Posts Tagged ‘BDS’
When Professors call for an academic boycott of Israel, I do not know whether to laugh or cry. Professors represent the pinnacle of scholarship and teaching. They represent the spread of discourse and positive criticism that should expand our perspectives and better our world. And then we have academic boycotts, which represent a censorship that stands antithetical to the values of education.
As scholarly teachers, it should be the professor’s job to challenge his or her students to critically interact with course material, connecting it with real-world issues that the student can bring to civic life. We must ask what professors supporting the academic and cultural boycott of Israel are encouraging their students to bring to civic life. Hypocrisy is what I see.
Take, for example, NYU Professor Lisa Duggan, who was shamed in a media advertisement for heading the American Studies Association (ASA), which calls for an academic boycott of Israel. After drawing negative publicity, she called for an academic conference on campus that was called “an anti-Israel conference of hate and bile against the Jewish state” by an advocacy group called The Israel Project. Of course, supporters of Israel were not invited to this conference. Because Duggan’s goal for the meeting was to advance the BDS movement (Boycott of, Divest from and Sanctions against Israel), which censors pro-Israel academic voices, it is unsurprising that she did not invite pro-Israel perspectives to her conference. But by doing so, Duggan compromised her professorial duty to engage with multiple perspectives of a complex issue.
A look at her RateMyProfessors reviews shows she takes this political censorship with her to the classroom. The most recent feedback from one of her students reads, “She is too political for a classroom setting. She gives her own biased opinions instead of just teaching facts. Not what I expect from an academic atmosphere.” This occurs too often in American classrooms. If Duggan would like to voice her views in a forum, she should go for politics, not academics. She should know, as a Professor, that offering only one perspective to otherwise uninformed students, is academically dishonest, detrimental to the critical learning process, and is nothing more than academic censorship.
On campus, I see such hypocrisy and censorship spreading to the students. I once went to a meeting regarding the academic and cultural boycott of Israel, hosted by an anti-Israel group on campus. The group leader read a typed list off of his iPhone (which, unbeknownst to him, was made possible by the virtual keyboard, an Israeli invention) of what he would like to see boycotted on our campus. Among the boycott of Israeli professors, Israeli textbooks, and Israeli products that he suggested, he wished to cease our school-sponsored study abroad to Israel. I asked him, then, why we shouldn’t increase study abroad to Israel, so students could judge Israel for themselves first hand. He did not have an answer, and I have yet to hear a compelling one from any other students, professors, and supporters of the ASA with whom I have inquired.
I believe that I haven’t heard a compelling argument because this ASA movement is simply hypocritical. The hypocrisy again came to light on my campus when a pile of school newspapers were found in the trash and the incident was berated as a hideous act of censorship, as that issue contained articles discussing underprivileged groups on campus. But the same students and Professors who called this newspaper censorship shameful were often the same ones who were pushing the ASA censorship of Israeli academics and culture; insinuating that censorship is okay, as long as the opinions being censored are the perspectives with which they disagree.
The Rabbinical Alliance of America – a major American mainstream rabbinic organization – has equated support for the BDS movement with being an accessory to Biblical theft and murder.
The organization urged fellow Jews to reject absolutely the ‘boycott, divestment and sanctions’ movement against Israel rather than risk transgressions of those and other Biblical prohibitions.
The 800-member organization warned in a statement issued at its recent rabbinic convocation there is a “rising tide of anti-Semitism worldwide and [the] anti-Jewish rhetoric associated with the BDS movement against the people and the State of Israel.”
In addition, the RAA said the goals of the BDS movement are so toxic they actually contravene Biblical standards for anyone who considers themselves ‘People of the Book,’ be they Jewish or not.
The movement “contravenes Biblical scripture and undermines the very foundations that assure a just and moral society for all people,” said the RAA.
“The Rabbinical Alliance views this movement as being malevolent in calling Israel an apartheid state as it utilizes inflammatory language to delegitimize the basic human rights of the Jewish people for self-determination and to live amongst its neighbors in security and safety.
“The Rabbinical Alliance calls upon members of the Jewish faith and all people of good will to reject the BDS movement in all of its variations as its goal is to harm the safety and security of the Jewish people in Israel, as well as impact its hard working Jewish citizens and Arab residents from earning their livelihood and being able to export their products to other regions of the globe.
