rights as Jewish Israelis both in Israel and in Palestine, the BDS campaign would be ended."
Another group of Israelis in favor of BDS, wrote in support of Glanz, "The Palestinian-led BDS call is similar to the boycott call regarding Apartheid South Africa, several decades ago. We know that campaign was legal and widely supported in Germany at the time. Just as that campaign was not racist against white South Africans, BDS is not an antisemitic campaign. Prominent human rights activists all over the world, including numerous South African, Jewish and other personalities, from Desmond Tutu to Judith Butler, have endorsed the BDS campaign."
On 14 June 2016, the German regional court in Oldenburg ordered Rihl not to repeat accusations of anti-Semitism against Christoph Glanz.
Charging BDS activists with antisemitism without evidence can be counterproductive. Rihl would have done better had she referred to the Working Definition of Antisemitism using the clause concerning Israel, "Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation." Blanket accusations of antisemitism are not effective and can create a backlash. Pro-Israel activists need to acquaint themselves with relevant arguments to further their work.
|Israelis and BDS: Helping to Sell the "Goods"|
|The Palestinian movement found the BDS a useful front, an issue that the IAM has discussed on various occasions. Al Jazeera, the powerful TV network based in Qatar has helped in promoting BDS. Al Jazeera features radical Israeli scholars who describe Israel as an apartheid state in an effort to deflect charges of anti- Semitism. For instance, Professor Neve Gordon of BGU occasionally writes for Al Jazeera about Israel's behavior in the territories, a theme he first developed in his book Israel's Occupation. Interestingly, he wrote his book while on a Sabbatical at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies in the University of California, Berkeley, chaired by Nezar AlSayyad. The Center is a known recipient of Arab largess, in 1998 it received its single largest donation of $5 million from the Sultan Charity Foundation.
Another example is Yermi Brenner, an Israeli who recently featured in Al Jazeera. Brenner is a multimedia journalist who moved to Berlin and is
a former reporter for the Israeli Social TV, a New Israel Fund grantee. Social TV "is a social change organization (nonprofit) acting as a communications body civilian-independent promoting a social agenda in Israel." Brenner produced 66 video reports for Social TV between 2011 to 2013. Among his features are, Palestine is Already a State; Women Solidarity for the Establishment of Palestine; Intifada Art; Anti-Occupation Activists; Public Officials for the Recognition of Palestine.
In his article "Germany's BDS movement and the paradox of anti-Semitism," Brenner interviews BDS supporters in Berlin saying that "Germans fear criticising Israel and being perceived as anti-Semitic due to legacy of WWII," Brenner interviewed Carsten Koschmieder, a political scientist at the Freie University Berlin, who stated that BDS has some supporters on the very left of the German political spectrum but not many more. "The BDS movement has not - or not yet - achieved [recognition] as legitimate protest," Koschmieder explained, "As long as they are not seen as a legitimate movement but as connected to anti-Semitism, they cannot achieve anything in the public sphere in Germany."
Peter Ullrich, another academic interviewed by Brenner is a sociologist at Technische University Berlin who has written extensively about anti-Semitism in Germany, explained that anti-Semitism is taboo in Germany because of the country's history. Being labelled an anti-Semite could damage a person's reputation as well as opportunities. "It is a strong accusation indeed, one of the strongest." The article notes that the BDS activists are now very concerned since Minister Gilad Erdan stated in the Jerusalem Post on April 4th, that "We have been working extensively over the past half year to increase awareness among decision-makers in Europe and North America of the anti-Semitic, anti-democratic, and discriminatory nature of the BDS movement. This awareness is growing, and is increasingly being translated into counter-BDS legislation, legal rulings against BDS activities, and decisions by Western institutions to end their financial relationships with BDS organizations."
Brenner is clearly promoting BDS in Germany by stating, BDS "which has been gaining support in the United States and in Italy, and stirring public debate in the United Kingdom, Canada and other countries - is comparatively quiet in Germany." And that a "BDS activist, sees no contradiction between the historical lessons of the Holocaust and criticising Israel."
Brenner's work exposes the major difficulty that Israel has when taking on BDS. The movement to boycott Israel is embedded in a broader intellectual and emotional debate about the boundaries between criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism and who is entitled to say what. There are no clear cut answers to any of these questions. But one things is quite obvious. Israelis are good salesmen of the BDS "goods."
|The Battle Against BDS - Upcoming Bar-Ilan Conference and Audio Recording of the 4th IAM Conference in May|
|The effort to combat BDS has galvanized civil society groups and the government to tackle this phenomenon. One such a platform was the IAM conference in May, a recording of which is now available online.
Two weeks ago Danny Danon, the Israeli Ambassador to the U.N, hosted a conference in the U.N General Assembly with some 1,500 students and dozens of anti-boycott organizations participating. Ambassador Danon, who described BDS as being the face of modern anti-Semitism, stated that the conference intends to send Israel-haters around the world a clear message of the country’s strength. He added that Israel will not surrender and shall continue to expose BDS lies.
A few days ago, Gilad Erdan, the Minister of Strategic Affairs who was appointed by the Prime Minister to tackle BDS, spoke at the annual Herzliya Conference and outlined the steps the government should take against the boycott movement and its advocates and move from defense to offense. He proposed that Israeli authorities should target bank accounts of such activists and organizations, to expose their sources of funding. He also explained that the government is currently advancing legislation. “There’s no real price for somebody here, or an organization who is working against his country in order to isolate it in the world.” He said.
On the American front, an Haaretz article reported that in the U.S some twenty states so far and two local governments - one in Florida and one in New York - have taken up the battle against BDS and passed laws or are in the process of considering it.
From a financial prospective, Bloomberg reported that an examination of foreign capital flow into Israel shows a steep increase, that foreign investments in Israeli assets hit a record high last year, a near-tripling from 2005 when the BDS movement was started by a group of Palestinians.
It seems that the BDS success is limited to campuses. But even this may change as more and more academic experts are getting involved.
Next Sunday Bar Ilan University will host a conference on the struggle against BDS. The meeting would bring together a large community of experts. The conference will be conducted in Hebrew and is intended to benefit the academic community at large and in particular academic staff going on sabbatical and post doc.
|American Anthropological Association: A Thin Victory for the anti-BDS Camp? |
|On the 7th of June the AAA members decided by a small majority vote to reject the BDS resolution. But the discourse on the issue indicates that the fight between the BDS and the anti-BDS factions is ongoing.
The AAA resolved to censure the Israeli government over practices that "restrict freedom of movement for Palestinian academics and foreign academics going to the West Bank; restrict access to publications on the West Bank; inflict damage on Palestinian academic life; deny full accreditation for Al-Quds University; deny freedom of expression to Palestinian and dissenting Jewish faculty and students at Israeli universities; and obstruct payment of salaries to West Bank faculty."
To "repeal Israeli laws that make it a crime to speak publicly in favor of a boycott; change visa regulations for foreign scholars to teach, study and do research in Palestine; dismantle the “closure regime” that includes physical impediments such as checkpoints, roadblocks and gates; improve Internet access in the Occupied Territories; desist from having the IDF raid universities, arrest students on campuses, and use tear gas on campuses; grant Al-Quds University its long overdue accreditation; grant the same rights to Palestinian students on Israeli university campuses as Israeli students enjoy for gathering and action, including expression of their identity."
To "identify the ways in which US government resources and policies contribute to policies in Israel/Palestine that violate academic freedom and disenfranchise Palestinians, and will call on relevant US government agencies to work towards effective changes in Israeli government policies and practices."
To implement the 2015 AAA business meeting's “call on the US Government to cease supplying any military and economic aid to Israel which is used directly or indirectly to support the occupation and to violate Palestinian human rights.”
"AAA will participate in conversations with sister societies with regard to... Israeli-authorized excavations in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and the contested ways in which cultural heritage and archaeological research are implicated in these issues."
"AAA will provide active resource support for Palestinian and Israeli academics as well as visiting scholars in the region...Considering the ways in which Israeli government policies and practices make it difficult for Palestinian academics and non-Palestinian academics working in Palestine...AAA will make its digital, online literature (AnthroSource) available free of charge to Palestinian universities".
"Considering the ways in which Israeli government policies and practices make it difficult for Palestinian academics...AAA will establish fellowships to enable the travel of Palestinian and/or Israeli academics to AAA conferences, and of academics and/or visiting scholars in anthropology" working with "colleagues in the West Bank and Gaza."
The "AAA has no investments in any company anywhere that does not fit this criterion, including Israeli companies." It is expected that Securities "Not have policies against discrimination regarding race, gender, religion, age, disability, or sexual orientation."
A long list indeed. IAM has already noted that the AAA-appointed Task Force mission to visit Israel/Palestine was biased even though its mandate stated that Task Force members comprise of “no one with publicly identified positions on the issue," three of the six proved to be pro-Palestinian. Moreover, the newly elected AAA president, Alisse Waterston, has co-authored with Hugh Gusterson, a member of the Task Force, the Israel/Palestine: A Resource Document in March 2014. Though the document purports to be balanced, it is quite clear that the arguments in favor of BDS are much stronger than those against it.
Waterston said in response to the failed BDS vote “The consensus within the AAA remains and that is that there are serious human rights problems that exist in Israel/Palestine as a result of Israeli state policy, practices and the occupation and that AAA must take a course of action." Not surprising, Waterston is a lifelong donor to the New Israel Fund (NIF), a report by the Adva Center published in 2002 on "Government Funding of the Israeli Settlements in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Golan Heights: Update," thanked Waterston and husband for their support. The 2004 Annual Report by New Israel Fund thanked Waterston and husband for their donation, as well as the 2006; the 2011; and the 2013 NIF Annual Report.
Also, Tel Aviv University professor of sociology and anthropology Dan Rabinowitz told Inside Higher Ed that, with regard to the AAA plans to censure the Israeli government, it is a welcome "measure directed in the right direction."
Moreover, Anthroboycott, the group of anthropologists that promotes the boycott through their website Anthropologists for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions reported that about 1,300 anthropologists have signed a pledge to uphold the boycott of Israeli universities in their personal capacities, though some 200 signed the petition anonymously.
The AAA targets Israel alone; it does not censure other countries. AAA is a prime example of the double standards which is a part of modern anti-Semitism. Indeed, the exclusive focus on Israel extends well beyond the AAA into virtually all of Western social sciences. As Steven Salaita wrote in the Chronicle of Higher Education, "Israel Boycott Has Staying Power."
IAM has frequently discussed the underlying causes of this singular obsession with Israel by Western social scientists: neo-Marxist, critical paradigm; heightened activism; the influx of Arab and Iranian money into higher education in general and social sciences in particular. The results are unmistakable: the profession as a whole has remained silent about the most egregious manifestation of radical Islamism, including the treatment of women and gays by ISIS and other jihadist groups. Those who try to discuss these issues are described as suffering from Islamophobia.
The double standards in the social sciences hurt the discipline first and foremost. It robs it of the moral authority that is essential to its viability. It is hardly a coincidence that the term "political correctness," first developed on the campus, has become a major political issue in American politics, triggering a major backlash.
Social scientists, including the AAA scholars need to understand that a loss of moral authority has been part of the rising tide of anti-"political correctness."
|Inaccurate Report on 20 Israeli academics promoting anthropology association’s boycott of Israel|
|The general media announced that 20 Israeli academics are backing the boycott call of the AAA. This was based on a report conducted by Dr. Shahar Golan on behalf of Im Tirtzu. The group's website states that it "reveals the truly deep and disturbing connection between Israeli academics and the international boycott movement." Specifically, "the report focuses on the Israeli Anthropological Association as a case study, and reveals how Israeli anthropologists are promoting and encouraging the proposed academic boycott of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) on Israel."
A large number of media outlets reported on this, including "Jerusalem Post, Israel National News, Israel Hayom, Algemeiner, Jewish Press, and more. The report was even covered by Press TV, the state-funded English news network of Iran!"
Im Tirtzu also announced that as "as a result of the report MK Oded Forer (Yisrael Beiteinu) called for an emergency meeting in the Knesset’s Education Committee to discuss these disturbing findings."
IAM found the letter by the group of Israeli anthropologists to the AAA (see below) with all the names mentioned by Im Tirtzu. But contrary to the group's conclusions, IAM established that the signatories did not endorse BDS. In fact, they stated the following, "One does not have to be a supporter of BDS in order to believe, as the undersigned do, that discussion of the academic boycott and other measures of censure of the State of Israel is an ethical prerogative for the AAA... we support the AAA Executive Committee’s call for an open, transparent, and productive process and discussion of the position that the AAA should take with respect to Israel/Palestine... we do not expect that only BDS supporters will participate in the debate. Indeed, we welcome the participation of individuals and organizations that oppose BDS, question it or are simply curious to learn more about BDS... We therefore encourage an open and public discussion of BDS, along with other possible measures. We wish the American Anthropological Association success in pursuing this debate at the coming Annual Meeting, whether its end result is adoption of the boycott or other measures of censure, or simply a productive professional exchange." Nothing in their statement indicated an endorsement of boycott. Also, some of the signatories are not academics but students.
However, Im Tirtzu mentioned another petition, signed by 22 Israeli anthropologists supporting the boycott, which is anonymous. The petition explains that "to help protect early career academics–in an atmosphere of increasing intimidation and legal restrictions on advocating for academic boycott–all the signatories have agreed to sign anonymously as a single collective." Because of this anonymity, it is hard to establish whether these anthropologists are employed by an Israeli university. Some or all may be based abroad and some maybe students.
If the signatories to the second petition are indeed employed by Israeli universities, it creates legal and ethical problems. Preaching for boycott of Israeli institutions while receiving a salary from the same institutions is dishonesty and should be exposed as such.
|The American Anthropological Association (AAA) vote on the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions|
|Tomorrow, May 31st is the last day to vote on the AAA debate whether or not to boycott Israeli academic institutions. A business meeting of the AAA held in Nov 2015 debating two resolutions on Israel and Palestine, one was soft, offering AAA members in "Engaging Israel Palestine: End the Occupation, Oppose Academic Boycott, Support Dialogue," was rejected. The second resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions was adopted, on which the entire AAA community of ten thousand members is voting.
The resolution resulted from a Task Force mission appointed to investigate the relevance of the Palestinian-Israeli dispute to the AAA, as IAM reported, Task Force members were expected to be neutral and “no one with publicly identified positions on the issue." However, half of its members, three of six, were publicly identified as supporting the Palestinian narrative prior to the mission trip. Also, those who were chosen to help the Task Force during their trip to the area were also publicly identified with the Palestinian narrative. No wonder therefore, the report was biased against Israel and full of flaws.
This is not really surprising, those who are pushing for the boycott are mostly of Arab origin, as can be seen from the list of signatures below.
Surprisingly, however, the success of Arab influence on American campuses against Israel which originates from the vast investments by wealthy Arab states investing en mass of petrodollars in American higher education in the last few decades, beginning with the plea of the late professor Edward Said. The 9/11 attack did not change things in this respect.
Throughout the years the figures of Arab investments in Western campuses have gone up and so is the hostility toward Israel. With the Arab money and the wide popularity of the neo-Marxist, critical paradigm in the social science, such influence on campuses can be recognized in the number of votes to boycott Israel and the AAA is one example of it, whether successful or not.
|[BDS] Hearing by House Foreign Affairs Committee "Israel Imperiled: Threats to the Jewish State"|
|On April 19, 2016 two subcommittees of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs held a joint hearing - the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade and the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa. Four experts were invited to testify on "Israel Imperiled: Threats to the Jewish State," David Makovsky from The Washington Institute for Near East Policy; Michael Rubin from the American Enterprise Institute; Jonathan Schanzer from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies; Tamara Cofman Wittes from the Brookings Institution.
The witnesses elaborated on the threats faced by Israel with regard to Iran and overall terrorism. Two witnesses mentioned the BDS movement. Makovsky stated that the BDS movement is not pushing for a two states solution, "Omar Barghoutti, founder of BDS, has said he doesn't want Israel to exist at all... the main group pursuing BDS on American campuses, called Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), pointedly refuses to accept the idea of two states... we must work to find an approach that creates wide-ranging coalitions on campus, involving Jewish and Muslim groups together. These divisive BDS resolutions rip campus communities apart. Instead, we must strive for practical coexistence. If the BDS movement is not blunted and there is no movement on the ground, along the lines I have suggested, I am concerned that this movement could metastasize beyond college campuses."
Schanzer, who introduced himself as a former analyst of terrorism finance for the U.S. Department of the Treasury, focused on the corporate and fiscal structures of the BDS's major actors in the U.S. He introduced a research conducted by Foundation for Defense of Democracies, on former employees of organizations targeted by the U.S. government for terrorism finance violations. Schnazer revealed that three organizations, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development; the Islamic Association for Palestine; and KindHearts for Charitable Development, were implicated in financing Hamas between 2001 and 2011: "their former leadership appears to have pivoted to leadership positions within the American BDS campaign." While some members of the organizations were jailed, deported, or faced trials, many of the high and mid level operatives were left untouched and formed a new Chicago-based organization, American Muslims for Palestine, which is a leader of the BDS campaign in the U.S.
The fact that former employees of organizations that provided support to Hamas now play important roles in a charity based in the U.S., exposes the real agenda of key figures of the Palestinian BDS campaign and makes it an American problem.
IAM shall report on future congressional efforts to fight BDS.
|Legal Battle Against BDS|
|Two new legal initiatives for fighting BDS were announced lately. One is by a group of members of the American Studies Association (ASA), who filed a law-suit against the ASA for illegally boycotting Israel. According to the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law which advised the professors, the “ASA’s stated mission has nothing to do with boycotting a foreign nation" and that ASA adopting BDS "violates the law that governs nonprofit corporations.”
The move could potentially deter other associations, such as the latest pro-BDS round by members of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) which began its online polling of thousands members. The AAA online vote on the boycott of Israel is taking place now and will continue through May 31.
The second is a warning letter of intent to file a law-suit by the Israeli Shurat Hadin against the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation (RBF). Shurat Hadin warns that RBF, which supports groups that advocate boycotting Israel and could cause the fund to be "considered complicit and as a participant in these groups' illegal activities." According to Shurat Hadin, the RBF contributes hundred of thousands of dollars to groups supporting BDS. Although RBF declares it does not support BDS, recipients of their funds clearly do.
The result of the legal initiatives could potentially affect other pro- BDS groups. If successful, it would mean a significant step forward for those fighting BDS.
|Scotland as a Battleground of BDS|
|The Palestinian BDS movement has applied various tactics on campus to stifle free speech. The latest case took place at an Edinburgh University Student Association (EUSA) debate on a vote to boycott Israel. Imogen Wilson, the vice president for academic affairs at Edinburgh's student association, who opposed the motion, was threatened with removal from the student council session for breaking "safe space" rules by raising her hand.
The EUSA motion 6(c) on safe space states that "Refraining from hand gestures which denote disagreement or in any other way indicating disagreement with a point or points being made. Disagreements should only be evident through the normal course of debate."
After voting for and against her removal she was allowed to stay.
Also troubling, the EUSA motion to support BDS was passed by 249-153 votes. The motion requires "to target products, companies and institutions that profit from or are implicated in, the violation of Palestinian rights", to "resist any action that gives political or economic support to violations of international law by the State of Israel and complicit companies" and to "mandate sabbatical officers to work with the Black and Minority Ethnic liberation group, as well as Edinburgh University Students for Justice in Palestine to lobby and campaign for the university to also commit to BDS". In addition, the motion calls also for the academic boycott of Israel.
BDS initiatives are strong in Great Britain. In November 3, 2015 the media reported that hundreds of UK academics have signed a public letter requesting to boycott Israeli universities. The letter was signed by 343 academics from 72 universities in the U.K. including eight at the University of Edinburgh. The letter was published as a full page advertisement in The Guardian.
A number of boycott resolutions were passed in Scotland in the last decade. For example, on the 18th of May 2015 Scottish media reported that the University of Strathclyde Student Association joined its counterparts from Edinburgh University and Glasgow Caledonian University student associations in passing a policy to support BDS.
To counter the latest Edinburgh University boycott resolution, Dr. Denis MacEoin, an alumni, published an Open Letter to the Edinburgh University Students' Association, stating "No one holds meetings to call for reform in Islamic states. Instead, people like yourselves pass resolutions condemning the only country that defends those rights for all its citizens and visitors." But this is not his first time, already in September 2011 MacEoin published a letter to the Edinburgh University Student Association following their "vote to boycott Israel because of its 'apartheid'."
Courageous as he is, more students, alumni and academics should protest that Israel alone is being targeted.
|Canada as a Battleground of BDS|
|On the 22nd of February the Canadian Parliament has passed a motion to condemn “any and all attempts” to promote the BDS movement against Israel both at home and abroad. Since this motion doesn't really have teeth, as a counter effort, a group of activists opened an online petition addressing the Canadian government and provoking "GO AHEAD, MAKE MY DAY, CONDEMN ME".
Soon after, Canadian media reported that 45 members of staff in McGill university have signed a declaration endorsing BDS. This is a response to the BDS motion that was defeated in February.
Another tactic of BDS supporters on campus include silencing pro-Israel voices. For example the student association at University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) has denied access to campus to the group Hasbara Fellowships Canada. Hasbara Fellowships fights anti-Israel trends on university campuses throughout Canada and provides pro-Israel students with the education, training, tools and support to defend and promote Israel on their campuses. The Hasbara Fellowship requested and was denied the opportunity to participate in a campus social justice week event. The group was told it was rejected because the student association had passed a BDS motion and because of the group’s “ties to the state of Israel.”
However, the UOIT administrators issued a statement that the university opposes BDS and that the student association is a separate and independent organization.
As the Canadian BDS battlefield on campus continues, IAM will report on the developments.
|BGU Uri Ram Calls for a Boycott of Ariel University
|On March 14, Uri Ram, a professor of Sociology at Ben Gurion University and the head of the Israel Sociological Society (ISS) called for a boycott of Ariel University. The ISS stated that "the institute known as Ariel University is not located in the borders of the state of Israel, and so it is not a part of the sociological society's activities, which associates only with Israeli sociologists and institutes." The ISS is expected to vote on the proposal in April.
Ariel University responded: "Ariel University is surprised and disappointed by the fact that people whose professional emblem is the flag of pluralism are working under models of semi-fascistic behavior, which cannot dwell alongside opinions different from their own. Ariel University has people of different worldviews, Jewish and Arab, religious and secular, left and right, from all of Israel's cities and towns."
If passed, the ISS would pose a very serious challenge to the Education Minister Naftali Bennett. So far Bennett limited himself to a general response: "A boycott isn't education, it's the opposite of education," he said. "A boycott is not pluralism, it's the opposite of pluralism, and will be handled accordingly. It is absurd, because the fighters for academic freedom are taking the right to discriminate between institutions into their hands. The Israeli taxpayers fund higher education and we have no intention of allowing boycotts."
Bennett did not explain how he would fight the boycott resolution if passed and did not mention the legal remedy known as the Boycott Law passed by the Knesset in 2011.
The Education Minister is already in hot water for firing Professor Hagit Messer-Yaron as deputy chair of the Council of Higher Education. The Supreme Course is now reviewing the case and there is no assurance that the ruling would go his way. Taking on Uri Ram and the ISS may prove to be even more arduous.
|The Call by 40 Professors in Columbia University to Divest from Israel|
|The Columbia University Center for Palestine Studies is implacably hostile to Israel. Founded in 2010 as part of its Middle East Institute, it has a long list of events (below) with a pronounced anti-Israel focus. Just to name a few examples, in November 2015, the center has held a conference on "The Zionist left: Settler colonial practices and the representation of the Palestinian Nakba in Northern Palestine," where Areej Sabbagh-Khoury argued that "the 1948 Nakba was neither the beginning nor the end of a process of settler-colonial expropriation."
Also in November 2015, Photographer Tanya Habjouqa presented "Occupied Pleasures" "which looks at the pursuit of happiness in the midst of occupation and blockade in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem." Early in November 2015 Ghada Karmi discussed with Philip Weiss the "Balfour and Palestine: A Legacy of Expulsion," where they stated that the "Balfour Declaration, a document which resulted in the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine, with a total and deliberate disregard for the rights and interests of the Arabs who then numbered 92 percent of the population."
A couple of months earlier, Professor Audra Simpson of the Department of Anthropology at Columbia, gave a talk on Yasser Arafat: "In a 2004 interview Yasser Arafat, in a state of near confinement and exhaustion, reflected upon his incapacity to move without the immediate threat of assassination, about the Palestinian right of return, about American elections, and his achievements. Among these achievements was the fact that "the Palestine case was the biggest problem in the world" and that Israel had "failed to wipe us out"."
Anti-American expressions can also be found in Columbia University. In November 2015, Nadia Abu el-Haj, professor of Anthropology, has held a seminar "The Ethics of Trauma: Moral Injury, Combat, and U.S. Empire", where she spoke about U.S. wars in the past and present, "I then turn to the post-9/11 wars and examine the ways in which the trauma of (U.S.) soldiers has come to be understood and that "we" as "American civilians" are called upon to recognize and bear responsibility for the psychological suffering of those sent off to war in "our name"."
Going back to Israel bashing, it would have not been seen as complete without some support of Israeli academics. For example, in September 2015 Eyal Weizman was invited to speak on "Hannibal in Rafah: A Forensic Reconstruction Of One Day In The 2014 Gaza War," the first in a lecture series on 'Islamic' Art: Disrupting Unity and Discerning Ruptures. Also advertised by the Palestine Center, in February 2015, Nurit Peled-Elhanan has held a conversation on "Building Mental Walls: Israeli Textbooks as a Means of Legitimation," where she stated: "Each year, Israel's young men and women are drafted into compulsory military service and are required to carry out Israel's policies in the Palestinian occupied territories. Most Israeli boys and girls never question this durty because they are indoctrinated from a very young age to see it as their natural and necessary national service to protect their homeland against Palestinian "invaders." Their schoolbooks use discursive, linguistic and visual startegies to dehumanize Palestinian citizens and non-citizens alike by presenting them as a "developmental burden," a "frightful demographic problem" and as a contstant "security threat"."
It is not surprising that Columbia University's group of "Students, alumni, faculty, and staff", in the joined efforts of "Columbia University Apartheid Divest, Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine as well as with Jewish Voice for Peace," have circulated a petition that was endorsed by 40 Columbia professors stating that "we take issue with our financial involvements in institutions associated with the State of Israel's military occupation of Palestinian lands, continued violations of Palestinian human rights, systematic destruction of life and property, inhumane segregation and systemic forms of discrimination."
It is worth noting that the petitioners confirm their hostility toward Israel is not new "In 2002, faculty members across various departments called for an end to our investment in all firms that supplied Israel's military with arms and military hardware. Students, alumni, faculty, and staff agreed to attach their name to a call to remove the State of Israel's social license in its use of asymmetrical and excessive violence against Palestinian civilians."
The Columbia Center for Palestine Studies is not unique in its intense focus on Israel. As a matter of fact, similar institutes, centers and programs on Western campus have adopted the same philosophy. Meanwhile, any study of domestic problems in the Palestinian society, not to mention the brutal dictatorship established by Hamas in Gaza has gone unanalyzed.
Turning the Palestine centers into a tool of anti-Israel propaganda shortchanges the needs of the Palestinian society.
|The Salaita Copycat from Oberlin College|
|The Steven Salaita case, on which IAM reported in length is reoccurring, this time at Oberlin College.
To recall, Salaita, then an associate professor of English at Virginia Tech, was on the verge of being hired by the department of American Indian Studies of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Over a long period he produced a series of tweets and Facebook posts including the following:
Steven Salaita @stevesalaita · 2 Aug 2014
"Hamas" is the biggest red herring in American political discourse since Saddam's "weapons of mass destruction." #Gaza #GazaUnderAttack
When will the attack on #Gaza end? What is left for #Israel to prove? Who is left for Israel to kill? This is the logic of genocide.
Members of the Knesset routinely call for the elimination of Palestinians, so #Israel can spare us the bullshit about restraint in #Gaza.
#Israel is rounding up people and murdering them at point-blank range. The word "genocide" is more germane the more news we hear. #Gaza
Following Salaita's harsh anti-Israel comments on social media, the university rescinded its offer. Salaita sued the university in court. The parties reached settlement out of court whereby the university agreed to pay Salaita as compensation $600,000 plus $275,000 to cover his legal costs. Salaita was also invited to teach at the prestigious American University in Beirut. The Salaita saga was over by November 2015.
The new "Salaita case" comes curtesy of Joy Karega, an assistant professor at Oberlin College. Shortly after the Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris, she shared a graphic of an ISIS terrorist pulling off a mask of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The terrorist had a tattoo with a Star of David sign. Karega wrote: “This ain’t even hard. They unleashed Mossad on France and it’s clear why.” She added that Netanyahu went to the free-speech rally that took place in Paris “uninvited and of course he went even when he was asked by Pres. Hollande (France) not to come. Netanyahu wanted to bend Hollande and French governmental officials over one more time in public just in case the message wasn’t received via Massod [sic] and the ‘attacks’ they orchestrated in Paris.” In November Karega wrote that ISIS was not really Islamic, but “a CIA and Mossad operation, and there’s too much information out here for the general public not to know this.”
In her later posts Karega went further; she accused the Rothschild family and Israel of downing the Malaysian plane that went down over the Ukraine. She also posted a graphic of Jacob Rothschild, a member of the prominent Jewish banking family, with a caption reading: “We own your news. The media. Your oil. And your government.”
Oberlin College President Marvin Krislov wrote that "Oberlin College respects the rights of its faculty, students, staff and alumni to express their personal views. Acknowledgement of this right does not signal institutional support for, or endorsement of, any specific position. The statements posted on social media by Dr. Joy Karega, assistant professor of rhetoric and composition, are hers alone and do not represent the views of Oberlin College".
The response of Oberlin College seems weak, raising the question if the Salaita case has influenced its decision. At the time, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) stood by Salaita, stating that the university infringed on his rights of free expression.
It would be interesting to know if the AAUP can comment on whether Karega has the right to post classic anti-Semitic tropes on her Facebook page.
|Israel's Ministry of Strategic Affairs Orchestrates the Efforts to Tackle BDS|
|The Israeli government has taken seriously the need to fight the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. It is increasingly understood that the BDS movement is not just of a sporadic activism but well funded efforts which can only be confronted by a large-scale governmental intervention.
The BDS movement was created in 2004 by Omar Barghouti, then a graduate student at Tel Aviv University, and has grown into a global network of thousands of activists. Many of its online activists are Internet-savvy second and third generation of Muslims in Europe and the U.S.
To battle BDS, the Israeli government allotted almost $26 million to combat what it sees as worldwide efforts to delegitimize the Jewish state's right to exist. The Ministry of Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy was appointed to orchestrate the efforts. In the last couple of weeks it has promoted a number of initiatives to fight BDS.
For example, last week, during the annual Global Coalition for Israel conference in Jerusalem, Gilad Erdan, the Minister of Strategic Affairs, has held a secret meeting with Jewish leaders where he addressed the threat posed by the BDS movement. Erdan outlined Israel’s strategies for combating BDS. He was quoted as stating that “BDS is spreading to more and more countries and fields. It is successfully building relationships with mainstream groups. They are making use of modern technology to spread their propaganda. The threats are known.”
Erdan shared several methods that are being developed. “We are developing the capabilities to identify threats before they are publicized. Once we identify them, we will bring all of the relevant bodies together and use one of the many options at our disposal, which can mean using diplomacy, operating behind the scenes or implementing legal measures. For too long, BDS has attacked Israel without paying any price... Wherever they operate, we will make sure there is no safe space for BDS... Finally, we are going to become much more active on social media. We aim to spread the truth as quickly as our enemies spread lies... pretty soon it is going to be a whole new ball game." Erdan concluded by stating that "cooperation between Israel and the pro-Israel community is not just a good idea but a necessity. I can’t do it alone. We are all on the front line together.”
Also, last month, in a forum for Israeli tech developers held during a cyber technology conference, Sima Vaknin-Gil, the director general of Israel's Ministry for Strategic Affairs was quoted as saying "I want to create a community of fighters." She said that her ministry is encouraging initiatives to expose the funding and to curb the activities of anti-Israel activists. Some of the funds allocated by the Israeli government are earmarked for Israeli tech companies, many of them headed by former military intelligence officers, for digital initiatives aimed at gathering intelligence on activist groups and countering their efforts. Because of sensitivity, Israeli initiatives to fight BDS are largely being kept covert.
Barghouti said in response to the latest Israeli cyber security initiatives that "quite a few web pages" on BDS websites have mysteriously disappeared from the Internet. "We assume Israel's cyber sabotage is ongoing, but we are quite pleased that its detrimental impact on the global BDS movement has been dismal so far."
However, Barghouti, who resides in Israel in the northern town of Acre with his wife, an Israeli Arab citizen and their children, is now facing demands to revoke his residence permit. IAM will report on this in due course.
|The BDS Movement is Going Through Major Shifts but "Israeli Apartheid Week" is at the Door|
|The report by Israel on Campus Coalition has detailed the activities relating to Israel on U.S. campus during the year 2015. The report found that "Anti-Israel activists maximized the benefits of existing partnerships, expanding outreach to their allies through shared ideological platforms. The spread of intersectionality has redefined campus activism, leading BDS activists to rely increasingly on the visibility of other campus causes."
"BDS activists launched targeted campaigns against pro-Israel students, including initiatives to exclude pro-Israel representatives from student government. This coincided with the intensification of hostile demonstrations, reflecting a departure from passive techniques employed in recent years. At the same time, national anti-Israel organizations expanded their support for student groups, increasing the sophistication and reach of SJP and its allies."
"Five years after its first national conference, SJP has evolved a sophisticated organizational framework. By expanding its infrastructure and embracing strategic adaptability, SJP has shown its determination to achieve greater national influence in the years ahead...With an increasing number of SJP activists challenging the efficacy of BDS initiatives in student governments, intersectionality has moved to the forefront of anti-Israel campus activism, reshaping the efforts of Israel’s detractors."
However, moving on to 2016, while the BDS campaign in Europe and the United States is still growing, there are signs of a pushback by public and private institutions.
There is a growing backlash against BDS in Germany. The German DAB Bank Munich is about to discontinue an account of one of the BDS campaign websites in Germany named the BDS-Kampagne. Their latest campaign is a “petition in support of the right to call for a boycott of Israeli goods in France.” The city council of Bayreuth rescinded on Tuesday its human rights and tolerance prize to the pro-BDS US group Code Pink. Also, the publicly-funded cultural center Bürgerhaus Weserterrassen in the northern Germany city of Bremen pulled the plug last month on a fringe BDS activist lecture.
The British government plans to introduce legislation which would discourage the participation of local authorities in BDS drives. Under the new guidance, NHS trusts, councils, universities, student unions, and other public bodies will be prevented from boycotting foods and products from Israel.
The Paris City Council adopted two nonbinding resolutions condemning attempts to boycott Israel, which are illegal in France. The two resolutions, one submitted by the Socialist-led coalition of Mayor Anne Hidalgo and the other by center-right members of the City Council, were adopted Tuesday.
US Congress passes anti-BDS legislation. After weeks of political wrangling, US Congress passed legislation regarding a Pacific trade accord. "The anti-BDS provisions require US negotiators to make the rejection of the BDS campaign a principal trade objective in negotiations with the European Union, making the incentive of free trade with the US a leverage against cooperation with the BDS campaign."
Canadian parliamentarians are on the verge of voting to reject the movement to boycott Israel that has caused controversy in Canada and around the world. A vote on the matter is scheduled for Monday in the House of Commons.
While all this is happening to the BDS movement, the Israeli Apartheid Week is about to take place on various campuses.
In the U.K. Alex Chalmers, a co-chairman of the Oxford University Labour Club has resigned Monday night in protest over the society’s endorsement of Israel Apartheid Week, stating “a large proportion of both OULC and the student Left in Oxford more generally have some kind of problem with Jews.” He resigned after Oxford’s student Labour club voted by 18-16 to back Israel Apartheid Week. Chalmers described the week as “a movement with a history of targeting and harassing Jewish students and inviting anti-Semitic speakers to campuses.”
Also in the U.K, Pro-Palestine Societies at Cambridge University decided to boycott "Middle East Peace Week" claiming the talks were organised to "direct attention away from the growing success of Israeli Apartheid Week.”. A series of talks have been organised by the Israel, Kurdish and Persian Societies, OneVoice and the Cambridge University Calais Refugee Action Group (CUCRAG). The week aims to make students “look at the Middle East in a new light, beyond conflict and bloodshed”. However, the Cambridge University Palestine Society (PalSoc), Middle East Society and Turkish society all declined offers to participate.
It would be interesting to see how the universities will protect Jewish students from intimidations in the upcoming events of Israeli Apartheid Week.
| PACBI's Italian and French Academic Boycott Calls with the help of [Weizmann Institute] Kobi Snitz|
|The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) that was launched in Ramallah in April 2004 by a group of Palestinian academics and intellectuals, including Lisa Taraki and Omar Barghouti, has recently opened two new campaigns. One is calling on French academics and intellectuals to endorse the boycott of Israel. PACBI is stating that as a result of it being illegal in France to call for a boycott which is a misdemeanor — a call to national discrimination - they are encouraging academics to join the call by claiming it supports Palestinian's rights. PACBI states that a group of French intellectuals and activists has recently announced their intention to defy court, following an October 22, 2015 ruling by France’s court upholding the conviction of 12 Palestine solidarity activists on "flyering and leafleting about boycotting Israeli products to support Palestinian rights."
PACBI adds that "Manuel Valls, France’s prime minister, threatened to ban demonstrations in support of the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israeli products and institutions." To encourage French academics to call for boycott two Israeli academics-activists have joined in the call, Haim Bresheeth, the former Israeli who resides in London and Kobi Snitz from Weizmann Institution.
The second academic boycott initiative pertains to Italian academics To gain publicity , the Italian Society for Middle Eastern Studies (SeSaMO) will host a panel discussion "Knowledge and Power. Discussing the BDS and Academic Boycott Campaigns" hosted by Dr. Enrico Bartolomei a longtime activist with ISM Italy and Paola Rivetti of Dublin City University who is also a signatory of the French call for academic boycott, during its annual conference "MIGRANTS: COMMUNITIES, BORDERS, MEMORIES, CONFLICTS" held on 17-19 March at the University of Catania, Italy. This will be the first time that an academic association in Italy is to publicly debate the BDS/PACBI campaigns.
IAM suggests that academic members of the SeSaMO who support Israel's academic freedom should make their voices heard in the upcoming gathering in March in Catania.
|BDS, Black Lives Matter, Cecil Rhodes and Pastor Niemoller: Reflections on the Colonial Paradigm |
|In her article in Haaretz, Baroness Deech quoted Pastor Martin Niemoller, who had gradually turned against Hitler and ended up in a concentration camp. After liberation, Niemoller wrote a famous poem that captured the cowardice of the intellectual classes in Germany because they did not stand up to the widespread rewriting of history carried out by the Nazis.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—
and there was no one left to speak for me.
For more than thirty years now, liberal arts on campus have used the colonial paradigm in a massive rewrite of history. The paradigm is quite simple; the white race has dominated the world, wrote its history and shaped its culture while oppressing the non-white natives. As a result, it is incumbent on the descendants of the colonial victims on campus to rewrite the history to fit the colonial paradigm. To placate the protestors, universities introduced new programs such as African-American studies, ethnic studies, and women studies - decreed to be the “honorary victims” of the male, colonial oppressors.
Following the Six Day War, the Palestinians became the poster children of the colonial paradigm, generating a huge wave of history rewriting. In the process, the history of the 1948 War became totally rewritten to suit the colonial paradigm. Later on, research on every facet of Israeli society and politics was likewise distorted to fit the same paradigm; once depicted as a fairly well functioning democracy, Israel became the apartheid state par excellence.
Though there was a certain amount of discomfort about such intellectual excesses, academic and intellectuals have refrained from getting involved in the debate because the colonial paradigm did not impinge on their field of work. There was also little protest from mainstream academy when the BDS spread on campus since it did not threaten its interests.
But they should have known better. Once a paradigm takes roots, in tends to colonize (no pun intended) everything around it.
The new wave of campus protest is a case in point. Black Lives Matter on Campus (BLM) has launched high profile protests against perceived racism and colonialism. As a rule, BLM demands more diversity among the faculty, code name for hiring black and minority professors. This hit home since most faculty in liberal arts are white, threatening their shrinking academic pie (Science and engineering is not affected because affirmative action hiring is not practiced).
Across the Atlantic, the colonial paradigm hit Oxford. Brian Kwobe organized a group called Rhodes Must Fall to demand the removal of the statue of Cecil Rhodes from a building in Oriel College. Kwoba, ironically, a Rhodes Scholar himself, stated that Rhodes was a “Hitler of Africa” and should not be honored with a statue. Moira Wallace, the provost of Oriel College, initially authorized a lengthy “consultation” process to discuss the removal of the statue. But the “consultation” outraged prominent donors, jeopardizing future gifts and donations.
The financial shortfall threatens clerical, and junior faculty positions, mostly in liberal arts. Wallace’s own job is at stake, as many called for her resignation.
The recent developments suggest some lessons for those who fight delegitimization of Israel and BDS. It would be a mistake to explain BDS as an expression of anti-Semitism, although there are some anti-Semitic undertones in the debate. At the root of the problem is the neo-Marxist, colonial paradigm that has colonized liberal arts on Western campuses. Out of indifference or intellectual cowardice, academics and intellectuals did not speak out. But as Pastor Niemoller stated, they need to speak out now or it would be too late.
Of course, contemporary dangers do not include one way ticket to a concentration camp where many of the pastor’s colleagues died. What is at stake today is arguably more important. Scholars and intellectuals need to speak out against presenting history and contemporary reality in ways that fit a certain paradigm. Respect for facts and objectivity should matter more than a political ideology whether left or right.
|Two Academic Boycott Initiatives: Brazil and India|
|Two new boycott initiatives are gaining momentum. One, The Palestinian BDS campaign in Brazil (Campanha de boicote acadêmico a Israel - BDS-Brasil) has scored success as 249 academics have signed an academic boycott call against Israel. The BDS campaign was initiated by a number of Palestinians with ties to Brazil, such as Abo Ali, a Palestinian from Lebanon who lived in Brazil and is back in Ramallah, he is a former Facebook software engineer; Jihad Abu Ali, and Faruk Zahra. The BDS page was opened on the 12th of January, in three days the number of signatures increased from 50 to 200.
Arguably, the initiative drew its strength by starting with instructions of PACBI on How to Organize the Academic Boycott of Israel; moving on to an article in Counterpunch "On the Fallacy of ‘Engaging’ with the Israeli Academy" by Haim Bresheeth, from 2013; then a report on BDS by Le Monde Diplomatique Brasil that was published in 2014; followed by reports of International Middle East Media Center; Middle East Monitor and its summary of reactions to BDS in Israel and its description of Israel's BDS despair.
Still, a few readers left angry comments and one warned that the Brazilian universities are low in ranking so the push for BDS will make them even worse.
The second initiative is in its initial stages and it is not clear whether it would take off, of an upcoming conference at the Hebrew University.
The Economic Times of India reported that more than 50 American and Indian academics "including Partha Chatterjee, Aijaz Ahmad and Elisabeth Armstrong, have launched a campaign for boycotting Jerusalem-based Hebrew University’s upcoming seminar on Subhas Chandra Bose, the Indian National Army and related events in Indian history during World War II."
The report states that this move was initiated after the Indian Foreign Minister returned from a meeting with the Arab League and a visit to Israel and Palestine. According to one of the signatories calling to boycott, "These are institutions of occupation. Hebrew University violates international law, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention, 1949."
Palestinians are spending a lot of time, energy and money on boycotting Israel initiatives. Having been launched on Western campuses, the BDS movement has now spread to South Africa, South America and India. Israel needs to do more to cope with the problem.
|The Association of American Universities Reaffirms Opposition to Boycott of Israel|
|On the 14th of January, the Association of American Universities (AAU) reaffirmed its opposition to the academic boycott of Israel. It stated that the association "strongly opposes a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. Three U.S. scholarly organizations have now expressed support for such a boycott. Any such boycott of academic institutions directly violates academic freedom, which is a fundamental principle of AAU universities and of American higher education in general."
