Why I have nothing to say about the British academic boycott

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21 Responses

  1. Bob Miller says:

    Does it ever occur to today’s Europeans that the nazis and fascists and communists were also Others, but dangerous ones to be eliminated?

  2. rejewvenator says:

    When religious Zionists suggest, in all seriousness, that we bomb Palestinian cities until terrorism stops, when the Sephardi Chief Rabbi of the State of Israel advocates carpet-bombing Gaza, and when a person like yourself can claim, amid the rubble and ruin of Palestinian neighborhoods that the Palestinian economy is doing great, that’s when you know that the Palestinians have become the Other – dehumanized, demonized, marked out for collective punishment, and heaped upon with all the blame for a situation so clearly not of their own making.

  3. Menachem Lipkin says:

    Magnificent! (And wonderful catalyst for us increase our Mitzvot and Avodas Hashem.)

  4. Ori Pomerantz says:

    It’s nice of them to remember what the Nazis did. Unfortunately, a snippet of history out of context is almost meaningless.

    It would have been better if they had remembered what allowed the Nazis to gain power and what it took to throw them out. Instead, they seem to think that giving the Islamofascists the Sudetenland (oops, I meant Israel) would quiet them down. Nor do they see the connection between depicting evil as the other and getting rid of it.

  5. Calev says:

    The proverbial nail must have a mightly headache after this essay!

  6. Garnel Ironheart says:

    Kol hakavod!

    I’ve said this for a long time: We have to stop wasting our breath trying to change the minds of our enemies. We have to start wasting it trying to chance the minds of our brethren and rebuild their spirit to survive this struggle.

  7. SM says:

    On first reading this appears to be an absolutely excellent post. The caveat is only because it clearly repays closer reading which I have not yet the opportunity to complete.

    However, if you live here, as I do. I don’t think silence is an option. I invite UK readers to do what I have done, together with my friends. First, write to your University and ask them what stand they take. Second, say that your financial support will be reviewed in the light of their answer. Third, say that your cooperation with their efforts to find jobs for their graduates will also be reviewed.

    The usual result is a complete disclaimer of what has happened, to which you can then ask to see the literature being put out by the University and its academics so that you can be reassured. In truth most academics do not support this – the Union has 150,000 members and the vote was 158 v 99. But these people are unpleasant and I agree that they demonise us to feel better about themselves.

  8. Menachem Lipkin says:

    From rejewvenator:

    “When religious Zionists suggest…that’s when you know that the Palestinians have become the Other – dehumanized, demonized, marked out for collective punishment, and heaped upon with all the blame for a situation so clearly not of their own making.”

    A) We haven’t done a fraction of the things you mentioned.
    B) Even if we did, we’d just be doing what any other country would do in our circumstances.
    C) Worst of all you’re buying into the “poor Palestinian” propaganda machine.

    The situation of the Palestinians in YESHA is so clearly of their own making it’s not funny. They are receiving more money per capita than any other group in the world. They have had ample opportunity to build an economically strong and peaceful society. Anything negative that happens to them is merely a reaction to their behavior. To be sure, many, not sure it’s most anymore, are being victimized by their own, but not by us.

    Just look at Gaza over the last 2 years. There could be hotels, tourism, industry, massive export. If they would decide to build their own society instead of trying to destroy ours the world would be falling all over themselves to help and of course, for better or worse, we’d be leading the pack.

    Even now, amidst this horror that was created in Gaza, former owners of the greenhouses are training Palestinians in their methods. And let’s not even mention the million Palestinians who live among us with unparallel freedom and opportunity. That’s how one treats an “other”?