“Any action in support of the … movement is tantamount to transgressing numerous Biblical prohibitions of theft, denial of gainful employment, the utilization of unjust weights and measurements and is considered to be a contributing factor to the very serious transgression of the shedding of blood (murder) of a fellow human being,” the rabbis wrote.
In an unprecedented incident, the Palestinian Authority has arrested four anti-Israel BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) activists in Ramallah about two weeks ago.
The four, Zeid Shuaibi, Abdel Jawad Hamayel, Fadi Quran and Fajr Harb, were arrested on charges of “provoking riots and the breach of public tranquility.” The four demonstrated against an Indian dance group performing in Ramallah that performed in Tel Aviv as well. The protesters accused the Indian dancers of violating their campaign for boycotting Israel, claiming that their appearance in Tel Aviv was a form of “normalization” with Israel. The incident seriously embarrassed the Palestinian Authority leadership and resulted in a decision to prosecute the four BDS activists. The four appeared in court on May 28th to face the charges against them. However, the trial was postponed until July 14th because state witnesses, policemen, failed to appear in court.
Amnesty International has already called on the PA to drop the charges and has stated it will investigate alleged police violence. “The reported treatment of the four men once in custody has undermined their right to a fair trial and raises concerns that they are being punished for their political protest,” the statement read.
Omar Barghouti, one of the leaders of the BDS movement, said that the PA should be put on trial for bringing the four men to court. “If the four men are brought before a court, then we should prosecute the Palestinian Authority for serving the Israeli occupation’s project,” he said. “The decision to prosecute the four men was taken in collusion with the fierce Israeli campaign against the BDS.”
Khaled Abu Toameh, writing for Gatestone, writes that the BDS movement is seen by the PA as trouble-makers and law-breakers. For some PA officials, BDS is a movement that acts against the true interests of the Palestinians. They say that the actions of those promoting BDS make the Palestinians appear as if they are not interested in peace and coexistence with Israel. BDS activists in Ramallah have succeeded in preventing several planned meetings between Israelis and Palestinians in Ramallah and east Jerusalem. The Palestinian Authority is also worried that BDS is harming the Palestinians’ relations with other countries. The disturbance of the Indian dance troupe’s performance is an example. Toameh believes that The PA move against the BDS activists shows that it considers the movement a threat to Palestinian interests.
Gilad Zwick, an analyst at MIDA, explains that the Palestinians are well aware of the extent of the damage the BDS can cause them financially if the boycotters’ ambitions are fully realized.
There are 14 Israeli industrial and agricultural parks in Judea and Samaria, including 788 factories and businesses, employing some 11,000 Palestinian workers, alongside 6,000 Israeli workers. Furthermore, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, workers in industrial zones in Judea and Samaria are paid twice and three times the average Palestinian salary and also receive full social benefits as prescribed by Israeli law. In addition, Palestinian businessmen prefer the Israeli economy’s stability and comparative freedom over the corrupt PA’s economy. Thus, according to research conducted at Al–Quds University, the Palestinian volume of investments in the Israeli economy is two times higher than in the Palestinian economy. Approximately 16,000 Palestinian businessmen with entry visas into Israel choose to invest their money there. Therefore, the struggle to boycott Israel further gravely undermines the Palestinian economy, which is dependent on its Israeli neighbor. Israelis can transfer their factories elsewhere, but Palestinians will remain with nothing.
I read with interest your letter about The BDS Debate in Our House, between you and your secular Israeli husband. You are clearly passionate about the Palestinian cause, and while I may disagree about your analysis of the Israel-Palestinian situation, I greatly respect your dedication and commitment. Would that all people of conscience stood up and took action to right the wrongs of injustice. For that alone, you have my respect.
At the same time, however, your defense of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement left me with more questions than answers. I know you view the Israel-Palestinian situation as the 21st century version of South African apartheid, and the Palestinian Authority as little more than a bantustan – a quasi-free political entity, surrounded on all sides by the Israeli “occupation” and possessing little ability to function due to Israel’s numerous laws and regulations.