The AAU is a professional association of 60 U.S. and two Canadian public and private research universities. "AAU member universities are on the leading edge of innovation, scholarship, and solutions that contribute to the nation's economy, security, and wellbeing."
The AAU statement ends with, "The boycott of Israeli academic institutions therefore clearly violates the academic freedom not only of Israeli scholars but also of American scholars who might be pressured to comply with it. We urge American scholars and scholars around the world who believe in academic freedom to oppose this and other such academic boycotts."
The AAU decision is an important development and should help pro-Israel activists in their struggle against BDS.
|The American Historical Association to vote on Anti-Israel Resolution in January|
|Last year, the American Historical Association (AHA) has tried to pass an anti-Israel resolution. As the IAM post in September indicated, pro-Israel advocates took great pride in defeating the BDS proposition. It is not surprising, however, that boycott supporters will try again during their upcoming annual convention in January 7-10, 2016.
Like before, the driving force is the Historians Against the War, a group of radical scholars who, like their peers in other disciplines has nothing bad to say about the Islamic jihadists, including ISIS. But they had plenty to say about Israel in a 2014 letter to President Obama signed by many of their like-minded colleagues. The letter accused Israel of war crimes during Operation Protective Edge, demanded a cut-off of all U.S. aid to Israel and asked the president, acting as the Commander in Chief, to end the naval blockade of Gaza. The letter never mentioned Hamas and its contribution to the conflict, but quite faithfully reproduced its demands.
The upcoming annual convention hosts a number of anti-Israeli sessions such as "Palestine, Boycott, and International Solidarity" by Ilana Feldman and "Solidarity as Imminent Critique: Uniqueness, Complicity, and the Argument for Boycott" by Jon Soske.
Historians Against the War has drawn a boycott proposal for the convention. The resolution states, among others, that "the AHA calls for the immediate reversal of Israeli policies that restrict the freedom of movement required to exercise this right, including denial of entry of foreign nationals seeking to participate in educational programs; and... the cessation of attacks on Palestinian educational institutions, including raids on campuses, which undermine and deter education and endanger historical records."
No criticism of the Palestinians here but this is not surprising, the HAW homepage shows a picture of late Howard Zinn, a leading Marxist historian, with the caption: "Howard was a near-icon among anti-war historians, and HAW was proud to have him as a keynote speaker at our first national conference, in Austin, Texas in February 2006. We join his legion of friends and admirers worldwide who will miss his eloquent and principled voice."
For those not familiar with Zinn, an American Jew, in his last interview before he died, in the March/April 2010 issue of Moment magazine, he said:
"I think the Jewish State was a mistake, yes. Obviously, it’s too late to go back. It was a mistake to drive the Indians off the American continent, but it’s too late to give it back. At the time, I thought creating Israel was a good thing, but in retrospect, it was probably the worst thing that the Jews could have done. What they did was join the nationalistic frenzy, they became privy to all of the evils that nationalism creates and became very much like the United States—very aggressive, violent and bigoted. When Jews were without a state they were internationalists and they contributed to whatever culture they were part of and produced great things. Jews were known as kindly, talented people. Now, I think, Israel is contributing to anti-Semitism. So I think it was a big mistake."
Of course, the American Historical Association and individual scholars have the right to express their political opinion. But following the dictates of the discredited Historians Against War and their shrill critique of Israel that often smacks of anti-Semitic tropes would compromise the AHA legitimacy and tarnish the image of historians as objective stewards of history.
|Academic Boycott Struggles|
|Recently, the Committee of University Heads (VERA) appealed to the American Anthropology Association (AAA) to rescind its decision to support the proposal of Palestinian organizations to boycott Israeli universities.
According to the media, the letter to the AAA contended that the proposal to boycott Israel presents a distorted reality of Israel, since "Israeli universities are open to all students, both Jews and Arabs, and there is full equality among all students and researchers. The research and academic discourse in Israel operate according to the principles of academic freedom in an unbiased manner, free of political or ideological tendencies... It is both ironic and absurd that specifically those supporting such boycotts are using politics in an attempt to incite and introduce hatred and racism into the Israeli academia." The letter also explained, “We believe you will agree with us that proposals of this kind have no place in academia. The success of academic research worldwide is based on interinstitutional and international cooperation without limitations or restrictions, and free of political or ideological appeals, partitions and barriers.” The AAA will make the decision after its members vote on the boycott call during their annual convention in April 2016.
But the extent of the Palestinian movement for boycott is global in scope, thus requiring a more energetic action that the university heads have offered so far. For instance, the BDS movement has recently scored some success in the University of Barcelona (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, UAB).
The many Palestinian groups which operate in Spain includes BDS Catalunya and BDS País Valencià, primer activists in this field. Recently, they have been involved with a group of students from UAB, representatives at the University Senate that passed a boycott resolution against Israel on Sunday, December 20, 2015. The Senate assembly is the highest representative body of the university community.
A few days before that, on December 15, 2015 the Senate posted an acknowledgement on the university website, that it will convene and discuss the students BDS motion. However, the convention took place and only Palestinian sources reported that the UAB announced an official boycott of Israeli universities.
The news appeared on the Ezzedeen Al-Qassam website, Middle East Monitor and among others by Transcend, Professor Johan Galtung's outfit, a pro-Palestinian group "promoting peace by peaceful means throughout the world." It reported the case (see below) exactly as it appeared on the Palestinian media with the wording "University of Barcelona Announces Official Boycott of Israeli Occupation." Not surprisingly, Transcend included explicit calls for the boycott of Israel and requested readers to "Join the BDS-Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign," as well as "Don't buy products whose barcode starts with 729, which indicates that it is produced in Israel." Transcend ended their news report by stating "729: Boycott for Justice!" Transcend's anti-Israel bias is known, IAM reported on Galtung and his anti-Semitic remarks before
So far no official announcement has been coming from University of Barcelona concerning a boycott. Arguably, the case offers the Presidents of the Israeli Universities an opportunity to protest the proposed BDS resolution. IAM will report on this issue.
|The Slippery Slope of the Academy|
|In recent years campus events and lectures hosting pro-Israeli speakers have been interrupted by pro-Palestinian groups. Just to name a few, the case of Ami Pedahzur in University of Texas at Austin; Michael Oren's visit to University of California in 2010; Canada's University of Windsor visit by Ishmael Khaldi, Israel's Foreign Ministry Bedouin diplomat; a talk by Israeli philosopher and law professor Moshe Halbertal at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis; a lecture by Palestinian human rights activist Bassem Eid at the University of Johannesburg was discontinued after students barged into the venue and interrupted the speaker; University of Sydney students interrupted a lecture by former British Army Colonel Richard Kemp.
In Great Britain, there was an attempt to disrupt a session at the London School of Economics. While the Israeli Ambassador Daniel Taub was engaged in a conversation with students, some students walked out of the class and set off a fire-alarm.
This phenomenon brought British Times Higher Education to publish in February 2015 "On Israel, universities are becoming discussion-free zones."
Last week, on the 18th of December, 2015 a group of Palestinian students at the University of Haifa interrupted a lecture by the Egyptian author Omer Salem on his book "The missing peace: The role of religion in the arab-israeli conflict". A pro-BDS Facebook page shows the video and a caption reads "Egyptian politician Omar Salem ignored the calls of #ýBDS and went to Haifa university to discuss his book." And "This is how Palestinian students met him and cleaned the floor of the universtiy with his dignity!! #NoNormalization #JusticeForPalestine".
However, the BDS campaign against Israel has triggered a countermobilization of groups, including the recently formed Academic Engagement Network that counts Mark Yudof, the former president of UCLA, and other university presidents and leading academics among its members.
The new group emphasizes that, in addition to harming Israel, the BDS movement touches upon the most fundamental issues of free speech and anti-Semitism on campus.
In Yudof's opinion as demonstrated in the article below, the attacks on Israel are a slippery slope that would hurt the public standing and legitimacy of the academy at large.
|Unethical Conduct of the AAA Task Force|
|On the 20th of November 2015, the executive board of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) has decided to recommend a boycott of Israeli institutions. The final vote would be held during the next annual members conference in April 2016.
The decision was made following the recommendation of a Task Force commissioned in August 1, 2014, to investigate the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. According to the mandate, the “Task Force is charged with helping the Executive Board consider the nature and extent to which AAA might contribute – as an Association -- to addressing the issues that the Israel/Palestine conflict raises." The question relating to the concern of the AAA was explained as, "These issues may include, but are not limited to, the uses of anthropological research to support or challenge claims of territory and historicity; restrictions placed by government policy or practice on anthropologists’ academic freedom; or commissioning anthropological research whose methods and/or aims may be inconsistent with the AAA statement of professional responsibilities."
The Task Force was specifically asked to "develop principles to be used to assess whether the AAA has an interest in taking a stand on these issues. This may include providing a comprehensive and neutral overview of arguments for and against a range of specific possible stands (including no action)."
The Task Force was to provide AAA with a written report of its findings no later than October 1, 2015. To prevent the appearance of bias, Task Force members were expected to be neutral and “no one with publicly identified positions on the issue."
The Task Force included Ramona Pérez, the Executive Board Liaison ; Niko Besnier ; Patrick Clarkin ; Hugh Gusterson ; John L. Jackson ; and, Katherine Spielmann. The Task Force report acknowledges those who helped them, "Obay Odeh, Tarek Maassarani, and Adina Friedman assisted with planning the delegation’s trip to the region. The Task Force is grateful to Alisse Waterston, who assisted with assembling the bibliography and background materials, and to Monica Heller, who offered reflections and encouragement in the planning and development stages of the Task Force’s work."
A short investigation indicates that the Task Force did not live up to the AAA mandate of neutrality.
Hugh Gusterson co-authored in March 2014, Israel/Palestine: A Resource Document with Alisse Waterston. The Document which explores BDS, is very much in favor of it, its arguments against BDS are exceptionally weak. (See Document below);
Niko Besnier is closely related to a large Palestinian family and mentions them twice, first in his 2007 book where he thanked them and stated that their "daily existence in Palestine redefines the meaning of resilience in the face of untold oppression." His second time is in his 2009 book, where he again thanked them ;
Patrick Clarkin is perceived as influenced by certain media which is considered biased against Israel. For example, his article from July 20, 2014 on civilian casualties in war stated that "Much of the world’s attention has been focused on two recent tragedies: the Malaysia Airlines flight shot down over Ukraine and the civilian casualties in Gaza...Not all incidents will be nearly as visible as the deaths of four young children playing football on a beach near a hotel filled with journalists." His reference is to the article "UN: 80 per cent of Palestinians killed in Israeli offensive are civilians." On the issue of displacement, he has been using statistics from Palestinian sources only. Also, in January 2015 Clarkin was enthusiastic about an article, Nonviolent Resistance in Palestine and Israel, which favors the Palestinians. It states that, "Many Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip tire of the constant question: 'Where is the Palestinian Gandhi?' In reality, there is a great deal of nonviolent resistance in the Palestinian Territories, as well as a great number of grassroots activists with a sophisticated understanding of its strategic advantages. As the Gaza War raged over the summer of 2014, media attention was understandably distracted away from the many thousands of Palestinians engaged in nonviolent struggle for self-determination—and the Israeli soldiers who refused to participate in the war." Clarkin Reblogged the article and commented: "Reasons to be hopeful" ;
As for those helping the Task Force, they are openly pro-Palestinian. Obay Odeh is a Palestinian human rights activist from Jerusalem involved with Alternative Information Center (AIC). He spoke during an 'Israeli Apartheid Week' in 2014 on "Israeli apartheid in Jerusalem," where he elaborated on "the apartheid policies that Israeli implements in East Jerusalem. From different legal status for Palestinians and Israelis, a lack of infrastructure and services for Palestinians and home demolitions amongst many other policies, Israel discriminates against Palestinians in Jerusalem on the basis of their nationality" ;
Tarek Maassarani, co-authoured the article "Gendered Occupation and Resistance in Palestine", which states "My name is Su'ad Al-Najjar. I live with my husband, five sons and three daughters in the 'Khan Shahin' neighborhood of the Old City of Hebron...Our house is located in front of an Israeli military base. We are exposed to daily assaults by Jewish settlers and soldiers. After the outbreak of the Intifada, the assaults have increased. The soldiers have also occupied the roof of our house" ;
Adina Friedman once commented to an article, "penetrating the wall of denial and apathy, moving Israelis beyond their eternal sense of victimhood, and getting Israelis to critically examine their past and present – seem to be quite difficult…" ;
Alisse Waterston, mentioned above for the Resource Document authored with Hugh Gusterson advocating BDS ;
Monica Heller signed in 2012 a petition to the Israeli Education Minister, "Academics against the moves, initiated by Israel’s Council of Higher Education, to close down the Department of Politics and Government at Ben-Gurion," Heller is signatory #404. For those not familiar with the Ben Gurion University Department of Politics and Government report, the department was found to be of poor academic standards by a professional comittee headed by Professor Thomas Risse of the Free University of Berlin. The department, which is a home for many political activists, manouvered the international community to oppose adopting resolutions of the Risse's committee ;
As for the neutrality of the AAA Task Force, all of these findings of pro-Palestinian standpoint of members, as well as of those who helped the Task Force in the region, should have been known before the appointments to the Task Force were made.
Given the political sympathy of the members, it is not surprising that the AAA Task Force report has serious flaws.
|Supporters of Boycott of Israel Invited to TAU Conferences|
|The Palestinian boycott call against Israel has gained much support from non-Palestinians and is the reasons of its success.
Some Israelis including academics have been instrumental in making it to the forefront. Neve Gordon, Anat Matar, Rachel Giora, Kobi Snitz, Merav Amir, Dalit Baum, among others. Since 2011 it is illegal in Israel to advocate for a boycott. A “deliberate avoidance of economic, social or academic ties or ties to a person or other body just because of his connection to the State of Israel, its institutions or regions under its control, in order to harm it economically, social or academically.”
In the last couple of months a new bill was passed by the Knesset that bans boycott callers from entering Israel, “anyone who is not an Israeli citizen or a permanent resident will not be granted any kind of visa or permit if they, or any company, organization or foundation they represent, calls for a boycott of Israel.”
However, Tel Aviv University has been inviting boycott supporters to participate in its conferences. For example, Dr. Yuval Evri, a research associate at the Centre for Jewish Studies, SOAS and Ahmad Amara, a Ph.D candidate at NYU, are both boycott of Israel supporters, appeared in two seperate TAU conferences recently. Amara authored an article "Moving Towards Full-Scale Judicial Boycott in the Naqab" pledging to boycott Israeli judiciary in the Negev because he is unhappy with court's rulings and Evri participated in a conference organized by "It's Kosher to Boycott Israeli Goods." Both also participate in anti-Israel activities whenever an opportunity arises.
Evri was recently invited to a TAU conference on the Arabic language and Amara was recently invited to a TAU Law workshop to discuss his paper on Beersheba Bedouin property.
An upcoming conference at both TAU and HUJ on Walter Benjamin will be hosting Yoav Beirach-Barak next week. Beirach-Barak is a long standing radical activist and a boycott supporter, now at TAU Philosophy Department. He seems to follow the footsteps of Anat Matar, Anat Biletzki, and more recently Assaf Sharon, by pursuing political activism and forcing the taxpayers to pay the bill.
There is a question to be asked, shouldn't Israeli institutions boycott those who call to boycott them?
|The ADL BDS Report 2014-2015: Trends and Assessments|
|In a sign of the times, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has began compiling detailed statistics on the BDS movement on American campuses, along with other anti-Israeli events.
The 2014-2015 report reveals some interesting trends. The traditional weeklong programs like “Israeli Apartheid Week” and “Palestine Awareness Week” continued to decline in popularity measured by the number of schools participating and the amount of “buzz” around these programs.
However, there was a significant increase in anti-Israel events overall. According to the report, “520 explicitly anti-Israel events and programs took place nationwide on college campuses, representing a 30% increase from the previous academic year. Well over 50% of these events focused various aspects of the BDS movement.”
The ADL report confirms the general impression that the BDS initiative became a weapon of choice of the pro-Palestinian activists. While the resolutions have little real effect, they seem to have a broader symbolic meaning. They contribute to the growing image of Israel as an apartheid state that needs to be fought like the former apartheid regime in South Africa.
The ADL report adds to the difficulties in assessing the impact of the BDS, a difficulty reflected in commentary on the issue. Some observers consider the reaction to the BDS movement to be overblown, pointing out that in practical terms it is “much ado about nothing.” Others, however, note that the BDS debate had mainstreamed the notion that Israel is an apartheid or near apartheid state. In other words, even if a given BDS initiative fails, educating the larger student body on the realities of Palestinian life in the territories enhances the Israeli negatives. As Samuel Edelman and Carol Edelman put it, even in losing there is winning.
|The Steven Salaita Saga: The Final Chapter?|
|After having been denied an appointment at the University of Illinois, Steven Salaita, a decidedly mediocre scholar with a record of vulgar anti-Israeli, and anti-Semitic rants on social media, became an academic “superstar”. As reported a number of times by IAM, the Association of American University Professors (AAUP) ruled that no matter how off-putting, his anti-Israeli utterances were protected extramural free speech.
Salaita took the university to court, but the administration, apparently not sure about its legal prospects, decided to settle. Under the terms of agreement Salaita received $600k plus $275k to cover his legal costs. He is now the holder of the Edward Said chair at the American University in Beirut and busy writing anti-Israeli screeds masquerading as academic discourse.
For those seeking to fight BDS and anti-Semitism on campus, the Salaita case is sobering. It is one thing to complain about anti-Semitic comments on campus, but quite another to prevent universities from hiring Salaita-like candidates. Even if American universities adopt the State Department definition of anti-Semitism, a policy advocated by a number of legal authorities, there is no assurance that it could be implemented as the Salaita case indicates
More to the point, it is quite certain that the Salaita brouhaha would have a chilling effect on university administrations across the United States. In denying Salaita the position, the university incurred personal, financial and reputational costs. The university Chancellor Phyllis Wise was forced to resign, the university spent well in excess of a million dollars defending and settling the case and attracted unwelcome attention as an “enemy” of free speech and diversity. As for Salaita, as the saying goes, he is “laughing all the way to the bank.”
|The American Anthropological Association One Step Closer to a BDS Decision|
|On November 20, 2015 during a meeting in Denver, the American Anthropological Association (AAA) decided to support a BDS resolution. Having previously embraced a pro-boycott recommendation by a Task Force, the decision of the AAA was not surprising. Commentators noted, however, the overwhelming disparity in the vote - 1,040 in favor to 136 against. For the decision to become binding the entire 10,000 membership would need to approve the vote.
If approved, AAA would follow the American Studies Association (ASA), the Middle East Scholars Association (MESA), and the Association for Asian American Studies.
The practical impact of the decision is not clear as the Association hastened to emphasize that individual scholars would not be affected.
Still, the BDS resolution is bound to deepen the negative image of Israel on campus.
|BDS in Elite Universities: The Oxford Union Debate|
|While it is not routine for Israeli newspapers to comment on debates of the hallowed Oxford Union debate society, many carried articles about the BDS debate in which Professor Alan Dershowitz who opposes BDS faced off with the human rights activist Peter Tatchell, a pro-BDS supporter. Some of the articles used a sports metaphor to proclaim Dershowitz a winner after the votes were counted: Dershowitz - 136, Tatchell - 101.
The problem with this metaphor is that sports events are defined as zero-sum games, one side loses the other wins. By definition, intellectual debates do not possess the zero-sum game characteristics. The 101 students who voted for the BDS were evidently not persuaded by Professor Dershowitz.
But the event is much more than a count of “yays and nays.” That the Oxford Union chose to host the debate is an indicator of how much the discourse on Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians has become embedded in the intellectual fabric of higher education. Unlike its American Ivy League counterparts, Oxford University has never been a hotbed of BDS activism. But the constant rehashing of the issue is bound to leave an impression on students as they work their way up to leadership positions.
“When failure succeeds", as coined by Samuel Edelman and Carol Edelman, the very fact that a BDS motion is debated on campus educates the student collective about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
|The BDS Discourse in Britain: Current Developments |
|The BDS debate in Great Britain is revving up. In February some 700 artists called for a cultural boycott of Israel. On the 27th of October, in an ad in the Guardian, 343 academics published a boycott call. They wrote: "As scholars associated with British universities, we are deeply disturbed by Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land, the intolerable human rights violations that it inflicts on all sections of the Palestini an people, and its apparent determination to resist any feasible settlement. Responding to the appeal from Palestinian civil society, we therefore declare that we will not: accept invitations to visit Israeli academic institutions; act as referees in any of their processes; participate in conferences funded, organised or sponsored by them, or otherwise cooperate with them. We will, however, continue to work with our Israeli colleagues in their individual capacities. We will maintain this position until the State of Israel complies with international law, and respects universal principles of human rights."
What has turned the latest round of the BDS discourse into a high profile affair was the involvement of JK Rowling, the hugely popular author of the Harry Potter series. Rowling rejected the boycott proposal, writing: "What sits uncomfortably with me is that severing contacts with Israel's cultural and academic community means refusing to engage with some of the Israelis who are most pro-Palestinian, and most critical of Israel's government.” She went on to say, “Those are voices I'd like to hear amplified, not silenced." "A cultural boycott places immovable barriers between artists and academics who want to talk to each other, understand each other and work side-by-side for peace."
Still, for Israel sympathizers Rowling’s position may be a mixed blessing. She noted "the Palestinian community has suffered untold justice and brutality, adding that “I want to see the Israeli government held to account for that injustice and brutality.”
Rowling’s involvement indicates the difficulties of managing the BDS discourse in Great Britain. The academics’ call to boycott Israel was published in the left-leaning Guardian newspaper. The Guardian, a frequent platform for anti-Israel journalism, has a relatively small circulation. But Rowling’s comments attracted a larger audience, including the readers of the Telegraph which is normally more sympathetic to Israel. Rowling’s fans used the social media to spread the debate further afield. It is probably safe to assume that comparing Israel to some of the more villainous characters in the Harry Potter series, an epic battle between good and evil, is not a great exercise in public relations.
|Anti-BDS and the American Jewish Students: Unity as Collateral Damage?|
|From an initial communal “backwater,” fighting BDS on campus emerged as the leading preoccupation of the Jewish community. Over the past two years, a large number of groups and initiatives were funded, often lavishly. As IAM described, an initiative supported by Sheldon Adelson, Haim Saban and other prominent philanthropists, promised to raise $50M for a new group called Campus Maccabees. Even the Israeli government got into action. In June 2015 Justice Minister announced a program to sue Israel boycotters.
Among others, the proliferation of initiatives was designed to manifest, resolve and unify in fighting BDS. In reality, however, the massive response to BDS exposed deep fissures among Jewish American students.
In the article below, the respectable journalist and editor of the Jewish Week, Gary Rosenblatt analyzes the reasons. In his view, the right wing agenda of some of the anti-BDS groups is a poor match for the liberal Jewish student body. The Campus Maccabees seems to be particularly controversial, leading Haim Saban, one of the original sponsors to pull out. The seeming hostility between some of the anti-BDS advocates and the J-Street campus group is another source of tensions. Hillel International, the leading Jewish campus outreach has struggled to formulate a policy toward J-Street, as IAM reported.
The campus divisions that have surfaced around BDS should be viewed within the broader trends in the American Jewish community. The Pew Survey and other opinion polls indicate that the majority of the younger cohorts are liberal and emotionally detached from Israel. As Rosenblatt noted, partisan tinged anti-BDS drives may leave them on the side-lines.
There are no easy answers to the anti-BDS conundrum. Rosenblatt hopes that the groups can unite behind a more balanced approach. If not, Jewish unity on campus would become a collateral damage.
|The American Anthropological Association: Ready to Boycott?|
|After a lengthy process the special Task Force on Israel/Palestine of the AAA published its report.
The Report, as the article below indicates, "provides a detailed, nuanced, and utterly devastating account of the human rights situation in Palestine. It skillfully employs a variety of sources and methods, including ethnographic observations of the everyday abuses and indignities experienced by Palestinians. Drawing on a rich tradition of anthropological scholarship on colonialism, the Task Force analyzed 'the Israeli system of settler colonialism … as a single unified system stretching from Tel Aviv to Gaza and Ramallah, with different modulations for different spaces and different Arab communities.' These findings are consistent with much of the work produced by anthropologists of Israel/Palestine in recent decades."
It should come as no surprise that the team should come up with such results. Anthropologists, especially critical anthropologists, have been long involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In 1987 Edward Said appeared at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association to plead for field work which would provide an alternative to the “hegemonic“ narrative of the Arab-Israeli conflict. In 2011 Fatma Kassem, a PhD candidate of Lev Grinberg at BGU, published her dissertation, based on interviews with Palestinian women who claimed to have remembered multiple indicants of rape during the 1948 war. As IAM noted, these claims were not based on empirical data or eyewitness accounts but rather on something akin to “recovered memory,” a controversial practice in clinical psychology.
The Anthropologists for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions who sponsored the Report would use it to pass a general boycott resolution. IAM would provide an update on the situation.
|American Historical Association Tries Again|
|Pro-Israeli advocates at the American Historical Association (AHA) took great pride in defeating a BDS proposition in 2015. At the time pro-Palestinian activists vowed to continue the fight, a promise they are trying to deliver on.
Historians Against the War, the same group which initiated the BDS proposal, is now soliciting signatures for a petition condemning Israel for alleged violations of the right of Palestinian students to education. The petition is to be submitted to the January 2016 business meeting of the AHA in Atlanta.
It should come as no surprise that the grandly named Historians Against the War is focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict alone. After all, leftist activists in liberal arts have so far ignored the Middle East with it unimaginable savagery and wanton brutality.
Here is a suggestion for the Historians Against the War. Please broaden the definition of war to salvage your academic integrity.
|Gray Boycott Update|
|A few months ago, heads of the Israeli universities have told President Reuven Rivlin that, along with overt boycott, there were cases of unofficial, gray boycott. Not an entirely new phenomenon, gray boycott has been practiced by individual scholars who took it upon themselves to hold their Israeli colleagues accountable for the policies of the government. As IAM reported, in some instances, there was an outright refusal to cooperate, consider papers for publication and rejection of panel proposals for conferences.
The new crop of cases is a mixture of the old and new. For instance, an Israeli professor was told that she could not participate in a panel unless she denounces the occupation. In another instance an Israeli academic was asked to withdraw from a project because a Lebanese scholar stated that, under the terms of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) she was not allowed to appear in any forum which included Israeli scholars.
The recent cases of gray boycott are relatively easy to detect because the initiating party has provided a clear statement. As already noted, the more difficult gray boycotts are the ones in which editors, conference organizers or other academic actors reject papers or panel proposals on seemingly academic grounds. Because academic institutions and individual faculty enjoy broad freedom, such cases are hard to prove.
|How to Fight BDS? A Guide for the Perplexed - Readers Comments|
|The series has generated a large number of comments from our readers. Since we could not respond to each individual comment, there are two broad categories of issues that the readers brought up.
First, there are those who expressed frustration that our series is called a Guide but has no suggestions for fighting BDS beyond pointing out the “negatives,” as they put it. The name Guide was a slightly humorous reference to the Guide for the Perplexed by Maimonides. The title was meant to map out the contours of the BDS movement and its academic-intellectual roots, the complexity of the issues involved, and the cost and benefit calculations that need to be made when considering options. The Guide is a much needed map for what is now a quite loosely constructed endeavor, with groups and individual players touting their own diagnoses and, more important, their alleged success in fighting BDS. Unsurprisingly, BDS is mostly commonly diagnosed as subspecies of anti-Semitism and has generated a long list of conferences, workshops, books and articles on the subject. While there is some overall between anti-Semitism and BDS, a much broader perspective needs to be adopted to fight the BDS phenomenon. Our post is aimed to stimulate the discourse on the issue.
Second, some readers sent us their own plans for fighting BDS. These readers also criticized the Israeli government for not leading the anti-BDS effort. As we empathized before, there are a number of bodies in the Israeli government that are in charge of fashioning and implementing anti-BDS infinitives. However, the efforts have been stalled because of bureaucratic turf war and the lack of agreement as to who are potential partners. For instance, the professional staff of the Foreign Ministry are inclined to include the liberal J-Street, but political appointees oppose the group.
Third, some readers seem to be confused about the remarkable pluralism of the American Jewish community on campus and beyond which is expressed in attitudes toward BDS. By and large, American Jews tend to be secularized – a trend that is reflected in their solid pro-Democratic voting record. For instance, the more recent annual survey conducted by the American Jewish Committee, indicates that only 20 percent identify themselves as conservative or leaning conservative, with the rest self-described as moderate and liberal. Given this make-up, Israel has become a highly polarizing issue in the community at large and on campus in particular, as we reported before. The respectable Jerusalem-based Jewish People Policy Institute conducted its own survey that concluded that “Diaspora Jewry is increasingly critical of Israel and young Diaspora Jews are growing more alienated from the Jewish state.”
The polarizing effect of Israel is not limited to BDS alone. The nuclear accord between Iran and the P5+1 (United States, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany), which Israel has bitterly opposed, has fractured the community. In spite of the fact that major Jewish organizations are lobbying Congress against approving the accord, the majority of American Jews support the agreement, according to a recent poll. In this sense, J-Street which is lobbying for the passage of the accord, seems to be more in tune with the majority of the American Diaspora. A recent poll conducted by Steven Cohen, a leading expert on attitudes of American Jews, found that 49 percent of American Jews support it and 35 percent oppose it. But among the younger cohorts (below 40), 59 percent support it and 25 oppose it. The disparity between the older generation and the younger American Jews should not come as a surprise as the 2013 Pew survey clearly demonstrated the emotional disengagement of younger Jews from Israel.
This psychological distancing of the younger cohorts has a subtle but large impact on the BDS wars on campus. The experience of Eliora Katz, a graduate student, is imperative in this context. Katz wrote about the tense atmosphere on campus: “Most of all, we pay for it through the deep divide it has created within the Jewish community outside of Israel. Israel was once a unifying factor for Jews— secular or religious, Ashkenazi or Sephardi. Yet growing up in a post-intifada era, I have seen the Jewish Homeland transformed before my very eyes into a source of deep, acute division, a source of hatred and deplorable behavior [among Jews]”. While anti-BDS activists like Katz battle it out with Jewish BDS supporters, other Jewish students have chosen to dissociate.
|How to Fight BDS? A Guide for the Perplexed IV
|A virtual consensus among anti-BDS activists holds that faculty play a large role in the phenomenon. Yet the role of the faculty has not been given the kind of attention that it really deserves.
At the most applied level, activist faculty, mostly in social sciences, sponsor speakers and help to organize events. As the Princeton student noted, professors are among organizers and promoters of BDS events on her campus and beyond. This should come as no surprise, since liberal arts faculty has a long standing record of political activism in a wide range of issues. The vast majority of professors in Middle East studies are members of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA), a professional organization that promotes activism, especially when the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is involved. Professor Rashid Khalidi, the Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University, was a spokesperson for the PLO, just to mention one name.
But it is their role of purveyors of scholarship that matters the most. As well known, the dominant scholarship in the discipline tends to castigate Israel, exculpate Palestinians and Arab and whitewash Islam. John Esposito, a highly activist academic, the Professor of Religion and International Affairs and of Islamic Studies at Georgetown University is a known apologist for Islam.
Joseph Massad, the controversial Columbia University professor just published a book Islam on Liberalism that purports to show that, in spite of the all the negative images, Islam is essentially liberal. Massad’s new book takes Esposito’s whitewashing of Islam to a whole new level.
Conversely, scholars who oppose these views are frequently disparaged. Bernard Lewis, the eminent historian of the Middle East was repeatedly attacked by the MESA fraternity. Fouad Ajami, a Lebanese born scholar, who critiqued some of the cultural and political patterns of the Arabs and the Palestinians, fared even less well. As the article below indicated, he was decreed to be a traitor to his race and one who “sleeps with the enemy.”
Collectively, this body of work has informed the perception of students who go on to form the elite, of the reality in the Middle East. By furnishing the canonical work that view Israel as an apartheid state deserving to be boycotted, this scholarship has paved the way for the BDS.
|How to Fight BDS? A Guide for the Perplexed III|
|While much has been written on BDS, the phenomenon is usually discussed in isolation from the underlying trend on campus known as “political correctness.” The term, invented in the 1980s by conservative critics of social sciences and humanities, refers to an imposition of a radical leftist vision of society on campus. As the two articles below indicate, this vision privileges formerly marginalized minorities at the expense of other members of society.
In the United States where political correctness is most advanced, the said minorities include women, people of color, native people, and LGBTs (lesbians, gays bisexual and transgender). Universities went to great length to ensure that, in the name of diversity, such minorities are amply represented on campus.
To protect the diversity project, universities have instituted a strict speech code. Broadly conceived, it aims to eliminate speech that can offend one of the protected minorities. Recently, the speech code was expanded to include “micro-aggression” brief, verbal or non-verbal exchanges that send denigrating messages to the recipient because of his or her membership. Self-appointed monitors are quick to protest “micro-aggression.” In one case, Scholars of Color disrupted a class at UCLA because the professor changed the word Indigenous in a student’s essay to lower case. This was deemed as disrespectful to the ideological belief of the student. The professor was banned from the campus for a year.
Protecting the diversity project has extended well beyond speech code to privilege the narrative of oppressed minorities everywhere, including alleged victims of colonialism, imperialism, and capitalism. Needless to say, the Palestinians are considered the symbol par excellence of oppressed and marginalized minorities. As IAM reported, Palestinian students on campus have built successful coalitions with other minorities to push for BDS.
With the Israeli narrative being considered beyond the pale of a politically correct discourse, anti-BDS activists face a considerable problem. Pro-Israeli speakers have been shouted down and Jewish students harassed for trying to provide a different narrative. It is not clear whether such instance amount to an anti-Semitic incident, as some observers suggest. What is clear, however, is that running afoul of what is essentially political censorship in the name of political diversity, makes fighting BDS hard.
But crafting responses to account for such a complex environment is made even more daunting when the role of academics is factored in. As the student from Princeton and other critics noted, faculty is a crucial factor in refashioning the current paradigm in social studies in general and Middle East in particular.
|How to Fight BDS? A Guide for the Perplexed II|
|As fighting BDS on Western campuses has become the number one priority of the Jewish community, the number of groups and individuals involved has skyrocketed. This has posed a problem for Israeli authorities in charge of the BDS. For instance, as the article below indicates, the Foreign Ministry officials in charge of the BDS portfolio are locked in a struggle over who should be considered a “legitimate partner.” While some consider collaborating with a wide spectrum of American-Jewish groups on campus a must, others would like to limit contacts to right-wing groups alone. Adding to the confusion, the thirty or so groups and organizations that are currently participating in the anti-BDS endeavor, are not easy to identify politically.
In reality however, serious political differences exist among the groups, reflecting the more general problem of how they conceptualize BDS.
On the right end of the political spectrum are anti-BDS groups that consider any call to BDS to be anti-Semitic and indicative of a deeper agenda to destroy the state of Israel. Among them are the ZOA, Americans for Safe Israel (AFSI), Young Israel Leadership, Christians United For Israel (CUFI) and others. Pastor John Hagee, the founder of CUFI, supports settlements and objects to the division of Holy Land. The recently created Campus Maccabees (CM), a group supported by the right-wing billionaire Sheldon Adelson, holds the same view. David Brog, the former executive director of CUFI, has been appointed the new executive of the CM. Not incidentally, right-wing anti-BDS activists hold that Israel had the right to hold on to the territories and reject all efforts based on peace-for-territories.
On the left-end are groups that differentiate between boycotting Israel and boycotting the territories. J-Street does not support BDS but “welcomes” a robust debate on the issue. Third Narrative supports boycotting the territories, but not Israel within the Green Line. Needles to say, these groups do not consider every call to boycott to be anti-Semitic or indicative of the desire to destroy Israel.
The majority of the anti-BDS groups consider themselves to be apolitical in the sense of not taking an explicit position on the territories. But some like Stand with Us and AMCHA tend to label BDS as anti-Semitic.
As the debate in the Foreign Ministry demonstrates, choosing anti-BDS partners can be tricky, involving an intricate cost-benefit analysis. There are benefits of working with Adelson’s CM, ZOA or other right wing anti-BDS activists. As a rule, they are well funded and very dedicated. But there are substantial costs as well, since these groups do not represent mainstream Jewish American students, or the community at large. The message of such groups, conflating Greater Land of Israel advocacy, charges of anti-Semitism and BDS, maybe problematic. When Hillel International tried to limit debate on BDS, it sparked a “mini-revolt” resulting in the Free Hillel movement on campuses. Picking Brog to lead CM has not been well received by the mainstream community who find Christian Zionists objectionable.
J-Street is probably more of a fit in terms of the political makeup of American Jews, including students, but its official position on BDS seems confused. As for the Third Narrative, it has, as the IAM reported, a modest following among Jewish professors.
Even if the Foreign Ministry could arrive at a consensus with regard to anti-BDS partners, the field of anti-BDS advocacy and activism in the United States and Europe is ultimately beyond its control.
Troubling as this may be, the BDS movement is only a surface phenomenon of a deeper anti-Israel trend in the academy which is much more difficult to control. As the next post would demonstrate, the BDS is product of a peculiar radicalization of social sciences in campus, generically described as political correctness.
|How to Fight BDS: Guide for the Perplexed I|
|The debate about fighting BDS has turned from a trickle to a deluge. The number of entities that are fighting BDS has skyrocketed from a few three years ago to some thirty in 2015 and the number of pundits and experts who write about it runs into the hundreds. Unsurprisingly, virtually every week a new report offers suggestions for taking on BDS.
The recently released report of the Jewish People Policy Institute stands out in the crowded field. The JPPI is a highly respectable think tank and one of his authors is Dennis Ross, an esteemed former American diplomat. The analysis was discussed during a cabinet meeting with Prime-Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The report concluded that, based on the number of BDS resolutions, the BDS danger on campuses is overstated. As for how to fight BDS, the authors recommended “shaming anti-Israel activist scholars, founding new Israel studies programs, and mobilizing Jewish donors to pressure universities not to hire anti-Israel faculty. The report describes the handling of Steven Salaita by the University of Illinois as a model for this type of action. As IAM noted, the University of Illinois' president refused to honor a departmental decision to offer Salaita a tenured position.
There are a number of problems with the report. First, counting BDS resolutions is a rather superficial way of assessing the success of the movement. As indicated, even when a BDS motion fails, it “educates” the students on campus about Israel. Samuel M. Edelman and Carol F.S. Edelman coined the phrase “when failure succeeds” to speak on this issue, in the book by Cary Nelson and Gabriel Noah Brahm, (eds.) The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel (Michigan: Wayne State University Press, 2015).
Second, shaming anti-Israel professors or even firing them, and mobilizing Jewish donors to pressure the academic authorities may backfire, as the Salaita case demonstrates. The virtually unknown Salaita, who taught in a modest college in Virginia, became the poster child of what was described as Jewish efforts to stifle free speech on campus and, more consequentially, landed a job at the American University of Beirut.
Theoretically, creating Israel studies programs seem like a good idea, but its track record is poor. In many cases. Israelis (and others) picked to teach classes in the program were post-Zionists who had contributed to the delegitimization of Israel in the first place. Arguably the most notorious case pertained to Oren Yiftachel who used his visiting position in one of the programs to travel around the United States to promote his theory that Israel is an apartheid state. The Israel study program at Columbia University, is another case in point. Created to offset Joseph Massoud, a notorious anti-Israel scholar, it hired Yinon Cohen as the Yerushalmi Professor of Israel and Jewish Studies for the position. Cohen has used his perch in New York to promote his own brand of post-Zionism. No systemic study of the effectives of Israeli studies programs has been available, but anecdotal evidence indicates that they have made little impact on the discourse.
Much as the recommendations of the JPPI are welcome, it is obvious that they may collide with campus reality. Unfortunately, those who want to fight BDS would encounter even more complexity a topic explored in a follow up post.
|Steven Salaita Upgrades His Academic Position - Update|
|Steven Salaita's academic trajectory is on the uptake. From a virtually unknown academic in a modest college, he is headed to Beirut to assume the Said chair at the American University of Beirut. Clearly this is an award for Salaita who became a celebrity in Middle East studies.
The fact that the once respectable the American University in Beirut would hire Salaita is troubling, as the article below indicates. But the American University is by no means unique in this regard. To the contrary, there is a larger trend at work here that rewards anti-Israel scholars and scholarship. As IAM indicated, a number of Israeli academics found prestigious positions in British and other universities.
Having continued now for more than three decades, this trend has led to the delegimization of Israel and provided the justification for BDS.
|Jake Lynch BDS Advocate Down Under- An Update|
|IAM had first reported on Jake Lynch a few years ago. Lynch, the head of Center for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sidney and a prominent pro-Palestinian activist, blocked a request of Dan Avnon, a Hebrew University professor, to spend a sabbatical at the University. An early example of academic BDS, the issue attracted national attention in Australia. Lynch was subsequently sued by Shurat HaDin on the grounds that BDS is a form of anti-Semitism, but the judge dismissed the case.
Lynch's next move made more headlines. On 11 March 2015, Colonel Richard Kemp, a decorated British Army officer and a Commander of the British Empire, visited the University of Sydney in Sydney to deliver a lecture on "Ethical Dilemmas of Military Tactics" and the complexities in dealing with non-state armed groups like the Islamic State. Kemp who served a number of years in Afghanistan has spoken on the problems of fighting terrorists who take cover among civilians.
His lecture was interrupted by a group of pro-Palestinian demonstrators led by Associate-Professor Jake Lynch and some twelve Palestinian activists. Kemp is known for criticizing the various UN reports that put all the blame on the IDF during the Gaza operations. Following a heated exchange between the protesters and audience members, the pro-Palestinian protesters were evicted by security guards. During the incident, Lynch engaged in what seemed to be anti-Semitic behavior. Colonel Kemp wrote a letter of complaint to the university accusing Lynch of anti-Semitism.
The university opened an investigation into the incident, but Lynch was not dismissed from his post, as some hoped. He receive a warning letter over his “unsatisfactory conduct for interfering with security guards at the protest.”
Peter Wertheim the head of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry expressed his disappointment with the decision of the university. For his part, Lynch apologized for what was construed as anti-Semitic behavior while expressing great relief that his position was secure.
There is little doubt that Lynch has been a very problematic member of the faculty, bringing repeated negative attention to the university. Disrupting Colonel’s Kemp talk was just one of the many questionable actions that Lynch has been involved with. Still, under the expansive definition of academic freedom adopted by the university, it would take a greater level of anti-Semitism to fire him.
| Latent Boycott at the Louvre?|
|Sefy Henlder, a professor of art history from Tel Aviv University tried to book a visit for his students at the iconic Louvre museum in Paris. He was told that on there was no availability on the day that he requested, but the alternative days he had proposed were also denied. Professor Hendler had no luck in trying to book the Sainte Chapelle church, another site that the students planned to visit.
Hendler then sent inquires in the name of factious academic institutions in Abu-Dhabi and Italy and received a positive response. At this point, he alerted Francois Heilbronn, the head of the Friends of Tel Aviv University in France, who, in turn notified the administration of Louvre and Sainte Chapelle. Hendler is skeptical about the official explanation that his bookings were rejected because of a computer malfunctioning. Since boycotting Israel is illegal in France, the authorities have opened an investigation.
Should they prove that Louvre and Sainte Chapelle broke the law, it would be illustrative of a latent boycott. As IAM noted, latent boycott is normally initiated by an individual or individuals who want to punish Israelis what they perceive to be a wrong policy of their government.
In the Louver case, it would be relatively easy to prove latent boycott. The case of Israeli academics whose papers were rejected or participation in a conference denied proving boycott intentions is virtually impossible.
|Sheldon Adelson Joins the anti-BDS Movement |
|With BDS spreading on American campuses, anti-BDS activity has moved up to the top of the agenda of the Jewish community. The latest entrant into the arena is the conservative billionaire and mega-donor to political causes, Sheldon Adelson. Co-chaired by Haim Saban, a big Democratic donor, a secret meeting in Las Vegas last weekend attracted some 50 participants representing a variety of groups. The event, called Campus Macabees Summit, promised to raise $50 million to combat campus BDS. According to estimates, $20 million was already pledged. Dr. Miriam Adelson, and the rabbi Shmuley Boteach, are slated to head the project.