  9. Calev says:

    On cue, rejewvenator provides us with a wonderful example of exactly the type of muddled thinking that serves only to exacerbate problems. Yes, you can find a few isolated comments by a handful of individuals that may be – or seem to be – extreme. The astounding thing is that such comments are peripheral to debate in Jewish circles. It is a great tribute to the qualities of the Jewish People and the G-d-given tradition that nurtures them that the mainstream debate is one of an earnest search for a peaceful resolution – to the extent of making painful sacrifices. All this in the face of intensifying hatred from the Arab side; a hatred that is used to legitimise mass murder and the desire for genocide. The objective truth is that, following 1967, Arabs in Gaza, Yehuda and the Shomron started to enjoy fast growing advances in health, education and living standards. These advances – which embarrasingly outstripped the experiences of Arabs in most other countries – only stalled with the onset of violence that they themselves initiated. Yes, things could always have been better. But what a shame that hateful ideological imperatives and insane spiritual promises have provided the framework of the Arabs’ response.
    And what a disaster it has proved that a host of “useful idiots” – some of the loudest being Jewish – have indulged this cultivated victimhood to ever more murderous ambitions.

  10. Tal Benschar says:

    Seems to me there is a much simpler explanation. I just read in yesterday’s paper that the most popular name for baby boys this year in Britain is — Mohammed. That is the future, and the British see it coming.

  11. rejewvenator says:

    Menachem:

    A) Really? Which do you think we don’t do? Demonization? Dehumanization? Collective punishment? Or blame?

    B) It’s disingenuous on the one hand to claim a unique relationship to the land based upon God’s promises to Abraham – a claim which justifies political choices like the settlements – and then to turn around and state that we’re acting no differently than any other nation would act in our position. Would you like to eat your cake, or would you like to have it instead?

    C) There are hundreds of thousands of children growing up in the West Bank and Gaza. As things stand, they have virtually no hope of living anything but a life of poverty and oppression. If you don’t feel like that’s a tragedy that needs to be addressed, the question you need to ask yourself is whose propaganda are you listening to?

    Like most people, you lump all Palestinians into one group, as though there’s no difference between Hamas, Fatah, the dozens of subgroups, splinter cells, and tribal milities. As though there’s no difference between the gun-toting terrorist, the underpaid security force, and the dirt-poor, powerless, and hopeless populace. You just blame this fantasy monolith you call the Palestinians. You assume that at the last big Palestinian meeting, everyone agreed to destroy you rather than create their own society. Looks and sounds to me like collective blame, followed by collective punishment.

    Calev: When the Chief Rabbi of Israel says something, and his statements are not loudly repudiated in Israel, or in any Jewish community that I’m aware of, it’s more than an isolated statement or uncommon belief. As for health education and living standards, I can only point to Jews under the Romans. I’m sure the Romans were saying something along the same lines – we brought them aqueducts, roads, public bath houses – why did they have to respond with revolt?

  12. David says:

    Rejewventaor,
    Umm, who put Hamas in power and who should pay the consequences of such a stupid decision? They were democratically elected by a majority of the Palestinians living in Gaza.

  13. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Rejewvenator, you’re right that war sucks and that it involves hurting innocent civilians. That is indeed a tragedy, and one that should be avoided if possible.

    Is it possible to avoid war in Israel’s current position? The democratically elected Hamas is opposed to Jews being in Israel as anything other than Dhimmis. It’s not a matter of political expedience for them, but Sharia (the Islamic version of Halacha). They can no more have peace with Israel than an Orthodox Jew can bow down to the Baal.

  14. Jacob Haller says:

    Rejewvenator’s comment

    “Like most people, you lump all Palestinians into one group, as though there’s no difference between Hamas, Fatah, the dozens of subgroups, splinter cells, and tribal milities.”

    I’m not sure it’s valid that “most” don’t recognize differences between all the groups mentioned above. Admittedly I’m no expert on the specifics of the myriad of nuances that might distinguish them but these groups are doing a sufficient job of educating the masses that differences do in fact exist. We know this because these differences are usually settled with Kalishnikovs, AK-47s or whatever weapons promised to them in the Oslo accords that they are now training on each other. And that’s when their favorite talking-point “Hudna” is in effect.

    Many like myself are unpleasantly amused that governments of the supposedly enlightened West and righteous NGOs are pressuring Israel to make sacrifices to such examples of pseudo-governance which are really just more lethal versions of the Bloods & Crips.