For many reasons, however, you are simply wrong.
To begin with, you claim that “BDS is nonviolent resistance,” the result of years of “lecturing” by the international community about non-violence. In theory, you’re right.
But where are the Palestinian leaders who back up your BDS movement with strong, singular, unequivocal statements about the value of non-violence? Where are the leaders who draw inspiration and guidance from true disciples of non-violence such as Mohandas K. Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr? Currently, Israel security forces (often in conjunction with Palestinian police in Judea and Samaria) scuttle approximately 10,000 terror attacks a month, in addition to roadside stonings, Temple Mount riots and other incidents. How come your BDS campaign has failed to influence the Palestinian street in this way?
This question is even more potent in the context of your beloved apartheid claim. In your view, Israel plays the part of the minority Afrikaner government, while the Palestinians play the role of the oppressed black majority (let’s forget, for a moment, that Jews are a clear majority in the Land of Israel. That fact alone distinguishes Israel from South Africa. But I digress).
Who, then, is the Palestinian Mandela, the man who fought and suffered for his country and his people, but yet emerged from prison with his moral compass unscathed? Who is the Palestinian leader who speaks passionately about Jewish rights in the Land of Israel, no less than Palestinian rights? You will agree that there are many examples in the other direction; i.e. Israeli officials and public figures who speak out strongly for Palestinian rights and against what I would describe as Israel’s defensive actions.
Secondly, you say (rightly) that Idi Amin’s appalling human rights record in Uganda did not, and should not have excused human rights activists from acting strongly against South Africa. Similarly, you feel it is appropriate to boycott Israel, despite the fact that Israel’s record on human and civil rights – even in Judea and Samaria- is far superior to other nations both in the Middle East and farther afield.
But is the Israeli situation really akin to the South African one, or to other nations that you could plan to boycott? Perhaps the best way to answer this question (in good Jewish fashion) is with another question: Were Israel to pull out of Judea and Samaria, would that satisfy Palestinian claims? Would the children and grandchildren of 1948 refugees, second and third generation Jordanians, Syrians and Lebanese, accept the deal, immigrate to the nascent Palestinian state and forego claims to their ancestors homes in Jaffa and Haifa? Would you and the BDS brigades make that demand?
The answer here is clearly “no.” As in Lebanon and Gaza, an Israel pullout would merely whet the appetite of the Palestinian political class, and their violent supporters in places like Gaza south Lebanon. Thus, the situation here cannot be compared to the South African one: In the best case scenario, Palestinians seek to flood Israel with refugees (from a war started by the Arab world, it should be noted) to displace the Jewish majority. South African blacks always represented an enormous majority, and sought to exercise equal rights as a majority population in their own country while respecting the rights of the white minority. The two situations are simply not compatible.
Since the start time of The Rolling Stones concert was rolled ahead to 9:15 to allow for travel time after the end of Shavuot, I thought it would be fun to roll the opposite direction back into Shavuot.
If you read through the articles written before the concert, there were three main themes: 1) The Rolling Stones were performing in Israel; 2) The concert was scheduled to begin the night after Shavuot; and 3) BDS wasn’t working … again.
Now that we’ve isolated these three, let’s work to conceptualize them. Beyond the recent headlines, there is some enduring message here. Some inner reason why this story was so attractive and intriguing for so many. While we know what happened to make these recent headlines, we’d like to now ask why?
Why I am writing this?
To help us all see the bigger picture. While it may seem that our interests travel from one unrelated headline to the next, there are correspondences interweaving all these stories together. In this respect, the billions of pages that comprise the internet are indeed a www (world wide web). The challenge is in finding the correspondences between them and knowing what sites or data to leave out entirely.
Stones, Shavuot, and BDS
Back to our three. The first conceptual leap we’d like to take is to leap past this particular band, and into a concept called “rolling stones.” Even if future headlines speak about a rock band by another name, or something else to do with stones (e.g., arab stoning attacks), then we are still able to weave them together in our www of concepts. For instance on JewishPress.com, the article “Rolling Stones Play Tel Aviv” was posted 15 minutes before, “64 Stoning/Firebomb Attacks Over Shavuot.”