Missing from the confab were J-Street, a liberal organization that opposes BDS and other liberal groups are concerned with the fact that the initiative is run by Adelson, a supporter of Benjamin Netanyahu and the settlement drive. Benji Cannon, in charge of J-Street on campus, warns that Campus Macabees will not sit well with liberal and progressive Jewish students. Other critics point out that the Adelson scheme considers all BDS proposals to be a form of anti-Semitism, or, as Boteach put, “the economic annihilation of Israel.”
It is too early to estimate the impact of the Campus Macabees initiative. It has the potential to make a real contribution, but it can also split the Jewish students into competing camps as epitomized by the Open Hillel movement.
|Academic BDS Moves to Front Page|
|After years of neglect, academic BDS has become front page story. On the 28th of May, academic leaders asked President Reuven Rivlin for an emergency meeting. As Professor Peretz Lavie, the head of the Technion recounts, the participants told Rivlin that the growing academic isolation is a national security threat of the highest order. The president agreed with the conclusion and promised to raise the issue with diplomats and heads of states.
But, as IAM repeatedly stated, fighting academic boycott is not easy as it is a multifaceted phenomenon, involving faculty and students. One of the most difficult issues to tackle is the so called gray or latent boycott, defined as a clandestine effort to undermine Israeli academics as they seek to publish their work in reputable journals abroad, obtain sabbatical positions, grants, invitations to conference or even get recommendations.
Professor Rivka Carmi, the President of Ben Gurion University spoke on the issue in an article in Maariv, thatacademic isolation is a real threat to Israel. She noted, "large part of these boycotts are not formal. They work behind the scenes and reflect, in part, on non-acceptance of post-doctoral positions in Israel, rejection of co-authored articles and awards.There is no formal boycott but a growing understanding among academic staff in Israel, that there is a kind of silent boycott".
Professor Asher Cohen, the rector of the Hebrew University asked his faculty to report on cases of latent boycott.
Still, because of the arcane rules in the academy and the lack of transparency, it is not easy to prove that one’s paper was rejected because of nationality. Professional journals have a high rate of rejection and it is always possible to quote scientific reasons. As Professor Zeev Zahor writes, it took him a couple of years to realize that his book reviews were rejected because of his nationality. When he confronted the editor, the latter evaded the issue.
So far the latent boycott has affected the liberal arts only. As a rule, the sciences are less politicized and the chances of the boycott spreading are not high. Still, even if confined to liberal arts, the latent boycott is a worrisome phenomenon.
|Missing in Action: The Israeli Government and BDS|
|The IAM Roundtable "Who Sponsors Israel's Delegitimization on Campus?" on May 8, 2015 at Tel Aviv University offered a trenchant critique of the failure of the Israeli government to respond to the BDS movement. Our last post on the subject proved highly timely. On May 28, President Reuven Rivlin met with presidents of Israeli universities. The Chairman of the Council of Presidents of Israeli Universities, Professor Peretz Lavie from the Technion urged President Rivlin to do more about the BDS.
According to an account of the meeting, “university heads noted a number of results of the boycott movement, including a significant decline in collaborative scientific research with international companies out of fear that the resulting products would be boycotted, the rejection by academic journals of articles by Israeli researchers and enormous pressure from student organizations on academic leaders around the world to participate in the boycott.”
Professor Lavie said it was still possible to stop the snowball effect of the movement, but warned that “we are at the 90th minute” and called for “strategic action” to stop the boycott movement in Europe and the United States.
President Rivlin responded by describing academic boycotts against Israel as a “strategic threat of the first order.” He told the university heads that “he was willing to take part in any effort to fight the boycott movement and promised to raise the issue whenever he meets with diplomatic figures in Israel and abroad.”
Gracious as President Rivlin’s promise is it would take more than his effort to arrest what Professor Lavie called the “snowball effect of BDS.”
For a number of years now IAM has repeatedly warned about the impending danger. For instance, in October 2012, IAM submitted a proposal for a panel at the annual Globes conference on the subject. It was hoped that publicity would mobilize awareness, but the organizers rejected the proposal.
Anyone who listened to “The Financial Network: Who Funds What and Why?" would have realized that BDS is highly complex, multilayered, and professionally run. A response to the BDS needs to be of the same order. It is only the Israeli government that can mount this kind of effort.
|BDS, anti-Semitism, and Free Speech on Campus: Some Observations from Down Under|
|Jake Lynch, an associate professor at Sidney University, is a leading proponent of BDS in Australia. As IAM reported, he was subject of a lawsuit on the grounds that his BDS advocacy consists a form of anti-Semitism. The lawsuit had failed, apparently emboldening Lynch to rev up his political activism.
The most recent fracas took place during a lecture by Richard Kemp at Sidney University. Kemp, a retired British colonel and a staunch defender of the IDF, was interrupted by Lynch and a group of Palestinian students, causing a scuffle with some Jewish members of the audience. At one point, Lynch was seen waving a five dollar banknote in the face of a retired Jewish professor, whom he accused of kicking in the groin.
The university cleared Lynch of charges of anti-Semitism, but he can still face expulsion or other disciplinary charges for breaking the faculty code mandating treatment of visitors with “respect, impartiality, courtesy and sensitivity.“
Critics have accused the Vice Chancellor, Michael Spence of stifling free speech. As one of them put it, the university acted inappropriately “against people who are exercising their legitimate right of free speech". "How bizarre is it that universities, which have been a hotbed of free speech for centuries, are threatening staff and students with disciplinary action for expressing themselves,"
The story of Lynch is just one more illustration of the difficulties involving the definition of anti-Semitism, BDS and free speech on campus. Quite clearly, there is no silver bullet solution to the problem.
|Anti-Boycott Initiative by Congress: Implications for Academic BDS|
|Two House members, Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado) and Ron DeSantis (R-Florida) introduced legislation, Boycott Our Enemies, Not Israel Act. Under the terms of the bill, contractors with the U.S. government and those seeking contracts would have to certify that they are not engaged in any boycott against Israel. Lamborn explained that the legislation will “thwart efforts by Palestinian organizations to pressure different corporations, companies and educational institutions to boycott, divest, and sanction Israel.”
This is the second BDS-related piece of legislation in Congress. Responding to the American Studies Associations' BDS resolution, Peter Roskam (R-Illinois) and Dan Lipinski (D-Illinois) introduced “Protect Academic Freedom Act” in 2014.
Unlike the Roskam-Lipinski proposal that faces complex First Amendment questions, the Lamborn-DeSantis legislation should have an easy sailing in Congress where both chambers are controlled by Republicans.
The new legislation is a potential game-changer. None the BDS resolutions have prompted university authorities to actually divest, leading observers to note that the process of debating the resolutions is the actual prize. The debates have provided the organizers with a well-publicized platform to present Israel as an apartheid state. Should Lamborn-DeSantis pass, the BDS resolutions would essentially demand that universities put the said companies between the proverbial rock and a hard place. They can divest to please their academic shareholders, but would have to face federal penalties if they seek contracts.
Only time will tell how the new scenario will put a dent in the BDS movement or encourage the hard-core activists to take on their other great enemies, capitalism and imperialism.
|TAU Anat Matar to lecture on BDS next week in Prague
|Anat Matar, a senior lecturer in the Philosophy Department, Tel Aviv University, is a veteran radical activist. As IAM noted, after receiving tenure she essentially stopped publishing in her field in order to write polemics that support her position as a veteran member of the Communist Party. Among her projects is military service refusal and an effort to reclassify Palestinian prisoners accused of acts of terror, as political prisoners.
As a lecturer in Philosophy, she goes around lecturing on the Arab-Israeli dispute, a topic she is not qualified for -something unheard of in life sciences.
Matar, along with Rachel Giora, Kobi Snitz and Neve Gordon. has been a leading force in the BDS movement and closely associated with Boycott From Within.
In 2010 her BDS campaign attracted the attention of some members of the Board of Governors of TAU that called for her dismissal, a move that was nixed by President Josef Klafter.
Evidently emboldened by the failure of TAU to take action, Matar has already defied the Knesset BDS law before. In 2011 she wrote an open letter to a British theater director to cancel a workshop at the Kameri theater to punish it for an appearance in Ariel.
Nest week, Matar plans to travel to Prague to speak at an event organized by the Palestinian Club and the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) that support BDS.
TAU can sanction academics who break the law. As a publicly funded institution, it should be especially diligent in following the law. But the past failures to censure Matar suggest that TAU considers itself to be above the law.
By citing an archaic definition of academic freedom the university authorities do a disservice to the tax payers who fund Matar's salary. Equally disturbing, they shortchange her students who are denied the benefit of an education by a competent researcher, a standard expected in a research university like TAU.
Last but not least, allowing activist faculty to default on their research duties, the academic leadership contributes to the woeful underperformances of Israel in liberal arts.
Radical academic activism sailing under the flag of academic freedom has virtually no equivalents in the West where public universities are accountable to the public. Over the years, Israel has adopted many of the Western cultural and political markers. It is about time that the Israeli academy follows suit.
|BDS, Hillel and the Open Hillel: The Erosion of Jewish Unity on the Campuses|
|The BDS debate on American campuses is normally presented as a clash between pro-Palestinian activists and Jewish students and faculty. However, as IAM has reported in the past, this view does not fit the complexities of Jewish politics in America in general and the campus in particular.
The Jewish vs. Jewish clash around BDS has impacted the Hillel Intentional, which funds Jewish activities on campus. According to the Hillel guidelines, local Hillel chapters are not expected to host speakers supposing BDS. Jewish students at Swarthmore challenged this directive and subsequently established the Open Hillel movement advocating a more inclusive policy on speakers. As the article in Haaretz indicates, the Open Hillel has spread to other campuses, including Harvard University.
Hillel International has also attracted considerable criticism when its president Eric Fingerghut, refused to attend the upcoming J Street conference. Though J Street does not endorse boycott, it is a liberal group often at odds with the right-wing government of Israel. Interestingly, much of the criticism came from retired and serving heads of Hillel chapters.
It is well known that American Jews, like their counterparts in Israel are split in their approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The liberal majority, including the Reform movement and non-affiliated Jews, has made little secret of its desire to see Benjamin Netanyahu go. Eric Jaffe, the former head of the Reform movement and one of the most influential voice in the Jewish community, could not have been clearer in his numerous writings before the election.
Preliminary reports indicate that the resounding victory of the Likud and the prospect of a right-wing Israeli government has dismayed liberal Jews. There is little doubt that the Jewish schism will further fragment Jewish students at a time where unity is needed to fight BDS.
|BDS, anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism: Searching for a Dividing Line?|
|As reported by IAM, in February the Stanford University Student Senate passed a BDS resolution. The BDS motion was hailed as a victory for the pro-Palestinian cause since the university was considered non-political, as opposed to Berkeley or UCLA and other hotbeds of Palestinian activism.
A month later a group of senior professors, including a number of Nobel Prize winners, sent a letter to the authorities urging to disregard the students’ resolution. The move is highly interesting. Until quite recently, it was normally the pro-Palestinian faculty that have been engaged in BDS. The Stanford professors, many of them leftist themselves, felt compelled to get involved because of the popularity of the BDS drive. As Larry Diamond, a professor of sociology and political science, explained, there was something unsettling about the way BDS conflates anti-Israeli and anti –Semitic themes. Diamond stated that he was not to look for the proverbial anti-Semite hiding under every bed, but recent events made him note how permeable the line between BDS and anti-Semitism is. Some of the incidents such as painting of swastikas on a Jewish fraternity house are quite clear-cut and have been roundly denounced.
But it is the more insidious cases of anti-Semitism that worries Diamond the most. One of it pertains to Rachel Beyda, who run for the UCLA Student Council Judicial Board. Instead of focusing on her merits, the meeting turned into a debate on whether a Jewish student involved in Jewish campus life is “kosher” enough to serve on the board. Rachel's nomination was defeated, but after prodding by faculty advisers, the UCLA Student Council apologized and Beyda was elected.
The case received broad national exposure, including a front-page article in the New York Times. As the article, Diamond and numerous critics point out, it would be inconceivable to apply the same standards to African Americans, gays or other “politically correct” minority students. But after decades of anti-Israel and anti-Zionist discourse on campus, Jews are now painted with the same broad brush of “colonialism, imperialism, and apartheid” as Israel is. For the pro-Palestinian purists, Jewish ethnicity is enough to disqualify a person, whatever their political opinions are. This was a lesson that Amira Hass, the Haartez journalist and an extravagant defender of Palestinians, has learned when she was banned from speaking at the anti-Israel panel at Birzeit University.
For the less zealous, a Jew (or an Israeli) is acceptable if he or she embraces a politically correct position on the conflict. For instance, members of the Jewish Voices for Peace – a small group that advocates a unitary state and the right of return of Palestinians, are normally sought after by pro-Palestinian activists.
Sadly, these two trends reflect historical patterns of anti-Semitism. One is based on ethno-religiosity in its most immutable form: a Jew is a Jew and as such, is not acceptable. The other is more flexible: Jews can embrace a politically correct position - a price of admittance. In other words, only “good Jews” need to apply.
|BDS and anti-BDS: Interesting Legal Challenges|
|As the BDS and the anti-BDS movements unfold on campus, they promise to offer some of the most interesting legal challenges in the realm of academic freedom, free speech and libel law.
A recent episode that took place on the campus of Ohio University is a case in point. On September 10, 2014, four Jewish students protested an anti-divestment event where the president of the Student Senate, Megan Marzec presented a “blood bucket challenge,” a play on the popular ice bucket challenge. The students urged Marzec to resign, disrupted the event and refused to leave, leading to their arrest.
Each of the students was offered to plead to a minor misdemeanor charge and pay a $100 fine, but they all refused. They faced trial, but the judge dismissed the case on technicality grounds that the students did not receive a speedy trial for a fourth degree misdemeanor, defined under Ohio law as 60 days.
Historically, the tactic of disrupting meetings has been the prerogative of the pro-Palestinian activists. Should an Ohio University-type protest spread among Jewish students, it may create even a bigger dilemma for university authorities anxious to avoid legal problems.
Ironically, this strategy may actually force college authorities to change their traditional reluctance to curb some well-documented cases of anti-Israeli events. These incidents were normally defended on the grounds of academic freedom, but the Ohio strategy would force a uniform standard. As the old saying goes “what is good for the goose is good for the gander.”
|Israeli Apartheid Week Begins on Campuses Across the World|
|The beginning of March has been designated as Israeli Apartheid Week. According to favorable reports, from a handful of events more than a decade ago, it has grown to a sizable movement in some 200 locations. In their streamlined and polished version, the new Apartheid Week are coordinated with the BDS movement, handing out material pertinent for launching BDS initiatives.
The situation in the United States reflects the overall trends. Some people feel that the Conditions on campus have deteriorated, still Pro-Israel activists are optimistic that there are legal and organizational remedies to fight this phenomenon. It is certainly true that after years of inaction, Jewish organizations have put campus BDS at the top of their agenda and contributed considerable sums of money to the project. The Peter Roskam bill that would make BDS illegal is moving slowly through Congress.
But, as IAM already indicated, the various anti-BDS initiatives face a stiff challenge. Efforts in Great Britain and Australia to link BDS advocacy to anti-Semitism were rebuffed by the courts. First amendment issues as well as academic free speech will also play a role in determining the success of the anti-BDS drive.
The academic year 2015/6 will provide some answers to this questions. As always, IAM will report on all relevant developments.
|Stanford University Students Pass a BDS Resolution|
|After a re-vote of a last week vote, the Students Senate of Stanford University passed a resolution to divest from corporations that are complicit in human right abuses in “Israel and Palestine.” Although the students who organized the resolution – Stanford Out of Occupied Palestine – claim that it is not associated with the BDS movement. As finally passed, the resolution actually stated that it “was not connected to the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement.”
The disclaimer notwithstanding, the Stanford vote is a substantial victory of BDS and was received as such in pro-Palestinian circles. Stanford, a prestigious but largely apolitical university, has been on the “wish list” of the BDS activists for a long time now. As IAM reported, last year’s effort fell short, but after another vote and a re-vote in February 2015, the resolution passed.
Stanford’s case is illustrative of the broader BDS’s campaign. Characteristically, it is based on patient and repeated efforts and coalition building with kindred groups.
It is too early to assess the practical value of the Stanford resolution. University authorities have an array of tools to fight BDS resolutions. When students at Harvard University voted to divest from coal companies that contribute to environmental degradation, the university filed a petition in court against the resolution.
The real issue, however, is delegitimization. Even when a particular petition or resolution is rejected or overturned by the court, the surrounding publicity is never good news.
|From BDS to Expelling Jewish Students: A Durban University New Initiative|
|A university in Durban, the South African city associated with the notorious Durban conference where anti-Semitic commentary, inside and outside the hall, was on full display, has made a new and even more dubious headline. Students at the Technical University of Durban want all the Jewish students, or at least those who do not agree with the Palestinians to be fired, or “deregistered.”
The decision is unprecedented and was roundly denounced by the university administration and the organization of Jewish students in South Africa.
But the case is distressing on many levels. It indicates, as many have suggested, the existence of a thin line separating the BDS movement from outright anti-Semitism. Once this line is crossed, clear anti-Semitic patterns of thought and action emerge. First, the Durban students want to expel all Jewish students – a classic ploy that holds individual Jews as responsible for the Jewish collective, in this case the State of Israel.
Also, the Durban students suggest that only those who disagree with the BDS should be expelled. The so-called “good Jews” and “bad Jews” ploy has been detailed by IAM before. In this scenario the pro-Palestinian activists are charged with identifying the “good Jews.” The criteria for selecting the “good Jews” or sometimes “the good Israeli Jews” vary. Ilan Pappe is universally considered a “good Israeli Jew” because his work accused Israel of all sort of heinous crimes, from ethnic cleansing to virtual genocide. But others, like Daniel Monterescu found out that even though he had a strong record of opposing Israeli policies in the territories, he was not considered a good enough Israeli Jews.
And there is the case of Amira Hass, normally considered a “good Israeli Jew” because of her inflammatory reporting in Haaretz. Hass was prevented from speaking at Birzeit University because she is Israeli and Jewish, which is indicating that rules can change and the “good Jew” is demoted to a “Jew” subject to a policy of exclusion in an academic blink of an eye.
|Targeted Academic BDS: A New Phase in the Movement?
|School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London announces referendum, to assess whether to boycott Israeli academic institutions, on February 23-27, 2015.
SOAS has a long history of launching “anti” movements. Going back to the twenties and thirties of the previous century, SOAS was a hotbed of anti-colonial, anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist activity.
In recent times, SOAS was one of the first to embrace BDS or even pioneer it. In late 2004, a little noticedconference took place in SOAS, where Ilan Pappe appeared to plead for a wide academic boycott against the Israeli academy. In 2005 SOAS students were the first to vote for academic boycott of Israeli universities, a vote that the Student Union is still very proud for.
It is no surprise that SOAS is taken the BDS into a new level by providing hand-tailored “charge sheets” for individual universities. As the items below indicate, according to the SOAS Student Union the Hebrew University has a long list of anti-Palestinian transgressions. Part of it is built on Palestinian land, it offers classes to security personnel, has links to Ariel University that is based “in the West Bank colony of Ariel” and recognizes its degrees, and preferential treatment is offered to IDF solders “who are engaged in daily human rights violations of Palestinians.” The video documenting the alleged military-academic collaboration pertains to Tzameret, a military medicine program in conjunction with the HUJ medical school.
Given the pioneering role of SOAS, the new strategy of targeting a particular university and compiling a list of alleged charges can be expected to be adopted by other BDS groups.
|Gray Boycott and Its Problematique: How to Prove a Motive?|
|The current BDS drive has spurred a large body of writing ranging from books to blogs. Most of the discourse involves the various BDS resolutions and ways in which pro-Israeli advocates should respond to it.
Much less attention has been paid to the so-called gray boycott (also known as silent boycott), namely personal initiatives of scholars who take it upon themselves to boycott their Israeli counterparts, either by rejecting submission to journals and presses, declining invitations to participate in conferences held in Israel, or refusing to invite said scholars to panels organized by professional associations in the West.
Still, gray boycott has concerned Israeli academic authorities. In January 2014, in an interview for Maariv, Professor Rivka Carmi noted that "large part of these boycotts are not formal. They work behind the scenes and reflect, in part, on non-acceptance of post-doctoral positions in Israel, rejection of co-authored articles and awards.There is no formal boycott but a growing understanding among academic staff in Israel, that there is a kind of silent boycott".
Professors Asher Cohen and Aharon Shai, the rectors of Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University respectively, wrote to the faculty stating "there is evidence of hidden boycott, which is more difficult to locate, but can be dangerous. Recently, with the increase in activities calling for boycott of Israel (BDS), it is feared that there is a growing phenomenon of academic boycott." Both asked faculty to report on instances of "discrimination that can result in rejection of articles on ground of improper considerations; cancellation of invitation to attend or speak at conferences; refusal to attend conferences held in Israel, or sponsored by Israeli institutions on ground that it is an Israeli event, and so on."
Such worries are not misplaced. Boycotting Israeli academics, notably in the social sciences, is not new. In one incident, Gideon Kressel, a professor at Ben Gurion University, was asked to leave an anthropological conference in 1984 after a group French based Arab academics opposed his presence. As the letter below shows, Ernest Gellner, arguably, one of the leading social scientists of the twentieth century, wrote to protest the exclusion: “My own feeling is that arbitrary exclusion of a bona fide scholar simply on the ground of his citizenship set a precedent which one cannot and ought not condone.“
As well known, things got much worse since 1984, making Gellner’s sentiment sound quaint. Over the years, IAM documented numerous cases of private boycott initiatives by a variety of scholars in a variety of fields, a vast majority to them in the social sciences.
The new variety of boycott is not just widespread but more challenging. A perusal of the BDS discourse indicates that, along with the open resolutions and petitions, scholars are being “empowered” to launch their own covert initiatives. Given the wide discretion built into academic freedom, such covert actions may be hard to fight.
|The Institute for National Security Studies: The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel|
|On December 22, 2014 The Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) hosted a panel discussing the bookThe Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel, edited by Cary Nelson and Gabriel Noah Brahm.
In addition to Professors Nelson and Brahm, the panel featured a number of guests.
As already reported, the edited volume included chapters on issues ranging from BDS and academic freedom, to specific case-studies.
The panel discussion and the questions from the audience expanded on the issue and raised additional question not covered in the book.
Professor Cary Nelson (Emeritus, English, University of Illinois)
Nelson asserted that BDS should matter to Israel because of its ideology and the social network that underpins it. BDS activists are socialized to fight Israel’s supporters on campuses, they are highly motivated to the point that BDS has become their professional identity.
Nelson noted that BDS supporters have penetrated academic associations, organize rallies that pretend to be academic. They thrive in the social sciences where many academics believe that classrooms should be used to teach about “justice” and “equality” and utilized for political recruitment.
The anti-Israeli animus is widespread and in some cases paradoxical. For instance, the Jewish Studies programs in NYU, Columbia, Berkeley, California State U, and Toronto University do not offer courses on Israel. Going to educate the next generation of elites.
Political events influence BDS movement. Omar Barghouti, Judith Butler nothing will satisfy them except dissolution of the Israeli State.
Gabriel Noah Brahm (English, Northern Michigan University, Philosophy & Religion, HUJ)
Brahm suggested BDS is anti-Semitic to the core and that “BDS people” have an “Israel fetish.” Jewish BDS supporters like Judith Butler have a simple formula: "Zionism is the problem" – the solution is the Right of Return to the Diaspora where Jews have lived happily and thrived.
Brahm pointed out that Zionism was also scrutinized from a philosophical perspective as well. For instance, Michael Marder & Gianni Vattimo Deconstructing Zionism: A Critique of Political Metaphysics stated that, unlike other nationalism that managed to adopt to twenty first century, Zionism was tethered to nineteenth century nationalism that focused on the state.
On a less lofty level, there are academics like Steven Salaita who was rejected by the authorities of the University of Illinois after being offered a position. As Brahm put it, to “the anti-Semitic unconscious Salaita, Israel is an expression of “racism, colonialism, neoliberalism and sexism.“
Zvi Ziegler, (Emeritus, Technion and the head of the Forum to Counter Academic Boycotts)
Ziegler presented a brief history of BDS. He noted that the Defensive Shield Operation triggered by the Natanya Park Hotel massacre in 2002, promoted the “propaganda machine” of anti-Israeli academics and first calls for boycott. Ziegler recalled that, the Israeli academy took sporadic steps to fight the growing BDS sentiments. It was only in 2013, after a number of professional associations in the United States called for academic boycott that the academic authorities decided to set up his committee. The professor listed four argument in fighting academic BDS; principal, fair play, utilitarian, and exposing false arguments (that the Israeli academics are not agents of the government).
Professor Ilan Troen (Chair, Israel Studies Program at Brandeis University)
Troen spoke about the paradigm shift in the academy triggered by Edward Said’s book Orientalism that depicted Israel as a colonial state and Jews as an artificial, inauthentic people created by the European colonialists in order to dispossess the indigenous Palestinian People. He added that the Durban conference, where Zionism was declared to be racists and Israel an apprehend state, provided the organizational impetus for the BDS movement. Troen predicted that BDS can become a big phenomenon in the future.
Professor Galia Golan (School of Government, Diplomacy & Strategy at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya)
Golan focused on the critical question of whether BDS should be considered is anti-Semitic. She suggested that opposition to settlements, house demolitions, and the occupation, constitute a legitimate form of criticism. Golan also noted that from the standpoint of international law and BDS is a legitimate activity on two counts – it is nonviolent and is covered by the United Nations practices of providing a platform for a multitude of nongovernment organizations and movements.
This said, Golan offered a few reservations. First, the BDS rhetoric is highly problematic- it challenges Israel’s right to exist, it is anti- Semitic, and it is anti-political. Second, BDS is counterproductive in the sense that sanctions have a poor success rate. Sanctions worked against South Africa and Iran, but did not work in other cases. Third, BDS helps the Israeli right; the threat of sanctions generates fears in Israeli society and a national solidarity backlash. The rhetoric tends to prove Prime Minister Netanyahu correct when he warns against of Israeli destruction. In this scenario, the leftist BDS and the rightist Likud government feed off each other- a fact that Omar Barghouti acknowledged when he declared that “Netanyahu’s polices are great for the BDS movement.”
Israeli academy is the wrong target for a BDS because it empowers right wing groups on campus. For instance, Im Tirtzu made a name for itself by protesting alleged left-wing radicalism on campus and even prompted the Knesset education committee to request information.
BDS has no place on campus; it stifles debate and imposes censorship in a place that should be devoted to the exchange of ideas and intellectual freedom. Dictatorships have no place in a university, nobody benefits from shutting off of mikes.
Golan added that Hillel in the United States would ban her appearance because she is too critical of Israeli policy.
Select Comments from the Audience
Mr. Michael Gross- a member of the Board of Governors of Ben Gurion University
Gross spoke about Israeli academics who are involved in BDS, an issue that the book did not deal with. Gross focused on the leading role of some radical Israeli scholars in using their academic writings to justify BDS. He mentioned that many radicals are based in the Department of Politics and Government at BGU. He pointed out that the Department was censured by an International Evaluation Committee in 2013 on the grounds of heavy presence of left-wing, activist faculty. Gross commented that Professor Galia Golan was the only member of the Committee that issued a dissenting statement in support of the Department.
Dr. Dalit Baum - formerly from Haifa University, a BDS Activist in the United States
Baum explained that Israel Studies in the United States are highly politicized and no critique of Israel is allowed. Groups like Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) are all about policing the discourse and silencing the critique, in her opinion. Baum stated that the decades-old occupation of Palestinians lands drives BDS and creates problems for Israel. She noted that students need to hear the truth about the occupation and asked why there was no one on the panel to discuss the BDS resolutions.
|The BDS Movement: An Exercise in the Politics of Delegitmization|
|Ever since 1948, Palestinian academics compared Israel to a colonial state and, later, to apartheid state of South Africa deserving of boycott. The theme was picked up by Uri Davis, a card-carrying member of Matzpen who immigrated to England in the 1970s.
Yet as hard as the Palestinians tried to make the case for apartheid and BDS it did not stick. The reason was simple: in the complex logic of academic discourse, Palestinian could not persuade the larger community that they were impartial analysts. Davis, the then virtually lone Jew, was considered too much of a political activist to make a credible argument. It probably did not help his credentials when he converted to Islam, married a Palestinian woman and joined the PLO.
Enter the post-Zionists. On faculty of respectable Israeli universities, they recycled the old Palestinian charges under the guise of New History, New Sociology or New Whatever.
Ilan Pappe is a case in point. Pappe, a member of the Communist party, has a history of radicalizing his own claims about the alleged Israeli atrocities committed by Israel in 1948. Even a perfunctory look at his books illustrates the trend; from a rather tepid recall of the 1948 war in his doctoral dissertation, Pappe has graduated to ethnic cleansing and, most recently, to “incremental genocide,” quoted in the article below.
In spite of shoddy and highly politicized scholarship, Pappe is a fixture in the BDS circles, incessantly quoted and summarized. It is hardly accidental that Omar Barghouti starts his review of the BDS achievements in 2014 with a reference to the “prominent Israeli historian Pappe.”
After more than a decade of such fawning references, Pappe is probably convinced that he is a “prominent” historian. Here is a simple test that Pappe should take; he needs to ask himself whether he would be considered “prominent” and constantly paraded if he were an Arab. The answer is a resounding No! After all, Pappe says the same things that many Palestinian and Arab scholars have said, but no one displays them all the time. The case of Benny Morris, is also pertinent here; as long as Morris was writing books supporting ethnic cleansing, he, too, was a hero to the BDS crowd, reverentially referred to as a “prominent historian.” Once Morris had changed his political ideas and adjusted his texts accordingly, he was dropped like a hot potato by the BDS circles.
Pappe probably does not have enough humility to take the test. But if he does, he would find out that he is a trophy of the BDS movement.
|2014 BDS Roundup: Victories, Defeats and the In-betweens|
|The year that just ended was pivotal for the BDS movement and its opponents on many fronts. As Alexander Joffe from the Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME), below states, BDS opponents take credit for the fact that no additional academic association passed a formal BDS resolution. This is widely attributed to the fact that the American Studies Association (ASA) has suffered a furious backlash to its BDS decision.
BDS proponents take credit for developing alternative ways to highlight “Israel’s continuous occupation of the Palestinian territory.” One of the more popular ways is to “empower” scholars in a particular discipline to launch their own private versions of BDS, be it through signing petitions or regulating access to academic publications or conference. For obvious reasons, this type of unofficial “gray BDS” is hard to fight without infringing on the freedom of academic editors and others to make decision as to who appears in their journals and or conferences. It is noted that “gray boycotters” have become proficient in camouflaging their decisions with seemingly bona fides arguments. As a matter of fact, Professor Rivka Carmi, president of Ben Gurion University identified “gray boycott” in liberal arts as one of the concern for Israel.
Students advocating BDS came up with a new technique to boycott Israeli products on campus under the notion of “microaggression.” For those not familiar with the arcane language of political correctness, the concept was first used to redefine what constitutes racism and anti-minority sentiments. Unlike the more overt types of speech and behavior, microaggression is said to be committed when a member of a minority is exposed to a "brief, everyday exchanges that send denigrating messages to certain individuals because of their group membership.”
Palestinain activists on campus have broadened the definition to include situation whereby some type of Israeli food or beverage is served in the cafeteria. Accordingly, serving Sabra humus at Wesleyan University should be considered an act of microaggression against Palestinian students, along with SodaStream at Harvard. Even when the ban on the products were reversed by the administrations on the two campuses – fearful of running afoul of US ant boycott laws - the resulting discourse became another “teaching moment” to educate the student body. The fact that the discourse occurred on two prestigious campuses was an added bonus.
Looking for indications of the future of BDS based on the 2014 experience, one trend stands out; clear cut victories and defeats will be increasingly replaced by the hard to fight “in between.”
|How to Assess the Struggle against BDS: Quantity, Quality, and the Intangibles|
|After years of paying scant attention, in 2014 the American Jewish community fully embraced the fight against BDS. As the article below indicates, a large number of organizations supported by a substantial budget have tried to counter BDS, campus by campus.
Inevitably, questions about assessing the success of the Jewish initiative have been raised. Unfortunately, Outcome Based Assessment, a tool used in assessing educational outcomes, is hardly appropriate for a field as diffused as BDS, a subset of anti-Israeli paradigms on American campuses. The resulting controversy is characteristic of the confusion.
Mitchell Bard, the executive director of the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE) asserts that, in quantities terms, most of the BDS initiatives have failed. He is quoted in the article as saying that “the BDS campaign has been a complete failure. They have not really succeeded in convincing anybody except a handful of students and some professors that this in any way will contribute to peace or improving the lot of Palestinians”. Samuel Edelman, past executive director of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME), now with the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC), argues that even a failed BDS initiative provides an opportunity to “educate the students,” an idea that the BDS activists fully embrace.
The issue of quantity vs. quality is also pertinent in this context. Counting the number of failed initiatives is important, but not all campuses are created equal. SPME and other observers note that Students for Justice for Palestine (SJP), the primary BDS player, seem to have branches in the higher echelons of tertiary education. As a result, the “teaching moments” that BDS drives provide, target students at prestigious universities educating the future elites. Geri Palast, director of the Israel Action Network, predicted that within a decade the view of Israel among the elites will deteriorate even further.
Also pertinent to the debate is the faculty’s position. Though only a handful of professional associations adopted a formal BDS, it is widely known that many scholars in the liberal arts harbor negative views of Israel. Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, a professor at Santa Cruz and the founder of Amcha which seeks to investigate and combat antisemitism at institutions of higher education in the United States, has pointed out that pro-BDS faculty have been offering classes that reflect their point of view. She and others even wrote to UC Chancellors to urge them to act against this phenomenon. Rossman-Benjamin insists that BDS is anti-Semitic and, by extension, research and teaching that supports the BDS position, is also anti-Semitic. But labeling all BDS as anti-Semitic created a backlash accusing pro-Israel advocates of stifling academic freedom. Given the parameters of academic freedom in the United States, it is not likely that university authorities will move to regulate classroom curricula.
Finally, there is the truly intractable problem of scholarship on the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In 2001, Martin Kramer documented the anti-Israel and anti-American biases in American scholarship in his high profile Ivory Towers on Sand. Despite congressional efforts to address the issue through Title VI legislature, more than a decade later, the bias has persisted if not increased. Ultimately, it is the scholarly paradigms that drive the BDS movement.
Before success or failure of the BDS is proclaimed, the American Jewish community and the Israeli authorities should look at the entire problem.
|Scholars for Israel and Palestine (SIP) Call to Sanction Rightist Israeli Politicians|
|The Jewish community on American campus has fragmented under the strain of responding to the political developments in Israel. While many have rallied against the BDS movement, others have embraced the idea that some form of sanctions to prevent Jewish settlement of the West Bank is required.
The latest to organize are the Scholars for Israel and Palestine (SIP), associated with the Third Narrative, a Labor Zionist group fighting against what it perceives to be de facto annexation of the West Bank.
In a petition signed by some 200 scholars, SIP urges to impose “ punitive measures“ on a cluster of Israeli political leaders and public figures who lead efforts to insure [sic] permanent Israeli occupation of the West Bank and to annex all or parts of it unilaterally in violation of international law.”
Four political figures are targeted: Naftali Bennett, the head of the Bait Yehudi Party; Minister of Housing Uri Ariel; Moshe Feiglin, a Knesset member from the Likud; and Zeev Hever, head of the settlers movement and a former member of the Jewish underground.
The four are singled out by SIP for pursuing “unjust, unlawful, and destructive policies in their most extreme and dangerous form.
The petition states: “Annexationist policies pursued by these four individuals, and others like them… slam the door not only on peacemaking at present but for the foreseeable future. It is not sufficient to reiterate calls for negotiations. It is equally and urgently imperative to oppose the occupation itself, and especially those policies that seek to make it permanent and irreversible. It is necessary for the U S and the EU to go beyond verbal protest… [and] take active measures to penalize lawbreakers”
The academics propose “personal sanctions as elements of a larger campaign to preserve and advance the possibility of a negotiated peace, resulting in Israeli and Palestinian nation-states coexisting side-by-side.”
As a rule, the United Nations, the European Union, and the American State Department use personal sanctions against key players in activities that are considered rouge. For instance, a number of scientists known to have been engaged in Iran’s clandestine nuclear program have been subjected to a range of punitive sanctions, including travel ban.
There is virtually no chance that the State Department will sanction on Bennett and his colleagues.
Still, the SIP petition and The Third Narrative cannot be dismissed in the same way as the marginal Jewish Voices for Peace. The academic adversary council of the Third Narrative includes a number of distinguished professors from elite universities, such as the philosopher Michael Walzer from Princeton University, and Cary Nelson, University of Illinois, and former chair of the Association of American University Professors. They all denounced the BDS movement and Nelson, whose book The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel was reviewed by IAM, took a commanding role in fighting it. At the same time, the underlying message of the petition is clear: settling the West Bank is against international law and those who break it in need to be penalized: “it necessary for the US and the EU to go beyond verbal protest… [and] take active measures to penalize lawbreakers.”
The Israeli authorities and their supporters in the United States have struggled to respond to the fragmentation of the Jewish community on campus. As IAM recently reported, a Knesset committee accused Eric Fingerhut, the President of Hillel International of letting “defamers” of Israel to appear in Hillel-sponsored events. On the other hand, the special anti-BDS committee created by the Heads of the Israeli Universities has announced its cooperation with Hillel International to fight the BDS drive.
American Jews, on and off campus, are a voluntary community whose behavior is best described by Albert O. Hirschman in his seminal treatise Exit, Voice and Loyalty. The basic concept is simple, when faced with objectionable goods, services, and policies, consumers or members of a political or ethnic group, will either voice their objection or exist. Loyalty to the “ethnic brand” can delay the process, but not reverse it. For many years now, Israel, the former symbol of ethnic identity, has been losing its luster as the 2013 Pew Survey documented. Jewish students and faculty who find Israeli policies unpalatable have either exercised “voice,” that is, created alternative organizations (i.e. the Open Hillel movement, the Jewish Voices for Peace) or simply “exist,” that is disaffiliated emotionally and organizationally. As a former Hillel director puts it, "the vast majority of Jewish students on campus are indifferent to any and all programs that Hillel sponsors... The students are busy with their studies, their social lives, their finances, university athletics, planning their careers, and a myriad of other things. Israel is not among their major priorities."
Shaming, that is, describing divergent views as a manifestation of “Jewish self-hatred” is either not effective or counterproductive.
Before a more coherent policy can be fashioned, there needs to be a better understanding between the two sides.
|INSS - Dec. 22, 2014: The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel, by Cary Nelson and Gabriel Noah Brahm|
|This comprehensive and well organized volume edited by Cary Nelson and Gabriel Noah Brahm is a welcome addition to the burgeoning literature on BDS. The twenty five essays range from an analysis of the philosophical underpinning of the BDS movement to case studies. Section one makes the argument that BDS violates the principles of academic freedom, a concept about which Nelson, a former President of the American Association of University Professors, is well qualified to speak. Kenneth L. Marcus, the President and General Counsel of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law and a foremost legal authority on issues of academic freedom and anti-Semitism, raises the question of whether BDS is a form of anti-Semitism. Samuel M. Edelman and Carol F.S. Edelman emphasize that the BDS drive on campus is a success even if fails. In other words, even if a BDS resolution fails, the debate “educates” students about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Since BDS drives generally take place on many prestigious campuses, it is the future graduates of these elite universities who are the target of such “education.” For those who count the number of successful resolutions as a measure of the BDS strength, the Edelman chapter is a cautionary tale of the limits of a numerical analysis. Nelson and other contributors are also rightfully worried about the less measurable but very potent impact which pro-BDS faculty may have on students. The applied section includes a portfolio of anti-BDS tactics.
The book has two weaknesses. First, it does not analyze the pivotal role of several Israeli scholars who have created a body of work that equates the Israel-Palestine conflict with the apartheid regime in South Africa. As IAM repeatedly demonstrated, the writings of Ben Gurion University professors Oren Yiftachel and Neve Gordon, as well as other Israeli academics, are part of the “academic cannon” that is used to legitimize BDS.
Second, and arguably more importantly, the volume is based on the premise that the BDS discourse on campuses follows the Humboldtian notion that liberal arts are akin to a free market of ideas. As Nelson puts it, “we offer this book as a resource to bring reason, history, and sound information to campuses confronting this BDS agenda.” In reality, nothing could be further from this ideal in much of Middle East studies. It is well known that the discipline has been systemically influenced by Arab and Iranian money which has been used to provide a skewed view of Israel. As for the BDS initiative, it has benefited from equally well funded and coordinated efforts. IAM’s Academic Forensics series has provided rigorous empirical evidence to support this claim. Needless to say, BDS activists have used an array of deceitful and backhanded tactics to minimize any sort of free give and take discourse on the issue.
In spite of the two weaknesses, IAM is very pleased to learn that the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv will host Cary Nelson and Gabriel Noah Brahm (invitation below), for we have long argued that the academic delegitimization of Israel poses a threat to Israel’s security.
|American Anthropological Association and the BDS Movement: The Activist Vision of Social Science|
|For those who still wonder why the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become the defining issue in Western social sciences, the recent meeting of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) provides some answers.
As the article below makes clear, the pro-BDS panels dominated the debate and were well attended; the lone anti-BDS panel was by and large ignored. The younger generation of anthropologists have been socialized into the so-called critical social sciences. Like many of their peers, say, in sociology, gender studies or political science, anthropologists see themselves as agents of social change first and scholars second.
Indeed, shortly after publishing his paradigm-changing book, Orientalism, Edward Said appealed to anthropologists to change the “narrative” of the Middle East studies. Some thirty years later, the push to change the “narrative” has succeeded beyond all expectations.
Monica Heller, the president of the AAA and a professor at Toronto University confirmed that many anthropologists now work on the Middle East. She went on to state that “even for those who don't, she continued, many of the themes that are important to anthropologists in general -- themes like nationalism, colonialism, imperialism, trauma and memory -- are resonant in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” In other words, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict serves the template for the core issues that preoccupy contemporary anthropological research.
Needless to say, the founding fathers of anthropology - Franz Boas, Bronislaw Malinowski, Margret Mead, Ruth Benedict, and Mary Douglas, among others - would have been saddened to learn their field has devolved into a series of neo-Marxist clichés.
It is bad enough that this stultifying academic orthodoxy has propelled the BDS movement. Much worse is the fact that the neo-Marxist, critical approach has robbed the field of anthropology of its intellectual vitality.
|The BDS Movement is Scoring Success on Prestigious University Campuses in the United States|
|One year after the student council at UCLA narrowly defeated a BDS resolution, a similar resolution was passed with the determined help of the campus branch of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a well-funded and well-disciplined organization. The small group of opponents, including J Street and other Jewish factions on campus, decided to boycott the vote, a symbolic gesture given the strength of the SJP forces.
Some five hundred miles north of UCLA, Stanford University has become the next target of the BDS campaign. The local branch of the SJP, Stanford SJP, put together an impressive coalition: MEChA de Stanford, Stanford NAACP, the Black Student Union, the Muslim Student Awareness Network, the Asian American Students' Association, and Students for Alternatives to Militarism, the Student and Labor Alliance, the Arab Student Association at Stanford, the Filipino American Student Union and the Stanford Asian American Activism Committee. As the organizers put it, “this coalition will likely grow and is already gaining the support of faculty and staff.”
Stanford is considered a tough battleground for the BDS activists, but they take a long-term view: even if a resolution is not passed soon, the campaign is expected to “educate students about the reality of Israeli occupation.” It is the education function rather than the actual BDS vote that should worry the Israeli authorities. UCLA, Stanford, Georgetown, not to mention the Ivy Leagues, are targeted by the SJP because they educate the future American elites.