    Another unsettling (no pun intended) development is that there are influential elements in South Africa planning similar boycotts. President Mbeki is not interested in this but COSATU (Coalition of South African Trade Unions) is pressing on.

    Part of COSATU’s tactics is to picket stores that sell Israeli merchandise. Can anyone provide a reassurance that this won’t degenerate into violence or unrest against one of South Africa’s religious minority groups that just might be associated with anything Israeli?

  15. Tal Benschar says:

    I am reminded of a story my cousin (who is considerably older than I) told me about his trip to Germany circa 1950 as a visiting professor. The Germans, though very polite, eventually began complaining about how they had been mistreated by the Allies, including intense bombing day and night (can anyone say Dresden?) His answer: next time don’t start a world war and you won’t suffer.

    The Palestinian Arabs have for the last 60 years and more been at war with the Jews of EY. They have repeatedly made clear that they will not tolerate any substantial settlement or government of Jews in that territory and if they have their way would commit Holocaust II, r”l. Their suffering, while tragic on an individual level, is a direct result of their own policy choice.

  16. Menachem Lipkin says:

    From Rejewventaor,

    “A) Really? Which do you think we don’t do? Demonization? Dehumanization? Collective punishment? Or blame?”

    I’d say the only we do is Collective punishment, and that is only a necessary evil which results from the behavior of their “leadership”. Unfortunately fences and check points are needed to protect Israeli, Arab and Jewish, lives.

    The rest are done by some minority, but overall we are, for better or worse, a liberal democracy and most are, to a fault, looking for ways to give them the benefit of the doubt.

    “B) It’s disingenuous on the one hand to claim a unique relationship to the land based upon God’s promises to Abraham – a claim which justifies political choices like the settlements – and then to turn around and state that we’re acting no differently than any other nation would act in our position. Would you like to eat your cake, or would you like to have it instead?”

    I didn’t say we WERE acting that way, we’re not. I’m just giving the extreme that even if we did respond with normally accepted force, we’d be judged differently than everyone else.

    “C) There are hundreds of thousands of children growing up in the West Bank and Gaza. As things stand, they have virtually no hope of living anything but a life of poverty and oppression. If you don’t feel like that’s a tragedy that needs to be addressed, the question you need to ask yourself is whose propaganda are you listening to?”

    It’s a tragedy of epic proportions. I never said otherwise. The propaganda that you’re falling for is that somehow we’re to blame for this tragedy. We have done more than any other country on Earth would have done to mitigate this tragedy. It’s a tragedy for them and as a result for us as well.

    I haven’t lumped anyone into anything. I was actually in favor of the Gaza pullout as I really believed it would give them a chance to put up or shut up. They didn’t put up, but we haven’t responded sanely. The other end of the Gaza pullout bargain was that we would respond forcefully and harshly for an further provocations. (And of course that we’d properly take care of the “refugees”.) There are innocent, hard working, people that are suffering there. But in a flash of democratic insanity they, as a group, chose the path of Hamas, which means, as a group, they’ve decided that it’s more important to destroy us than to build a working, productive society.

    Until those among them who would rather build than destroy find a voice and the courage to back that voice then they have nobody to blame but themselves for the tragic situation they are in

  17. Herve Seligmann says:

    Silent academic boycotts against Israel have existed, in an unnoticed way, since decennies (see links below this comment).

    The end result of the boycotting efforts in the last years will be opposite, at least in the UK, but might spread to the USA and have very serious negative effects on Israel’s academia.

    The consolation, to some extent, is that this brings publicity to the fact that many scholars are routinely submitted to unfair, unprofessional criticism, jewish- or israel-ness being only one among many prejudicial criteria.