Thinking conceptually enables us to acknowledge the relationship between the two, and open our eyes to begin appreciating (and promoting) the Divine Providence. Since King David passed away on Shavuot the ‘rolling stones’ that came to mind was the ‘stone’ that killed the Philistine giant Goliath.
What about BDS? Instead of a physical stone slung against the Philistine Goliath, the performance of The Rolling Stones in Israel was seen as a proverbial ‘stone throw’ against BDS and a fictionalized nation called the Palestinians. We have now corresponded all three of our concert headline themes with the original David and Goliath ‘headline.’
Why is conceptualization needed?
Because now we can begin to appreciate the why behind the what of the headlines.
For instance, while the band presently consists of four members, a fifth was invited to join them on stage (according to one report, for the first time in 40 years). Where did this thought to invite him on stage come from? That the four ‘stones’ should become five ‘stones’? From our original ‘headline’ of David placing five stones in his slingshot. While David killed Goliath with one stone (Samuel 1 17:49), David had put five stones into his slingshot (verse 40).
In contrast to the hate-filled stones thrown by arabs, as mentioned previously, the ‘stones’ thrown by Jews are non-physical stones of love. This is the inner lesson that 50,000 attendees in Tel Aviv hoped to receive yesterday. How to throw stones of love.
Because of the Divine Providence in the date chosen (presumably the band didn’t know the Jewish significance of the day beforehand, nor the significance of inviting a fifth ‘stone’ on stage), and because they went against BDS, even though the tickets were pricey, and the heat sweltering, the event was a near sellout. But while many of us were attracted to attend or read about the event, now comes the challenge to take these messages home.
The global Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement scored a major victory Monday when an Australian court threw out a lawsuit claiming a Sydney University professor had violated Australian anti-discrimination laws by refusing to host an Israeli professor from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
The lawsuit was filed by an Australian member of Shurat HaDin, an Israeli legal aid group dedicated to “combating the terrorist organizations and the regimes that support them through lawsuits litigated in courtrooms around the world, fighting for the rights of hundreds of terror victims, bankrupt(ing) the terror groups and grind(ing) their criminal activities to a halt – one lawsuit at a time.”
At issue was an application by Dr Dan Avnon for a fellowship at Sydney University. Avnon had asked Prof. Jake Lynch, chairman of the University Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies and an avowed supporter of the academic boycott against Israel to support the application, but the latter snubbed the request, saying he supports the BDS movement and would not collaborate with scholars from an Israeli institution.
Lawyers for Avnon said the blanket boycott against Israeli academics is a violation of Australia’s ban against discrimination.
“By refusing employment to an Israeli professor simply because he is Israeli, Lynch plainly violated Australia’s anti-racism law, which was legislated to protect against discrimination based on national origin and religion,” said Robert Tolchin, a US-based lawyer for Shurat Hadin.
“There are only two questions to be answered. Did Lynch discriminate against an Israeli professor based on his national origin and, secondly, is such conduct a violation of Australia’s anti-racism laws?”
However, Federal Court Justice Alan Robertson rejected the allegations, which included charges that Lynch is a leader of the global boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign in Australia. Earlier this year, the Australian Jewish News reported that Robertson said Shurat HaDin’s case “often lacked clear facts linking Lynch’s support of BDS with specific acts of racial discrimination.
“You’ll have to do a lot of work to persuade me of the correctness of that position,” Robertson said.
Robertson also threw out Shurat HaDin’s allegation that “a purpose of BDS movement campaigns is to inflict harm on Israeli persons or organisations’.
The case will likely have implications for legal understanding of academic freedom in Australia and abroad. Prof. Lynch says Shurat Hadin is trying to breach his freedom by forcing him to work with scholars he rejects, whereas Prof. Avnon says that Lynch is trying to breach his rights by preventing him from teaching in Sydney.
Shurat HaDin has been ordered to put up a $100,000 bond to cover Professor Lynch’s court costs. But the group said in a statement that the case would proceed under the guidelines set forth by Justice Robertson.
“The new statement of claims will be sharply streamlined to include only the uncontested allegation that Lynch refused employment to Professor Avnon solely based on his citizenship,” Shurat HaDin said.