The higher education authorities, however, do not factor the long term damage into their assessment of the BDS. For instance, in a recent conference “Managing Academic Internationalisation in Times of Crisis", Council of Higher Education vice chair, Prof. Hagit Messer-Yaron, described the BDS situation as not too bad. This is indeed the situation in the hard sciences that Messer-Yaron is probably most familiar with. Yet political elites, as well known, are mostly recruited from liberal arts, and therein lies the problem for Israel.
|Collatoral Damage: The BDS Movement and American Jews on Campus|
|The Knesset Committee for Aliyah, Absorption, and Diaspora Affairs met recently to discuss the growing anti-Israeli sentiments on American campuses. Given the severity of the problem, as reported on numerous occasions by IAM, the Committee’s decision to hold the hearing is indeed laudable. The surprise, however, that some members of the Committee chose to blame the Hillel International that runs more than 500 campus branches for letting “post-Zionist” speakers to infiltrate Hillel functions. According to the maker of a documentary on the subject who participated in the debate, “many kids who grow up in pro-Israel homes end up joining anti-Israel movements as a result of their influence.”
To accuse Hillel or radicalizing Jewish student is simplistic, misguided or disingenuous. Even a superficial reading of American Jewish attitudes toward Israel reflects the growing division over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The recent Pew Survey demonstrates that the younger generation of Jews are much detached and alienated from Israel than the older cohorts. They are also more critical of what they consider a harsh occupation policy.
The organizational manifestations of this shift are very clear. Groups like J-Street and even Jewish Voices for Peace have become more of a mainstream phenomenon. Indeed, when Eric Fingerhut, the president of Hillel International sent a directive barring appearances of BDS advocates in Hillel, the backlash was immediate and fierce. Jewish students accused Fingerhut of a McCarty-like suppression of free speech. Jewish students at Swarthmore launched the so-called Free Hillel movement that has spread to Harvard, among other campuses. By becoming the litmus test of “Jewish behavior,” the BDS movement, has split the Jewish community.
|The Real Meaning of the MESA Resolution Supporting BDS|
|For a while, the backlash against the American Studies Association (ASA) vote in 2013 to support academic BDS created the impression that other professional organizations will not follow suit. The huge Modern Language Association narrowly rejected a BDS resolutions in January 2014, a decision that some supporters of Israel described as a victory for their cause and a possible turning of the tide.
Meanwhile, all eyes were on Middle East Studies Association (MESA), the umbrella group of most of the professors who teach courses on Middle East in the United States. MESA, the home of the late Edward Said and his many followers, has a long history of anti-Israeli opinions. The list of the past presidents of the Association reads like a “who is who” among anti-Israeli activists. Because of its prominence, the MESA paradigm – a mixture of neo-Marxist, anti-colonial, and anti-Israeli themes – has dominated scholarship and classroom instruction on the Middle East and Islam.
In his book Ivory Towers on Sand, Martin Kramer illustrated how this skewed perspective left the United States ill-prepared in understanding Islamist radicalism and terrorism prior to 9/11. In 2003 Congress held hearing on the teaching of Middle East during its review of Title IV legislation. Indeed, Congress is due to review Title VI again and would most likely take up the issue of MESA again.
That MESA chose to adopt the BDS resolution is a testimony to the limited power that political pressure and legislative seem to have. On February 2, 2013, Peter Roskam (R-Il) and Dan Lipinski (D-Il) introduced a bill “Protect Academic Freedom Act” (H.R. 4009) in the House of Representatives. Even if the legislation is adopted, a big if, it would certainly face court challenge.
In the end though, the BDS is secondary to the real significance of MESA. Because of its prominence, virtually all college graduates in liberal arts, including journalists and teachers, are socialized to perceive the complex issues of the region though the MESA paradigm. Books by MESA scholars are used in Foreign Service programs that prepare future Foreign Service officials. Military service academics, the stepping stone for future officers, are also part of the MESA epistemic community.
The few Israeli observers such as the journalist Ben-Dror Yemini have bitterly complained about the bias of MESA. Though emotionally satisfying, hand wringing is not a plan for action. On this issue and many others, the Israeli authorities, as usual are missing in action.
|Academic Forensics: Corporate Money Behind BDS in the United States|
|Previous posts in the Academic Forensics series detailed how Arab foundations and governments underwrite scholarship and events casting Israel in a negative light.
Large American corporations, including oil giants, are also major players in this game. The Middle East Institute in Washington D.C. and its highly respectable, the Middle East Journal, has benefited from generous support of major corporations doing business in the Middle East. Indeed, the annual conference of the Middle East Institute, features a veritable “who is who” in this regard.
The recently popular Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) has attracted its own share of corporate sponsorship. The article below describes one such initiative at Harvard University held during the “Harvard Arab Week.” Among others, McKinsey & Co, The Boston Consulting Group, Booz Allen Hamilton, Bank Audi, Strategy & and the energy giant Shell are listed.
Sara Greenberg, a pro-Israel activist reacted by posting the below op-ed “Stop Sponsoring Reckless anti-Israelism.”
While the panel The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement: Accomplishments, Tactics and Lessons was clearly not well balanced, effort to cancel it were not successful as it is inherently difficult to claim that academic freedom requires a “well balanced” panel.
There are some lessons from the Harvard event that throw light on the successful formula behind the BDS movement on campuses. First, organizers need be careful about breaching red lines, such as overt expressions of anti-Semitism - barring this, an event would be allowed under the doctrine of academic freedom. Second, as a rule, whenever a panel on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is offered, it attracts a disproportional share of attention. Third, attracting sponsorship from respectable corporation is key. Not only does financial support help to organize countless BDS events, but it gives the organizers an air of legitimacy.
Though it is not clear whether the corporate sponsors of the Harvard Arab Week knew that it would feature the pro-Palestinian panel, claiming that all these prestigious corporations advocate the destruction of Israel, as Greenberg asserted.
Viewed as a template of the BDS dynamics, the Harvard event leaves anti-BDS activists in a quandary. Matching the corporate funds, not to mention the Arab donors, is a toll order, but crucial to providing a more balanced perspective.
|Beyond BDS: The ASA annual conference hosting anti-Israeli sentiments|
|The American Studies Association (ASA) which was founded in 1951, is a scholarly organization devoted to the interdisciplinary study of American culture and history. The ASA has almost 5,000 individual members. In December 2013, members of the ASA voted to join the boycott of all Israeli educational institutions. But the ASA has recently announced that it will not bar Israelis from attending its annual conference. This is going to be tested by the University of Haifa official representative expressed plans to attend the ASA annual conference on November 6-9, 2014 at Westin Bonaventure, Los Angeles.
But beyond the BDS call of the ASA, a perusal at the conference program reveals anti-Israel agenda in many of the ASA panel discussions. Only the likes of Neve Gordon were invited to present their papers. There are twenty two panels dealing with issues related to Israel and Palestine, all are one-sided and very favorable to the Palestinian cause without being critical of it.
A panel "Land for the Taking: Palestinian Landscape in an American Mirror", and “The Arabs of Palestine”: Reports on the Dispossession of Palestinians in US Journalism, 1946-1961",as well as "Settlers’ disorganization of indigenous societies as a means of control: The case of Palestine".
There is going to be a discussion "Caucus: Academic and Community Activism: PACBI, USACBI and the History of Academic Boycotts: The Turning Tide". Another panel is entitled "Feminist, Queer and Jewish Responses to Zionism". And "Encountering Zionism: From Academia to Queer Activism and BDS" in this panel the papers to be presented, "Why Boycott Israeli Institutions?: The Palestinian Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel in Historical Context" , and "Re-reading PInkwashing and Palestinian Queer BDS: Palestinian sexual liberation organizing and decolonization", another paper is "Zionism from the Standpoint of Arab America".
Another panel is "The Party’s Over: A Panel and Open Discussion on the Aftermath of the ASA's Boycott Resolution", and "Teaching About Palestine: Changing the Pain and Fury of Ignorance to the Pleasures of Knowing" in this panel a panelist will present "“The Intifada Curriculum”: on teaching the Politics and Poetics of Palestinian Resistance". Another panelist will present the paper "What I Did Not Know I Did Not Know: Palestinian Rights and Human Rights" which deals with "The dispossession of Palestinian lands, the removal of Palestinians from their homes as a result of the founding of the state of Israel, and the regulation of Palestinian movement as a consequence of the separation wall and the network of checkpoints and the consequent obstruction of access to employment, education, health care, and other basic resources".
In a panel entitled "There Is Here: Transnational Archives, Comparative Furies", there will be a debate over what critics of the ASA question "What seems to be the case is the emergence of Ethnic Studies within the American Studies discipline have tilted the organization heavily in favor of people of color, in this case, the Palestinians.”
In the panel "Law and Violence in Transnational Perspective" a paper presented is "Law as a Battleground: Fighting over the Legality of Targeted Killing", another paper is "Constructing the Prototypical Terrorist in the US". BGU Neve Gordon will present the paper "The Human Right To Kill" which is "a critical examination of the use of "human shields" in Iraq and Israel/Palestine we offer three observations: 1) humanitarian and human rights law are used to render violence legitimate; 2) these two bodies of law can make violence more effective; and finally 3) the framing of killing as “legal” serves to transform violence into a source of national pride for supporters of the state’s military activities."
The panel "Teaching After Palestine: Speaking about the Occupation and Palestinian Culture in the U.S. Academy", its blurb says "Israel's occupation of Palestinian lands in the West Bank has recently been moving at alarming pace, carving up the West Bank into a network of settler colonial hubs, a development which has led to the destruction of Palestinian homes, guaranteed the impossibility of an autonomous Palestinian economy, and fostered violent encounters between indigenous Palestinian communities and outsiders."
Overall, it will not be an exaggeration to state that the ASA conference is anti-Israeli per se, when the program is so one-sided it means there is no pretense to hold a critical scholarly debate. Of course, there is nothing wrong with discussing the above topics but with such cherry picking for topics there is an apparent tendency to conceal issues related to the Arab-Israeli dispute or internal problems within the Palestinian society and culture.
|BDS in Australia lead by former U of Haifa academic Marcelo Svirsky|
|It has been very clear by now that anti-Israel activists seek Jews and especially Israelis to legitimize anti-Israeli activities, a step meant to deflect from accusations of anti-Semitism.
The Boycott Divestment, Sanctions movement as epitomized by Omar Barghouti's Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) is a prime example.
Dr. Marcelo Svirsky, lecturer at the U of Haifa School of Political Science until 2008, now teaching at the University of Wollongong, Australia, wholeheartedly embraced the PACBI agenda. In his latest book of May 2014, After Israel, Svirsky argued that "the Zionist political project cannot be fixed - it is one that negatively affects the lives of its beneficiaries as well as of its victims... Overcoming these modes of being is to after Israel."
Ariella Azoulay of Tel Aviv University's Minerva Humanities Center wrote a supportive review of the book: "After Israel is a secular book. It refuses to accept Zionism as a religious dogma; this excellent book rather dares to read Zionism as an episode in the history of Palestine, and of the two peoples that live there. This is neither an apocalypse nor a prophecy. It is a daring political and cultural analysis of the processes undermining the current Israeli regime that are at work today."
Writing aside, Svirsky is busy with his new project, a walk for BDS that culminated with a BDS Petition to the Australian House of Representatives on Monday, 27th of October 2014. Along the walk - from Sidney to Canberra, Svirsky is spreading the BDS message as the article below indicates.
Unlike in the United States and Europe, Australia had so far little BDS activism. Svirsky is obviously working hard to change that.
|No Silver Bullet: Comments on the BDS Movement against Israel in the American Academy
|As IAM predicted, the start of the academic year brought a new round of BDS initiatives. Coming at the tail of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, passions have been inflamed among students and faculty alike.
Nowadays, individual academics interested in promoting BDS have banded together to sign petitions, as the letter of the American Anthropological Association below demonstrates. A while ago IAM reported on a petition by Middle East scholars and it is virtually certain that others would follow. Though lacking the weight of a professional association, the crisscrossing of such petitions creates the impression that campuses are ablaze with anti-Israeli activity.
Pro-Israeli scholars have struggled hard to cope with this deluge. IAM already reported on a number of initiatives including a proposed bill in Congress that would make it illegal to advocate BDS. Even if passed, a long shot at best, the legislation will face legal challenges on First Amendment grounds.
Kenneth L Marcus from the Louis Brandies Center and Tammi Rossman-Benjamin from Amcha Initiative, among others, have launched an initiative based on Title VI. Nita Lowey, a veteran pro-Israel legislator and a member of the House Appropriation Committee, wrote to the Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan to inform him of her concerns over potential abuse of Title VI. While this is a promising avenue, it is not clear yet how it can be applied to individual scholars. In addition, as the list published by Amcha shows, only about one third of academics who are active in the BDS movement work in institutions that receive federal grants.
Finally, boards of trustees and donors, can exert significant pressure. As already reported, the University of Illinois withdrew a job offer to Professor Steven Salaita because of his anti-Israeli rhetoric; there were subsequent allegations that the University acted out of concern about its donors. But the publicity turned Salaita into a martyr for the cause of academic freedom and spawned a boycott of the University and more petition writing.
Interestingly enough, Salaita was already deeply engaged in calls for academic boycott in December 2013, long before the Gaza Operation Protective Edge. His article in Salon.com titled "Academics should boycott Israel: Growing movement takes next step" which features a large photograph of Edward Said, explains that "The boycott actually seeks to preserve academic freedom by challenging punitive campus cultures that punish critics of Israel. Boycott is likewise an expression of academic freedom because it enables individuals to decline participation in sites of injustice by inscribing this sort of dissent as a form of protected speech."
Ignoring his longstanding bias against Israel, shortly after his job withdrawal, Salaita issued a statement in a press conference near the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign saying "I am here today at the University of Illinois to speak against my termination by the Administration from a tenured faculty position because of the University Administration’s objections to my speech that was critical of recent Israeli human rights violations...the Administration’s actions threaten principles of free speech, academic freedom, and critical thought that should be the foundation of any university." For those eager to prove that Israel and the American Jews stifle free speech, the Salaita case is arguably a bonanza.
For academics who wish to fight boycotts, a new initiative has been announced recently; it has already attracted over a thousand signatures. The invitation to the petition states: "Our approach is that academic boycotts are harmful to the progress of mankind, and that science should be pursued without discriminating against people on account of their race, gender, nationality, politics, etc. This approach is identical to the one expressed by several national academies of science, including the USA one."
|When academic boycotts go marching in|
|In the past thirty years, Humanities and Social Sciences have gone through a major paradigmatic shift in all the leading American universities.
Following Edward Said academic bestseller Orientalism in 1979, it became popular to argue that regional studies, notably Middle East Studies have been unduly influenced by scholars who allegedly represented the "colonial" and "imperialist" interests of their countries. Said's call to employ scholars from Middle Eastern countries helped to change the professional make-up of the field; As Martin Kramer demonstrated in 2001 in his Ivory Towers on Sand: The Failure of Middle Eastern Studies in America, the Middle East Studies Association (MESA), became a hotbed of anti-Israeli scholarship by the early 2000s. The Arab-Israeli conflict has been the subject of some 70 percent of Middle Eastern studies courses in the United States and, unsurprisingly, Israel has been portrayed as "born in sin," a result of a colonial cabal of Western powers that dispossessed the indigenous Palestinian population.
Academic BDS is an offshoot of this paradigmatic shift. Countless academic publications have documented the alleged colonial and apartheid nature of Israel; this work has been routinely invoked by activists who sponsor BDS activities on campus.
Operation Protective Edge in Gaza gave the BDS movement a huge boost. So much so that Jewish academics who oppose BDS are facing pressure and ostracism. As the article below indicates, strong arm tactics are routinely used by professional associations as well.
Though some Jewish professors opt to fight, others simply withdraw. As one of the academics quoted in the article said, it "saps your energy." This is exactly what the BDS activists strive to accomplish. With opposition silenced, they can set the agenda and present themselves as the voice on the campus on all things Palestinian.
|BDS in Palestinian Universities: A Taste of Racism?|
|While much has been written on the BDS on Western campuses, Palestinian universities seem to have escaped scrutiny so far. This is unfortunate, because it is there that the ugly truth about BDS is hiding.
Israeli pro-boycott scholars have seen it coming but were powerless to stop the juggernaut that they helped to unleash. In February 2010, Anat Matar, a professor of philosophy from Tel Aviv University, spoke at a SOAS, London conference on “Supporting the Boycott on Israel: A View from Within,” She called for boycott, but urged the Palestinians to make a distinction between “good” Israelis like herself and “bad” Israelis who did not advocate boycott.
Much to their amazement, she and her colleagues found out that the Palestinians do not make such distinctions. Ilan Pappe, the Haifa University anti-Israeli professor who moved to Exeter University U.K, was scheduled to speak in Birzeit University near Ramallah. As well known, Pappe is the architect of the boycott movement who falsifies historical data to accuse Israel of ethnic cleansing and genocide. But because he was not allowed to enter the campus, he was forced to give his lecture in an off-campus venue.
Amira Hass, the controversial Haaretz journalist whose work reflects the motto that “Israelis can do no right and the Palestinians can do no wrong,” was likewise prevented from giving a lecture at Birzeit University. Her article below implies dismay that she, “a good” Israeli was denied entrance.
She and other “good” Israelis do not realize that Palestinian boycott is based on an ethno-national criterion. An Israeli Jew is a Jew; it does not matter whether his politics are “good” or “bad” or his service to the Palestinian cause is commendable or not. The Palestinian argument is simple: the campus is a “protected environment” where students and faculty should be free of any Israeli intrusion.
Most ironic, for a long time now the Palestinians have promised that the BDS would not include “racial or ethnic criteria. IAM recently published the PACBI guideline for academic BDS where it stated that "Anchored in precepts of international law and universal human rights, the BDS movement, including PACBI, rejects on principle boycotts of individuals based on their identity (such as citizenship, race, gender, or religion) or opinion."
The Birzeit University leadership will be well advised to peruse this document.
|PACBI's latest guidelines for academic boycott of Israel
|Since 2004, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) has advocated for a boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions. As part of the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), it is tasked with overseeing the academic and cultural boycott aspects of BDS.
According to PACBI, the institutional academic boycott of Israel has been endorsed by the Palestinian Council for Higher Education (CHE) which "since the 1990’s adhered to its principled position of non-cooperation in the scientific and technical fields between Palestinian and Israeli universities until Israel ends its occupation."
PACBI claims that this position is also supported by the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees and was reiterated several times, including in a CHE statement of thanks to the UK academic union NATFHE in 2006 and in the CHE letter in Arabic to PACBI in 2005 (below).
PACBI asserts that the BDS movement is anchored in precepts of international law and universal human rights, and rejects on principle boycotts of individuals based on their identity or opinion. However, an individual representing the state of Israel or a complicit Israeli institution, i.e. deans, rectors, or presidents, are subject to boycott.
In the surreal world of the boycott movement, ironies abound. For instance, Professors Rivka Carmi and David Newman, President and Dean at BGU respectively, who supported Neve Gordon's right to call for boycott of Israel, are subject to the institutional boycott by the BDS movement. Professor Joseph Klafter, president of TAU who protected Anat Matar and Rachel Giora when they called for an academic boycott in 2010, is now subject to the same boycott.
It should also be noted that according to PACBI "Normalization Projects" such as academic activities involving Palestinians and Israelis, are ought to be boycotted if they are "based on the false premise of symmetry/parity between the oppressors and the oppressed or that claim that both colonizers and colonized are equally responsible for the “conflict” are intellectually dishonest and morally reprehensible forms of normalization".
In light of the institutionalized Palestinian BDS, Israeli academics or students calling for normalization with Palestinian academics or students should be cautioned that Israeli academic institutions are subject to international boycott directed by the Palestinian Council of Higher Education.
|Academic BDS in Ireland: The Historic Origin of the anti-Israeli Animus|
|BDS activities are hardly news on Western campus these days. But the case of Ireland stands out in this context. As Amos Oz, who received an Irish Honorary Degree recently, pointed out, that “Dublin is not an easy place for Israelis. The criticism toward Israel and its policies in the territories is even harsher than anywhere else in Europe.“
For those seeking understanding of the aggressive stand of the academy, the history of Ireland is a good guide.
During WWII, the ostensibly neutral Ireland was a hotbed of fascist and pro-Nazi activity. Irish activists provided a safe haven to Nazi agents and there was even a plan to use the island as staging ground for a major attack against Great Britain. The Irish were also hostile to the new state of Israel because of the so-called “Vatican factor.” In 1949 Pope Pious XII expressed his concern that Israel ignored the Partition understanding of turning Jerusalem into an international city. Irish politicians cited this as the reason for their belated recognition of Israel.
The conflict in Northern Ireland added to anti-Israeli animosity. The Irish republicans on both side of the border came to empathized with the Palestinians as victim of “British colonialism.” Symbolism aside, the Irish Republican Army, supported by arms donated by Muammar Gaddafi developed close ties with the PLO.
Adding a prestigious presence, Mary Robinson, the former Irish president and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has frequently and harshly attacked Israel’s human rights record
After joining the European Union Ireland became a leader in anti-Israeli activities. The country is base of one of the best organized branches of the international pro-Palestinian campaigns. In 2013 the Irish Teacher Union (that included many in tertiary education) voted to impose a total boycott on Israel. The website of Academic for Palestine, one of the fruits of the 2013 vote, is subtitled Academics against Apartheid.
Ireland, of course, has its own anti-Israel Israeli academic and her name is Ronit Lentin whose latest article begins with the following: "On 9 August I spoke at the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign National demonstration for Palestine. As an Israeli Jew, born in Palestine prior to the birth of the State of Israel, I am aching for Gaza and for the ease with which many Israelis and their supporters throughout the world excuse the killing of so many Gazans."
There is little chance that Ireland, a member of the EU would go beyond the official policies of the organization that, at this moment, do not include plans for a comprehensive boycott against Israel. The academic community, however, will continue to delegitimize Israel as an apartheid state.
|Academic BDS is a Security Threat to Israel|
|During the recent counter terrorism conference of the IDC Herzliya, Ambassador Dr. Michael Oren complained for not doing enough to combat academic BDS. Oren, also an academic, argued that this rapidly growing movement on Western campuses is a real security threat to Israel.
For the past three years, IAM warned about this phenomenon that started in Europe and spread to the United States. But declarations aside, not much has been done.
The reasons for this failure are complex. Our four part essay indicates the conceptual and organizational difficulties of fighting BDS. In a nutshell, academic BDS is embedded in a social science paradigm that took root in the late 1970s and early 1980s; the neo-Marxist, critical scholarship views Israel as a colonial, apartheid state that subjugates the native Palestinians. The immense tension and the periodical violence such as Operation Protective Edge, gives pro-Palestinian advocates plenty of ammunition.
The fundraising by the universities and the proliferation of think tanks has opened the door for external influences, including countries and foundations with varied political agenda. A recent investigative article in the New York Times (below) illustrates how countries try and shape public opinion on a variety of issues, including oil exploration in the Arctic, by funding think tanks. Our own series, Academic Forensics revealedsimilar patterns pertaining to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Diaspora Jewry, once a reliable source of support for Israel, has split into warring campus factions. Jewish Voices for Peace has not only support boycott but actively engage in lobbying for it. The Open Hillel movement has rejected the official Hillel policy that bans pro-BDS speakers from appearing in Hillel events.
Difficult as these problems are, fighting the so-called “gray BDS,” is even harder. This is an umbrella term pertaining to private initiatives of pro-Palestinian academics who, in their capacity as editors or reviewers, reject papers by Israeli academics or bloc their participation in panels. While limited in the hard sciences, this phenomena is not uncommon in humanities and social sciences. In a new initiative to fight this trend, Professor Asher Cohen, the rector of the Hebrew U, recently called on faculty to report such cases.
As a rule, government authorities are not well equipped to handle the multifaceted BDS activities and even less adept at dealing with the paradigmatic underpinnings that has nourished it Institutes that specialize in national security have not done much better as a perusal of their literature indicates. Schooled in the traditional approach that views security in terms of military action or terrorism, they are stumped by what is essentially a soft asymmetrical conflict, spearheaded by the academy. Numerous scholars have published article or op-eds denouncing the BDS on various grounds. Though frequently eloquent and occasionally heartfelt, they are all based on the notion that appeals to the public can somewhat influence the situation on the campuses.
The presidents of Israeli universities created a committee under Professor Zvi Ziegler to coordinate the fight against academic BDS. This is a welcome decision but much work needs to be done as soon as possible.
|Middle East Scholars and Librarians call for the boycott of Israel|
|In 2000, Martin Kramer, a noted scholar of the Middle East published Ivory Towers on Sand, an exposé on the Middle East Centers in American universities and their professional organization, the Middle East Scholars Association (MESA). Kramer pointed out that, following the lead of Edward Said, MESA became a political advocate for the Palestinians. Reflecting this mission, up to 70 percent of offering in the field had some connection to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. MESA scholars often depicted Israel as an apartheid state or even a neo-Nazi state in its treatment of Palestinians.
Kramer's work led to hearings in Congress in 2003 and five years later to a change in the Title VI provisions that control dismemberment of federal funds to Middle East Centers.
Still, not much has changed in the nexus of academic-political advocacy that the Middle East scholars epitomize.
The following petition to boycott Israeli institutions of higher education - that includes signatures by a number of former Israeli academics such as Ariella Azoulay - is representative in this respect. A one-sided laundry list of alleged Israeli transgressions, it ends with the demand for "Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194."
Criticizing the state of Israel is a legitimate right of faculty and lay persons alike. Making up charges and taking them out of context to push for the return of Palestinian refugees is not. But then again, for Said and his disciples, the academic endeavor is all about serving their political agenda.
|Academic Forensics: Qatar’s Educational Empire and Israel|
|Qatar, best known for its Al Jazeera TV franchise and, most recently, for its support for Hamas, should be of interest to anyone analyzing academic BDS and related initiatives.
The reason is simple. The uber-wealthy and internationally ambitious Qatari emirate, under the Ibn Khalifa Al Thani dynasty has embarked on an unprecedented academic empire building. The Qatar Foundation has invited scores of universities to set up campuses in Doha and Qatar University has launched an ambitious project to hire top notch scholars in a variety of disciplines. Two Doha based foundation have disbursed scholarships to hundreds of students in the United States, Great Britain and Germany. In a testimony to the growing academic importance of Qatar, the prestigious Times Higher Education has recently announced the first Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Universities Summit.
While most programs relate to hard science, engineering and medicine, some have a liberal arts orientation. Among them, the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar (SFS-Qatar) stands out in its ambition to influence the academic discourse on Islam, Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Its high profile Center of International and Regional Studies (CIRS) under its director Mehran Kamrava, has taken the lead. As Kamrava explained in a book Qatar: Small States, Big Politics, Qatar is “punching above its weight,” by turning Al Jazeera into an international brand and, no less important, by moving to become a world class academic center.
Unsurprisingly, the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in collaboration with Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, founded by John Esposito served as a template of the SFS–Qatar. Esposito, who created the center with a grant from the Saudi Arabian Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal "to advance education in the fields of Islamic civilization and Muslim-Christian understanding and strengthen its presence as a world leader in facilitating cross-cultural and inter-religious dialogue,” has been a close collaborator of Kamrava.
Esposito, accused by some for serving as chief apologist for Islamism and for whitewashing terrorism, is highly influential; his books, as well as Kamrava’s, dominate the field of Islamic and Middle East studies in the United States and beyond. Needless to say, Esposito is listed on the roster of guest professors at the SFS-Qatar.
Finally, Qatar shines additional light on the Lancet dispute reported here. After Richard Horton, the editor of Lancet allowed a posting of a controversial letter against Operation Protective Edge, some demanded that Elsevier, the publisher of Lancet, fire Horton. Elsevier's reluctance to censure the Lancet editor has probably something to do with its extensive ties to Qatar University and the Qatar Foundation.
In September 2013, Elsevier, one of the largest publisher of scientific material signed a multimillion dollar agreement with Qatar University. As one top official in the company stated, "Elsevier is honored to work together with Qatar University by providing them access to SciVal Experts.” "We believe that it will enhance the effectiveness of their research performance, stimulating effective and efficient collaboration initiatives not only among researchers at the University, but also globally."
In spite of its prominence, Qatar’s contribution to groups and individuals who either support BDS directly or indirectly is virtually unknown. Unless those in charge of fighting BDS can map the large and complex network engaged in this endeavor, their response will remain fragmented and uncoordinated.
|The Legal Eagle: University of California’s UAW Call to BDS |
|Operation Protective Edge has energized anti-Israel activists on campuses across the United States and Europe.
On July 29, 2014 the UAW 2865 of the University of California which represents teaching assistants, tutors and readers at the nine teaching campuses of the University of California prepared its membership to vote on BDS.
From the perspective of Israel, the statement is doubly troubling.
First, the UAW is seeking to a full membership vote on the planned BDS statement in the coming academic year. The joint council indicates that it will seek a full membership vote on the BDS statement in the coming year.
Second, the UAW 2865 represents teaching assistants and other junior faculty of the sprawling University of California system. The Union members assert that they have an obligation "as educators" to teach "the social issues of our time, including pressing global struggles such as the struggle of the Palestinian people for liberation from settler-colonialism and apartheid." In other words, junior faculty propose to teach the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the perspective of the neo-Marxist, critical scholarship that considers Israel to be a colonial state and an apartheid state. While it legitimate to mention the Marxist, critical paradigm, the Humboldtian model of classroom as a “marketplace of ideas” requires instructors to also use the positivist approach which deems Israel to be a legitimate sovereign and a democratic state.
The Louis Brandies Center and eleven other groups appealed to Janet Napolitano, the President of the University of California system to act against the anti-Israeli measures. Kenneth L. Marcus noted: "The union is effectively announcing that its members will abuse their positions by indoctrinating undergraduate students with blatantly politicized, intellectually dishonest, and extraordinarily biased propaganda. This is not what teaching assistants are paid to do, nor is it a proper func'tion of the union. Instead of engaging in proper collective bargaining activity, the union is urging teaching assistants to misuse the classroom for political indoctrination."
Marcus and others have also asserted that this type of political indoctrination will create an atmosphere of hostility and intimidation with regard to Jewish students in the classroom.
They urged President Napolitano "to publicly reaffirm the university's policy on course content, provide public assurances that she will not allow UAW 2865 members to promote anti-Semitic propaganda anti-Israel boycotts as part of their contractual teaching responsibilities, and instruct the university's collective bargaining representatives to reject any UAW Local 2865 proposals which seek to inject their positions on Israel into the University's dealings with the union. The groups also urged Napolitano to reject any effort by UAW Local 2865 that any pension fund provided by the University for its employees adhere to any policies of divestment or boycott of businesses that directly or indirectly have business, cultural or academic relations with Israel.”
The case of UAW 2865 is potentially precedent setting. To the best of our knowledge, it is not clear how Ms Napolitano, who served both as the government of Arizona and the Secretary of Homeland Security, will respond.
She can, of course, reaffirm the position of the university on balanced class content and voice objections to BDS activity. Though this would be a welcome step, issues of academic freedom complicate matters as it is difficult to police every class room to make sure that instructors refrain from offering a biased view of the conflict.
Of course, legal recourse is available and has been tried in Great Britain and Australia. Though the cases were not identical, the courts ruled against equating calls for BDS with anti-Semitism.
|Academic Forensics: Beyond the Case of Lancet|
|Operation Protective Edge triggered a wave of academic activism, including new demands for BDS. The Israeli response, both by scholars and government officials, can be best described as a mixture of outrage and bewilderment as to why scholars, trained to be objective and scientific, would engage in what is perceived as a one-sided censure of Israel buttressed by a blatantly biased factual information.
While the question is legitimate, it betrays a misunderstanding of how the pro-Palestinian network in the academy operates. Academic Forensics is a new IAM series that would periodically address this issue.
The Case of Lancet
On July 24, 2014 the prestigious medical journal Lancet published an editorial denouncing in the sharpest possible terms the Operation Protective Edge. The essay, titled An Open Letter for the People of Gaza” was signed by Paola Manduca, Iain Chalmers, Derek Summerfield, Mads Gilbert and Swee Ang, on behalf of 24 signatures. It describes the operation as a “massacre” and states: “We register with dismay that only 5% of our Israeli academic colleagues signed an appeal to their government to stop the military operation against Gaza. We are tempted to conclude that with the exception of this 5%, the rest of the Israeli academics are complicit in the massacre and destruction of Gaza.” In other words, the 95 percent who did not protest are fair game for boycott.
Richard Horton, the editor of Lancet aggravated the situation when he refused letters of rebuttal from some of Lancet readers. Among the many voices that condemned the essay and Horton, a few pointed out that both Horton and the lead signatories have a long history of pro-Palestinian activism. In the below article titled The Poisoned Lancet , Dennis Praeger, an American columnist, mentioned that Manduca, a professor at the University of Genoa, has “testified” at various anti-Israeli tribunal, at one point accused Israel of using “direct energy“ weapons, which she described a cross between chemical and biological agents, against the Palestinians. Sir Iain Chalmers, a former chief U.N. medical officer in Gaza, accused Israel of apartheid and ethnic cleansing; he cited Ilan Pappe’s book of the same title to prove his point.
Derek Summerfield, a British psychiatrists and the head of the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture (UK) accused Israeli doctors of supporting torture. Summerfield had close relations with Neve Gordon, a professor at BGU and a former executive director of the Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I) that made the same allegations. Gordon and Summerfield organized a number of conferences and forums to publicize the alleged torture allegations. After years of protesting the allegations, in 2009, the Israel Medical Association severed all ties with the PHR-I, because of its “use of the international arena to “besmirch and sling mud at Israeli doctors.”
This act prompted Summerfield, along with the PHR-I, to launch a worldwide protest against Dr. Yoram Blachar who was elected to serve at the head of the Israel Medical Association. At the time Blachar wrote that “Derek Summerfield has a life-long agenda of criticizing Israel; he is well known to us through his inexorable venomous campaign against Israel, the IMA and Dr. Blachar, in numerous letters and on the pages of leading British medical journals such as the BMJ and the Lancet.” Derek Summerfield also “testified” before the Russell Tribunal for Palestine, a virulently anti-Israeli circle of self-appointed activists mascaraing as legitimate international law tribunal where Gordon serves on the International Support Committee.
The lynchpin of the group is Horton, whose high profile pro-Palestinian activism has earned him accolades across the network. Horton is one of the organizers of the Lancet-Palestinian Health Alliance (L-PHA). At a recent conference Horton stated: “We publish science at the Lancet, but the evidence has to go beyond that to the humanity of people.”
“We have to tell the story of Palestinians living a caged existence,” Horton suggested. We need to use different types of evidence to bear, he argued, to take more account of dignity and the quality of care and use our evidence and experience, “for resilience, for sustainability, for accountability, for our freedom and the opportunity to write a new future.”
The pro-Palestinian network in the medical field has existed for more than two decades, fueled by very generous contributions from the Arab world. For instance, the British–based Medical Help for Palestinians (MAP), one of the sponsors of the L-PHA alliance, has been highly active in publicizing the recent plight of the population in Gaza.
It is beyond the scope of this post to provide an in-depth analysis of the densely connected pro-Palestinian network. Israelis who are concerned about the delegitimizing impact of Lancet, among others, should look at the academic forensics of this and other cases. Writing letters and articles expressing moral outrage is not enough.
IAM has the largest database on the pro-Palestinian networks in the academy.
|The BDS Movement in the Wake of the Gaza Operation|
|Even before the fighting in Gaza dies down, a powerful backlash against Israel has begun. IAM will provide periodical updates on the new wave of anti-Israel activities on campuses.
The National Executive Council of Britain’s National Union of Student representing some 7 million students passed a new resolution. It condemns Israel’s “criminal assault on Gaza” and pledges to increase pressure on companies doing business with Israel. The resolution promises to “provide information and resources to support student unions and student organizations campaigning for boycott and divestment of companies identified as supporting Israel materially, economically, militarily, and/or as helping maintain the illegal Israeli settlements.”
A group of more than one hundred Middle East academics and libertarians called for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. The group, said to represent “senior and tenured scholars and librarians, all of whom have deep knowledge of the Middle East,” have pledged “not to collaborate on projects and events involving Israeli academic institutions, not to teach at or to attend conferences and other events at such institutions, and not to publish in academic journals based in Israel”. Among the signatories are leading Middle East experts from Arab origin and a number of former Israelis.
|Part IV: The Committee of University Heads Moves on BDS - The Role of Horizon 2020 in Shaping BDS|
|This is the fourth of a four-part summary of some points to consider when dealing with academic BDS.
The Role of Horizon 2020 in Shaping BDS
In the past Israel was eligible to participate in the Framework Program for Research (FPR) as part of the benefits ascribed to Israel through the EU-Israel Assertion Agreement. But the new Horizon 2020 – a multiyear, multilevel project to stimulate scientific activity among EU countries and beyond adopted a controversial condition stipulating that Israel’s control over the territories and East Jerusalem contravenes international law.
The stipulation was the result of a tireless campaign by British Universities for Palestine (BRICUP) and the European Coordination of Committees and Association for Palestine (ECCAP) and pushed by a coalition of Socialist and Green parties in the European Parliament.
In spite of serious misgiving about the language of the document, Israel decide to sign it, thus making Israeli academic institutions and other entities eligible for grants from the 77 billion euros Horizon 2020 budget.
The EU Guidelines on Israeli Settlements attached to Horizon 2020 declares that no entity operating in the occupied territories is eligible for grants. Further clarifications states that a grantee must be registered in the pre-1967 territory of Israel. An entity can apply for a grant when its activity takes place within Israel; the only exception is accorded to entities whose activities in the territories protect persons or promote Middle East peace in accordance with EU mission.
The Horizon 2020 Guidelines create a problems for academic institutions and individual faculty. Application requires an honor-based statement that the entity is not registered in the territories and that no part of the activity covered by the grant takes place in the territories.
Clearly, the honor-based system makes it easier for the Horizon 2020 bureaucracy to make decision about the grants. But the pro-Palestinian groups who advocated for the Guidelines promised to “expose” grant applicants who “mislead” the EU authorities.
The same groups are behind a campaign to disqualify the Hebrew University and the Technion from receiving grants; the former is accused of building on land expropriated from Palestinians and the latter for having helped to develop military and other systems responsible for subjugating the Palestinians.
At the time of this writing it is impossible to assess the possible complications introduced by Horizon 2020. One wild card is the activity of the pro-Palestinian “monitors.” Past history indicates that BDS activist are extremely persistent, giving some credence to their threats.
The recent changes in the EU Parliament and Executive Offices are another wild card. Following the May 2014 elections, a large contingent of right wing and neo-fascist parties claimed seats; though some like the British UKIP are not unfriendly to Israel, others are mostly hostile.
The incoming EU President, Jean-Claude Juncker, is a veteran socialist politician from Luxemburg, an ardent supporter of a more federated Europe and an advocate of a large international role for EU, including in the Middle East.
|Part III: The Committee of University Heads Moves on BDS - Responding to BDS: Actors, Options and Pitfalls|
|This is the third of a four-part summary of some points to consider when dealing with academic BDS.
Responding to BDS: Actors, Options and Pitfalls
Like the BDS movement, the response to BDS is made up of dozens of agents, mostly Jewish organizations and individuals. StandwithUs, Engage, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East and MLA Members for Scholars Rights, the Legal Project are just a few that operate in the field. Multiple actors seldom work in tandem, creating redundancies and overlaps in some areas whereas other areas are not covered.
The anti-BDS effort has opened deep fissures in the Jewish communities in the West. Some Jewish groups such as Jewish Voices for Peace support BDS thus legitimizing the BDS drive. Other groups view the BDS debate as a free speech issue, creating high-profile confrontations with Jewish establishment. For instance, the Free Hillel movement on a number of American campuses is a response to the Hillel directive to ban BDS speakers from Hillel-financed events.
There is a broad-range of options to fight BDS. Among the more efficacious is to create a counter group within a particular association such as MLA Members for Scholar Rights. Contrary to popular perception, generalized anti-BDS appeals have the least amount of impact because the discourse of the academic community is not susceptible to broad public relations endeavors.
Political and legislative initiatives to limit BDS on campus have not met with much success so far. The Roskam-Lipinski bill in Congress "Protect Academic Freedom Act" that seeks to ban federal funds from institutions that support BDS has been either opposed or met with reservations by some Jewish experts and major organizations such as Anti-Defamation League. Opponents imply that, if passed, the bill may deepen the perception that Jews are stifling academic discourse and manipulating American foreign policy - an argument that found favor among some leading American scholars.
Fighting academic BDS in court has so far failed in Great Britain and Australia. Indeed, the claim that BDS is anti-Semitics - the basis in the two suits backfired, empowering the defendants – the University and College Union (Great Britain) and Jack Lynch (Australia) and causing a rift in the local Jewish communities.
To sum up, there is no sliver bullet, each remedy has its pitfalls.
|Part II: The Committee of University Heads Moves on BDS - Role of Israeli Academics|
|As noted, the Committee of University Heads has recently decided to create a special forum to track academic BDS. According to the article below, authorities have been worried that the BDS campaign – largely confined to liberal arts - will spread to sciences.
Professor Zvi Ziegler (Emeritus, Technion), the head of the new forum, outlined its goals: “to examine and map out the scope of the threat, gathering information on potential boycotts as well as coordinating with relevant parties and institutions in Israel and abroad to minimize the damage.” Such information, in his view, can provide warnings about pending “boycott endeavors,” and “will help us thwart the initiative before it stews.” He added that “we see the importance of information regarding cases of discrimination against Israeli researchers such as rejecting articles for illegitimate reasons, refusal to take part in conferences alongside Israeli researchers or discrimination against inviting Israeli researchers to conferences.”
Over the years, IAM has reported on this and hundreds of other instances of BDS in Europe and the United States and has amassed the largest database on the issue.
This is the second of a four-part summary of some points to consider when dealing with academic BDS.
The Role of Israeli Academics in the BDS Movement
Israeli faculty have played a leading role in the BDS movement from its very inception. Indeed, BDS organizers are well aware of the benefits of Jews and especially Israeli Jews among their ranks - it legitimizes the movement and offers protection from charges of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.
Post-Zionist scholars have provided the the theoretical justification for the BDS campaign - based on the model to fight apartheid in South Africa. Oren Yiftachel and Neve Gordon (both from BGU) were the first to produced research that “proved” Israel to be an apartheid state. Adi Ophir and Moshe Zuckermann (both from TAU) and Moshe Zimmermann (HUJ) developed the theory that Israel treats the Palestinians in ways comparable to the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany. Ariella Azoulay, who describes herself as a lexicographer at the Minerva Humanities Center, TAU produced pictoral evidence that makes the Holocaust–Palestinian Nakba equivalences.
Post-Zionist scholars have contributed greatly to the movement by helping to organize the various BDS drives. For instance, Rachel Giora, Anat Matar (TAU) and Kobi Snitz (Weizmann Institute) were among the founders of Boycott from Within (aka BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within). The Boycott group collaborated with Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI). In August 2009 Neve Gordon called for boycott of Israel in an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times.
The 2011 Knesset anti-boycott law did not put a total end to this activity. In 2012 Anat Matar took credit for persuading the British director Peter Brook to cancel his participation in a Kameri Theater workshop on the grounds of Kameri performance in Ariel. In April 26, 2014 Neve Gordon traveled to Belgium to speak before a group that supports BDS. In April 13, 2014 Kobi Snitz spoke to a group at the Unitarian Church of Vancouver Canada in favor of BDS. Additionally, Snitz a wrote an open letter to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA to urge it to adopt BDS. Many of those who voted for the resolution to boycott Israel that passed in June 2014 cited the encouragement received from “progressive Jews.”
Academic authorities have refrained from taking steps against these and other scholars because of the very broad definition of academic freedom in Israel. According to Academic Freedom in Israel: A Comparative Perspective, Israeli faculty far surpass the degree of academic freedom of their counterparts employed in public universities in Germany, Great Britain and the United States. The Maltz Committee and other government panels created to bring the Israeli academy in line with tertiary education institutions in Europe and the United States have largely failed because of strong resistance from faculty. It is noted that a combination of case law and contractual agreements makes it impossible for public university faculty to call for boycott in western countries.
Academic authorities are highly reluctant to censure BDS supporters. In 2009 BGU refused to fire Neve Gordon in spite of pressure from donors. In 2010 TAU refused to fire Rachel Giora and Anat Matar in spite of pressure from its Board. If anything, the backlash against efforts of the Council for Higher Education (CHE) to close down the Department of Politics and Government at BGU has increased the reluctance to act. As widely known, following the appeal of the leaders of BGU to the international community, an unprecedented campaign was organized on a short notice. A large number of professional associations, universities and hundreds of individual scholars wrote letters of protest to the Ministry of Education and the CHE.