    Thanks for the efforts,
    Herve
    H Seligmann 2002 Organizing publicly one of many decennial silent boycotts: How old is the iceberg? Rapid response in the British Medical Journal, October 2002. http://www.bmj.com/cgi/eletters/326/7391/713/c

    H Seligmann 2003 More transparency in revieweing is called for. British Medical Journal 327:989-990 http://www.spme.net/cgi-bin/articles.cgi?ID=327
    or
    http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/327/7421/989-d?hits=10&FIRSTINDEX=0&AUTHOR1=Seligmann&FULLTEXT=Israel&SEARCHID=1117010542257_1884&gca=bmj%253B327%252F7421%252F989-d&

    H Seligmann 2005 Boycott Israeli Academics? The numbers don’t lie, they are already boycotted. Discarded Lies http://discardedlies.com/entries/2005/10/boycott_israeli_academics.php)
    or
    http://discardedlies.com/entry/?4877

    H Seligmann 2006 -*-=+: Does the boycott backlash? Presentation at the Bar Ilan International Conference against academic boycotts.
    http://www.biu.ac.il/academic_freedom/abs.htm
    http://www.biu.ac.il/academic_freedom/presentations/herve%20seligmann.doc

  18. Nama Frenkel says:

    I wonder why there is not more discussion of a much more damaging, quieter boycott of Israeli academic institutions in America. Using the excuse of safety, many important academic exchanges have been lost to Israel.

    While I was working on a book tour for Rabbi Hanan Alexander, former Executive VP of University of Judaism, now professor at University of Haifa during the Intifada of 2002 I discovered an informal American boycott of year abroad programs in Israel.

    Alexander was touring to promote a book Reclaiming Goodness:Education and the Spiritual Quest, a book on Ethics having nothing whatsoever to do with Israel. His informal invitation to University of Oklahoma Hillel was withdrawn with the suggestion that having an “Israeli” academic on campus would be too inflamatory. Alexander, an American citizen speaking about ethics found this decision very troubling.

    Coincidentally, while Alexander was touring California, his former home state, the University of California had made a decision to force all students in Israeli unversities to come back to the states. Their concern, ostensibly, was that they did not want to be responsible for students safety in a war zone. But they began to enforce their policy with the draconian measure of ejecting students from college if they didn’t come back. Students would be placed in the position of reapplying both for student and scholarship status, a very competitive and time consuming process.

    Alexander, inadvertently, became a spokesperson for Israeli universities in the press discussion in Berkeley. It seems that our efforts gave voice to an effort to give students the choice to stay in Israel at their own risk. The policy was revoked and students were given the choice.

    I was frankly amazed that Israeli universities were not more organized to advocate for themselves. Israel was, at that time, the fifth most popular destination for 3rd year abroad programs. This exposure to Israel for students of archeology, theology, history, Bible, Hebrew literature to name a few of the academic subjects,formed the basis of positive impressions of Israel for a very broad base of Americans.

    As Alexander made the rounds to speak in universities all around America where he had an incredible network of colleagues, we began to hear from professors that their administration offices were quietly instructing them to stop recommending Israel as a destination. Alexander and I proposed an information campaign but the Israeli universities were unable to work together on a joint budget. At that point my formal involvement ended.

    At the time, when the Hebrew University campus was bombed, University of Haifa had been one of the safer campuses in Israel.

    I’d be curious to hear from Judaic studies professors whose academic specialties are very wide ranging, whether this unofficial discouragement of studying is Israel is still in effect. Clearly, the state department advisory about travel is Israel represents an excellent excuse to discourage study in Israel.

    While the north of Israel was clearly a war zone for a short time, I wonder how the State department advisory system would rate American cities for safety when the murder rate is much higher than the war casualties in Israel.