The 2011 anti-boycott law is being currently appealed to the Supreme Court. The law has never been applied and it is not clear whether it will be tested. As it stands, the law is too broad-based; its key term "call to boycott" does not cover the range of support that Israeli academics offer to BDS.
|Part I: The Committee of Universities Heads Moves on BDS|
|It has been recently announced that the Committee of Universities Heads decided to create a special forum to track academic BDS. According to the article below, authorities have been worried that the BDS campaign – largely confined to liberal arts - will spread to sciences.
Professor Zvi Ziegler (professor emeritus, Technion), who would head the new forum, outlined its goals: “to examine and map out the scope of the threat, gathering information on potential boycotts as well as coordinating with relevant parties and institutions in Israel and abroad to minimize the damage.” Such information, in his view, can provide warnings about pending “boycott endeavors,” and “will help us thwart the initiative before it stews.” He added that “we see the importance of information regarding cases of discrimination against Israeli researchers such as rejecting articles for illegitimate reasons, refusal to take part in conferences alongside Israeli researchers or discrimination against inviting Israeli researchers to conferences.”
The new forum is a belated but welcome initiative to combat academic BDS that was initiated by the British lecturers' union (NATFHE) in the early 2000s in Great Britain.
Over the years, IAM has reported on this and hundreds of other instances of BDS in Europe and the United States and has amassed the largest database on the issue.
The following is a four-part summary of some points to consider when dealing with academic BDS:
The BDS movement is driven by scores of organizations and individuals who network in complex and difficult to discern ways. Groups such as 'the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel' (PACBI), 'the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine' (BRICUP) and 'the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel' (USACBI) provide leadership, resources and liaison with other groups. A sophisticated network analysis is needed to map out the BDS phenomenon. NA and forensic accounting is needed to determine the financial inputs in the BDS initiative.
Student-level activity is directed by Student for Justice in Palestine (SJP) which has hundreds of branches on campus’s in the United States and Europe – often in cooperation with Muslim students association.
Faculty-level drives are “stealth operations” mounted by activists within professional associations that utilize small panels of like-minded members that pass BDS resolutions. Hard to predict and prevent, this strategy creates a tactical surprise; even if the general membership subsequently rejects the proposal, the resolution serves as an important exercise in PR. The Modern Language Association (MLA) is a prominent case in point.
So far, the bulk of the BDS efforts occurred in the liberal arts (social sciences and humanities). The few attempts to boycott Israeli scholars were individual initiatives and quickly rescinded under pressure from the relevant professional association. A more organized effort to censure Israel has occurred in urban planning and architecture.
|Kobi Snitz Got His Wish - the Presbyterian Church Divests from Companies Accused of Helping the Occupation|
|IAM reported last week that Kobi Snitz (Weizmann Institute, Olfaction Research Group) wrote an open letter to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA to urge BDS. Indeed, on June 21, the GA passed a resolution to divest from three companies that, in the language of the resolution, support the occupation of the Palestinians.
The vote caps a decade old struggle between BDS supporters and opponents in the Church. It is also a stinging rebuke to Jewish America leaders, including Eric Joffe, the former head of the Reform Movement, that personally lobbied against the resolution.
With its more than a million members, the Presbyterian Church USA is one of the smaller Christian denomination, but the numbers belie its importance, as the flagship of mainline Christian churches. The Methodists have already passed a BDS resolution and other mainline churches are expected to follow suit. The Presbyterians have also an outsize influence among the political and cultural elites in America. There is little doubt that the vote would give the BDS movement, once relegated to fringe groups, a boost in legitimacy.
If the Presbyterians are counted on legitimizing the BDS movement, American and Israeli Jews have helped to generate legitimacy for the divestment vote. Many of the members of the GA argued that the high-profile presence of Jewish support at the convention encouraged them in their decision. Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP), a small but growing group took the lead in lobbying for BDS.
Its mission statement reads:
"Jewish Voice for Peace members are inspired by Jewish tradition to work together for peace, social justice, equality, human rights, respect for international law, and a U.S. foreign policy based on these ideals.
JVP opposes anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim, and anti-Arab bigotry and oppression. JVP seeks an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem; security and self-determination for Israelis and Palestinians; a just solution for Palestinian refugees based on principles established in international law; an end to violence against civilians; and peace and justice for all peoples of the Middle East."
Needless to say, Israeli Jews like Snitz, and other Israeli academics who made the rounds of mainline churches - hold a special place in this "legitimacy hierarchy." Their presence makes it harder to claim that the measure is anti-Semitic or anti-Israeli.
|[Weizmann Inst.] Kobi Snitz's letter to the Presbyterian Church calling to divest|
|Kobi Snitz (Weizmann Institute) was one of co-founders - together with a number of radical faculty - of Boycott from Within! The group worked in tandem with Omar Barghouti's PACBI to organize boycott initiatives against Israel.
Following the 2011 Knesset law against BDS weakened the ranks of Israeli boycott supporters. But Kobi Snitz, a self described anarchist involved with Anarchists Against the Wall is not deterred. To the contrary, as BDS activity has increased, so has Snitz's involvement and his profile. IAM recently reported on his travel to Canada to promote boycott.
His latest effort pertains to the Presbyterian Church USA. As well known, the General Assembly of the Church is meeting this week in Detroit to vote on a BDS resolution. Jewish American groups and Israel are watching the proceedings anxiously, as last year a similar resolution failed by a small margin. There is a virtual consensus that much is at stake, because of the high profile of the Presbyterian Church in American politics and society.
On the other side of the divide is Snitz who wrote an open letter titled "An Israeli letter to the Presbyterian General Assembly." Snitz is clearly trying to encourage those who may have qualms about voting against Israel. "Palestinians’ land is continually stolen and their rights denied, and Israelis suffer too by being condemned to perpetual conflict. Please make your church a leader in setting moral standards — not simply by issuing statements but in actually refusing to profit financially from the occupation. We will be with you in spirit as you deliberate in Detroit. Please remember our voices and have no fear in following your conscience."
Snitz has been also active in a call to boycott international academic conference - The Oral History conference at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and there is also a call to boycott the Cinema and TV Studies conference at Tel Aviv University. As the organizers of the boycott boasted, some key foreign participants dropped out, leaving mostly local speakers.
On a number of occasions Snitz reflected on his duties as an anarchist to challenge the state and its institution. Like many radical faculty, Snitz can mount these challenges from a financially secure academic position that, as noted before, imposes only minimal research demands on his time in what is otherwise a highly competitive and demanding publication environment.
It is not clear why the Weizmann Institute authorities allow Snitz to continue his time consuming anarchists activities at the expanse of the taxpayer. It is even less clear why the state tolerate his open defiance, which send the message that academics are above the law.
|BDS Update: The Modern Language Association Resolution Failure - a Moral Victory |
|The much watched BDS initiative at the Modern Language Association (MLA), the huge American association of language and literature scholars, has turned into a battlefield for pro and anti divestment advocates.
As reported, during its annual meeting in January 2014, the group failed to pass a BDS proposal; instead a resolution urging the State Department to pressure Israel to allow American scholars access to the West Bank.
Failing to get a mandated 10 percent of the membership ballot, the resolution was recently defeated: 6.5 percent of the 24,000 active members voted for and 4.4 voted against.
Both sides of the debate claimed victory. Bruce Robbins, a professor of literature at Columbia University who authored the resolution, noted that it was a moral victory and promised to try again. Critics suggested that the ballot reflected the reluctance of the MLA members to get involved in non-core issues.
However, the debate – posted on a special server – reflected a worrisome trend. There were numerous allusion to the power of the Jewish lobby to quell any pro-Palestinian sentiments in the academy. One post referred to the “humongous influence that Jewish scholars have in the decision-making process of Academia in general.”
The current debate is reminiscent of the one triggered by the controversial book of John M. Mearsheimer and Steven M. Walt The Israeli Lobby and US Foreign Policy published in 2007. Although at the time, two professors - from Chicago University and Harvard University respectively, were excoriated by critics for promoting anti-Semitic tropes, their notions have mainstreamed by the media, including the popular TV show Saturday Night Live. The BDS advocates understand that by putting forward BDS they can keep the debate going. As Robbins suggested, “I think of this [the resolution] as a successful exercise in getting people informed.”
|[Weizmann Institute] Kobi Snitz in Support of BDS|
|On April 10,2014 IAM reported on the upcoming talk of Kobi Snitz (Weizmann Institute) to Canadian groups that support BDS. Snitz, a self-described anarchist and a co-founder of both Anarchists Against the Wall and Boycott From Within, has been highly active in the BDS movement. The following is a transcript of his videoed talk.
Snitz starts by explaining that he became attracted to anti-Zionism and anarchism while studying abroad. After securing an academic position at the Weizmann Institute he has spent most of his time putting his anarchist theory into practice. As he states, anarchism is not an intellectual theory but rather a form of praxis - which led him to create Boycott from Within, along his involvement with Anarchists Against the Wall.
Snitz explains that Boycott From Within was a crucial part in kick starting the international BDS movement as it legitimized foreign activists: "The work that the Israeli group was required to do in the beginning was to help protect groups around the world who were afraid of backlash for their BDS work. They found it necessary to have support from an Israeli group against backlash."
As already noted, Snitz has abused academic freedom granted to scholars by spending so much time on political activism. Indeed, compared to his colleagues at the high achieving Weizmann Institute, his record is decidedly modest. By openly advocating BDS, he is also breaking the law. Both the authorities of the Weizmann Institute and the state need to act !
|Campus BDS - Winning Some Battles, Losing Others|
|A relentless BDS campaign has been waged on American campuses for the past two years. The results are mixed; while some Student Councils have passed a BDS resolution, others have failed. No clear pattern has emerged to explain either the success or the failure to pass a BDS statement.
As the following articles indicates, the geographic location of the campus, the involvement of the Jewish community - especially through its campus outreach, StandWithUs - and the relative strength of pro-Palestinian groups, have all played a role. What is clear, however, is the enormous commitment of the BDS advocates to pursue the fight on every possible campus. This strategy requires a matching strategy from the Jewish community and the deployment of many more resources.
|The BRICUP Report: The Many Faces of BDS
|BRICUP, the British Committee for Universities of Palestine, is one of the leading organizations of the BDS campaign against Israeli universities since 2005 when it called for the boycott of Bar-Ilan and Haifa Universities. BRICUP, a premier BDS group in Great Britain, working on campus and beyond.
The newsletter below is quite telling, not a single item is related to any university of Palestine. Its current activities report is quite illuminating with regard to the breadth of the BDS movement. Some of the points are worth highlighting.
First, the BDS groups have been greatly encouraged by the failure of the Ronnie Fraser law suit against the UCU; the judge rejected the argument of the plaintiff that BDS activities per se create an anti-Semitic atmosphere for Jewish members. All BDS motions are carefully phrased to dispel any doubt that anti-Semitic motives are involved. For instance, in the push to pass a resolution against Israeli architects, it has being emphasized that said architects participate in building up the West Bank, a violation of the Geneva Conventions.
Second, BRICUP, has endeavored to run civilized debates (i.e. University of Leeds) when passing BDS resolution so as not be accused of creating an anti-Semitic atmosphere.
Third, BRICUP is working hard with sympathetic members of the EU parliament to ensure that the EU Horizon 2020 will be fully implemented, especially with regard to Ariel University. A letter directed to Catherine Ashton, the foreign policy chief of the EU, urges to look at the scientific links that AU has forged with Israeli academic institution so as to alert them to the possibility of losing EU grants.
The BDS is part of a larger effort against Israel that would be discussed at the IAM event in May 14, 2014 at 18:00 in TAU Webb 1.
|Is BDS a Form of anti-Semitism? The Ronnie Fraser Case|
|The increase in BDS activity on Western campuses has triggered a backlash from Jewish students and faculty as well as from some Israelis. The heated debate produced a spectrum of notional views of the BDS phenomenon– ranging from a legitimate criticism of Israel’s policy in the territories to expressions of anti-Semitism.
The EU’s Working Definition of anti-Semitism stated that some forms of radical critique of Israel such as depicting it as Nazi state are new forms of anti-Semitism but good faith criticism of Israeli foreign policy is not anti-Semitic.
The University and College Union (UCU), the union of British academics, has been in the forefront of the BDS movement for a decade. The annual meeting of the UCU conference has repeatedly passed motions calling to boycott the Israeli academy.
In 2012 Ronnie Fraser, a Jewish member of the UCU took his union to court charging that the BDS debates produced an anti-Semitic working environment.
The Employment Tribunal under Judge Snelson ruled against Fraser; Judge Snelson found that there was no anti-Semitism involved and that Fraser’s case was “an impermissible attempt to achieve a political end by litigious means”.
The Fraser case has acquired a second act after the UCU sued Fraser and his lawyers for 580,000 British pounds in costs. Though the Employment Tribunal was established to help individuals take on their employers, the law seeks to protect said employers (and others) from frivolous or nuisance suits. Costs can be awarded against a claimant, under stringent condition: Firstly, the claimant must not only be wrong, his action must be “misconceived or otherwise unreasonable”. And secondly, the hearing for costs must be capable of being heard promptly and quickly, in summary form.
It is now up to a new judge of the Employment Tribunal to make the determination of whether Fraser’s action was “misconceived or otherwise unreasonable” - something that Judge Snelson seemed to allude to. It is quite clear that much more than the litigation cost rides on the decision as far as BDS is Great Britain is concerned.
|Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) Drives the Campus BDS|
|Over the past few years the SJP- a group with scores of branches in the United States and other Western campuses has emerged as the main driver of academic BDS. By some counts, SJP has some 80 branches in North America alone. As the article below indicates, it has sponsored numerous BDS resolutions in North America.
The little-studied SJP is a highly effective organization, well funded and enjoying the help of professional activists. For instance, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), hired Dalit Baum, formerly from Haifa University's Gender Studies, to run its West Coast BDS campaign. Baum, the subject of a number of IAM posts, was one of the co-founders of Who Profits from the Occupation? a groups of Israeli academics, including Merav Amir from the Hebrew University, who identified companies operated in the territories such as Ahava Cosmetics as targets of boycott.
The SJP has been behind the growing number of Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) events, It has also been involved in high profile protest against pro-Israeli speakers that, according to critics, create atmosphere of intimidation against Jewish students; in some instances, the SJP was banned from campus activity. Lately, the SJP extended its action to bone fide academic events involving Israel. For instance, it has protested against field trip to Israel offered by the International Studies at Vassar College.
The SJP has networked with groups that share the same perspective, including anti-Zionist Jewish groups like Jewish Voices for Peace. Occasionally, African-American students and professors are drawn into the fracas, giving some events a racial tone as the article on Vassar College indicates.
The response of the authorities, often overwhelmed by the competing requirements of free speech and protection of rights of the Jewish students, has been hard pressed to respond. The spotty and fragmented efforts of the Jewish community are no mach for the professional organizers of the SJP events. The Israeli government has recently recognized that the delegitimization of Israel through the BDS movement is a serious threat to national security but, as a rule, states are not well equipped to fight the type of Soft Asymmetrical Conflict (SAC) that the SJP is engaged in.
IAM has launched a research project into the complex issues that encompass academic BDS. The IAM event at Tel Aviv University, Webb 1, on May 14, 2014 at 6pm will present a first comprehensive discussion of the issue and offer some suggestions on the ways to fight it.
|[Weizmann Institute] Kobi Snitz Travel Chronicles: Supporting BDS in Canada|
|As already discussed, Kobi Snitz (Weizmann Institute) is touring abroad to promote BDS. Snitz, an anarchist who co-founded Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call From Within, along with other radical faculty, is a leading BDS activist. Though the Knesset passed anti-boycott legislation, Snitz apparently is not at all worried about breaking the law.
He has routinely protested against the separation barrier as part of the activist group Anarchists Against the Wall. All these activities probably have left Snitz little time to do his job as a specialist of analysis and modeling at the Olfaction research group of the department of Neurobiology. But, again, there is little to worry about. Indeed, as long as taxpayers are willing to support his extracurricular activities, he can travel the world to promote BDS as well as the finer points of anarchist theory.
|Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP): Targeting Israel-Related Activities|
|SJP, with chapters on numerous campus, has evolved an effective technique to target Israeli-oriented activities. Among the tool of choice in the SJP arsenal are heckling, disturbances, protest and others. According to critics, the tactics are designed to create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation in order to dissuade students from attending such events.
The statement of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) describes one such occurrence - at Vassar College.
Members of SJP are highly motivated and easy to mobilize - a characteristic that contrasts with the more low-key supporters of Israel. College authorities have had a hard time controlling this phenomenon because of adherence to the rules of academic freedom that strives to give both sides of the debate a voice.
Unfortunately, SJP intends on propagating only one "narrative," making it virtually impossible to conduct a rational and civilized campus debate. The real aim of the SJP is to project an image of Israel as an apartheid state deserving to be targeted by BDS. The "moral clarity" necessary for sustaining the BDS movement cannot tolerate alternative views.
|[TAU, BGU] BDS Activist Hagar Kotef is in Charge of Grants at the Minerva Humanities Center at TAU and Lectures at BGU|
|Hagar Kotef, a BDS activist who received her Ph.D. in Philosophy at TAU under Professors Adi Ophir and Anat Biletzki, is a lecturer at the TAU Cohn Institute and often participates at the Lexicon group at the Minerva Humanities, headed by Adi Ophir. Kotef is also a lecturer at the Department of Politics and Government at BGU.
Like Ophir and his numerous students, Kotef has combined her political activism with her research interest in “gender and occupation,” as her academic record indicates. While expressing one’s political opinion is legitimate, using academic research to besmirch Israel is not. But this is exactly what Kotef has endeavoured to do; by distorting factual reality of the checkpoints – the subject of her academic output – and whitewashing Palestinian terror.
Her articles – co-written with another BDS activist, Merav Amir, “Between Imaginary Lines: Violence and its Justifications at the Military Checkpoints in Occupied Palestine” in 2011, as well as the chapter in a new book in Hebrew entitled "The Price for Effectiveness: About Bodies, Fencing and Obstacles in Machsom Watch," which is based on their 2007 article, "(En)Gendering Checkpoints: Checkpoint Watch and the Repercussions of Intervention", are a case in point. The authors admit being active in Machsom Watch from 2003 to 2009.
Kotef’s has a new position; she is now in charge of coordinating evaluations for grant proposals offered by Minerva Humanities Center. With its deep pockets, Minerva has served an incubator of some of the most virulent criticism of Israel, which according to Adi Ophir is in some ways akin to a neo-Nazi, apartheid state that deserves to be bombed by NATO in order to pressure it to give up the territories. There is little doubts that the new grant recipients will continue in the path of Ophir and Kotef.
Finally, Kotef’s employment at BGU demonstrates that not much has changed since the Council of Higher Education found that the Department has a disproportional number of radical activists. Once again, the taxpayers are picking up the tab.
|[Weizmann Institute] Dr. Kobi Snitz: Taxpayers Supporting an Anarchist who Supports BDS|
|Kobi Snitz is a self-described anarchist who was a co-founder of Anarchists against the Wall, among other anarchist ventures. His BDS manifesto served as the basis for launching 'Boycott from Within' - a hard-core faculty-activist group that includes Rachel Giora and Anat Matar, both from Tel Aviv University.
Like other Israeli citizens, Snitz is entitled to express his political opinions. More troubling, however, is his apparent violation of the Knesset anti-boycott law of 2011. The 'Boycott from Within' group has enjoyed a close ideological relationship with Omar Barghoutti of PACBI – a leading force in the current wave of BDS. In fact, the notice below indicates, Snitz is getting ready to travel to Vancouver to speak in support of BDS. As noted in his interview from 2011, he does not consider the law to be an impediment to his BDS activism.
Over time, Snitz and other anarchists developed an effective modus operandi befitting a direct-action group; they participate in demonstrations with a view of being arrested for various infractions of the law. Indeed, a perusal of Snitz’s record indicates a large number of arrests, appearance in courts and related time-consuming activities.
Like in the case of other radical activists, Snitz’s academic position is highly helpful; it provides him with ample time to engage in direct action, not to mention his travels abroad to spread the BDS message.
Not incidentally, Snitz’s research seems to have suffered badly; compared to publication record of other scholars in the highly-ranked Weizmann Institute, his is very limited. Unfortunately, Snitz is not the only one in the radical fraternity to abuse his position; as IAM reported, Anat Matar and others have parleyed their tenured positions into virtually full-time political activism.
The question raised in this case is obvious; why should Israeli tax payers support a full-time anarchist and a part-time scholar?
|UN Human Rights Council Draft Resolution on Sanctions - implications for the Israeli Academy|
|The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) located in Geneva is scheduled to vote on a settlement-boycott resolution.
The draft proposal posted on UN Watch in Geneva as reported by Haaretz, "that the Israeli settlement enterprise makes Israel responsible for serious violations of international law, and calls on UNHRC member nations not to facilitate the continuation of these violations. The draft states, “the direct or indirect assistance of States and private entities to the settlement enterprise constitute obstacles that have frustrated international efforts for the end of the occupation and fulfillment of the right of self- determination of the Palestinian people.” Invoking the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights,“the resolution noted the "probability of liability, including international criminal liability, for corporate complicity in breaches of international law related to illegal settlements,” and expresses satisfaction “that some businesses have withdrawn from settlements due to awareness of these risks.”
The resolution calls on members to advise on "the financial, reputational and legal risks, as well as the possible abuses of the rights of individuals, of getting involved in settlement-related activities, including economic and financial activities, the provision of services in settlements and the purchasing of property, and to prevent and discourage such involvement.”
Though the language of the resolution is not different from the one passed by the EU, the UNHRC has significant academic implications. Pro-boycott NGOs will most likely use it to exert pressure on Israeli universities and individual scholars engaged in activities beyond the Green Line, including Ariel University.
The UNHRC may embolden pro-Palestinian scholars to launch their own pro-boycott initiatives by denying Israeli scholars opportunities be it publications, participation in conferences or Sabbatical visits. Some time ago, Professor Rivka Carmi referred to such efforts as "silent boycott;" they are hard to prove because they can be couched in academic justifications, but she felt that these incidents were on the increase: “People in academia talk discreetly about unproven feelings according to which articles by Israeli researchers are being rejected. Researchers and academics have the feeling that they are not being invited to conventions. No one has proof, but there is a sense that the territory is beginning to burn. And now, with the decision by the American [Studies] Association, it is official — and that is worrisome.”
Finally, the resolution may give academics who nurture anti-Semitic sentiments an opening. Though the BDS movement cannot be defined as anti-Semitic under the EU "Working Definition of anti-Semitism," it is well known that anti-Semitic motives can be found among some BDS supporters.
In his interview with The Militant publication, Amir Paz Fuchs, the radical activist scholar, former director of the Human Rights Law Clinic at Tel-Aviv University admitted participating in BDS activities. He excused himself for doing it out of "frustration". Ironically, Paz Fuchs admits to being disillusioned after taking the post in the British university where he discovered that BDS is being used as an anti-Semitic tool, as the article below indicates. Paz Fuchs chagrin definitely belongs in the category of "be careful what you pray for".
|The BDS Casts a Long Shadow on Academic Speech|
|Emboldened by the burgeoning BDS movement, pro-Palestinian activists have made it difficult for some Israelis to appear on campuses.
The incident mentioned below at Queen's University in Belfast was no doubt exceptionally violent, but Israeli lecturers are often harassed and shouted down by pro-Palestinian activists. On many occasions, it has prompts the university authorities to cancel scheduled events. Even more troubling, anticipating trouble, colleges have refused to authorize appearances by pro-Israeli speakers.
The imbalance created by the absence of voices that can explain Israeli policies is bound to deepen the one-sided view of Israel as an apartheid state - an image that has helped to promote the BDS in the academy.
|Anti-boycott Legislation in Congress: Israel, the Academy and Free Speech|
|IAM is dedicated to publishing occasional updates on the Israel boycott initiatives on campus.
Following the much publicized decision of the American Studies Association to boycott the Israeli academy, an anti-anti boycott backlash followed.
As reported earlier, some analysts, including Michael Oren, the former Israeli ambassador in Washington, now a professor at the IDC Herzliya, advocated for anti-boycott legislation in Congress.
The Congress responded with the Roskam-Lapinski initiative detailed below. The proposed legislation has generated a robust debate on boycott and academic freedom.
The hearings on the proposed bill serve as a platform for a much wider debate on the topic.
IAM will hold a roundtable on the subject of academic BDS on May 14, at Tel Aviv University.
Kenneth L. Marcus, the founder and president of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, who plays a leading role in the anti-BDS movement in the United States, will keynote the event.
|Israeli Apartheid Week - An Incubator of the BDS Movement|
|For more than a decade now, Israeli Apartheid Week - held across hundreds of campuses in the United States, Canada and Europe - has been a tool of choice for pro-Palestinian activists trying to highlight the "Israeli apartheid regime." Among the favorite props are the "apartheid wall," "military checkpoints," "eviction notices" or documentaries that depict life of Palestinians. Needless to say, the props and the documentaries are designed to provide a one-sided view of reality. As a result they are effective in disseminating the view that Israel is an apartheid state that needs to be fought with a BDS campaign.
Countering the IAW is difficult, as the article below states, it requires a group of Jewish activist students who can provide a correction to the narrative. This has happened on a number of campuses where there is an organized pro-Israeli Jewish presence - helped by a pro-Israel professional projects such as Stand With Us or David Project. But such efforts are few and far between, simply because the number of Palestinian and Muslim students on Western campus is very large. In addition, not all Jewish students are ready to mobilize against the IAW events and some - like Jewish Voices for Peace - are even supporting them. Needless to say, Jewish support for IAW gives the organizers legitimacy and protection from the accusation of anti-Semitism.
The somewhat belated realization that the BDS has its roots in the academy, should focus more attention on the IAW events. Much about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict these days is about discourse and narratives. Left unchallenged, the often tendentious IAW discourse will be accepted by the general student population - the future elite of their countries.
|The Palestinian-EU-International Boycott Movement: Implications for the Israeli Academy|
|Over the past few years IAM has occasionally reported on academic boycott – part of the broader Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. Since the decision of the European Union in 2013 to impose a boycott on Israeli Institutions based in the West Bank, the scope and pace of action against the academy have increased dramatically.
The most immediate reason for this turn of events is, of course, Horizon 2020 - a document that demanded Israel’s disavowal of any territorial claims, including East Jerusalem, as a condition for scientific cooperation with the EU. Beyond practical implications, long time boycott activists have been encouraged and energized by the symbolic meaning of the EU gesture, which caught Israel and its supporters by surprise.
An analysis of the activities of the Ramallah based Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), its British affiliate, the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP) and the American group, the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) indicate some new trends.
One of the more popular tactics to emerge lately is urging scholars scheduled to participate in conferences in Israeli universities to abstain. As reported, the Oral History Conference at the Hebrew University has been a target of a boycott call that saw some participants cancel their appearance.
The "Cinematic Traces of Things to Come" - The Tenth Tel Aviv International Colloquium on Cinema and Television Studies, at Tel Aviv University has prompted pro-boycott activists to organize a similar petition.
Both petitions are structured to emphasize two issues: 1) the general complicity of Israeli academics with the occupation regime; 2) university - specific transgression such as the alleged use of Palestinian land to expand the Hebrew University campus on Mount Scopus or the construction of Tel Aviv University on the site of a pre-1948 village.
It is noted that, even when the call to boycott of a particular conference is ultimately not successful, the boycott activity is a tool of delegitimization; with each campaign, the Palestinian narrative reaches a wider audience.
|Conclusions to the Knesset Committee of Science and Technology on the boycott of Israel|
|Below are the conclusions of the Knesset Committee of Science and Technology. The Committee gave the government three months to establish a body to coordinate with all the relevant organizations, departments and groups, to fight academic boycotts.
This is a welcome move on the part of the authorities that have neglected the issue for a long time. It is essential that the coordinating body should study the highly complex way in which the boycott movement has operated, including the vital role played by radical Israeli scholars and those seeking to protect them.
The efforts to close down the Department of Politics and Government at Ben Gurion University (BGU) is a case in point.
Following the appeal of Professor Rivka Carmi, the President of BGU, to the international community to avert the closure, dozens of letters were sent to the CHE in protest, including by the President of the American Studies Association (ASA) - the group that recently decided to boycott. The letter states: "We believe that there is evidence that the Council's proposed action on October 30, 2012 to halt admissions for the Department of Politics and Government is ideologically motivated... [such decision] raises questions about the Council for Higher Education's integrity and commitment to scholarly excellence. It instead suggests that the CHE is politically motivated in its actions, thus compromising the integrity of all of Israel's public universities...We further request that the CHE refrain from dismissing individual faculty who critique and/or call to protest of government policies."
This letter, along with hundreds of others, was posted on a website created by the Department of Politics and Government to fight the threat of closure, which they named "Israel Academia Under Attack".
The Department's website carried an explanatory article, "About the attempts to close down the department of politics and government;" it was identical to the one written by Neve Gordon "Academic Freedom Attacked in Israel" that was posted on the website run by Jeffrey C. Goldfarb, a professor for Sociology at the New School. The original Gordon post was later removed with an explanation provided by Goldfarb, that "[t]he members of the Department of Politics and Government at Ben Gurion University have agreed among themselves not to individually publish opinion pieces on the threat of closing of their department. For this reason, I have taken down the first version of this post."
Goldfarb's post is very revealing; although he was told that individual members of the Department decided to not to publish individual posts, they continued posting, moreover, their activity behind the scenes did not cease at all. In an act completely unheard of, Gordon's post defamed the international evaluation committee and the CHE: "This committee, with members praised as positivist and empiricist political scientists produced a report that was not only biased but erred on key facts...this whole “evaluation process” has turned into a witch-hunt...This evaluation, which was biased both politically and disciplinarily, was also based on basic factual errors...the authors of the above mentioned letter, professors Risse and Immegut, have failed so far to clarify their opinion about the way their service to the Council of Higher Education has been abused so as to silence excellent academics some of whom happen to be identified as active members of the left in Israel."
To sum up, orchestrating and obtaining copies of the dozens of protest letters and petitions and posting them online as well as coordinating demonstrations against the CHE, have ignited the rolling fire ball that fueled the current boycott resolutions against the Israeli academia.
|The Modern Language Association - The Future of Academic Boycott Is Here?
|The much awaited meeting of the Modern Language Association (MLA) in Chicago has just ended.
Learning from the uproar over the American Studies Association resolution to boycott the Israeli academy, the MLA Assembly agreed on a different strategy - to highlight what it described as an arbitrary policy of denying free movement of scholars and students. The resolution would be submitted to a vote by the 30,000 member body.
Whatever the final outcome, the academic boycott has achieved its main goal, to keep the Palestinian issue in the headlines. In doing so Omar Barghouti, a founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) as well as a former Philosophy student of Marcelo Dascal at Tel Aviv University, and other boycott advocates, are emulating the strategies adopted against the apartheid in South Africa. When the initial boycott idea was flouted in the 1960s, the economic sector in the West proved highly resistant. By pursuing academic and cultural boycott, activists managed to keep the issue alive until a tipping point was reached. The boycott advocates are hoping to create a similar dynamic with regard to Israel.
|Inside the Israel Boycott Decision of the Association for Asian American Studies|
|The recent movement for academic boycott of Israel has thrown some interesting light on the inside working of the process. While much has been written about the American Studies Association (ASA), there was little discussion of the boycott resolution of the Association for Asian American Studies.
Customarily, the boycott initiative has been pushed by activists members of the organization PACBI, normally, an alliance of Arab and radical left faculty. The identity of the key players in the case of the American Association of Asian Studies is quite surprising, activists such as Christine Hong (UC Santa Cruz) and Elaine Kim (UC Berkeley) are veteran supporters of the North Korean regime and part of a small circle of academics who push for lifting sanctions on Pyongyang - imposed by Washington because of its nuclear program and atrocious human rights record.
Prof. Hong, in particular, wrote an essay in which she ridicules the notion that North Korea oppresses its citizens and slanders those who support human rights for North Korea as criminals, warmongers and racists. Such are the kinds of academics who support a boycott of Israel.
The presence of activists such as Hong and Kim in the forefront of the boycott movement against the Israeli academy gives new meaning to double standards.
|Part lll - Anti-Israel Academic Boycott, Backlash and Backlash against Backlash: A Brief History|
|The uproar against the American Studies Associations (ASA) has created a huge backlash against the organization as reported in Part II
However, in a sign that boycott advocates are regrouping, there are indications that the backlash created a "backlash against the backlash."
The following call for an Urgent-Counter Campaign against the attack on the ASA is indicative of the new line of argument. The argument of the boycott supporters is simple: Israel and its supporters in the United States have mobilized to silence the critics of Israeli occupation and mistreatment of the Palestinian population. Supporting the ASA (and other professional association that may contemplate a similar resolution) is a fight for academic freedom against forces that would want to silence criticism of Israel and the United States that supports it.
As is customary in this type of discourse, the boycott supporters showcase the voices of Jewish academics who voted for the ASA resolution and others.
For instance, Henry Siegman, the former National Director of the American Jewish Congress is frequently cited in this context, along with a Jewish professor from Temple University who wrote a passionate op-ed in the Los Angeles Times detailing the allegedly arbitrary policies of the Israeli authorities who prevent Palestinian students to leave for study abroad.
The tenor of the "backlash against the backlash" echoes the work of John Mearsheimer and Steven Walt, The Israel Lobby. The two professors accused the Israel lobby of controlling American foreign policy in the Middle East and silencing all critics; in spite of fierce criticism, the book has become a academic best-seller and is taught in numerous classes on American campuses. Undoubtedly, for boycott advocates, the backlash against the ASA is one more indicator of the power of "Israel lobby."
Even if other professional organizations, notably the large Modern Language Association, can be dissuaded from passing a boycott resolution, the academic boycott discourse is not expected to die down. The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) and its American supporter, ASA National Council member Sunaina Maira, a key organizer in the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, already announced that they will keep the debate alive. Research on the fight to abolish the apartheid in South Africa indicates that, the academic and cultural boycott was instrumental in keeping the issue in the headlines, leading to a slow build up of economic pressure.
International Relations theory indicates that, once an issue reaches the so-called "tipping point," changes in international values will follow. Though it is too early to speculate whether the Palestinian issue has reached such a point, the recent moves by the European Union in its Horizon 2020 document have definitely made boycott a legitimate topic of discourse.
|Five Takeaways from the ASA Debacle|
|What should we learn from the American Studies Association’s lopsided December 15 vote to endorse the anti-Israel boycott? Here are five takeaways:
1. The Jewish Community Got Beat
There is no question about it. The American Studies Association’s anti-Israel boycott resolution is a defeat for everyone who is concerned about anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism in higher education. The ASA is the largest, most important academic association to support the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel (BDS). By a membership vote of nearly 2-to-1, the ASA voted to support a limited academic boycott of Israel, the first country that the association has ever seen fit to treat in this manner.
For years, Israel’s supporters have observed that BDS tarnishes Israel’s reputation even when it fails. Until recently, BDS resolutions failed over and over again in the United States. Yet each battle imposed a cost, as Israel was falsely cast in the public mind as a rogue nation. The harm is obviously greater when these resolutions actually pass, as they have recently on some university campuses, such as the University of California at Berkeley and Irvine. The ASA resolution gives a scholarly imprimatur to a cause that is at best political and at worst bigoted.
|Part ll - Anti-Israel Academic Boycott, Backlash and Backlash against Backlash: A Brief History|
|As noted in Part I of the IAM post, there is some reason to believe that the boycott by American professional associations initiated by the American Studies Association (ASA) has reached a "tipping point." Groups as large as the Modern Languages Associations (30 thousand members) and small as the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association are contemplating a similar move. Certainly, the activists who push for the boycott hope that this is the beginning of a debate on the Israeli occupation.
It is precisely the fear of a tipping point that animated a fierce backlash against the ASA.
Individual scholars who have written to protest the idea of academic boycott of Israel on principle grounds. They point out that any form of boycott stifles academic freedom, constitutes a form of collective punishment against all Israeli scholars, promotes strife and conflict. Alan Dershowitz, newly retired from Harvard University, spoke for many in this group when he described the boycott as an ill-conceived exercise in double standards.
A number of universities and colleges have terminated their institutional membership in the ASA. Among them is Kenyon College and Indiana University, they joined Brandeis University and Penn State Harrisburg in canceling their memberships in the association.
Dozens of other universities also have condemned the ASA boycott, among them Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown, Cornell, the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, the University of Maryland and New York University, but did not withdraw their affiliations.
American Association of University Professors, a key faculty trade group reiterated its categorical opposition to boycotts.
Professor Lawrence Summers, the former president of Harvard University called on administrators not to pay for professors to attend meeting of associations that boycott Israel. "My hope would be that responsible university leaders will become very reluctant to see their university funds used to finance faculty membership and faculty travel to an association that is showing itself not to be a scholarly association but really more of a political tool." While a possible deterrent, it is not clear to what extent university administrations can deny travel funding without infringing on contractual obligations.
Michael Oren, Israel's former ambassador to Washington went so far as to urge Congress to pass an anti- academic boycott law. In his view, the proposed legislation should be patterned after a bill that took on the Arab boycott of Israel. There are two difficulties with the proposal. The Congress is deeply divided, making passage of any legislation a real challenge. In principle, if Congress undertakes this task, the bill can be attached to the Higher Education Act, which is now due for reauthorization.
The biggest constitutional challenge to such a bill would likely be based on NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware, which held that boycotts may be protected under the First Amendment. However, there is a case-law holding that the NAACP rule does not apply to discriminatory boycotts, which the ASA's action arguably is.
Compared to the massive reaction in the United States, the Israeli response was rather modest.
Professor Rivka Carmi, the president of Ben Gurion University and other academic leaders condemned the boycott initiative in the strongest possible terms. They stressed that the boycott was antithetical to academic freedom and undermined the ability of the academy to engage in constructive discourse.
The chair of the Knesset's Science and Technology Committee, Moshe Gafni (United Tora Judaism) declared that Israel will not stand for academic boycott and expressed dismay that, despite a long history of boycott threats, the government did not create a co-coordinating mechanism to deal with the issue. The Committee urged to create a special task force, but Amir Sagi, an official in charge of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions in the Foreign Ministry, argued that academic boycott is a marginal phenomenon, pushed by fringe forces. In a brief position paper, the Knesset's own research center concluded that, so far, the boycott movement has not presented a major problem.
The massive, negative reaction to the ASA resolution caught boycott supporters by surprise. However, in the past few days, their forces regrouped, creating a "backlash to the backlash." Part III will analyze this phenomenon.
|Anti-Israel Academic Boycott, Backlash and Backlash against Backlash: A Brief History (Part I)|
|The recent decision of the American Studies Association (ASA) to boycott academic institutions in Israel has unleashed an avalanche of reactions. The ASA resolution may be construed as "tipping point" in the decades-long effort to apply the model used against South Africa to terminate its apartheid regime.
Initial calls to boycott Israel in the 1980s were confined to a small radical core of pro-Palestinian activists, human rights NGOs and academics both in Israel and the West. The Oslo peace process all but silenced this effort, but the failure of Camp David II and the Second Intifida revived interest in international pressure. The Durban I conference in 2001 put the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) on the agenda of more than 1500 NGOs and groups.
Still, the South African model taught the activists that economic sanctions are hard to impose, especially as corporations can hide behind a complex ownership structure. Imposing an academic, cultural and sports boycott on South Africa was an easier and, in some ways, more efficient method. Like their anti-apartheid peers, pro-Palestinian activists concluded that the latter could keep the issue of Israel's legitimacy on the "front pages" with little cost accrued by the boycott instigators.
Indeed, Ilan Pappe, then on the faculty of Haifa University addressed the first call to boycott the Israeli academy to British faculty activists in the early 2000s. In 2004, the Palestinian Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) created a clearinghouse for a wide range of academic and cultural boycott initiatives. The group BOYCOTT! (aka Boycott from Within) organized by a number of Israeli academics and activists along with the US Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel, added muscle to the Palestinian effort.
The British boycott have shown some success; in spite of appeals and legal challenges, the University and College Union (UCU) has successfully defended their annual vote to boycott Israel. In May 2013 Stephen Hawking cancelled his scheduled appearance at the conference held by Peres, giving the campaign a huge PR boost. In the United States, on the other hand, up to very recently academic boycott initiatives have not fared well. In 2006 the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) came out against boycott, a stand that still holds.
But pro-boycott activists in the United States have developed new tactics to overcome the historical reluctance of the AAUP to support overtly politicized academic campaigns. One successful avenue was to appeal to professional associations - so far, the Association for Asian Studies passed a boycott resolution in April 2013 and the American Studies Association followed in December. The Native American and Indigenous Studies Association has tabled a boycott proposal and the 30,000 member Modern Language Association is scheduled to discuss the issue during its January 2014 meeting.
The uptick in academic boycott activity has caught Israel and pro-Israeli advocates in the United States by surprise. The Knesset Committee for Science and Technology scheduled a hearing on the issue and formed a working committee to tackle the issue. The responses in the United States ranged from letters by leading academics denouncing the boycott to suggestions for Congress to pass legislation against the academic boycott. Part II will review the backlash against the ASA and analyze the viability of the various proposals to combat the phenomenon. Part III will discuss the "backlash against the backlash" including the unofficial, so-called grey or silent boycott.
|The American Studies Association Boycott of Israel Proposal - the Vote is In|
|The membership of the American Studies Association (ASA) voted to endorse the boycott resolution proposed by the its National Council. According to the ASA website, 1252 members out of a total of 5000 member voted; 66.05 percent supported the resolution, 30.5 percent rejected and 3.43 percent abstained.
The boycott resolution calls on American institutions and academic groups to ban collaboration with Israeli institutions, but individual Israeli scholars are not expected to be affected; they will be able to attend conferences, lecture at American universities or do research with American colleagues, "as long as they did not officially represent Israeli universities or the government."
Whatever the practical implications, the ASA vote is a symbolic defeat of Israel's academic legitimacy. It is also a clear sign that the wave of academic boycott initiatives that originated in Great Britain has reached the American shores.
The 30,000 members of Modern Language Association (MLA) will consider a similar boycott proposal during its annual meeting in January 2014.
Should the MLA approve the academic boycott of Israel it would further isolate Israel in the international community.
|The New Phase in Academic Boycott of Israel: Oral History conference at the Hebrew University|
|As reported, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) has intensified its campaign to boycott the Israeli academy. In the past year it scored a number of victories; most recent the boycott resolution of the American Studies Association.
Its next target, the Oral History conference at the Hebrew University had mixed results: while two key speakers canceled, the meeting will go on.
Interesting in this context is the long (and still growing) list of grievances against the Hebrew University. Even a casual perusal of the list indicates that, when it comes to furnishing arguments for a possible boycott, all universities are vulnerable to PACBI's demands.
|Boycotting Israeli Academic Institutions Debated at the American Studies Association Annual Conference|
|The academic boycott campaign, long confined to Great Britain, has arrived on American campuses. The American Studies Association, one of the oldest and most prestigious professional groups has become the latest venue for the boycott drive. In its recently concluded annual conference, the attendees passed a resolution to honor the calls from Palestinian civil society to impose an academic boycott on Israel. The National Council is expected to approve the resolution that would be then forwarded to the membership. The ASA has 5000 individual members, and some 2100 library and institutional members, spreading its influence further afield. In April, the Asian Studies Association annual conference has passed resolution in support boycott of Israeli academic institutions. The U.S. Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) coordinates the boycott activities.
The USACBI campaign is closely modeled on the British Committee for the Universities for Palestine (BRICUP)which has been the driving force behind the University and College Union's (UCU) various boycott initiatives. Both the British and the American groups have close relations with PACBI, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel.
The ASA resolution echoes PACBI's mission statement which claims that Israeli universities should be boycotted because of their close cooperation with the military-industrial complex, which, in turn, helps to continue the occupation of Palestine. In addition, PACBI claims that the Hebrew University illegally acquired a significant portion of the land on which its Mount Scopus campus and dormitories were built; Tel Aviv University is accused of erecting its campus on ruins of the Palestinian village Sheikh Muwannis. In addition, PACBI charges that the Institute of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University excavates in the City of David National Park in the neighborhood of Silwan in East Jerusalem.