    Nama Frenkel

  19. dovid says:

    “Sephardi Chief Rabbi of the State of Israel advocates carpet-bombing Gaza”

    IMHO, Rabbi Eliahu has no one to apologize to. Per JPost’s article, he clearly indicated that Jews must respond to Palestinian bombings in a way that will make the bombings stop. “And if they do not stop after 1,000 then we must kill 10,000. If they still don’t stop we must kill 100,000, even a million. Whatever it takes to make them stop.” (from Jerusalem Post). What bothers you rejewvenator, that Rabbi Eliahu did not advise us to turn “the other cheek”? His primary concern is saving Jewish life. May I ask what is your primary concern? May I ask you where is your outrage when Jews are killed? The Allies bombed Dresden, Hamburg, Bremen, Hiroshima and Nagasaki to smithereens with the stated objective of saving lives and shortening the war. Both objectives were achieved. The cost was horrendous. The bill was presented to Japan and Germany. Every sane person agreed that it was fair. They started the war totally unprovoked. Similarly, Arabs started all the wars in the Middle East and reject any accommodation with the Jewish state. If Arabs are killed in order to protect Jewish lives, I will not hesitate to lay the costs of the war at their door. So don’t give me the bleeding heart arguments gleaned from Arab literature because it does not hold water.

  20. dovid says:

    “Like most people, you lump all Palestinians into one group, as though there’s no difference between Hamas, Fatah, the dozens of subgroups, splinter cells, and tribal milities.”

    You are right. Actually, there are fundamental differences among them and we Jews are an insensitive bunch, bent on stereotyping and demonizing them. For everyone’s convenience, I will summarize their differences: Hamas has killed Jews and wants to do more of the same in the future until EY is Judenrhein. Al-Aksa Brigade has killed Jews and wants to do more of the same in the future until EY is Judenrhein. DFLP has killed Jews and wants to do more of the same in the future until EY is Judenrhein. Islamic Jihad has killed Jews and wants to do more of the same in the future until EY is Judenrhein. PLF has killed Jews and wants to do more of the same in the future until EY is Judenrhein. PLO has killed Jews and wants to do more of the same in the future until EY is Judenrhein. PFLP has killed Jews and wants to do more of the same in the future until EY is Judenrhein. PFLP-GC has killed Jews and wants to do more of the same in the future until EY is Judenrhein. PRC has killed Jews and wants to do more of the same in the future until EY is Judenrhein. That’s where their differences stop. You might point out that some groups spike their rhetoric with Marxist slogans, others with nationalistic or religious slogans but that’s for the “Arab Street”’s consumption. If you are still skeptical, let’s run an experiment. Go to Ramallah or Gaza for a week. Let’s see which of the groups listed above will grab you first and rip you limb by limb. If these characters have no mercy on their own kind (historically, they have killed more Arabs than Jews. [baruch HaShem]), do you expect them to have mercy on you, notwithstanding your sympathy for the plight of the Palestinian population, a plight that’s of no consequence to them?

  21. Calev says:

    Rejewvenator’s reliance on sloganeering blinds him to the point of my previous post: a defeated people who have benefited substantially because of the victors’ sense of fairness should carefully measure their opposition to the new regime. Should their principles outweigh their practical experience and they decide on opposition then what form of opposition should they reasonably adopt? When the IDF rolled in Hebron in 1967, white flags fluttered from numerous windows; the Arabs remembered their parents’ and grandparents’ massacre of the ages-old Jewish community there and they feared revenge. They thought that white flags could hide the Jewish headstones that had been used as paving stones, as if their on-going desecration were just an indiscretion. Yet there was no revenge. Muslims were still permitted to pray at the Cave of Machpelah despite their preventing Jews from doing so for centuries. In Jerusalem, the Israeli government immediately gave authority for the Temple Mount – Judaism’s holiest site – to the Muslim religious authority. The Jewish response to the 1967 victory was different from what the Arabs expected – because their own response to previous victories, against Jews and each other, was often so mean spirited and bloody. Yet, instead of learning from this, the Arabs chose to sink into self-pity and drag as many people as possible down into their misery in a populist attempt to legitimise their revenge fantasies. Rejewvenator’s comments are, alas, symptomatic of how the infantile disorder of left wing extremism has been co-opted by the Palestinian Arabs to further their bid to destroy Israel. Not to improve their lot, as that was happening already, but to destroy the regime that was giving them the chance to advance. It’s pathetic to see people want to shoot themselves collectively in the foot and tragic to see that they want to put Jews in the firing line. It is complicity in murder to support them in doing so.

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