There are a number of Israeli connections to the boycott campaign. Former Israeli professors such as Ilan Pappe (Exeter University) and Haim Bresheeth (SOAS) have been long active in BRICUP. Pappe was also listed as an advisory board member of USACBI. Boycott from Within, a group of Israeli academics and social activists, has supported PACBI's drive. Individually, Israeli faculty such as Rachel Giora, Anat Matar and Kobi Snitz signed various petitions including one against The Cornell University-Technion Initiative. Israeli academics have urged their colleagues to acknowledge their universities complicity in the occupation or possession of Palestinian land. For instance, Shlomo Sand (TAU) was one of the organizers of a petition signed by twenty of his colleagues, demanding that the university acknowledges that it occupies the former village Sheikh Muwannis.
|Boycotting Israeli Universities, Part Two of Stanley Fish's NYT Article|
|Professor Fish on boycotting Israeli Universities.
As expected the article by Stanley Fish on boycotting Israeli universities has generated a large number of mail. Here is Fish's response to his many readers.
|Academic Freedom Against Itself: Boycotting Israeli Universities|
|The Association of American University Professor (AAUP) has recently devoted an entire issue of its journal to the question of boycotting Israel. The following is a response by Stanley Fish, one of the best known scholars and public intellectuals in the United States.|
|A New Round of Calls to Boycott Israeli Academy|
|IAM has monitored calls for academic boycott for close to a decade. The recent EU move to increase pressure on Israel by blocking all financial ties to entities that have ties to the territories has empowered pro-Palestinian groups to redouble their efforts. The call to boycott a conference on oral history at Hebrew University is a case in point. The organizers point out that part of the Mount Scopus campus is built on land confiscated from the Palestinians in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Charging the Hebrew University with an active role in promoting Ariel University is not only a novel argument but evidently hand-tailored to the EU decision. Should the EU implement its guidelines as planned, pro-Palestinian groups active in the academy would launch a complaint with the EU Commission that may threaten grants for the HUJ. .
A number of Israeli professors who work in Western universities signed the petition. Among them are well known figures such as Ilan Pappe, Haim Bresheeth, Oren Ben-Dor, Hagit Borer, Ronit Lentin, Moshé Machover, and Gabriel Piterberg.
Kobi Snitz from the Weizmann Institute is the only employee of an Israeli university. Snitz, a leader in "Anarchists Against the Wall" has defied the law that makes calls to BDS illegal. He is one of handful of Israeli faculty, that includes Anat Matar and Neve Gordon, who have ignored the law. Neither the Israeli government nor the university authorities have reacted so far to this breach of law.
|The Radical Left against Ruth Kark|
|For most of her career, Professor Ruth Kark (Hebrew University), an internationally renewed historical geographer and a recipient of the prestigious Jerusalem Prize has considered herself apolitical.
All this has changed when Kark testified for the state in a trial to settle a suit brought by Bedouin families in the Negev. Testifying for the plaintiffs was Oren Yiftachel, a political geographer from Ben Gurion University. The presiding judge took the unusual step of criticizing Yiftachel for poor courtroom performance. In her view, Yiftachel, who served as a consultant to the plaintiffs, did not do his “homework,” producing shoddy and conflicting evidence.
This should not come as a surprise, as Yiftachel, a self -proclaimed critical political geographer is also a self-acknowledged neo-Gramscian - a follower of Antonio Gramsci, the Italian Communist who urged intellectuals and academics to use their commanding role in societal discourse to fight for progressive causes. As Yiftachel admits in page 6 in his book Ethnocracy: Land and Identity Politics in Israel and Palestine, that his “own approach draws from neo-Gramscian perspective.”
On his homepage, Yitachel boasts on trying to "combine teaching and activism for social and political activism” and co-founding “a range of organizations working to assist Arab-Jewish peace, anti-colonialism and social equality in Israel/Palestine.”
All this did not prevent Yiftachel from attacking Kark for her alleged political agenda. In a blog published during the trial, Yiftachel impugned Kark’s academic credibility and took credit for “'unpacking' the main state expert.“ When the judge pointed out to his sloppy evidence, he accused her of siding with Kark and the state.
Yiftachel’s contempt for Kark’s expertise has extended beyond the courtroom. Gadi Algazi ,a veteran radical activist from TAU and other pro-Palestinian activists in Israel and the United Kingdom have complied an eBook “JNF Colonizing Palestine since 1901.” In the first chapter “Al-Araqib - All Palestine" Salman Abu Sita wrote “Yiftachel argued that Kark, in quoting these travellers, was biased and deceptive which is not befitting of a university professor.” Abu Sita added that “Yiftachel was closely monitoring this Zionist expert who was well-practiced in falsification.”
The JNF book became “required reading” for a large number of pro-Palestinian groups in Great Britain. Indeed, a number of them banded together and sent it to Prime Minster David Cameron and other political figures.
Mike Napier, the head of the Scottish Solidarity Campaign for Palestine based in Edinburgh used the disparaging comments about Professor Kark to protest against her participating in the conference “Communal Pathways to Sustainable Living” of the International Communal Studies Association (ICSA) at Findhorn Community in Scotland in 26–28 of June 2013.
Stating that Israel has committed "savage crimes" against Palestinians, he goes on: "The crimes are ongoing, promoted by Ruth Kark and other Israeli academics. This is not an antiquarian exercise, history for history's sake. Some of the ICSA presenters at Findhorn are still actively involved in promoting Israel's ethnic cleansing of Palestinians as part of the openly discussed effort to move land into exclusively Jewish ownership, a racist project that has gone on since the founding of the State of Israel. Let us take, as an example the shocking case of Zionist academic, Ruth Kark, who will be presenting at this conference." Not only did Kark support the racist claim that Jews have rights to land that trump those who "have lived there for many generations" but she fabricated evidence in support of a standard, and academically discredited, Zionist claim that Palestine had been empty before Zionist colonisation... Kark puts her dubious "expertise" firmly in the service of the Zionist narrative used to justify the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians."
It would be easy to dismiss Napier as radical "nut job" as one commentator put it. What is worrisome is that Yiftachel and other Israeli academics have started the process of tarnishing Kark's reputation as a "Zionist expert." By besmirching the names of scholars who do not agree with their interpolation of events, they have provided material used by radical pro-Palestinian activists such as Napier.
Gramsci understood that scholars and intellectuals legitimize the public discourse by providing a patina of respectability to "mere activists." Yiftachel, the self-proclaimed scholar-activist, has done Gramsci.
|Legitimate and Illegitimate Criticism of Israel|
|For the past years IAM has waged a campaign to raise awareness between legitimate and illegitimate criticism of Israel. Such a distinction is contained in the European Union Monitoring Center's "Working Definition of anti-Semitism" that was adopted by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights. While Israeli government and its policies can be freely criticized, comparing Israel to an apartheid state and/or to a Nazi state is illegitimate; the EUMC determined that it constitute a new form of anti-Semitism.
IAM has repeatedly reported that radical Israeli faculty have been in the forefront of the movement to delegitimize Israel by describing it as an apartheid state or a Nazi state. Their writings have been widely used by pro-Palestinian, pro-Arab and pro-Iranian circles on Western campuses.
The following is a letter send by Denis MacEoin to Professor Malcolm Levitt who supported Stephen Hawking's decision to boycott the Shimon Peres presidential conference. MacEoin asserts that legitimate criticism of Israel should not degenerate to description divorced from reality and lies about its alleged apartheid or Nazi character. MacEoin urged Levitt to apologize for his letter, adding that, as a college teacher, he has a "duty do dissociate" himself from such lies.
This message applies to radical Israeli faculty as well. Although as citizens they have the right free expression, as scholars they have a duty to provide a realistic portrayal of reality, even if it does not fit their ideological platform.
|Localized Academic Boycott Initiatives Are Spreading|
|For months now, IAM has reported on a number of localized initiatives spurred either by Palestinian academic activists or their supporters. So far this activity was limited to liberal arts.
The tactics have now spread to engineering, threatening to politicize this formerly neutral field.
Dr. Ran Ginosar, an associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at the Technion was invited to keynote the IEEE MCSoC Workshop, an International Symposium on Embedded Multicore/Manycore System-on-Chip in the Embedded Multicore SoCs Software, in Japan in September 2013 that is sponsored by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
After accepting the invitation extended by the chair of the event, Professor Tomohiro Yoneda from NII, Tokyo, his keynote role was canceled; the chair of the Steering Committee of the IEEE, Professor Abderazek Ben Abdallah from Aizu University in Japan, a Tunisian- born, overruled Yoneda as he did not want the conference website to show a prominent speaker from Israel.
|Jerusalem Post: BDS’s aims, a response to the whitewashing of the BDS movement by BGU David Newman|
|The whitewashing of the BDS movement by David Newman (“Fighting on two fronts,” Borderline Views, May 14) cannot go unchallenged.
Who are the main advocates of this movement? Democratic, left-wing, liberal, pro-peace groups, as suggested? Factually, look at the supporters – a coterie of communists, Marxists, anarchists, simpletons and a sprinkling of do-gooders. Their last interest is democracy. If it were not, they would be up in arms concerning the slaughter in Muslim lands.
BDS advocates have one aim: the destruction of the Jewish state and its replacement with another Arab “democracy.” Thus it is also with Stephen Hawking. His negative influence counts for more than that of the numerous great people who will be attending the President’s Conference.
The so-called Right is the only movement defending Israel against those who by all means and with the most radical associates are trying to replace our embattled democracy with something that has never existed – a democratic Arab government for all.
|Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Chronicle: Stephen Hawking's Decision to Cancel Visit to Israel|
|Stephen Hawking's decision to withdraw from the conference "Make Tomorrow Happen" organized by President Shimon Peres, is arguably the most important victory of the academic boycott movement to date. Announced by the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP), Hawking's decision was prompted by a barrage of messages and pledges of Palestinian academics and their supporters. The world- famous physicist admitted that it was the unanimous advise of his "Palestinian colleagues" that made him snub Israel in this most public and humiliating way.
The intense pressure applied on Hawking is part of a new round of the academic boycott initiative led by Palestinians. As IAM reported,the new recruits to the cause are the Irish faculty, some Australian academics and the American Asian Studies Association.
It is hardly a coincidence that the push in the academe has been occurred at a time when the Arab spring is just a distant memory, replaced by growing Islamist sensibility, in which Christians, women and homosexuals have became a target. The civil war in Syria - where the regime has massacred its people and, by all accounts, used chemical weapons - is another black mark on the allegedly peaceful Arab culture. Boycotting Israeli academic and cultural events is a perfect diversionary tactic as it distracts attention from the brutal nature of the Middle East.
Those naive enough to believe the current round of boycott aims at forcing Israel to return to the negotiation table, should read Antonio Gramsci's Letters from Prison. The Italian communist imprisoned by Mussolini suggested such tactics to shield the European Left from the embarrassing behavior of the Soviet Union; he advised his disciples to attack the "capitalist West."
Hawking, reportedly in very poor health and susceptible to pressure, probably did not understand the real motives of his "Palestinian friends." But those familiar with Gramsci can recognize the radical hypocracy of the radical left.
|Academic Boycott and the "Good Professors"|
|Like many well-meaning liberal academics, Raphael Cohen-Almagor, a former professor who now heads the Middle East Study Group, is woefully mistaken about the real goal of boycotting Israel, most recently initiated by the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI).
He laments that the boycott is unfair,unjust and hurts scholars like himself who have been involved in human rights and the peace movement. He argues that, by undermining liberal Israeli faculty - a group dedicated to conflict resolution - the boycott strengthens the right- wing and further diminishes the chances for peace. The authors of the two posts quoted below are equally misinformed. They claim that the academic boycott would exempt "good Israeli professors," that is those who work for peace. They need to be reminded that Political Geography refused to accept an article by Oren Yiftachel, a leader in the activist camp, because its editor decided to boycott Israeli scholars. After a lengthy exchange, Yiftachel's article was accepted on the condition that he makes specific references to Israel as an apartheid state.
Cohen-Almagor and others fail to understand that the boycott movement has little do with solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; rather it is an effort to delegitimize Israel in the international arena. As the British novelists Iain Banks noted, "Feeling increasingly isolated, Israel is all the more vulnerable to further evidence that it, in turn, like the racist South African regime it once supported and collaborated with, is increasingly regarded as an outlaw state."
Behind the TUI or the British University and College Union (UCU) -a pioneer of the academic boycott movement- are numerous pro-Palestinian and radical leftist groups whose raison d'etre is the delegitimization of Israel. The multitude of NGO's that they represent has commanded impressive financial support from Arab countries, European governments, trade unions and foundations.
It would be naive to expect that the professional activists and the academics will give up their involvement, even if it hurts the peace efforts. For them, "good professors" such as Cohen-Almagor and his colleagues are just "collateral damage."
|Association for Asian American Studies Passed Resolution Supporting Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions|
|IAM has reported that, following a new campaign of pro-Palestinian groups, there has been an increase in academic boycotts of Israel around the world. The General Membership Association for Asian American Studies (AAAS) is the latest to embrace the Palestinian appeal. This is a highly significant step as the AAAS was previously not involved in the Middle East conflict.
The practical applications of this move are not yet clear. Israeli scholars may face difficulties in appearing at the AAAS conferences and have their papers rejected by journals sponsored by the AAAS and/or editors of journals who may feel bound by the decision. Israeli scholars who plan to spend a sabbatical leave in Asian studies departments may face similar difficulties.
According to pro Palestinian websites the resolution has passed.
|The BDS Movement Marches On|
|A recent debate among policy makers and academic experts wrestled with the issue of assessing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in the West. Assessing the impact of such an amorphous and multilayered phenomenon is never easy. Most observers rightly argue that, in spite of years of agitations and an enormous financial input by Arab states, the BDS has made little impact on the economy of the State of Israel and its international relations. They note that Israel today is much less isolated and indeed, its extensive network of diplomatic relations has never been stronger.
The one caveat to this assessment pertains to the academy. It should be noted that the BDS originated on the campus as a result of an alliance between Palestinian and Muslim groups and left-wing faculty for whom the Israeli-Palestinian conflict became the new fulcrum of activity following the end of the Vietnam War and the collapse of Communism.
Of late, the normally neutral Australian campus has entertained such notions. IAM reported that Jake Lynch a professor at Sidney University and an unabashed backer of BDS has launched a nation-wide campaign aimed at cutting contacts with academic institutions such as the Technion and Tel Aviv University.
Here are some recent campus developments:
The student body at the University of California recently voted in support of divestment from companies that have business relations with Israel.
The union of Irish faculty (see below) has joined its British colleagues in calling for a cultural boycott of Israel.
Afflicted with cancer and not expected to survive much longer, the British novelist Iain Banks urged to impose a cultural boycott on Israel because to this would matter to its self-esteem: "Feeling increasingly isolated, Israel is all the more vulnerable to further evidence that it, in turn, like the racist South African regime it once supported and collaborated with, is increasingly regarded as an outlaw state."
In a recent move, Canada's York University’s Federation of Students decided to join BDS which also claims support of graduate students unions at York, Concordia University, the University of Regina and the University of Toronto.
Clackmannanshire, a small council in Scotland recently resolved that “Clackmannanshire Council condemns the Government of Israel for its continuing illegal occupation of Palestine’s East Jerusalem and the West Bank and for its continuing illegal blockade of Gaza....Just as individual sanctions against apartheid in South Africa led ultimately to its demise there, so individual and collection sanctions against the state of Israel will end apartheid and suffering in Palestine. Clackmannanshire Council therefore resolves to resist, insofar as legislative considerations permit, any action that gives political or economic support to the State of Israel.”
Since universities educate the next generation of leaders, exposure to a one-sided "narrative" of the conflict is bound to influence their view on the issue. The BDS events, including Israeli Apartheid Week and open forums condemning Israel expand the reach of the "narrative" beyond students who attend courses on the Middle East- a field notoriously politicized by radical leftist faculty and/or instructors who hail from the Middle East.
Jewish students and faculty who try to stand up to the BDS often find themselves in the unhappy position of defending Israel before belligerent campus crowds. Many, unwilling to pay the cost, withdraw from the arena. Studies indicate that the Israeli problematique affects the identity of younger Jewish cohorts in several ways, most notably by loosening the once strong ties of affinity between Diaspora Jews and Israel.
The BDS movement has also imposed a heavy burden on the local Jewish community and the diplomatic service of the State of Israel as each of the numerous campus BDS events has to be responded to. Israeli diplomats had a particularly hard time presenting their case, requiring local Jewish activist to engage in remedial actions such as petitioning campus administration or mounting legal challenges. In a first of its kind, Kenneth Marcus founded the Louis D. Brandeis Center (LBC) for Human Rights Under the Law that advocates for the civil and human rights for the Jewish people. The LBC has launched an extensive legal outreach to Jewish students and faculty and has been involved in litigation arising out of particularly offensive cases of BDS activity.
While quite successful, such efforts drain the limited resources of pro-Israel advocates that could have been used to create a more realistic and positive picture of Israel.
|The BGU attack on the CHE as an excuse for academic boycott in the Sociological circles|
|The recent effort by Ben Gurion University to mobilize the international academic community in defense of its Department of Politics and Government stirred up renewed calls for academic boycott of Israel. As BGU Professor Rivka Carmi wrote in her letter to the Presidents of Israel’s research universities “there are many internal and external threats against Israeli academic institutions".
The following article is representative of the numerous new initiatives. The author quotes Carmi's letter: "This is not Ben-Gurion University’s private battle, but a struggle of all Israeli academic institutions […] Ratification of the current decision by the CHE is like hoisting a black flag over the independence of Israeli academics.”
Supporters of academic boycott evidently understand that adding Carmi to their arsenal of radical Israeli critics such as Ilan Pappe or Neve Gordon, is a potential game changer. It is too early to predict the results of the Ben Gurion University attack. One thing, however, is already clear. It will be more difficult for those who fight against the boycott movement on Western campuses to make their case for a country which is "hoisting a black flag over the independence of Israeli academics," as Carmi wrote.
|Israel Apartheid Week|
|Boycott call: TAU Amir Paz-Fuchs and BGU Uri Gordon, radical critics of Israel - the new recruits to British universities
|Amir Paz-Fuchs, formerly of Ono College and Tel Aviv University's Legal clinics and Uri Gordon, formerly from the Arava Institute, Ben Gurion University were the subject of a IAM reports before. Paz-Fuchs, who specializes in social justice and anti-privatization research, had occasionally ventured into the laws of the civilian administration, where he used his legal training to provide a misleading account of the legal underpinnings of the administrations. Gordon, a self-proclaimed anarchist, is the author of a how-to-do anarchist manual. The hiring of Gordon stood out even by questionable BGU practices of providing employment for radical activists.
Both are now in Great Britain, Paz-Fuchs (Associate Research Fellow, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, Faculty of Law, University of Oxford, as well as a visiting scholar at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, University of Oxford) and Gordon (Lecturer in Politics, Loughborough University) are not bound by the Israeli BDS law, they wasted little time to join hands with the Jews for Justice for Palestine (jfjfp), a group that initiated the boycott drive in the British academy and has been a staunch supporter of the University and College Union (UCU) current call for academic boycott of Israel. Indeed, the list of signatures of the jfjfp, reads like a who is who in the radical community.
This is hardly a coincidence, as the many British institutions of higher learning have employed radical critics of Israel, a practice that has only increased in recent years. Academic Freedom in Israel: A Comparative Perspective noted that Israeli Jewish academics are highly sought after to provide legitimacy to the various efforts to delegitmize Israel.
|Israeli academics and the BDS call in Australia|
|Australia is a relative newcomer to the BDS movement; however, in recent years Australian universities have been catching up. As IAM reported, Associate Professor Jake Lynch, a prominent pro-Palestinian activist, has used his position at the University of Sidney to launch a campaign of academic boycott. He was instrumental in nixing plans by a Hebrew University professor Dan Avnon, to spend a Sabbatical at the university.
Lynch, in cooperation with Students for Justice in Palestine, has launched a new campaign to severe links with the "criminal Technion - Israel Instituted of Technology."
A number of Israeli and former Israeli academics have lent legitimacy to anti-Israeli atmosphere in Australia. In addition to the ubiquitous Ilan Pappe, Marcelo Svirsky did his part. Gadi Algazi (TAU) has recently "discovered" the continent as well. Introduced as a professor at Tel Aviv University and peace activist, Algazi gave an interview (see below) which rejected Israel's right to build a separation fence on grounds of security. To the contrary, Algazi claimed that the fence is there to destroy the livelihood of Palestinian farmers and has nothing to do with security.
Naturally, Algazi has the right to free expression, but given he was interviewed on ABC' s national news where he was introduced as a TAU professor, it would behooved him to provide a more balanced coverage of events. As it is, once again, Algazi chose to provide a most biased and twisted "narrative."
The response of the Technion to the petition states that many universities in the world are engaged in projects that have security applications yet they are not routinely targeted.
That the Technion is singled out is part of a strategy of double standards by which Israeli institutions of higher learning are judged.
|BDS in Australia: The Center for Peace at Sydney University boycotts a Hebrew University proposal|
|Professor Jake Lynch, director of the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies at Sydney University refused to sponsor an application by Associate Professor Dan Avnon from the Hebrew University for a Sir Zelman Cowen Fellowship to carry out research on coexistence of diverse communities in Australia at the Center. Lynch, who hosted Professor Ilan Pappe, justified his position on the grounds of solidarity with the Palestinian call to boycott Israeli academic and cultural institutions.
Avnon, who created one of the few program for Israeli-Arab dialogue at the Hebrew University was taken aback, noting that a department focusing on peace and conflict would boycott him. Avnon's reaction is probably sincere but at the same time naive about the so-called peace research. IAM reported that Johan Galtung, the intellectual architect of peace studies, has used the semantics of peace to push for a radical anti-Israel agenda. Galutung's crowning achievement was to inspire a dense and highly interlocking network of "peace" and conflict resolution departments, centers and programs to voice pro-Palestinian grievances and delegitmize Israel.
Indeed, Lynch has a long record of extreme pro-Palestinian advocacy using the academic legitimacy of the the Center to spread views that occasionally border on anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. For instance, he accused Jews of engineering the removal of former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and replacing him with Julia Gillard.
Under Lynch's helm, the Sydney Peace Foundation made Noam Chomsky the 2011 winner of its Gold Medal. Other winners include the rabidly anti-Israeli journalist John Pilger, the WikiLeaks Julian Assange and Irene Khan, the former head of Amnesty International (AI) who was accused of ignoring Taliban atrocities while concentrating on American alleged abuses at Guantanamo Bay.
Lynch is on the board of the Translation Institution for Peace and Future Research, where the highly controversial UN Rapporteur Richard Falk also serves. Lynch is also on Toda International Advisory Council, a perch for some of the most ardent opponents of Israel and pro-Iranian advocates. In 2005, Toda Institute brought out Facts, Rights and Remedies: Implementing International Law in the Israel/Palestine Conflict, to spur the use of legal remedies to protect Palestinians.
Lynch, who is deeply involved in the BDS movement, is a prolific media publicist for the Palestinian cause. In 2011 he protested the hosting of "Israel Research Forum'' at the University, arguing that it would offend Muslim students.
Lynch's high profile activities have attracted public attention before. Calls to investigate the use of Australian taxpayers money to support the Center have recently increased, some of them carried by the Rupert Murdoch - owned newspaper, the Australian. The threat was apparently enough to elicit a fast response from the University. A spokesman stated that Lynch did not represent the University position and spoke for "himself and maybe two of his colleagues" when he rejected Avnon's application.
|HUJ Nurit Peled defies the law making it illegal to advocate for BDS "Now is the time for a military embargo on Israel"|
|Since the Knesset passed a law making it illegal to advocate Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) in 2011, a number of academics came out in public in support some facet of BDS. As IAM reported, they included, Neve Gordon, Merav Amir, Anat Matar. Nurit Peled Elhanan, who has defied the law more than once, joined a petition calling to impose a military embargo. |
|Ilan Pappe in a call to 6.5 million UK workers to boycott Israel and to express solidarity with Palestinians living in Gaza|
|The Palestine News Network (PNN):
Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) said in a press release that next week, the Trades Union Congress, which represents 6.5 million workers in the UK, will vote on a motion to express solidarity with Palestinians living in Gaza.
The motion builds on existing TUC policy to boycott companies which profit from Israel's illegal occupation, settlements and wall (passed in 2010 and 2011). Successful consumer pressure has already seen most supermarkets in Britain remove settlement produce from their shelves.
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign will also be holding a fringe meeting at lunchtime on Tuesday 11 September, with a wide range of key trade union figures, to discuss how trade unions can build solidarity with Palestine.
Tabled by the Communication Workers Union, and seconded by the PCS, the motion P76 notes the call from 50 international charities and UN Agencies to end Israel's blockade on Gaza, and violations of international law affecting 1.6 million Palestinians, over half of whom are children. It also instructs the TUC General Council to 'organise a delegation to Gaza, in conjunction with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, to determine how the TUC may most effectively contribute to the end of the blockade'.
PSC fringe meeting at lunchtime on Tuesday 11 September, Syndicate 4 inside the Brighton Centre. Speakers include Prof Ilan Pappe, Director Exeter Uni Centre for Palestine Studies
|[Haifa U, Gender] Dalit Baum in support of The Presbyterian Church BDS motion|
|For those of us who spent yesterday listening to the debate at the Presbyterian General Assembly in Pittsburgh, it was exciting to hear the powerful testimonies on the floor and the strong consensus in the conference against the occupation. It was bitterly disappointing, however, to see the vote split in the middle 50/50 with two votes for the opposition (333-331 with 2 abstentions). The action called for by Palestinians themselves, divestment from Caterpillar, HP and Motorola did not pass yesterday, and it was replaced by a colonial-mentality idea of investment in the Palestinian economy.
But the close vote shows again how investment in the occupation is a crisis of conscience for the church. It is important to see how all the major church institutions have supported divestment and today have kept trying to solve this crisis by offering other ways forward. The assembly voted today by 57% to accept a recommendation by the Board of Pensions to create a "choice of conscience" option for Pension holders troubled by investments in Caterpillar, Motorola, and Hewlett Packard, which would be voted on for approval at the next General Assembly.
Finally, for the good news – the vote this morning was overwhelmingly in favor of the boycott of all settlement products. See the press release below.
|Israeli academics and the Presbyterian Church proposal to divest from companies for doing business with Israel|
|The General Assembly of The Presbyterian Church USA rejected by two votes a proposal to divest from American companies – Caterpillar, Motorola and Hewlett-Packard – to punish them for doing business with Israel. The GA voted to boycott products like Ahava cosmetics because they are “profiting from the occupation.”
Since 2004, the BDS campaign has been driven by the Palestine-Israel Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church USA; this time its head, Katherine Cunningham expressed hope that the divestment vote would pass during the next GA meeting in 2013.
As part of its legal warfare (lawfare) project, IAM has periodically reported on the leading role of Israeli academics in the BDS drive. As a matter of fact, the idea to boycott products from the territories was conceived by Matzpen in February 1988; it was modeled on the successful struggle against apartheid in South Africa. Matzpen sympathizers in the academy took up the call; in March 1988, a group called “The 21st Year” organized by Hannan Hever, from the Hebrew University and Adi Ophir (now at TAU) published a Covenant for the Struggle Against the Occupation; its members declared their refusal “to collaborate with the Occupation and pledged to do either part or all of the following: never enter the occupied territories without an invitation from their Arab inhabitants, not allow their children to be exposed to the racist bias of the school system, boycott institutions and products of companies whose Palestinian employees are denied human dignity and decent working conditions, boycott goods produced by Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, never confuse acts of protest and resistance by Palestinians with acts of terror, refuse any military command ordering them to take part in acts of repression or policing in the occupied territories and protest every act of violence and injustice committed by the Israeli regime in the occupied territories”.
Over the years, Rachel Giora, a professor at Tel Aviv University has become the leading voice in the BDS movement at home and abroad. In 2008 she joined a number of other activist faculty including Anat Matar (TAU) and Kobi Snitz (Weizmann Institute) to create BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestine BDS call from within. These and other pro-boycott faculty such as Neve Gordon (BGU), Ilan Pappe (former Haifa U), Dalit Baum (Haifa U), Merav Amir (Hebrew U) have launched or helped numerous BDS initiatives ranging from the British academics call to boycott Israeli universities to the latest actions of the Presbyterian Church USA. Israeli pro-boycott scholars have been in high demand in the BDS drive. Indeed, the website of the Palestine-Israel Mission Network, Presbyterian Church USA carries Gordon’s endorsement of a book Steadfast Hope, which is used to promote divestment.
|[Ex-Haifa U, Now Exeter U] Ilan Pappe: "The Boycott Will Work" an Israeli Perspective|
|Introduction from Sonja Karkar with Australians for Palestine.
(MELBOURNE) - Editor’s Note: Ilan Pappé, celebrated Israeli Historian and author, argues that the BDS movement is the best means to end Israel's oppressive occupation and prevent another Nakba. He says: “For an activist, the realization that change from within is unattainable not only grows from an intellectual or political process, but is more than anything else an admission of defeat. And it was this fear of defeatism that prevented me from adopting a more resolute position for a very long time. . . I came to realize that the problem was not a particular policy or a specific government, but one more deeply rooted in the ideological infrastructure informing Israeli decisions on Palestine and the Palestinians ever since 1948.”
|'Palestine Chronicle' on the Palestinian Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement Against Israel|
|Dr. Vacy Vlazna is Coordinator for Justice for Palestine Matters and an activist in the Palestinian Boycott Divestment and Sanction (BDS) Movement against Israel.
Even by the standards of pro-Palestinian groups, her writing is full of egregious misrepresentations, starting with the statement that "Israeli universities are military laboratories funded by Israeli and US warmongers and profiteers." Israeli faculty who support boycotting Israel should take note of her virulent language.
In the interest of self-disclosure, IAM is not a right- wing organization that keeps a "black list" of dissenters, but rather an academic NGO which follows the publications of radical academics who use the classroom as an extension of their political agenda.
"Academic boycott of Israeli institutions and of the infestation of Israeli military interests in our own universities, as well as BDS generally, is a matter of life and death for the people of Palestine. It is an action, we the people can achieve while our governments and the UN stand by and collude in war crimes against Palestine that for 65 years have accelerated and gone unpunished."
|Palestinian Appeal to Legal Scholars: Boycott INjustice Conference at Hebrew University!|
|The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) urges international legal scholars and professionals to boycott the Minerva Jerusalem Conference on Transitional Justice, scheduled for 29-31 October 2012 at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, an academic institution that is deeply complicit in Israel’s occupation and systematic racial oppression of the Palestinian people.
The Minerva Center for Human Rights at the Hebrew University, the sponsor of the conference, is part and parcel of the academic establishment in Israel. As such, it is implicated in the institutional structures that maintain and uphold the system of colonial control and apartheid over Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory and over those who are citizens of Israel [i], and which denies Palestinian refugees their internationally recognized right to return to their homes and their lands.
We ask international scholars to consider the symbolism of the venue of this conference. The Hebrew University is itself implicated in serious violations of international law.
|IAM Purim Special: Various items on Israel Apartheid Week / in Canada / Dalit Baum |
|** Published in Palestinian Press: Maariv: “Muslim Woman, Israel’s Secret Weapon To Counter Apartheid Week”. Israeli paper Maariv published a report stating that a Muslim woman from Dir Hanna Arab town, north of the country, is part of an Israeli team that was set up to counter the “Israeli Apartheid Week” held in colleges in South Africa.
** Commentary Magazine: Why Do Arabs and Muslims Keep Trying to Move to the “Apartheid State”? By Evelyn Gordon. As Israel Apartheid Week circumnavigates the globe this month, a Jordan-based Palestinian journalist has offered an eloquent rebuttal that every Israel supporter should memorize and quote. If Israel is really an “apartheid state,” asks Ramzi Abu Hadid, “Why has it become the dream of many Arab Christians and Muslims to emigrate to the ‘apartheid state’?
** :Canada Minister Kenney Issues Statement on 'Israeli Apartheid Week': The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, issued the following statement on 'Israeli Apartheid Week': "Like many Canadians I am concerned with the rise of anti-Israel activities on campuses across Canada, culminating in the so-called 'Israeli Apartheid Week' (IAW), which is often promoted in a manner that disregards the rights and safety of Jewish students and professors.
** CANADA: Global Regina: Opposition to Israeli Apartheid Week grows. Israeli Apartheid Week has been called “offensive” and “anti-Semitic” by the Prime Minister. Tuesday, Liberal leader Bob Rae said it continues to defy logic. In the last several days, two Saskatchewan Members of Parliament have also spoken out against the University of Regina’s Israeli Apartheid Week, calling it simplistic, prejudicial and insulting to all Israeli citizens.
** U OF O WATCH - CREATING TRANSPARENCY: Faculty for Palestine (Canada) calls for action to redress the Allan Rock administration. Today Faculty for Palestine put out this call: *URGENT CALL FOR SOLIDARITY: UNIVERSITY OF OTTAWA TRIES TO SILENCE SOLIDARITY FOR PALESTINIAN HUMAN RIGHTS (SPHR) AND WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT!* Defend the right to critical discussion around Israeli apartheid on our campuses! Call on the University of Ottawa Administration to uphold free expression and follow clear and transparent procedures.
** The National, United Arab Emirates: It may all be academic, but the US is shifting on Palestine. By Effie-Michelle Metallidis. On university campuses, few things stir the blood like talk of social justice. And so the announcement that students at Harvard's Kennedy School would host a "one-state" conference on Israel and Palestine sent pitchforks flying through the air in Boston last weekend.
|IAM Purim Special: The ‘One State Conference’ / BDS: agents of destruction / Tufts & Concordia Universities
|** The ‘One State Conference’: much ado about nothing
Harvard assembly disappoints on drama
By ELHANAN MILLER
CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts — Margot Einstein stands under a colorful umbrella across from Harvard’s Kennedy School carrying a sign that reads “Shame on Harvard.” She has passed her 80th year, but decided to venture out of her home in Newton on this drizzly morning to protest the “One State Conference” taking place nearby.
** BDS: agents of destruction
By Tabitha Korol
It's time to take a look at the BDS (boycott, divestment, sanction) speakers and their credentials.
** BDS Campaign National Committee
One-state conference at Harvard signifies possible new front in campus Israel wars
By Penny Schwartz
Opening panel of the one-state conference at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, March 3, 2012. BOSTON (JTA) -- To critics, the one-state conference held at Harvard University was a thinly veiled assault on the legitimacy of the Jewish state.
** Students for Justice in Palestine hosts Israeli Apartheid Week
By Senait Debesu
The Tufts chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) last week hosted its first annual Israeli Apartheid Week, an international initiative aimed presenting Palestinian narratives, examining Israeli policies toward Palestinians and fostering discussion among the Tufts community.
** Israel Apartheid Week, Inside Israel Speaker Series Kicks Off
“The Israeli government, as a project, has been systematically oppressing the Palestinian people in several different ways,” said Doug Smith, a member of Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights and the spokesperson for IAW, which ends on March 13.Concordia will be hosting two very different views on the Middle East in coming weeks, as eighth annual Israel Apartheid Week kicks off on March 5, followed by the inaugural Inside Israel Speaker Series.
|Israel Academia Monitor Purim Special on the "Israeli Apartheid Week"|
|** The Middle East’s real apartheid. By EFRAIM KARSH
The Jewish State's supporters find it difficult to agree on the best response to Israel Apartheid Week.
** OnCampus Maclean's, Canada: It’s ‘apartheid’ time again. Pick your villain. By Emma Teitel
Students boycott Israel, but are blasé about Syria. Why?
** Israeli Apartheid Week and BDS are not the answers: A response from the Progressive Zionist Club on campus
** We, McGill Students for Israel, strongly condemn Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) and the Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement as a whole. Though IAW’s stated intent is to advocate for Palestinian human rights, their actions end up serving to demonize and delegitimize Israel
** Economic Mapping of Apartheid - Israeli Apartheid Week : Opening night of the 8th annual Israeli Apartheid Week. Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) is being held in 80 cities around Canada and throughout the world, occurring in multiple venues in Toronto from March 5th to March 10th 2012.
|Neve Gordon, Merav Amir in the new upcoming book "The Case for Sanctions Against Israel" Dalit Baum, Ilan Pappe too|
|Neve Gordon (BGU, Politics and Government) and Merav Amir (HUJ, Lafer Center) have joined a virtual "who is who" of Israel bashers to advocate Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). Among their co-contributors to a book that purports to make a case for BDS is Angela Davis, a former leader of the Communist Party USA and the Black Panther, Omar Barghouti, the founder of the Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, Dalit Baum, a former U of Haifa lecturer who left her job to take an active role in the American BDS movement, Ilan Pappe of Exeter University who is accused of fabricating a reference to support his "narrative" of pre-planned wholesale ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in 1948.
Evidently, the Knesset legislation that makes it illegal to support BDS did not deter Gordon and Amir. Academic authorities should investigate their action since it seems to violates the law and breaches public trust. Israeli taxpayers deserve better than having their monies spent on hostile propaganda that hurts the national interests of the country.
|Israeli Apartheid Week with [U Haifa] Dalit Baum, [Sapir College] Eyal Sivan and [U Leicester UK] Claudia Prestel
|Israeli Apartheid Week has become a very successful way to delegitimize Israel on campuses across the world.
Spurred by the success of the boycott movement against South Africa, Palestinian activists pushed for the idea of branding Israel as an apartheid state. They were helped by radical Israeli scholars such as Oren Yiftachel who published a number of works describing Israel's alleged creeping apartheid. The apartheid label was instrumental in launching the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which is popular on campuses. As IAM reported, radical Israeli academics have supported the BDS movement.
|[TAU] Anat Matar, Rachel Giora & [Weizmann] Kobi Snitz sign petition against Cornell U & Technion collaboration|
|When Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the Cornell University - Technion partnership the winners of an intense international competition to built a highly prestigious graduate science center in New York, few were surprised. Israel and its leading institutions including the Technion has become a scientific powerhouse, a fact that many observers have commented on. As Mayor Bloomberg noted, the new cutting- edge facility will become "transformative" in a variety of fields such as science education and biotechnology that would benefit not just New York and the United States but the global community.
For radical academics such as Anat Matar (TAU) Rachel Giora (TAU) and Kobi Snitz (Weizmann Institute) none of this matters. Using the shopworn slogans of the BDS movement, they signed a petition asking Cornell University to boycott the Technion. Among others, they state that the Technion suppressed the freedom of speech of Palestinian students during the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. This is highly ironic, as Haaretz published documents indicating that the Flotilla secured the cooperation of Bashar Assad, who was eager to score a public relation point against Israel.
Worse, Matar and her academic peers, always eager to show solicitousness toward the plight of the Palestinians, have ignored the death of thousands of Syrians at the hands of the brutal regime.
|A BDS group to meet HUJ & TAU academics in an "Educational Tour/Delegation To Palestine/Israel" June 15–21, 2012|
|Israeli academics meet with Faculty For Israeli-Palestinian Peace, a group that advocates for BDS, under the guise of "educational tours". Its mission statement includes:
"We strongly believe that no justice and no peace can be achieved without Israeli withdrawal from all occupied territories, and that anybody truly and honestly favoring peaceful coexistence must support such withdrawal."
The Israeli academics are HUJ Daphna Golan, Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, Yonathan Mizrachi, Amos Goldberg and TAU Yehouda Shenhav.
In Ramallah, FFIPP Meets with Omar Barghouti, a founding member of the BDS campaign
|TAU Rachel Giora Debates on Cultural Boycott: Methods, Aims and Effectiveness. BRICUP Newsletter 47|
|Rachel Giora of Tel Aviv University, a leading
member of Boycottt from Within, started this
debate by asking BRICUP whether an action that
requires relaxation of principles can be effective.
She argued that the demonstration inside the Hall
did indeed involve the relaxation of an important
principle – the freedom of expression. This is
certainly an interesting question: here is Rachel’s
Protesting the performance of the Israeli
Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) was a major event,
and, in various respects, historical and
unprecedented. As a member of the global BDS
movement I am taking the liberty here to share my
thoughts (for future sake) on a very touchy topic: Is
it possible that some of the actions, so carefully
crafted, reaching high levels of ingenuity, might
have curbed, if not violated freedom of expression?
|[Haifa U, Gender] February, U Penn: Dalit Baum to speak in a Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Conference |
|On the first weekend in February, academics, activists, students and community leaders from across the US will converge on the University of Pennsylvania for the 2012 National Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Conference.
Picking up where the 2009 Hampshire conference left off, we will continue growing the movement with two days of panel discussions, debates, activist workshops, and keynotes by Ali Abunimah and novelist Susan Abulhawa touching on every aspect of the multifarious global effort to heed the BDS Call and bring an end to Israel’s system of oppression, segregation and dispossession.
Our speakers include journalists, professors, artists, writers, lawyers, and human and civil rights activists from various ethnic, religious, cultural and social communities. Special attention will be devoted to building alliances and uniting in struggle with other constituencies engaged in resistance to bigotry in all its forms, from African Americans to those fighting for LGBT rights.
Saturday’s sessions will focus on comparative historical, sociological and philosophical analysis of BDS, both in its Israeli-Palestinian context and as a general tactic. Voices critical of certain aspects of BDS will be represented, and “tough questions” for the movement will be dealt with in a progressive, universalist framework. Sunday’s sessions will foreground movement-building and provide participants with the practical tools they need to launch or enhance BDS campaigns in their communities.
We believe the conference will be an invaluable resource for new activists and a momentum-building opportunity for those already engaged with the fight for Palestinian freedom and equality.
|Swedish call for academic boycott of Israel: Demands that Royal Inst. of Technology cancels agreement with Technion|
|218 signed the call for a Swedish academic boycott of Israel
Swedish universities must not participate in research or any other type of cooperation with Israeli academic institutions. The Swedish government should act for the cessation of EU’s research support to Israel, which will inevitably strengthen the continued occupation of Palestine. This is what 218 Swedish persons demand in a Call for academic boycott of Israel. Twelve of the signatories are professors, while 14 are associate professors, 23 senior lecturers or researchers and 70 are students.
The boycott is not aimed at individuals but against institutions. So far no Israeli academic institution has dissociated itself from Israel’s apartheid policy or the discrimination of Palestinians in Israel. Therefore all collaboration with Israeli academic institutions should be stopped, the signatories say.
|[Duke, Math] Rann Bar-On, currently working with North Carolina BDS, emphasizing BDS as a tool to pressure Israel|
Duke Department of Mathematics
Rann Bar-On is an Israeli citizen of Jewish origin. He has been active on Palestine-Israel issues since a very young age. In recent years, he has worked with the International Solidarity Movement and the Palestine Solidarity Project in the West Bank, as well as with Israeli Anarchists Against the Wall. He was an organizer and spokesperson for the Palestine Solidarity Movement conference at Duke University in 2004 and is currently working with North Carolina Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, a new local activist group emphasizing BDS as a tool to pressure Israel into ending its occupation of Palestinian land. He also serves as faculty advisor to Duke Students for Justice in Palestine.
|Members of "BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within" call South African students to boycott Israel|
|We are members of BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within, a group of Israeli students, professors, citizens, and residents who are active against our government's policies of apartheid, occupation and racism. We would like to express our solidarity with South Africa's leading student groups, who intend to challenge and boycott a delegation of Israeli students arriving in South Africa on a propaganda mission, titled, "What Is Rael", on 11/8/2011. The Israeli student delegation is part of a well-orchestrated Israeli establishment attempt to whitewash severe violations of human rights, including war crimes, through a fictitious display of "diversity and democracy".|
|[U of Haifa, Gender] Dalit Baum and others promote cultural Boycott of Israel. Brooklyn, Sept. 15, 2011|
|Background: Many artists and musicians and others oppose the Israeli occupation and support the cultural boycott of Israel--which is part of the international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign-as a non-violent way to press Israel to abide by international law and recognize Palestinians' human rights and self-determination. This boycott includes the decision not to perform or exhibit in Israel or in settlements in the Occupied Territories. This also includes a call to boycott Israeli institutions that are complicit with the occupation. Supporters of BDS and of cultural boycott have joined an appeal called for by Palestinian civil society asking the international community to use this nonviolent tool at a time when the Israeli government, as well as the U.S. and European governments, have failed to act to stop the abuses that are intensifying and when other forms of pressure have not been successful. |
|HUJ Nurit Peled-Elhanan "Israeli Activists Support South African Student Call to Boycott Israeli Propaganda Mission"|
|"We support your resistance to the Israeli government's propaganda in your universities and your efforts in advocating the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Israel campaign at your campuses.
"Professor Professor Nurit Peled-Elhanan and 25 others on behalf of BOYCOTT!
|"Pluralistic" International Panel on Academic Boycotts, all panelists in favor academic boycott of Israel (Wits U, South Africa)|
|Over 50 critical social analysts and scholars are congregating at Wits until 20 July 2011 to interrogate various issues with the aim of overcoming fractures within the world of global scholarship as part of the annual Johannesburg Workshop in Theory and Criticism, hosted by the Wits Faculty of Humanities.
Esteemed scholars including Judith Butler, Farid Esack a South African scholar, David Goldberg from the University of California, Premesh Lalu Professor of History at the University of the Western Cape and Ran Greenstein and Trustee of the District Six Museum will debate Academic Boycott:
Denormalisation and the Ordinary State this Thursday 14 July at 18:00 in the Wiser Seminar Room. Butler will also deliver a lecture titled Is Judaism Zionism? on Tuesday,19 July.
|Israeli academics join the Palestinian call for a BDS campaign against Israel: "POINTS OF UNITY"|
| (see the names at the bottom of this page and click for affiliation)
Among the signatories:Bar-On Rann , Baum Dalit , Beirach Barak Yoav , Bresheeth Haim , Davis Uri , Giora Rachel , Hadar Uri , Katz Teddy , Lentin Ronit , Loshitzky Yosefa , Matar Anat , Misgav Chen , nir eyal , peled-elhanan nurit , Razinsky Hili , Sivan Eyal , Snitz Kobi , Svirsky Marcelo.
For Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) on behalf of Palestinian rights
We, Palestinians, Jews, citizens of Israel, join the Palestinian call for a BDS campaign against Israel, inspired by the struggle of South Africans against apartheid.1 We also call on others to do the same.
We are devoted to the promotion of just peace and true democracy in this region. We are particularly opposed to Western governments' decision to boycott the Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, most especially in besieged Gaza. This is particularly outrageous given the same Western governments' prolonged support of Israel's apartheid and other daily violations of international law.
|[Duke University] Rann Bar-On: I call for boycott against the State of Israel in order to harm Israel by means of boycott|
|I (Ran Baron, ID number: 036490597) hereby call for any person to deliberately avoid economic, cultural or academic ties with another person or another factor only because of his ties with the State of Israel, one of its institutions or an area under its control, in such a way that may cause economic, cultural or academic damage. I knowingly publish a public call for a boycott against the State of Israel, hoping that according to the content and circumstances of the publication there is reasonable probability that the call will bring about a boycott; I am aware of this possibility.|
|[Weizmann Institute] Kobi Snitz, a BDS leader behind the cancellation of lecture by Dr. Richard Stallman at U of Haifa|
|Mr. Snitz advises both myself and RMS that in order to make sure the talk in Israel meets the standards of the BDS-supporting organization which is "hosting" RMS then the talks in Israel must be both sponsored by a BDS supporting organization and held in a hall "owned/run" by a BDS supporting organization. Snitz's words were, "in order to not violate the boycott the sponsors and the place should be dissenting israeli groups and institutions".|
|[TAU] Anat Matar and [Weizmann Inst] Kobi Snitz reiterate support of the Palestinian call for BDS against Israel|
|We hereby support and promote the recent Palestinian call for an immediate and comprehensive military embargo on Israel due to its consistent resort to violence and deadly attacks on Palestinians and Arab civilians; we stand with Jewish Voice for Peace in their campaign to bring TIAA-CREF to divest from the Israeli occupation; and, we support and encourage all other BDS-related divestment campaigns, such as the campaign to Derail Israel’s Unlawful A1 Train Project.
Lastly, we urge artists scheduled to perform in Israel to send a clear message that the Israeli occupation, the institutionalized discrimination of Israel's own Palestinian citizens and Israel's denial of the right of return and compensation of the Palestinian refugees
|Knesset votes in favor of 'boycott bill'|
|The Knesset approved on Monday the second and third readings of the ‘Boycott Bill’ which prevents companies from participating in government bids if they take part in a boycott of a business in Israel.
The bill, which passed by a majority of 47 to 38, stipulates that anyone calling for an economic, cultural or academic boycott against the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria will be unable to participate in government tenders. In addition, any person who considers himself a victim of a boycott could sue the boycotter for compensation.
|UCU - University and College Union, UK - UCU Congress 2011: Threats to academic freedom in Israel and Palestine|
|Congress instructs NEC to:
circulate to all members
the call by the Israeli academics
the PACBI call for academic and cultural boycott of Israel
information about the current legislation passing through the Knesset threatening heavy fines and other penalties on Israelis taking non-violent action against the occupation.
seek a delegation to meet the Israeli Ambassador to raise our concerns
press the Foreign Office to protest to the Israeli Government
raise the issue with Education International and press them to seek similar action by all affiliates
publicise these threats and our actions in response.
|[Sapir] Eyal Sivan, a big supporter of the cultural boycott thinks it is just and important boycott, should be implemented widely|
|As a big supporter of the cultural boycott - because I think it is a just and an important boycott - it should be implemented widely. At the same time, we have to give a new sense to the notion of what it means to be in a common struggle. Maybe we have to think that, in order to reinforce the boycott in parallel, we have to reinforce the common cultural struggle. |
|[TAU student, Gender] Leehee Rothschild boycotts Israel from within "joining the BDS movement is an act of caring"|
|As an Israeli, Rothschild considers joining the BDS movement to be an act of caring. It is tough love for the country she was born and raised in.
"I hope that, for some people, it will be a slap in their face and they will wake up and see what's going on," Rothschild says, adding that the oppressor is oppressed, as well.
"The Israeli people are also oppressed by the occupation - they are living inside a society that is militant; that is violent; that is racist."
|Boycott: U of Johannesburg voted to allow its formal relationship with BGU to lapse on 1 April 2011|
|In a protracted and spirited debate, the Senate of the University of Johannesburg (UJ) today voted to allow its formal relationship with Ben-Gurion University (BGU) in Israel to lapse on 1 April 2011
This was one of two options put to the vote in the Senate, the second being to allow the formal relationship with BGU to continue and to develop bilateral relations with both BGU and Palestinian universities.
Sixty percent of the Senate (72 members present) voted to allow the Memorandum of Understanding with BGU to lapse, while the balance 40 percent (45 members present ) voted for bilateral agreements.
The Senate vote effectively upholds an earlier resolution that placed conditions on its continued relationships with BGU, among them the inclusion of Palestinian university partners.
|[Ex-Dean at Sapir College, now UEL] Haim Bresheeth to the Coen Brothers: Don't Accept Tel Aviv U Dan David Prize|
|Your appearance in Israel will unfortunately help camouflage the brutal realities of a powerful and illegal military occupation. However much you believe you can go there simply as artists, your presence will be spun to reassure the Israeli public that their ruthless colonial society is ‘normal’, and to promote Brand Israel abroad. You will be saying, to Israelis and to the world, that Israel’s violently racist treatment of the Palestinians is acceptable.|
|The Congress of South Africa Trade Unions called on Johannesburg University to terminate "any relationship" with Israel's Ben Gurion University|
|It [BGU] has consistently refused to oppose the Israeli government's attempts to silence academics that support sanctions against Israel and so it is a much compromised institution whose reputation and credibility are in tatters," said Cosatu spokesperson Bongani Masuku in a statement.
He described BGU as "a university that actively collaborates with the Israeli Defence Force in its enforcement of apartheid occupation against Palestinians, by offering special privileges and services to the army".
|Bill to punish anti-Israel boycotters passes first Knesset hurdle, left-wing organizations promise to disobey|
|The articles follow a Hebrew notice: Sent by Tamara Traubmann, not only Haaretz journalist, but also a Media and Communications Coordinator to the Coalition of Women for Peace and a researcher at its "Who Profits of the Occupation?" project. Under the flagship of both the Coalition and a newly established group "We Will Oppose The Occupation", it is announced that left-wing organizations promise to disobey the new anti-boycott law.
|On Academic Boycott: Exchange program between University of Ottawa, Canada and University of Haifa frozen|
|WHEREAS it has not been determined if Palestinian students from the University of Ottawa or the University of Haifa shall have full and equitable access to the program in question, and;
WHEREAS there is presently local and international expressed concern about Israel’s domestic and foreign policy and a broad international call for an academic boycott of Israel,
THEREFORE in order to ensure fair and equitable access of all persons to the program in question without discrimination, the Senate requires the affirmative action guarantee that applications be selected in such a way that the percentage of Palestinian students accepted into the program at the University of Haifa be equal to or greater than the percentage of Palestinian people living in Israel, and;
THEREFORE the Joint Masters in Laws (LL.M) exchange program shall be frozen and the application process put on hold until the above actions have been carried out by the Senate.
|TAU Prof. Rachel Giora asks Poland to boycott Israel while bill to prohibits boycott approved in preliminary reading|
|On Tuesday, as the Knesset debated a law against boycotts on Israel, a group of radical left Israeli academics turned to the government of Poland (the incoming president of the European Union) and demanded action against what they termed the “crimes of the occupation” perpetrated by Israel. The group is headed by Professor Rachel Giora of Tel Aviv University.|
|[TAU Philosophy] Omar Barghouti, PhD student of Marcelo Daskal expresses support of 155 Professors calling to boycott Ariel U|
|World academics should seriously consider an academic boycott of the Ariel college-colony, at the very least, as a first step towards a full boycott of all Israeli academic institutions involved in planning, implementing, justifying or whitewashing Israel's colonial rule and apartheid. While at it, they may want to consider the compelling boycott case against Hebrew University, too, as an institution that has been guilty -- for several more decades than Ariel -- of maintaining a campus mostly on Palestinian
territory occupied by Israel in 1967, in clear violation of the Fourth
Geneva Convention, among other violations.
|[U of Haifa, Gender and TAU, Minerva Humanities] Dalit Baum and Merav Amir - For taking the profit out of occupation|
|-each speaker paid homage to Dalit, Merav and Who Profits as having provided the information essential to his or her work. It finally dawned on me that without Dalit, Merav and their impeccably documented research the work done by activists around the world to support the Palestinian initiated Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions Movement (BDS) would be a hundred times more difficult if not impossible.
In fact, in mid-December, the Palestinian Boycott National Committee (BNC), in a press advisory about the A-1 Train Project (the Tel Aviv to Jerusalem light rail) and the theft of Palestinian land involved in its construction, said,
The BNC thanks and warmly salutes the Coalition of Women for Peace and its Who Profits from the Occupation? project, whose valuable and timely research on the A1 train project and complicit companies will facilitate a successful campaign.
|[TAU] Eyal Naveh's "Dual Narrative History Project". There is a strong Palestinian movement to boycott cooperation with Israeli academics|
|Sami Adwan says that he will be travelling to Sweden in a few days...The idea was that he would travel with a Palestinian delegation, but now it seems that the others have backed out. There is a strong Palestinian movement that wants to boycott all cooperation with Israeli academics because this ‘normalises’ the occupation of the West Bank and delays a solution to the conflict. |
|Friday Special: Arab Media working to promote Boycott Divetment and Sanctions against Israel|
|Alternative Information Center: Five Australian Unions Support BDS of Israel
Middle East Monitor: Student activism and the pro-Palestinian movement gains momentum
Arab American News: Campuses work to further the BDS movement
Electronic Intiffada: Montreal activists launch campus boycott campaign
|African academics launch boycott campaign against Israeli universities |
|Hundreds of African academics with the support of international influential figures announced an initiative to boycott Israeli universities until their state ends its occupation of the Palestinian territories.
More than 200 academics from 13 African universities pledged in a statement reported by different media outlets on Sunday to support the initiative made the university of Johannesburg which calls for ending academic cooperation with the Israeli occupation.
|Statement of Nobel Laureates on Academic BDS Actions Against Israeli Academics|
|Believing that academic and cultural boycotts, divestments and sanctions in the academy are:
* antithetical to principles of academic and scientific freedom,
* antithetical to principles of freedom of expression and inquiry, and
* may well constitute discrimination by virtue of national origin,
We, the undersigned Nobel Laureates, appeal to students, faculty colleagues and university officials to defeat and denounce calls and campaigns for boycotting, divestment and sanctions against Israeli academics, academic institutions and university-based centers and institutes for training and research, affiliated with Israel.
|Over 150 faculty members from universities across the country vowed not to lecture in settlements|
|In the academics' letter, released yesterday, over 150 faculty members from universities across the country vowed not to lecture or participate in any discussions in settlements, and voiced support for the theater artists who have said they would refuse to perform in the West Bank city. "We will not take part in any kind of cultural activity beyond the Green Line, take part in discussions and seminars, or lecture in any kind of academic setting in these settlements," the academics wrote.
Signatories of the academic petition included Zeev Sternhell and Yael Sternhell, Nissim Calderon, Anat Biletzki, Ziva Ben-Porat, Yaron Ezrachi, Aeyal Gross, Shlomo Sand, Dan Rabinowitz, Neve Gordon and Oren Yiftachel.
|Anti-Israel 'Times Higher Education' supports boycott of Israel: "Is the Israeli academy facing a McCarthyite era?"|
|At the front line of the conflict are a handful of academics, such as Rachel Giora, professor of linguistics at Tel Aviv University, who support international calls for a campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.
Pointing to “the growing number of Israeli assaults on Palestinians’ cities, towns, villages and refugee camps both within and outside the occupied territories”, as well as events such as the attack on Gaza during the winter of 2008-09 and the deaths on the “Freedom flotilla” in May this year, Professor Giora argued that “the state’s legitimacy has been gradually undermined”, leading to “waves of vocal criticism” across the world.
International condemnation has also created a far less comfortable environment for internal critics, she said, having led to “massive defence tactics aimed particularly at bashing academics supportive of boycott initiatives”.
Professor Giora said: “Repression of protest was no longer implicit. All hell broke loose.”
|Omar Barghouti, TAU student: If the occupation ends BDS will not end, because the right of return is its real cause|
|Omar Barghouti, founder of BDS, who attends Tel Aviv University, is interviewed on the video explaining how “it is extremely important, …an institutional boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions…” as we are shown Professor Steven Rose, founder of the British Committee for University for Palestine, arguing successfully for Al-Quds University Board to sever ties with Hebrew University, a relationship which Al-Quds president Sari Nusseibeh worked hard to establish.
Under the guidelines of a two-state solution, which has widespread support, both peoples can live together. Yet, Barghouti clearly states that “if the occupation ends” BDS will not end, because the right of return is its real cause. “I clearly do no buy into the two state solution,” Barghouti said. “This is something we cannot compromise on,” he said.
In his own words, Barghouti understands that “If the refugees were to return, you would not have a two state solution, you’d have a Palestine next to a Palestine.”
|Divest occupation campaign signed by Israeli Academics: [TAU] Rachel Giora, Anat Matar, [Weizmann] Kobi Snitz|
|We are a group of citizens and residents of Israel, Palestinians and Jews. We join our friends at Jewish Voice for Peace, and many others around the world, in urging you to divest from companies which profit from Israel’s occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. It is particularly as Israelis that we appeal to you, we find it extremely offensive when the occupation is said to be carried out in our names or for our sake.
It is likely that you are not aware that your funds are invested in companies such as Caterpillar and Northrop Grumman. Companies like these play a crucial role in the decades long continuing dispossession of the Palestinian people, whether by selling bulldozers used for destroying houses or delivering spare parts to airplanes which are regularly deployed against civilian population.
|Israeli Bill Reflects Frustration With Academics Who Support Boycotts|
|An effort to discourage Israeli public-university professors and others from supporting boycotts of the Jewish state is roiling the country's academics.
While an academic boycott and other efforts to isolate the country have long been debated, recent public condemnation of Israel's botched military raid on a flotilla of ships bound for Gaza has heated up the political situation.
Israeli legislators, feeling embattled by hostile world opinion, are considering a series of measures responding to what they regard as inappropriate sanctions against their country and its leaders, some of whom have been threatened with arrest for alleged war crimes.
|Knesset promotes anti-boycott bill|
|The Knesset on Wednesday approved in a preliminary hearing a bill meant to deter Israelis from taking part in boycotts of Israel. The bill is slated to apply to anyone who will initiate or promote a boycott of individuals, factories, companies or organizations in all Israeli territories, apart from the West Bank. The vote was virtually unanimous. |
|Witch-hunt Begins in Israeli Schools and Colleges|
|Neve Gordon, a politics professor at Ben Gurion University in Beersheva who called for an academic boycott of Israel last year, has reported receiving death threats, as has a school teacher who refused to participate in Mr Saar’s flagship programme to encourage high-school recruitment to the Israeli military.
Daniel Gutwein, a professor of Jewish history at Haifa University, said: “A serious red flag is raised when the education minister joins in the de-legitimisation of the academic establishment. This is a method to castrate and abolish Israeli academia.”
Prof Gordon, who wrote a commentary in the Los Angeles Times a year ago supporting a boycott, said Im Tirtzu had contributed to a growing “atmosphere of violence” in the country and on campuses.
Prof Gordon said: “I have tenure and Im Tirtzu cannot easily get me fired. But they are trying to become the ‘guards at the gate’ to make sure other academics do not follow in my path.”
Only three Israeli acadmics have so far openly endorsed a boycott, he added, with many others fearful that they will be punished if they do so. But Im Tirtzu and its supporters were using the issue as a pretext for cracking down on academics critical of rightwing policy. He called Israel an increasingly “proto-fascist” state.
Prof Gordon cited the recent case of Assaf Oren, a statistics lecturer and peace activist who had been told he was the leading candidate for a post in Ben Gurion’s industrial engineering department until right-wing groups launched a campaign against him.
In a further sign of what Prof Gordon and others have labelled a McCarthyite climate, MPs in the parliamentary education committee -- which has come to closely reflect Mr Saar’s views -- summoned for questioning two head teachers of prestigious schools after they criticised official policies.
|Article by a Jewsih pro-Arab journalist: Israeli academics hit back over bid to pass law that would criminalise them|
|Daniel Gutwein, a history professor at Haifa University who is one of the signatories, described the minister's intervention as an attempt "to make Israeli academia docile, frightened and silent".
Although the BDS campaign – in various forms – has been running for over half a decade, it has become an increasingly fraught issue inside Israel in the past year since a small number of academics publicly declared support for a boycott, including Neve Gordon, author of Israel's Occupation and a former paratrooper who was badly injured while serving with the Israeli Defence Force.
Speaking to the Observer last week, Gordon said that many Israelis saw support for the BDS as "crossing a red line". Adding that he had received recent death threats, he said: "I am worried about what is happening to the space for debate in Israel. I find that there is a proto-fascist mindset developing. One of the slogans you hear a lot now is no citizenship without loyalty. It is an inversion of the republican idea that the state should be loyal to the citizen."
"It's a different world to what it was even a month ago," says Kobi Snitz, member of an Israeli BDS group. "Suddenly, all sorts of people are supporting it – people that you wouldn't expect."
|Academics to Gideon Sa'ar: Don't withhold academic freedom. Sa'ar responded: Those who harm academic freedom are lecturers calling for boycott òáøéú|
|In a petition to Gideon Sa'ar, the Minister of Education, a group of 542 Israeli academics, requested that the minister does not act against lecturers who called for boycotts of Israel, for the sake of Academic Freedom. Although the petition declares not to show support in any boycott call, some of the signatories are those who do call for boycott.
Out of the long list, below are some names of leading anti-Israel activists since many years and it includes Haggai Ram, Micah Leshem, Dani Filc, Rachel Giora, Kobi Peter (Peterzil), Uri Hadar, Eyal Nir, Mike Dahan, Ilan Saban, Amir Paz-Fuchs, Raef Zureik, Uri Ram, Lev Grinberg, Yoav Peled, Anat Matar, Rafi Grinberg, Moshe Zimmerman, Daniel Bar-Tal, Yehuda Kupperman, Fredie Rokem, Galit Hassan-Rokem, Yali Hashash (student), Roni Hammerman, Tamar Katriel, Jacob Katriel, Julia Chaitin, Ofer Neiman (student), Ronit Marian-Kadishay, Ayala Shani (non academic, leading anti-Israel activist), Dudi Tzfati, Yuval Yonay, Kalman Altman, Marcello Daskal (Omar Barghouti's supervisor), Daniel Dor, Ran Hacohen, Yehoshua Rozin (non academic, anti-Israel Activist), Idan Lando, Haim Jacobi, Yossef Schwartz, Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin, Ronit Lentin, Eva Yablonka, Dalia Sacks, Gadi Algazi, Hannah Safran, Anat Biletzki, and Yeela Raanan.
| Canada: Quebec teachers union promotes boycott of Israel - recently devoted more than one-third of its in-house magazine to condemning Israel|
|MONTREAL — One of the province’s largest teachers unions – the Fédération nationale des enseignantes et des enseignants du Québec (FNEEQ) – recently devoted more than one-third of its in-house magazine – seven of 20 pages – to condemning Israel and supporting the international boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) campaign against it.
While a Quebec union being unfriendly to Israel may come as no surprise, the spring issue of Carnets stood out for the scope of its polemics and its use of vitriolic language.
|Gideon Sa'ar, the Education minister vows to punish Israeli professors who back academic boycott, the government will act during the summer|
|A few days after saying he intends to take action against Israeli professors who call for an academic boycott of Israel, Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar is scheduled to appear on Monday before the Knesset Education Committee to discuss the limits of freedom of expression in schools.
Sa'ar refused to provide Haaretz with details of what action he plans to take. His statements, made in the Knesset plenum Wednesday, "speak for themselves," a spokesperson said.
The comments came some time after Ben-Gurion University Professor Neve Gordon, a vocal proponent of an academic boycott against Israel, received a death threat through the mail.
|New bill proposed in the Knesset criminalizes BDS and targets Israeli academics who are calling for boycott against Israel|
|The initiator of the bill, MK Elkin, explained that the law works on three levels. "The first is to confront Israeli citizens invoved in a boycott. For example, it can apply to Israeli lecturers who call for an academic boycott of Israel. The second level is about foreign citizens initiating a boycott action, then you can ban them from entering the country for economic activities. The third level is about foreign countries or the Palestinian Authority, initiating a boycott on Israel. In this case we can prevent the transfer of funds available to Palestinians and anyone who is damaged by the boycott can claim these funds. |
|Weizmann's Kobi Snitz, TAU Anat Matar & Rachel Giora: "Open Letter to the Boston Museum of Science objecting to Sponsorship of Israeli Propaganda"|
|Senior academics from Tel Aviv University, Weizmann Institute, and other top institutions around world denounce Boston Science Museum's sponsorship of Israeli exhibit, calling it propaganda campaign. 'This is an attempt to distract from Israel's war crimes and human rights violations,' they say|
|Final list - Israeli Citizens Say: Do Not Approve Israel's OECD Membership Until It Abides by International Law|
|TAU: Gadi Algazi, Eli Fabrikant, Rachel Giora, Dr. Ishay Rosen-Zvi, Dr. Anat Matar, Dr. Yossef Schwartz, BGU: Dr. Idan Landau, Dr. Yeela Livnat Raanan, Eyal Nir, Eyal Niv, Hebrew U: Prof. Nurit Peled-Elhanan, Hili Razinsky, Amiel Vardi, Iaroslav Youssim, Dr. Ilana Hammerman, Prof. Hannan Hever,
Israeli Citizens Say: Do Not Approve Israel's OECD Membership Until It Abides by International Law
In May 2010 the OECD ministerial committee will vote on the admission of Israel as a member of the organization.
As Israeli citizens, we are concerned by the policies of the Israeli governments, policies which violate international law, violate the basic human rights of Palestinians under occupation and serve to instigate instability, violence and suffering in the Middle East. We are also concerned by the double standards applied by some countries in the international community, especially the developed countries, towards Israel's violations. Such double standards imbue violent and blatantly illegal Israeli policies of land theft, torture and physical abuse of civilians with an aura of legitimacy.
We believe that only when the international community makes Israel accountable for its actions, can we hope to see a change in Israeli policies.
As Israeli citizens, we wish to voice our strong support for the call issued to OECD countries by numerous Palestinian organizations, and numerous international organizations, including Palestinian solidarity campaigns around the world
|Legal opinion on the article “Academic Boycott” of Uri Yacobi Keller, an MA student at Hebrew University, posted by IAM on December 20, 2009|
|Despite Keller’s caveats or words of caution in resorting to an academic boycott of Israeli universities, his entire article is one which provides for its justification and implementation. It is thus clearly an anti-Israel, anti-Zionist clarion call that promotes sympathetically the Arab cause (according to him, the “Palestinian” cause) and at the same time unjustly maligns the Israeli Defense Forces as something evil. In this respect, Keller shows symptoms of a psychological malady, enjoying the benefits of an Israeli university education while biting the very hand that nourished it. He is a sad reflection of what Israel’s academic society has become today.
As the citation of Keller’s article indicates, he has provided ample grist for the mill of TAU Professor Yossi Schwartz, the co-chairperson of the Board of the Alternative Information Center that expounds on “the Complicity of Academic Institutions in the Occupation”. Schwartz’s group and the activity he despicably promotes, together with the supporting article by Keller, are emblematic of the treason that afflicts and pervades a substantial part of Israeli academia against the State of Israel. These academics disregard and demean our existing legal rights to settle and rule Judea and Samaria, rights that were established under international law as far back as 1920, are also part of Israeli constitutional law, and are still intact today.
|TAU Adi Ophir and Michal Givoni in "Is Collaboration a Form of Collaboration?" Inside Higher Education|
|In a sign of how sensitive the situation has become, Zone Books has added a statement to its Web site as well as the book's page on the site of MIT Press (which distributes for Zone) to say that Zone Books received no support from and has no ties to the Van Leer Institute.
Kiley, Zone's general manager, said that the statement was added after Hanafi told him about the criticism of his role in the project and the view that it was somehow tainted by Israeli ties. Kiley not only added the statement to the Web site, but made a printed version and inserted it into 1,200 copies of the book in the warehouse.
Of the controversy, Kiley said: "I think it's sad and it's really discouraging, because we would hope that a book like this would serve to help ameliorate the situation or assist in some kind of dialogue, and I think everything has gotten so polarized. It's sad that there can't be some kind of middle space that would help."
|List of Israeli academics participating the "U.S. Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel"|
|Ammiel Alkalay, Queens College/ CUNY Graduate Center, Ryvka Bar Zohar, New York University, Hagit Borer, University of Southern California, Nava EtShalom, University of Michigan, Yael Korin, University of California, Simona Sharoni, SUNY Plattsburgh, Ella Shohat, New York University, Haim Bresheeth, University of East London, Uri Davis, Al-Quds University, Palestine, Emmanuel Farjoun, Hebrew University, Rachel Giora, Tel Aviv University, Ronit Lentin, Sociology, Trinity College Dublin, Moshte; Machover, London School of Economics and Political Science, Anat Matar, Tel Aviv University, Ilan Pappe;, University of Exeter, Ur Shlonsky, University of Geneva, Kobi Snitz, Technion,
“In light of Israel’s persistent violations of international law, and Given that, since 1948, hundreds of UN resolutions have condemned Israel’s colonial and discriminatory policies as illegal and called for immediate, adequate and effective remedies, and Given that all forms of international intervention and peace-making have until now failed to convince or force Israel to comply with humanitarian law, to respect fundamental human rights and to end its occupation and oppression of the people of Palestine, and In view of the fact that people of conscience in the international community have historically shouldered the moral responsibility to fight injustice, as exemplified in the struggle to abolish apartheid in South Africa through diverse forms of boycott, divestment and sanctions;
Inspired by the struggle of South Africans against apartheid and in the spirit of international solidarity, moral consistency and resistance to injustice and oppression, We, representatives of Palestinian civil society, call upon international civil society organizations and people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era. We appeal to you to pressure your respective states to impose embargoes and sanctions against Israel. We also invite conscientious Israelis to support this Call, for the sake of justice and genuine peace.
These non-violent punitive measures should be maintained until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law
|Items on Israel's enemies from within: Prof. Rachel Giora, Dr. Anat Matar & Dr. Kobi Snitz of "Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS call from within"|
|We are a group of Palestinians and Jews, citizens and residents of Israel, who are struggling to end Israeli apartheid and the decades-long occupation and oppression of the Palestinians. We are writing to express our unequivocal support of SAIA's admirable divestment campaign at Carleton University. We will stand by you, as SAIA struggles to insure that the Carleton University pension fund disinvests initially from five companies deeply involved in Israel's subjugation of the Palestinians in the occupied territories, in gross violation of universal human rights and of International Law. Four of these five companies went as far as supplying the crucial means of destruction for the Dec. '08-Jan. '09 Israeli onslaught on Gaza.
Since the beginning of the "peace talks" period, we watch with dismay the charade in which Israel and its backers abroad attempt to portray oppressor and oppressed as two equal sides in a conflict to be remedied if they would simply straighten out their mutual differences. International Law is crystal-clear but Israeli policy openly flouts the law, in grave violation of universally recognized conventions and basic human rights. In addition, the faux peace negotiations lend no voice to Palestinian refugees, who are still forbidden to return home and denied proper compensation for their land and property. This empty "peace process" likewise ignores Palestinian citizens and residents of Israel, who are not and never have been equal citizens under Israel's ethnocratic regime.
|New threats of academic boycott against Israel due to the upgrade of the status of Ariel College to a university|
|Left-wing Israeli academics protested that a new university would siphon away funds earmarked for other educational institutions and possibly hurt their relations with foreign academics, especially in Europe, where university groups have threatened to boycott Israel in the past over settlement policy.
Neve Gordon, a political scientist at Ben-Gurion University and member of a group that sought a court order to cancel the Ariel College decision, called it "another instance of Israel deepening its roots in the West Bank".
"You create facts on the ground, then say we can't return these areas. It's a part of the old wall-and-tower approach to building settlements," Gordon told Reuters in a reference to the Zionist strategy of building outposts to claim territory.
He also criticised Barak personally, saying he was ignoring his own left-wing Labour party's past commitments to a deal on Palestinian statehood: "I thought Barak was for a two-state solution," Gordon said. "But apparently he is not."
Yaron Ezrahi, a professor at Hebrew University, called the decision the “academisation of the occupation”.
Amal Jamal, the head of political science at Tel Aviv University, said the upgrade would also highlight the extent to which universities inside Israel colluded with the West Bank college. “There is strong support for the college among some academics at Israeli universities, which co-operate with it in holding conferences, conducting research, supervising doctoral students and teaching,” he said.
LONDON – Israeli-British Professor Haim Bereshit, one of the initiators of the British academic boycott against Israel more than two years ago, had slammed Defense Minister Ehud Barak's decision to recognize the Ariel College as a university.
|Israeli academics endorsing academic boycott of Israel: Emmanuel Farjoun, Hebrew U; Rachel Giora, TAU; Anat Matar, TAU; Kobi Snitz, Technion; & Pappe|
|The United States Campaign for an Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel was formed in the immediate aftermath of Operation Cast Lead, bringing together educators of conscience who were unable to stand by and watch in silence Israel's indiscriminate assault on the Gaza Strip and its educational institutions. Today, over 500 US-based academics, authors, artists, musicians, poets and other arts professionals have endorsed our call....
Israeli academics listed among the organization's International Endorsers have also joined us, including Emmanuel Farjoun, Hebrew University; Rachel Giora, Tel Aviv University; Anat Matar, Tel Aviv University; Kobi Snitz, Technion; and Ilan Pappe now at Exeter.
|UCU hold 'boycott' meeting: The spectre of a wide-ranging boycott of Israel has been raised again by the University and College Union. (U.K)|
|While the union skirted around passing a full-on boycott motion, in line with legal advice it had been given previously, delegates agreed to hold an “inter-union conference of boycott supporters to investigate the implementation of the strategy within the law, including an option of institutional boycott”.
Jeremy Newmark, chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, said: “It’s astounding that after repeated legal warnings that a boycott of Israeli academics would be discriminatory, UCU is still spending its members’ fees on promoting such a boycott to academics and trades unionists.
|Norway university won't boycott Israel|
|The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) unanimously voted against an academic boycott of Israel at a meeting on Thursday.
Had the proposal passed, NTNU would have been the first Western university to sever ties with Israeli universities.
"As an academic institution, NTNU's mission is to stimulate the study of the causes of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and how it can be resolved. This means that the university is also dependent on being able to cooperate with Israeli academics and hear their views on the conflict," the 12 board members said in a statement released by the university.
|Boycott News: Norway U boycott vote in a month / Anat Matar signed a boycott letter / Omar Barghouti's PACBI boycott / Sussex students boycott|
|*Norway university to vote next month on boycott of Israel
*[Tel Aviv U, Philosophy] Anat Matar signed an open letter to the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge, asking to cancel their performance in Israel
*[Tel Aviv U, MA student, Ethics] Omar Barghouti's PACBI against the agreement between the University of Johannesburg and Ben Gurion University
*SUSSEX STUDENTS VOTE TO BOYCOTT ISRAEL
| The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel congatulates Neve Gordon and other Israeli Academics for their support|
|Israeli support for BDS, and in particular
academic and cultural boycott of Israel, is to be
welcomed. Long before Gordon’s statement
supporting BDS, staunch Israeli supporters of
Palestinian rights such as Rachel Giora, Ilan
Pappe, Haim Bresheeth, Oren Ben-Dor and
Tanya Reinhart had embraced boycott and
defended it against Israeli critics, particularly
leftists in the academy . Israeli artists’ and
academics’ endorsement of concrete boycott
actions called for by international academics and
artists in the past few years is well known. The
recent formation of the group Boycott!
...First, it should be noted that some Israeli
supporters of BDS studiously avoid the political
framework set by the Palestinian BDS movement
by casting their support for BDS as a strategy to
end only the 42-year military occupation of the
West Bank and Gaza Strip. For example, while
some Israelis do employ the term colonialism or
apartheid, they limit these terms’ application to
the Palestinian territory occupied in 1967, not to
historic Palestine which now encompasses the
state of Israel. Such a formulation sidesteps the
issue of the right of return of Palestinian
refugees, as well as that of the legalized and
institutionalized system of racism and
discrimination against the Palestinian citizens of
the Israel It thus not only fails to adhere to the
comprehensive rights-based approach adopted in
the 2005 Palestinian Civil Society Call for
Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel,
but also ignores the UN-sanctioned rights of the
great majority of the indigenous people of
Palestine. The Palestinian call advocates nonviolent
punitive measures to be maintained until
Israel meets its obligation to recognize the
Palestinian people's inalienable right to selfdetermination
and fully complies with the
precepts of international law by ending its
occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and
dismantling the Wall; recognizing the
fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian
citizens of Israel to full equality; and respecting,
protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian
refugees to return to their homes and properties
as stipulated in UN resolution 194 .
|U.K academics try AGAIN to launch an Israeli university boycott|
|Academics will attempt to relaunch a boycott of Israeli universitiestomorrow at the University and College Union's annual conference inBournemouth. It's the ninth year running that the deeply contentiousproposal has surfaced, but this year it comes after the Israeli assault onGaza and a wave of student protests at 35 universities across the UK.
Two motions, numbers 28 and 29, call for a boycott of Israeli academics.The main motion, 29, was compiled by academics at Brighton University, theCollege of North East London and the University of East London. It accusesIsraeli educational institutions of "complicity … in colonisation andmilitary preparation".
|Israeli acdemics who are "Peace activists" spread lies and call the singer Leonard Cohen to boycott Israel|
|Israel is facing one of its most immoral historical moments. Its ruthless, criminal bashing of the Palestinians has met with little international criticism or curbing. The silence of most of the world’s governments continues to embolden successive Israeli governments to commit more violent acts. Israel has violated numerous international laws, but so far for Israeli Jews life in Israel goes on as if nothing happened. Indeed, your people, Cohen, have built “a new Dachau, And call it love, Security, Jewish culture”, as you have so perceptively put it yourself in ‘Questions for Shomrim’, but only a few voices have been raised against these injustices.
It is left for us, citizens of the world, to condemn Israeli atrocities and crimes against humanity. Dissociating ourselves from Israel’s brutal policies is the only non-violent way now to avoid becoming complicit in the killing, the wounding and the maiming, and the robbing of Palestinians. Faced with all this and more, Palestinians are calling on all people to support their struggle for their basic rights.
|The Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which launched the Boycott Israeli Goods Campaign, adopts the Petition Issued by Israeli Academics|
|This important petition (below) issued by Israeli academics provides further support for PACBI's consistent denunciation of the Israeli academy for its complicity in the system of oppression against Palestinians and its silence about the long-standing violation of the basic freedoms — including the academic freedom — of Palestinians.
|Living in a Hostile Environment|
|What about the boycott of Israeli academics? If an individual endorses the proposal for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions, then he/she expresses a view which is misguided and, to many of us, deeply unpleasant. This does not suffice to place it in the category of harassment. However, if someone denies access to academic forums to Israelis simply because they live and work in Israel, or have Israeli citizenship, then they are not only generating a hostile environment. They are engaging in racist (in the extended sense of nationality-based) discrimination.
It is worth recalling a relevant incident in this context. In 2002 Mona Baker, then a lecturer in translation studies at UMIST, dismissed two Israelis from editorial boards of journals which she owns and publishes, because of her objections to Israeli Government policies in the occupied Palestinian territories. This was an act of blatant discrimination.
|Latest Call For Academic Boycott of Israel a 'Cynical And Perverse Violation'|
|This reintroduction of the call for an academic boycott of Israel by the UCU is a cynical and perverse violation of academic freedom and anti-discrimination principles. Four years after the first such academic boycott resolution, it is clear the UCU's anti-Israel activists remain as determined as ever to demonize everything and everyone Israeli, while shunning constructive measures to promote Israeli-Palestinian academic partnerships. |
|On Wednesday, British UCU Congress debates academic boycott of Israel to demand of Jewish and Israeli academics that they explain their politics as a pre-condition to normal academic contact
|The motion asks colleagues “to consider the moral and political
implications of educational links with Israeli institutions, and to discuss the occupation with individuals and institutions concerned, including Israeli colleagues with whom they are collaborating”. If Jewish and Israeli academics support the Palestinian point of view they will be protected from further action, if they are against it or non-committal then they maybe considered unsuitable for continued association.
It beggars belief that such a blatant “McCarthyite” demand which clearly is discriminatory and antisemitic and is also in clear violation of the UK Race Relations act is allowed to be published and debated by a union that prides itself on supporting academic freedom, and according to its rules “equality for all” and actively opposes “all forms of harassment, prejudice and unfair discrimination.”
|The Palestinian campaign behind the academic boycott against Israel
|For the past few years student and academic groups in North America and Europe have been openly campaigning for the boycott of Israeli academia. Some actions produced results (even if not long lasting) and some were unsuccessful. It is important for us working towards the defense of Palestinians' human rights to learn from these experiences so we may meet our goals in the future. One thing is clear, the stakes are very high and all the major Zionist organizations are responding accordingly.|
|The Academic Boycott of Israel is back in the UK|
|27 March 2008
Last Friday at their meeting the UCU national executive committee voted in favour of a boycott motion aimed at Israeli academic Institutions which will be discussed at the UCU annual congress at the end of May.
|Britain :Update on the University College Union and the academic boycott discussion|
| 'We should be very clear that the legal advice only specified that organising a boycott of Israeli academic institutions and using union finances or other resources to consult members on a boycott was not legal.' It calls on branches and local associations to 'organise meetings on Palestine calling for direct solidarity with Palestinian educational unions and institutions as soon as possible'.|
|The Return of the British Boycott Against Israel
|Two weeks after the British Association of University Teachers announced that it was stopping its efforts to impose an academic boycott against Israel for legal reasons, the sponsors of the boycott announced that they were renewing their efforts to impose it.
The leaders of the campaign to boycott Israel met yesterday in London at an event that drew some 150 people, mainly senior lecturers from universities across the UK. Among the speakers were also a number of Israelis, such as Dr. Oren Ben-Dor from Southampton University, Professor Ilan Pappe from Exeter University and Professor Haim Bereshit from the East London University
|Israel boycott illegal and cannot be implemented UCU tells members. 28 September 2007|
|UCU announced today that, after seeking legal advice, an academic boycott of Israel would be unlawful and cannot be implemented.|
|New pariah on the block|
|The campaign for sanctions against Israel is growing. But it faces resistance and is less effective than it looks
FOR once, Israel's critics and cheerleaders agree on something: the Jewish state risks greater international isolation. Pro-Israel groups such as NGO Monitor and the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs say a new assault is on the way. In the other camp, Shir Hever of the Alternative Information Centre, an Israeli-Palestinian activist group in Jerusalem, says that advocating a boycott is no longer always treated as anti-Semitism. Both sides have a motive to exaggerate such claims. But “boycotts, divestments and sanctions” (known in the activist world as “BDS”) do seem to be growing.
| The Case for Academic Boycott against Israel / by: AIC
|The Case for Academic Boycott against Israel is an initial compilation of facts documenting the discriminatory practices implemented by the Israeli academic system, as well as this system’s active and ongoing involvement in the occupation of the Palestinian territories.
Through this document, the Alternative Information Center (AIC) aims to support the Palestinian and international academic boycott campaigns with concrete facts and details proving that not only have Israeli academic institutions not publicly condemned Israel’s occupation, but that these very institutions are themselves part and parcel of Israel’s colonial system of oppression against the Palestinians.
|Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel within San Diego Women's Film Festival |
|My good friend Bassemah Darwish, who is a member of the jury of the San Diego Women's Film Festival sent me the following appeal:
She and fellow jury members, but in particular the Film Festival director, Jennifer Hsu (also a personal friend) are under severe pressure and attack by Israeli lobby groups and supporters in the US because they voted to observe an Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel within the festival.
We could help them if we send short letters to the Festival's board of directors (listed below with contact details)
explaining why the Boycott of Israeli films in the festival is justified (give links to supporting documentation) and why they should reconsider their position of firing Jennifer as the Film Festival director.
If anyone of you know Israeli activists who support the Boycott campaign, please pass on this message and ask them to do the same
|The Israel-Bashing Club|
"Israel is an apartheid state," was the most often-heard charge, closely followed by calls for a boycott. The West should cut its economic ties with the Jewish state, the speakers urged, and engage the "democratically elected" Islamists now running Gaza.
No, this was not a Hamas rally somewhere in the Palestinian territories. This was Brussels, where the European Parliament last week played host to the "United Nations International Conference of Civil Society in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace.
|'UK, US academic cooperation in jeopardy'|
|A leading British academic and member of the University and College Union warned over the weekend that the UCU's call for an academic boycott of Israel could seriously damage working relationships between UK and US universities and colleges. |
|Ilan Pappe in 'Israel boycott campaign momentum grows'|
|In response to Avnery's claims that the Israeli population would not be moved to reconsider the basic premise of Zionism by a worldwide boycott, Pappe argues a boycott "will not change this position in a day, but will send a clear message to this public that these positions are racist and unacceptable in the 21st century ... They would have to choose."
|The ivory tower behind the Apartheid Wall|
|In the last few weeks, university presidents across the US and Canada have rushed to issue statements about the proposed boycott of Israeli academic institutions by the British University and College Union. They view this boycott as a serious violation of academic freedom. Yet, given the general failure of these leaders to comment on any number of infringements of academic freedom that have occurred in recent years, including those close to home in the form of the politically-motivated denial of tenure to Norman Finkelstein and the colleague, Mehrene Larudee, who very publicly supported him, the harassment of Columbia University professors Joseph Massad and Rashid Khalidi, and the intimidation of faculty by Campuswatch, one might be excused for concluding that university presidents prefer to remain above the political fray and reserve their office for grave and important but non-controversial pronouncements on tsunamis. But now, even in the midst of the hot and hazy summer recess, university presidents have mobilized their most imposing academic rhetoric in expressing solidarity with Israeli academics and upholding the rights of all to engage in "an open exchange of ideas" and "freedom of association."|
|US Congress berates British academics' Israel boycott|
|US lawmakers Wednesday slammed a boycott of Israeli universities promoted by pro-Palestinian British academics as an anti-Semitic step that would undermine Middle East peace efforts.
In a unanimous voice vote, the House of Representatives passed a resolution attacking the boycott call from the leadership of the University and College Union (UCU), Britain's largest trade union for academics
|Howard Jacobson: Those who boycott Israeli universities are doing intellectual violence - to themselves
|No longer to listen is no longer to engage in the dialogue of thought. It disqualifies you as a scholar |
|An Academic Hijacking|
|Many of the academics who have been pushing the boycott most energetically are members of hard-left socialist-worker groups. These radicals devote more time and energy to international issues than to the domestic welfare of their own members, who have suffered a serious decline in salary and working conditions. Their pet peeve, sometimes it appears their only peeve, is the Israeli occupation -- not of the West Bank and, before its return, of Gaza but rather of all of Palestine, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. These are not advocates of the two-state solution, but of a one-state dissolution of Israel, with the resulting state being controlled by Hamas.|
|We're Not Doing Enough To Combat Our Adversaries
|Meanwhile, Brandeis, the "Jewish" university, gave Jimmy Carter a stand-alone platform to spout his anti-Israel views. And then there's the Forward - a Jewish newspaper that has previously honored me and in whose pages my work has appeared - which covered the latest British attempt to boycott Israeli academics mainly by focusing on the allegations of one Israeli-American academic, Dr. Yigal Arens, a professor of computer science who insists that he has been "boycotted" - disinvited to a conference at Ben Gurion University because of his anti-Israeli politics. This is passing strange since so many Israeli academics are themselves left wing and specialize in criticizing Israel.|
|Britain's Anti-Israel Blacklist
|The British boycotters may be frustrated that Israeli academics have not been influenced by their own government’s oppressive actions, but the same cannot be said of students at al-Najah University, for example, who fondly remembered the outbreak of the Intifada by constructing a macabre attraction called "The Sbarro Cafe Exhibition," named for the location of a 2001 suicide bombing of a Jerusalem pizza parlor where 15 Jews were murdered and dozens more wounded. Created not as a memorial but as an inspiration for further terror-laden savagery, the diorama included scattered pizza slices amid Israeli body parts, splattered blood, calls to martyrdom with Koran and Kalashnikovs close by, and, beaming out of a loudspeaker behind a mannequin version of an Orthodox Jew, the inspiring take on an oft-repeated Islamic exhortation: "O believer, there is a Jewish man behind me. Come and kill him."|
|Deja vu - NAIVE ACADEMIC BOYCOTTERS VS. RUTHLESS OPPONENTS|
|Of course, this inconvenient truth is not part of the Palestinian script of What Really Happened in the Middle East, and it is that script that the Economist writers want the boycotters to rewrite with the help of boycott opponent Sari Nusseibeh, the Palestinian president of Al-Quds University in east Jerusalem which hosts branches of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror organizations throughout Gaza and the West Bank. Perhaps together they can come up with a less blatantly anti-Semitic strategy which would not endanger important British academic and commercial interests. "When confronted with such unreasonable, aggressive, prickly Jews," the Economist seems to be saying, "one must tread lightly." Is the Economist following a familiar Anti-Semitic script? I think so.|
|UK trade union backs total boycott of Israel|
|The UK's largest trade union, UNISON, advocated on Wednesday a total boycott of Israel over its continued occupation of Palestinian territories.
A statement issued by delegates meeting in Brighton read: "The conference believes that ending the occupation demands concerted and sustained pressure upon Israel including an economic, cultural, academic and sporting boycott".
In addition, delegates called on the British government to press for an arms embargo against Israel.
|51 Nobel Prize laureates against British boycott|
|Petition led by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel calls boycott 'shameful', says it encourages extremists, glorifies prejudices; Wiesel says more signatures to come. Israeli Foreign Ministry to distribute petition to offices around the world|
|Israeli citizens who support UNISON’s boycott of Israel proposal|
|We are a group of Israeli citizens who support UNISON’s boycott of Israel proposal. We are sending you a letter we wrote in support of the proposal. We circulated the letter among our networks and in a few days gathered 86 signatures of Israeli citizens. We decided to stop gathering more signatures and to send you the letter today so that you will have time to circulate the letter among your constituents before your June 19th meeting. We wish you well in your efforts, and thank you very much for taking action to try to bring the Israeli occupation to an end. We hope to keep in touch and we would be very happy to cooperate further with you on this matter. |
|The JC identifies the key players in the escalating British campaign to boycott Israel|
|Israeli Haim Bresheeth, professor of media and culture at the University of East London, seconded the UCU motion, which called for consideration of the morality of ties with Israeli academia and for discussions on boycotting.
Prof Bresheeth told the JC that a boycott was not an easy decision. “I am Jewish and an Israeli, and I don’t wish harm on either side. But how long can this occupation go on?”
Characterising opposition to a boycott as insincere, he added : “What we are asking for is not violent. It is civil action against a military occupation.”
|Statement of Columbia University's President on the British Boycott|
|At Columbia I am proud to say that we embrace Israeli scholars and universities that the UCU is now all too eager to isolate -- as we embrace scholars from many countries regardless of divergent views on their governments' policies. Therefore, if the British UCU is intent on pursuing its deeply misguided policy, then it should add Columbia to its boycott list, for we do not intend to draw distinctions between our mission and that of the universities you are seeking to punish. Boycott us, then, for we gladly stand together with our many colleagues in British, American and Israeli universities against such intellectually shoddy and politically biased attempts to hijack the central mission of higher education|
|The British call for boycott provoked the threat of legal action and counter-boycotts|
|Alan Dershowitz, the prominent lawyer and Harvard law professor, says he has mustered a team of 100 high-profile lawyers on both sides of the Atlantic to "devastate and bankrupt" anyone acting against Israeli universities.
"If the union goes ahead with this immoral petition, it will destroy British academia," Dershowitz told the Guardian last night. "We will isolate them from the rest of the world. They will end up being the objects of the boycott because we will get tens of thousands of the most prominent academics from around the world to refuse to cooperate and refuse to participate in any events from which Israeli academics are excluded. It will totally backfire."
|Boycott backlash begins|
|UK academics faced an unprecedented backlash this week as a threatened boycott of Israeli universities raised the spectre of international sanctions against British goods and research|
|To the UCU members - A day in the life of Hebrew U'|
|Part of the motion called for a UK wide campus tour for Palestinian academics. Maybe on the basis of fair-mindedness the members of the UCU should spend a day at the cafeteria of the Hebrew University and try to come to grips with what it must be like to live under the constant threat of Palestinian terrorism, which not only ended nine lives that day, but has killed over 1000 Israelis in more than 25,000 attacks. It seems almost unbelievable that people who claim to be "academics" can totally ignore these indesputable facts and at the same time belittle themselves, by revering people who have made terrorism a way of life. |
|Boycott a blessing in disguise|
|I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate some overjoyed far-left Israeli academicians, headed by Professor Moshe Zimmerman, Dr. Ilan Pappe, and their colleagues: Congratulations, dear colleagues, you succeeded big time.
You managed to make the world hate us, you managed to completely twist the truth regarding our difficult battle with Palestinian murderers, and you managed to find a scapegoat for a world that sees fit to ignore the genocide in Darfur, the cutting off of hands in Saudi Arabia, and executions in the Palestinian Authority. Perhaps now you will even get a tempting offer from a leading Islamic college. When we have the opportunity, I'll be glad to meet with you for a talk regarding freedom of speech, its boundaries, and manner of enforcing it.
|The Beneficial Side of the British Boycott|
|So to help these British boycotters, I have prepared a list of Israeli academics whom they can immediately begin boycotting:
Ilan Pappe (University of Haifa), Neve Gordon (Ben Gurion University), Oren Yiftachel (Ben Gurion University), David Newman (Ben Gurion University), Avraham Oz (University of Haifa), Anat Matar (Tel Aviv University), Anat Biletzki (Tel Aviv University), Ran HaCohen (Tel Aviv University), Moshe Zimmerman (Hebrew University), Yuval Yonay (University of Haifa), Yoav Peled (Tel Aviv University), Shlomo Sand (Tel Aviv University), Lev Grinberg (Ben Gurion University), Colman Altman (Technion, emeritus), Jacob Katriel (Technion), Ron Kuzar (University of Haifa), Yehuda Shenhav (Tel Aviv University), Kobi Snitz (Bar Ilan University), Menachem Klein (Bar Ilan University), Dan Rabinowitz (Tel Aviv University), Uri Ram (Ben Gurion University)
|A repugnant proposal / by Michael Yudkin and Denis Noble|
|The boycott motion at the UCU makes a feeble gesture towards such an explanation by alleging "complicity" of Israeli academia in the occupation of the West Bank. In fact there is widespread opposition to the occupation amongst Israeli academics. Have a look (via Google) at the work of Neve Gordon, Lev Grinberg, Menachem Klein, Adi Ophir, Ilan Pappe, Yoav Peled, Dan Rabinowitz, Uri Ram, Yehouda Shenhav or Oren Yiftachel. Academics are prominent in all the major anti-occupation organisations. At last count 358 members of the faculties of Israeli universities had signed a petition on-line stating: "We wish to express our appreciation and support for those of our students and lecturers who refuse to serve as soldiers in the occupied territories."|
|Support the Boycott! End the Occupation!
|We, Israeli professors for justice and peace, do hereby appeal to researchers, academics, scholars, and teachers in Israel and throughout the world to take a firm and clear stand against continuing occupation and denial of rights. We are of course referring to the continuing occupation of territories by Britain in which Britain clearly has no right to be. We demand that all British universities be boycotted and all academics at those
universities be boycotted until these same people and institutions come out clearly and openly in favor of immediate unconditional removal of all British occupation from these territories. We demand a moratorium on all funding of academic research in Britain by sources for funding everywhere and divestment from Britain in all its forms.
|British UCU congress voted this afternoon in favour of boycott|
|Delegates at the inaugural UCU congress voted this afternoon in favour of a motion calling for 'the full text of the Palestinian boycott call to all branches for information and discussion'.
The delegates earlier overwhelmingly (just one vote against) voted to accept the recommendations of a report from a body set up in the fallout of the 2005 decision by AUT to impose an academic boycott of Israel
|Israel boycott launch in London falls flat|
|However, pro-Israel groups doubted the call for a boycott would have much impact, particularly because of the increasing desire by British academics to work with outstanding Israeli universities. |
|British Journalism v. Israel|
|The National Union of Journalists (NUJ)—Britain’s main professional association of journalists and reporters—recently joined an international boycott of Israeli goods. |
|Israeli academics off to U.K. to battle boycott bid
|A delegation of Israeli academics will head to the U.K. later this month in a bid to fight a proposed boycott of Israeli universities by British academics.
Seven academics from six Israeli universities plan to meet with members of the 120,000-strong union ahead of its vote to boycott Israeli academic institutions at its annual congress in Bournemouth at the end of the month. The three-day congress is the first for the newly-formed University and College Union, a merger of the Association of University Teachers (AUT) and the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE).
|Is an academic boycott of Israel justified? - By Michael Yudkin|
|The principle of the Universality of Science and Learning – that academics do not discriminate against colleagues on the basis of factors that are irrelevant to their academic work (such as race, religion, nationality etc.) – is well established and almost universally respected. To boycott academics by reason of their country of residence breaches this principle and harms the interests of the academics concerned. Two kinds of argument speak in favour of maintaining the principle of the Universality of Science and Learning: 1) that undesirable consequences would flow from violating it, and 2) that to harm people who are innocent of wrongdoing is morally unacceptable. Those who wish to boycott Israeli academics attempt to defeat the second type of argument by claiming that these academics are complicit in discrimination against the Arab minority in Israel or the occupation of the West Bank, and/or that Israeli universities suppress dissenting voices. Analysis of these claims shows that they are without serious substance.
|The Upside-Down, Inside-Out World Of Israel Bashers |
|In case you missed it, college campuses in the United States, Canada and Britain recently hosted an “Israeli Apartheid Week,” during which prominent scholars and artists all got together to agree about the State of Israel’s beastliness.
That such nonsense is presented at places like Hunter College in New York City, the University of Toronto, and even at supposedly more illustrious venues such as Oxford and Cambridge is hardly shocking.
What is curious is the unprecedented growth of Israel-bashing in recent years – not merely at universities – and the increasing role of Jewish opponents of Israel in these events.
|Israeli Apartheid Week Comes to California
| universities, a series of events staged by anti-Israel activists to equate the Jewish state with the racist regime of apartheid-era South Africa. Evidently, however, one week was not enough, and the campaign of demonization has now stretched into a third week, with California campuses the current location|
|SOAS Palestine Society Presents: Israeli Apartheid Week
|De-Arabization of Land and De-Arabization of Jews.
Speaker: Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin
Professor of History, Ben Gurion University
|More Israeli academics participating "Israeli Apartheid Week"|
|The 3rd annual Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) will take place in New York City from February 10-17 2007. It will be a week-long series of events organized by a coalition of different groups in the city and will feature lectures, film screenings, and cultural activities. Concurrent events are being held in Canada and the United Kingdom.
TANYA REINHART, Emeritus, Tel Aviv University
GABI PITERBERG, Department of History, UCLA
|University campuses in UK, USA and Canada launch Israeli Apartheid Week
|Canadian teachers reject anti-Israel motion |
|We must speak out - By John Berger|
|Nurit Peled-Elhanan and Haim Bresheeth signed the Palestinian Filmmakers, Artists and Cultural Workers Call for a Cultural Boycott of Israel|
|We, the undersigned Palestinian filmmakers and artists, appeal to all artists and filmmakers of good conscience around the world to cancel all exhibitions and other cultural events that are scheduled to occur in Israel, to mobilize immediately and not allow the continuation of the Israeli offensive to breed complacency. Like the boycott of South African art institutions during apartheid, cultural workers must speak out against the current Israeli war crimes and atrocities.
We call upon the International community to join us in the boycott of Israeli film festivals, Israeli public venues, and Israeli institutions supported by the government, and to end all cooperation with these cultural and artistic institutions that to date have refused to take a stand against the Occupation, the root cause for this colonial conflict.
236.Nurit Peled-Elhanan, Israel
255.Prof. Haim Bresheeth, UK
|The European Commission Rejects Boycott Proposed by Irish Academics|
|British 'silently boycott' Israeli academics|
|The International Advisory Board for Academic Freedom warns against a “silent boycott” in Britain against Israeli institutes of higher education.
The council said that Israeli researchers wishing to publish articles in Britain were asked to remove the name of which ever Israeli academic institute they belonged to as a condition for publishing their articles.
The latest “unofficial boycott” was initiated by the “Bibliography of Translation Studies" journal, owned by a British publishing house headed by Mona Baker, a supporter of the academic boycott on Israel.
|US teachers condemn Israeli boycott call|
|The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is calling on Irish academics to oppose demands to boycott Israel. The union, which represents 1.3 million members across the US, sent a letter to four Irish teachers and academics unions, urging them to oppose the boycott which has been proposed by several Irish academics in recent weeks.|
|Irish call to ban Israeli academia condemned|
|"The Irish government does not support any move to isolate Israel or Israeli institutions," a spokesperson for the Irish embassy in Tel Aviv told Anglo File. "Our aim is always to come to a maximum possible inclusive dialogue. We want to find a true solution to the situation and closing off dialogue would be counterproductive."
|Oslo, Norway: University employees criticize Israel
|- I think it's cowardly of the UiO to not take a stand in the Middle East debate, but I'm not surprised, says Kaveh Ataei, chairman of Blindern SV.
Ataei wants the University board to discuss the possibility of an academic boycott of Israel.
|Boycott of Israel|
|Amongst the signatories:
Dr Meir Amor
Prof Hagit Borer
Prof Moshe Machover
Dr Anat Matar
Yael Oren Kahn
Prof Tanya Reinhart
|Irish academics call on EU to stop funding Israeli academic institutions|
|In a letter published in the Irish Times today, (see below) 61 Irish academics from a wide variety of disciplines call for a moratorium on EU support of Israeli academic institutions until Israel abides by UN resolutions and ends the occupation of Palestinian territories.
|Support for Sanctions from Israelis
|The following letter of support was issued in response to the resolution passed on May 27 by the Ontario branch of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).
"CUPE Ontario will, with Palestine solidarity and human rights organizations, develop an education campaign about the apartheid nature of the Israeli state and the political and economic support of Canada for these practices; Support the international campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people's inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law including the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194; Call on CUPE National to commit to research into Canadian involvement in the occupation and call on the CLC [Canadian Labour Congress] to join us in lobbying against the apartheid-like practices of the Israeli state and call for the immediate dismantling of the wall."
Signatories as of July 3, 2006 (out of over 100) include Jonathan
Amitay; Steve Amsel; Haim Baram; Hanna Braun; Ehud Ein-Gil; Prof. Emmanuel Farjoun; Dror Feiler, musician, artist; Pnina Feiler; Neta Golan; Jeff Halper; Matan Kaminer; Teddy Katz; Adam Keller; Hava Keller; Moshe Machover; Dorothy Naor; Israel Naor; Susan Nathan, author; Rabbi Baruch Rabinowitz; Elena Wesley; Sergio Yahni; Rabbi Moshe Yehudai; Beate Zilversmidt.
|Israeli Academics Support Candian Boycott|
|As Israelis we express our support of the CUPE boycott of Israel, honor your courageous initiative, and fervently hope that it will set an example for many others to follow.
Jeff Halper, a retired professor at Ben Gurion University
Ofer Neiman, The Institute of Computer Science, The Hebrew University
Sergeiy Sandler, University Instructor, Beer-Sheva
Prof. Tanya Reinhart, Linguistics, Media and cultural studies Tel Aviv University
Elat Benda The Department of Philosophy Tel Aviv University
Prof. Yehuda Kupferman, Department of French, Tel-Aviv University
Haggai Katriel, Mathematics Department, The Hebrew University
Roman Vater, Tel Aviv University
Prof. Rachel Giora, Department of Linguistics Tel Aviv University
Michal Peled Ginsburg, Professor of French and Comparative Literatures, Northwestern University
Kobi Snitz Postdoc Ben Gurion University, Mathematics Department visitor at University of Maryland, Mathematics Department
Prof. Moshe Machover, Philosophy Department, University of London
Dr. Amos Goldberg, The Institute of Contemporary Jewry, the Hebrew University
Michal Schwartz, Professor of Neuroimmunology, Weizmann Institute
Nomi Shir, Department of Foreign Literatures and Linguistics, Ben Gurion University
Uri Katz, Department of biology, Technion
Anat Matar. Philosophy Department Tel Aviv University
Amir Orian, Visiting scientist from Technion at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Veronika Cohen, Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance
Victoria Buch, The Fritz Haber Center & Department of Physical Chemistry, Hebrew University
Dr. Ruchama Marton, Tel Aviv University Medical School Institute for Psychotherapy
Dr. Diana Dolev. teaches at two schools of design in Israel Her PhD dissertation analyzed the militarization of the Mt. Scopus campus of the Hebrew University
Zalman Amit, a retired Concordia psychology professor
|Spreading Hate, Destruction & Terrorism.
The U.N.-NGO cadre.
|But there is a much darker side to the U.N.-NGO nexus than the rise of these obvious interlopers in NGO circles. It is the large number of NGOs that have been empowered by U.N.-accreditation to spread anti-Semitism, hate, and encourage terrorism from a U.N. platform. The call for boycotts and sanctions against Israel is a central plank of this campaign.
|UK ban of Israeli academics lifted
|A boycott of Israeli academics declared by a UK teachers' union in May was cancelled on Sunday after the union's merger with a lager body whose delegates oppose the motion.|
|Thousands of academics oppose boycott of Israel
|Today's Guardian carries a letter from up to 600 academics who, although condemning "Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza", oppose a boycott. It reads: "We oppose the inconsistency of blacklisting Israelis but adopting a different attitude to academics in the ... long list of other states that are responsible for equal or worse human rights abuses ... Natfhe and AUT are currently involved in a bitter dispute with university managements over pay. This boycott proposal degrades our unity at a moment when academics need to stand together." |
|US lobby group enters Israeli academic boycott row
|A powerful American civil liberties group has called on US academics to boycott British lecturers who boycott Israeli universities.
In a backlash following this week's vote by the lecturers' union Natfhe to boycott Israeli academia, the Anti-Defamation League urged American universities and grant-giving bodies to "cut funding, support and contact with any academic who advocates a boycott of Israel."
The organisation's national director, Abraham Foxman, said in a statement: "Those who seek to damage and discredit their Israeli colleagues with a blacklist must know that there is a price to pay."
Meanwhile Anthony Julius, famous for his representation of Princess Diana and the successful defence of Deborah Lipstadt against David Irving, is acting as solicitor for the boycott's opponents in Britain.
|The Communist connection to NATFE's Boycott
|Tom Hickey, a member of the Socialist Workers Party SWP was the one who proposed the motion.
Delegates also voted to pass a motion noting Respect’s success in the local elections. The motion said that Respect provided an “anti-racist, anti-fascist left alternative culture to New Labour and the BNP”.
|Ontario boycotts Israel|
|The Ontario division of Canada's largest union has voted to support an international campaign that is boycotting Israel over its treatment of Palestinians.|
|Is Natfhe against Scientific Progress ?
by Professor Zvi Ziegler
We may consider the repercussions and implications of this kind of boycott. Boycotters, who by their action demonstrate disregard for the principles guiding the scientific community, might be boycotted , and the process can get out of control, with many losers, and no winners.
To quote a prominent British Scientist , a Fellow of the Royal Society, Prof. Peter Kennedy, "the proposed motion is unethical, unfair, inappropriate and just plain wrong" .
|Academic boycott debate returns to UK, Jerusalem Post|
|Information from "The Academic Friends of Israel" which follows and acts against the boycott within the U.K|
|this NATFHE motion 198C calling for a “personal boycott” should be withdrawn because it is inaccurate, dishonest, and in conflict with NATFHE's constitution by specifically advocating discrimination of one nation: Israel. |
|New U.K. bid to boycott Israeli universities, profs|
|"The largest university and college lecturers union in Britain is likely to decide shortly to recommend that its 67,000 members boycott Israeli lecturers and academic institutions that do not publicly declare their opposition to Israeli policy in the territories.
The boycott motion, which was drafted by the southeast region of the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE), will be brought to a vote at its annual national conference, which will be held May 27-29. It comes about a year after the last boycott by British lecturers..."
|Toronto, Canada: ISRAELI APARTHEID WEEK Monday, February 13 2006: Professor Uri Davis (Founder of Movement Against Israeli Apartheid in Palestine)
|The Arab Students’ collective is holding its second Israeli Apartheid Week from February 12th 18th in order to develop the understanding of Israel as an apartheid state and to build a boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement against Israeli apartheid. The Israeli apartheid regime continues to deny
Palestinian refugees to return to their stolen lands; continues to
systematically discri minate against its Palestinian citizens, continues to entrench the walls dividing the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza into open air prison Bantustans, and continues to imprison over 8000 Palestinians at any time. The Palestinian people have continued to resist apartheid, and it is time for people in Canada and all over the world to stand with them.
|About Eyal Weizman, the Technion, Haifa: "Architects threaten to boycott Israel over 'apartheid' barrier"|
|Eyal Weizman, the Israeli director of the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmith's College in London, urged action. "A boycott would be totally legitimate," he said. "The wall and the settlements have been deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice and we should boycott any company which does business, any architects that participate - anyone facilitating these human rights violations and war crimes." |
|Ford Foundation Will Pay for Parley Of Anti-Israel Scholars at Lake Como|
|Ford Foundation is paying for at least eight scholars who favored a boycott of Israeli academics to attend a conference scheduled for Monday at a villa on the shore of Lake Como in Italy.
|Delay Sought Of Parley Seen As Anti-Israel|
|Three major New York-based foundations sponsoring an academic conference in Italy that was scheduled to begin Monday are now calling for its postponement after the conference came under criticism as a forum for critics of Israel and after one of the articles circulated in advance of the meeting was found to have been what executives of two of the foundations called "an anti-Semitic paper by a Holocaust denier."|
|Ford Foundation Funds Anti-Israel Event |
|The Ford Foundation is paying to send at least eight anti-Israeli scholars to a conference at an Italian villa.
A total of 21 scholars will meet in the villa in Bellagio, on the banks of Lake Como, to discuss academic boycotts and their relation to academic freedom.
More than a third of the participants publicly support boycotts of Israeli universities out of opposition to the Jewish state, according to the New York Sun.
|The Palestinian Call for Academic Boycott Revised|
|We, Palestinian academics and intellectuals, call upon our colleagues in the international community to comprehensively and consistently boycott all Israeli academic and cultural institutions as a contribution to the struggle to end Israel’s occupation, colonization and system of apartheid|
|A very important conference: Academic Freedom
& the Politics of Boycotts, January 25th-26th, Bar Ilan University|
|Bar-Ilan to Host International Conference Analyzing Academic Boycott Attempts.
International Advisory Board for Academic Freedom Conference will Discuss Academic Freedom and the Politics of Boycotts
Following the successful campaign to persuade the British Association of University Teachers (AUT) to rescind its proposed boycott of Bar-Ilan and Haifa universities, Prof. Yosi Yeshurun, Rector of BIU and Chair of the IAB (International Advisory Board for Academic Freedom), has scheduled an international conference on Academic Freedom and the Politics of Boycotts.
|Israel boycott feud resurfaces|
|The British Committee for Universities of Palestine (Bricup), the pro-boycott organisation, is relaunching its campaign with a campus tour of public meetings involving speakers from Palestinian universities. The aim is to put the boycott back on the agenda by presenting the reality of living under the occupation, says Hilary Rose, one of the architects of the academic boycott and a founder of Bricup. |
|Yehudit Har'el from the Hebrew University, Ilan Pappe from Haifa University and Yoav Peled from Tel Aviv University |
|On July 19, 2005 took place at the Left Bank Club (Hagada Hasmalit) in Tel Aviv an open discussion on the issue of boycotts and sanctions against the Israeli occupation policy. The idea was to have an initial discussion of Israeli peace activists and peace groups on this issue, which is already the subject of sanctions campaigns held by various organizations around the world |
|Palestine: Letter to AUT delegates|
|Prof. Avraham Oz says: “ the repressive policies of my country against the Palestinian population, especially in the territories occupied in 1967, is appalling, racist, sometimes horrifying in its cruelty, and often having crossed the boundaries of war crimes....”|
|European Jews for a Just Peace call upon Israeli academics to boycott|
|European Jews for a Just Peace, being a part of the international solidarity movement supporting the human and political rights of Israelis and Palestinians alike, calls upon Israeli academics to boycott the continuing presence of the Israeli army on Palestinian territory.
Academic freedom is indivisible. Yet for Palestinians the right of access to education at any level, let alone to freedom of speech at the highest level, is denied by Israeli authorities.
The signatories include:
3. Jacob Katriel, Professor Emeritus, Technion, Haifa, Israel
6. Mona Baker, Bir Zeit University, Israel
15. Dr. Anat Matar, Dept. of Philosophy, Tel Aviv University, Israel
37. Micah Leshem PhD, Psychology Department, University of Haifa, Israel
38. Dr. Michael Dahan, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel
39. Prof. Michael Saltman, Department of Sociology & Anthropology, University of Haifa, Israel
40. Dr. Irit Katriel, University of Aarhus, Denmark (Israeli citizen).
41. Dr. Yehiam Soreq, Beit-Berl college, Israel
37. Micah Leshem PhD, Psychology Department, University of Haifa, Israel
38. Dr. Michael Dahan, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel
39. Prof. Michael Saltman, Department of Sociology & Anthropology, University of Haifa, Israel
40. Dr. Irit Katriel, University of Aarhus, Denmark (Israeli citizen).
41. Dr. Yehiam Soreq, Beit-Berl college, Israel
51. Prof. Hanan Frenk, Dept. of Psychology, Tel Aviv University and Head of the School of Behavioral Sciences, The Academic College of Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel
52. Professor Uri Hadar, Department of Psychology, Tel A viv University, Israel
|The United Church of Christ to consider Israeli divestment|
|The United Church of Christ (UCC) will vote in July whether to pull the church’s investment money from U.S. companies involved in building Israeli settlements and security activities in Palestinian territories.
|in a letter to the Editor, the Independent News paper / by DR OREN BEN-DOR, SCHOOL OF LAW UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHAMPTON
|Sir: At its meeting on 26 May the AUT should extend its boycott to include all Israeli universities. These universities persistently marginalise the debate about Zionist crimes, by denying sufficient resources and opportunities for it to enter the public discourse in Israel. A proper academic platform would enable debating the monopoly that the Shoah (Hebrew, "catastrophe") has had on memory in Israel, thus leaving no room for the Palestinian catastrophe, the displacement of 750,000 people by Zionism's creation of the state.|
|[alef] British group cancels boycott of two Israeli universities / Lev Grinberg
|I must say that despite the fact that I am aginst the boycot (sic) I am very sad of the AUT cancellation. I am sad mainly for our Palestinian colleagues that were encouraged by the boycot (sic) and now they must be strongly discouraged. However more than sad I am also very upset with all my "poltical friends" that supported the boycot (sic) without taking in consideration the demages it will cause. Now the situation is even worst than before the AUT desicion, but this probable outcome was clear from the begining. The AUT Boycot (sic) desicion was an expression of our impotence and incapacity the design effective strategies of resistance against the Busharon Axis of Evil.|
|Israeli boycotts revoked - AUT statement |
| After a lengthy debate involving deeply held views on both sides of the argument, AUT’s special council has today voted to revoke all existing boycotts of Israeli institutions.
AUT council has decided to base its policy on providing practical solidarity to Palestinian and Israeli trade unionists and academics, by agreeing a motion committing the union to having a full review of international policy, working alongside NATFHE and the TUC.
UK higher education has a long and proud tradition of defending academic freedom. The struggle to maintain academic freedom whenever it is under threat is one that AUT will always support and this principle will continue to guide our work.
Sally Hunt, AUT general secretary, said: 'It is now time to build bridges between those with opposing views here in the UK and to commit to supporting trade unionists in Israel and Palestine working for peace.'
|Bar-Ilan Fights for Academic Freedom in Response to the AUT's Decision to Boycott Bar-Ilan and Haifa Universities|
|The International Advisory Board (IAB) for Academic Freedom will undertake actions and steps to guarantee freedom of thought and expression in Bar-Ilan, as well as of other Israeli and non-Israeli institutions of higher education.|
|Joint HU-Al Quds U. statement to counter British boycott |
|Cognizant of the moral leadership universities should provide, especially in already turbulent political contexts, we, the President of Al-Quds University and the President of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, have agreed to insist on continuing to work together in the pursuit of knowledge, for the benefit of our peoples and the promotion of peace and justice in the Middle East. |
|Mishcon de Reya to AUT|
|We act for the following AUT members: Professor Terence Kavanagh, Dr Jonathan G. Campbell, Professor Geoffrey Alderman, Professor John Charap, Professor Ian Reid and Dr Eric Heinze.
Our clients' require the AUT to acknowledge the resolutions' invalidity, confirm that no implementation instruction will be issued, and provide the appropriate assurances in relation to the expenditure of AUT funds.
The resolutions are a threat to the AUT's integrity, as well as to the cause of academic freedom. Our clients are prepared to take the steps necessary to ensure that the threat does not become a reality.
|Soas faces action over alleged anti-semitism |
|Grounds for suit: A row over a conference held at the college about the academic boycott of Israel titled Resisting Israeli Apartheid.
An article in the student magazine Spirit which said: "Those who benefit from the immoral actions of a colonial state in which they have chosen to reside cannot be considered as innocent".
The union's banning of Roey Gilad, an Israeli embassy representative, because of their policy which equates Zionism with racism. Professor Bundy overturned the ban.
...· Gilad Atzmon, a pro-Palestinian activist and musician, who gave a talk to students this month, arguing: "I'm not going to say whether it is right or not to burn down a synagogue, I can see that it is a rational act".
|Legal warnings over Israeli boycott
|The Guardian has reported increasing concerns about
the legality of a boycott against academics working in
Before Friday's vote, Steve Miller, the deputy
vice-chancellor of City University, said there could
be problems for any academic who followed the boycott.
"I would have thought that any academic treated
differently on the ground of race would be in breach
of their university's equal opportunities policy," he
said. "I believe that for City University treating an
Israeli academic differently on the grounds of their
nationality would be in breach of our policy."
And following the decision on Friday Jocelyn Prudence,
the chief executive of the Universities and Colleges
Employers Association, said that the boycott "would
appear to run contrary to contractual law, race and
religious discrimination law, and academic freedom
obligations, which are built into the contracts of
staff in pre-1992 universities".
|Boycott threat to Israeli colleges|
|Jewish groups point out that last December the university played host to a conference entitled 'Resisting Israeli Apartheid', while Gilad Atzmon, a pro-Palestine advocate, gave a talk to students this month, arguing: 'I'm not going to say whether it is right or not to burn down a synagogue, I can see that it is a rational act.'
|Jews resign over 'racism' in the NUS, England|
|Allegations of anti-Semitism in higher education were brought to the fore this week as three Jewish officers resigned from the National Union of Students and leaders of the faith branded a proposed boycott of three Israeli universities "deplorable". |
|Lecturers may boycott Israeli academics |
|Israeli academics who refuse to condemn their government's actions in the occupied territories risk a boycott by the UK's leading lecturers' union. |
|British Committee for the Universities of Palestine call for Boycott|
(i). To call on all AUT members to boycott Bar-Ilan University until it severs all academic links with the College of Judea and Samaria and with any other college located in an illegal settlement in the Occupied Territories.
(ii) That the boycott should take the form described in the Palestinian call for academic boycott of Israeli institutions.
|University of Wisconsin Faculty Call for Israel Divestment|
|The Faculty Senate of the University of Wisconsin-Platteville adopted a resolution last week demanding that the University divest from companies that provide the Israeli Army with weapons, equipment, and supporting systems.|
|The student union at the School of Oriental and African Studies is being accused of censorship after attempting to ban a senior Israeli embassy official from taking part in a debate later this month.
|Ms Meelu confirmed that the union set a policy last November which made the elimination of "foreign occupation, apartheid, [and] Zionism" as a prerequisite for peace a fundamental belief of the union. Hosting an official from the Israeli embassy would compromise this, she said in an email.
|Cut All US Aid To Israel
Posted on: 11/25/2000 Jewish Intellectuals
|"We Jews, citizens of the state of Israel and of other countries,are sickened that the Barak government would let the war criminal Ariel Sharon enter a Palestinian area and provoke terrible violence.
Unfortunately this just illustrates the determination of the current Israeli government to keep Palestinians permanently separate, unequal, closed up in small territories, and exiled in foreign lands.
We protest the ever escalating violence against Palestinians.
We urge the US Congress to suspend all foreign aid to Israel."
|Zionism today is the real enemy of the Jews / Avi Shlaim|
|The obsession is to keep the whole of the Land of Israel in the hands of the Jewish people. This transformed the Zionist movement from a legitimate national liberation movement for the Jews into a colonial power and an oppressor of
|Intelligence squelched - by Melanie Phillips
|In Tuesday evening I had the misfortune to take part in a high-profile and packed debate in London in the 'Intelligence Squared' series. The motion was 'Zionism today is the real enemy of the Jews'.
The fact was that by proposing this motion, Shlaim has associated himself with a statement which -- despite his denials -- singles out the Jews as having no right to their own country, and singles out Israel as the one country in the world whose existence is illegitimate. Zionism is today, as it has always been, the national liberation movement of the Jewish people and Israel is its territorial expression. There are many different types of Zionism today, as ever; Sharon's version is but one. The motion condemned Zionism today, full stop. As a result, this debate will be used by the enemies of Israel and of the Jewish people to do them further harm -- and Shlaim, Rose and Hass made that possible.
|the “3rd International Conference on An End to Occupation, |
|on behalf of a group calling itself the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and endorsed by 60 of the most important academic, cultural, professional and trade unions and associations in the occupied West Bank and Gaza
Oren Yiftachel, Israeli Professor of Political-Geography, Planning and Public Policy at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev has built a reputation on exposing the dark side of Israeli urban and regional planning and the politics of Judaizing Israel/Palestine. Examples include attempts by the State and its founding elites to simultaneously incorporate and control minority immigrant groups (Mizrahi, Sepharadi Jews) within Israel's nation-building and State-building projects.
Yiftachel spoke of Israeli attempts to legitimize the truth on the ground and of Jewish blindness to their situation. He outlined 10 different types of Israeli citizenship that challenge the notion of Israel being a true democracy where the Ashkenazi Jews are on top. Orthodox Jews are second-class citizens, pseudo-Jews third, the Druze fourth, the Palestine Arab Israeli fifth-class citizens, the Bedouins sixth, East Jerusalem and Golan Heights residents seventh, Palestinians in the West Bank eighth, Gaza residents ninth, and labor migrants tenth on the so-called Israeli scale of citizenship, according to Yiftachel.
TA University professor Anat Biletzki, chair of the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem stated that most human rights violations are carried out by Israeli policies and declared the Apartheid Wall to be the icon of the occupation. Ben-Gurion professor Yanni Nevo, also with the Co-existence Forum in the Negev spoke of the horrors of the crop sprayings in the unrecognized villages in the Negev and said that being Jewish and democratic was incompatible.
Nevo described Israel’s “Un-Recognition Policy” whereby the ancestral homeland and ancient villages of the Bedouin population of the Negev are not recognized and neither is their Israeli citizenship. This allows for mass expulsions and rejection of housing permits by the Israeli government so that the activity of demolition squads is justified. As a result basic shelter is denied to a desert population as well as State services such as electricity, water, roads, medical care, telephones and transportation.
“Today, when Bedouins plant crops they are sprayed with Monsanto’s Roundup,” Nevo continued. “And against Monsanto recommendations this involves aerial spraying of crops, livestock, dwellings and people.” Nevo described a policy of ‘Chemical Treatment’ whereby the Bedouins have been dehumanized and treated with chemical aggression so that their land can be Judiazed. Health effects of the utilization of a weed exterminator on the population include birth defects and a variety of cancers such as Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. “This is not only non-democratic,” Nevo asserted, “but immoral experimentation on non-consenting individuals. They are weeding crops to get rid of the population,” Professor Nevo stated.
Yuval Adam, a student activist from Tel-Aviv University and founder of the Student Coalition claimed that in the past apathy reigned on Israeli college campuses but that is starting to change because some members of the student body now understand that remaining silent is to agree with Israeli policies. There is an emerging student movement for peace, he said, but the official response has been police brutality where protesting students are beaten up. Adam’s hope is that students will not be deterred and the movement will grow.
|Linguists against boycotts / Ron Kuzar|
|Most of us strongly oppose Israel's continued occupation of the
West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem.
|The 4th International Academic Conference on An End to Occupation, A Just Peace in Israel-Palestine:
January 3rd - 5th, 2005
|A call for effective international pressure on Israel|
|Attached is an open letter to Jacques Chirac and Tony Blair, calling for effective international pressure on Israel, based on the understanding that Israel has neither the will nor the ability to end the occupation without such pressure.
|On Dec. 5, some 270 academics from around the world convened in London |
|Israeli professor of history Ilan Pappe called on his academic colleagues to "boycott us." This may seem an odd recommendation coming from an Israeli scholar-indeed, someone likened Pappe's call to a "turkey voting for Christmas"! Pappe explained his action, however, by arguing that change will not come from within, that external pressure is essential for Israel to change. Although Israeli academics may be more liberal than the population at large, Pappe didn't believe that demand for change would come from this quarter. If Israeli academics actively were working for change, he explained, then the boycott might be seen as counterproductive. It was clear from several presentations, however, that Israeli academic institutions are part of
the problem. Support for the boycott also came from a handful of academics in Israel, some Israeli academics working abroad, and a significant number of Jewish academics.
|Alarm at bid to revive boycott, 03 December 2004
|Dr Paulin was quoted in an Egyptian newspaper in 2002 as saying that "Brooklyn-born" settlers in the Gaza Strip and West Bank were "Nazis and racists" who should be "shot
|Israel boycott row hits college. December 4, 2004|
|London University School of Oriental and African Studies has come under fire for agreeing to host a conference tomorrow at which academics begin a campaign to break links with Israeli universities, significantly increasing an academic boycott of Israel.
|Conference at Duke University equates Zionism, apartheid - Oct. 17, 2004|
|A weekend conference urging divestment from Israel was set to wrap up Sunday at Duke University after a series of speakers who equated Zionism with South African apartheid and called for an end to a so-called exclusively Jewish state.
|Anti-Israel Conference at the University of London
On December 5th 2004 |
|Ilan Pappe, Israel, University Haifa |
|An open Letter to Professor Menachem Magidor and the members of Israel's Forum to combat the academic boycott|
|Given the destructive nature of Israeli government action against Palestinian education and academic freedom, and your simultaneous expression of concern for Israeli academic freedom in the face of the boycott, we feel that it is only fair to ask the Israeli academic leadership where it stands on the issue of current Israeli policy as described above, and to share with us what Israeli academic institutions are doing to challenge the behavior of your government.
|Open Letter from Faculty Members
|"We, faculty members from a number of Israeli universities, wish to express our appreciation and support for those of our students and lecturers who refuse to serve as soldiers in the occupied territories."
|URGENT APPEAL FOR INTERNATIONAL INVOLVEMENT:|
|The elimination of the Palestinian national presence west of the Jordan River is implicit in the long-term aims of the Israeli right wing
"Millions of Palestinians have been reduced by Israeli government policies to life in fearsome ghettos."
|Break the Conspiracy of Silence, Act Before it is too Late
|Demand that governments end military assistance to Israel, suspend
economic ties, and support the prosecution of war criminals, and urge
other states to do so.
|We, the undersigned are defenders of Palestinian academic freedom and supporters of the academic boycott against Israel
Yuval Yonay (Haifa U) Bachrach, Riva, Clinical Psychologist, Beit Berl College of Education Dolev, Diana, , Wizo College for Design, Haifa Giora, Rachel, Professor of Linguistics, Tel Aviv University Israel Habib, George, Lecturer, School of medicine, Technion Haifa, Jablonka Eva, Associate Professor, Cohn Institute Israel (TAU?) Kraus, Vered, Professor of Sociology, University of Haifa Rabinowitz, Dan, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Tel Aviv University
Tanya Reinhart (TAU) Pappe (Haifa U)
|Open Letter from Faculty Members endorsing Mutiny and Insurrection by IDF Troops|
|We hereby express our readiness to do our best to help students who encounter academic, administrative or economic difficulties as a result of their refusal to serve in the territories. We call on the University community at large to support them. |
|Sabra - Shatila Belgium |
|International support for the complaint in Belgium against Ariel Sharon and others responsables because of their alleged “crimes against humanity” in the massacre in Sabra and Shatila.
|Sharon May Be Contemplating Crimes Against Humanity|
|We, members of Israeli academe, are horrified by US build-up of aggression towards Iraq and by the Israeli political leadership's enthusiastic support for it. |
|Boycotting Israel: Back to 1933? By Edward Alexander
The Jerusalem Post | January 7, 2003|
|Will the boycotters emulate the (occasional) pragmatism of their predecessors, or will they stick firmly to their principles in order to reduce Israel to pariah status? More importantly, will the European Union, many of whose prominent members either participated or acquiesced in the destruction of European Jewry 60 years ago, put a stop to the conspiracy of these spiritual descendants of those Max Weinreich famously called "Hitler's Professors," to expel the Jews (once again) from the family of nations?|
|Battles rage on U.S. campuses for and against investments in Israel|
|The editorial is the latest item in a battle underway at some of the most prestigious universities in the United States. Petitions on the same theme as the UCLA student newspaper has been circulating at universities like Harvard, MIT, Cornell, Princeton, and University of California campuses. Counter-petitions have followed. Hundreds of faculty members have signed the pro-divesting petition and so have 6,000 students.
A number of Israelis, who belong to faculties in America well as in Israel, have added their signatures, including Prof. Immanuel Farjun from Hebrew University and MIT Prof. Yosef Grodzinski, of Tel Aviv University, and Ben-Gurion University Prof. Naomi Shir.
|The Intifada Reaches The Ivory Tower: European Scientists Are Calling For A Boycott Of Israel
|The manifesto was signed by over 270 European scientists, including about 10 Israelis. Although it is the most moderate of the boycotts being formulated these days against Israel, the manifesto aroused a great deal of anger in the Israeli scientific community. |