American universities reject ridiculous call to boycott Israeli universities

The American Studies Association (ASA), a group promoting the university study of American culture, voted on December 4 to endorse an academic boycott of Israeli universities. You can see their statement here, which cites the Israeli “oppression” of Palestine (supported, as the resolution says, by the U.S.), as a reason for academics to boycott Israeli universities:

Whereas there is no effective or substantive academic freedom for Palestinian students and scholars under conditions of Israeli occupation, and Israeli institutions of higher learning are a party to Israeli state policies that violate human rights and negatively impact the working conditions of Palestinian scholars and students . . .

It is resolved that the American Studies Association (ASA) endorses and will honor the call of Palestinian civil society for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.  It is also resolved that the ASA supports the protected rights of students and scholars everywhere to engage in research and public speaking about Israel-Palestine and in support of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement.

This is absurd. Many Israeli academics, as do I, oppose some of policies of their government that are inimical to a Middle East solution, like constructing settlements on the West Bank. But objections to such acts are not a valid reason for cutting off all academic contact with Israeli universities. In my view, academics, like sports, should be free from political pressures, for academia, like sports, is a worldwide collaborative—and competitive— endeavor.

I wouldn’t call for or participate in an boycott of the Olympics, or of Palestinian, Chinese, or Saudi universities, even though I have strong objections to the policies of those governments. Further, since the ASA cites America as complicit in the oppression of Palestine, why didn’t it call for a boycott of American universities as well?

In the end, this singling out of Israel as opposed to other countries reflects not just anti-Zionism, but anti-Semitism. (I recognize that others will disagree, but anti-Semitism is alive and well, particularly in Arab countries).  It is holding Israel to a standard that doesn’t apply to Palestine or countries far worse than Israel (see below). It is apparently all right for Palestinians to deliberately target Israeli civilians, but those standards don’t apply to Israel. One could even consider this racist: Arabs don’t have to abide by the standards of Israelis. In fact—and people deliberately overlook this—the Hamas charter not only calls for the extirpation of Israel, but cites that old anti-Semitic forgery, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a bogus plan for Jewish domination of the world. Isn’t that enough to boycott Palestinian universities, too?

Fortunately, American universities aren’t signing on to the ASA madness. As Legal Insurrection notes, on December 20, the Association of American Universities issued a statement opposing the boycott, signed by the AAU’s executive committee:

The Executive Committee of the Association of American Universities 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.

Academic freedom is the freedom of university faculty responsibly to produce and disseminate knowledge through research, teaching, and service, without undue constraint. It is a principle that should not be abridged by political considerations. American colleges and universities, as well as like institutions elsewhere, must stand as the first line of defense against attacks on academic freedom.

Efforts to address political issues, or to address restrictions on academic freedom, should not themselves infringe upon academic freedom. Restrictions imposed on the ability of scholars of any particular country to work with their fellow academics in other countries, participate in meetings and organizations, or otherwise carry out their scholarly activities violate academic freedom. 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.

William C. Powers, President, The University of Texas at Austin – Chair
Amy Gutmann, President, University of Pennsylvania – Vice Chair
Scott S. Cowen, President, Tulane University – Past Chair
Richard H. Brodhead, President, Duke University
Michael V. Drake, Chancellor, University of California, Irvine
Bernadette Gray-Little, The University of Kansas
Mark A. Nordenberg, Chancellor, University of Pittsburgh
Morton O. Schapiro, President, Northwestern University
Lou Anna K. Simon, President, Michigan State University
David Skorton, President, Cornell University
Hunter R. Rawlings III, President, Association of American Universities – ex-officio

Other statements of rejection have come from Boston University, the University of California at San Diego, Willamette University, the President of Wesleyan University (in an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times), the Association of American University Professors, and other universities, including (thank Ceiling Cat) mine:

Brandeis University
Brown University
Cornell University
Dickinson College
Duke University
George Washington University
Harvard University
Indiana University
Michigan State
New York University
Northwestern University
Princeton University
Tulane University
University of California-Irvine
University of Chicago
University of Kansas
University of Maryland
University of Pennsylvania
University of Pittsburgh
University of Texas-Austin
Washington University in St. Louis
Wesleyan University
Yale University

Michael Roth, the President of Wesleyan University, was particularly  outspoken in his op-ed (my emphasis):

. . . the boycott is a repugnant attack on academic freedom, declaring academic institutions off-limits because of their national affiliation.

The ASA has not gone on record against universities in any other country: not against those that enforce laws against homosexuality, not against those that have rejected freedom of speech, not against those that systematically restrict access to higher education by race, religion or gender. No, the ASA listens to civil society only when it speaks against Israel. As its scholarly president declared, “One has to start somewhere.” Not in North Korea, not in Russia or Zimbabwe or China — one has to start with Israel. Really?

And, Harvard has just joined the mass rejection. This is from the Office of the President of Harvard University—Drew Gilpin Faust:

Picture 1

Finally, over at The New Republic, Leon Wieseltier (with whom I’ve had my differences about scientism) has written a good piece on the issue, “The academic boycott of Israel is a travesty.” A few excerpts (the quote from the odious Judith Butler is priceless):

A few hours away from Palestine six million people are refugees in their own country, where they are being bombed by their government, and starving in the snow, and fighting polio; but never mind them, they are not Israel’s victims, and it is the turpitude of the Jewish state, not the actually existing misery in the region and the world, that offends the ASA. Compared with Aleppo, Ramallah is San Diego. But one has to start somewhere.

It is true that one cannot care equally about everything, that an ethical action is always concrete and therefore selective. But the ethical quality of one’s action must be measured by one’s standard for selection; and if that standard is not first and foremost determined by an impartial assessment of suffering and need, so that one selects as the beneficiaries of one’s ethical energies not those who are most wretched but those whose wretchedness confirms one’s prior ideological and political preferences, then the halo is a fake.

. . . Lauding the ASA boycott for targeting institutions and not individuals, the saintly Jewish philosopher Judith Butler pointed out in The Nation that “the only request that is being made is that no institutional funding from Israeli institutions be used” for the travel expenses of Israeli scholars. O patria, quanto mi costi! Just how important do these professors think they and their conferences are? But finally there is nothing funny about this. There are first principles at stake in this stunt. Butler instructed that an academic boycott “militates against the spirit of censorship and the practice of calumny that would cut off debate and engage in debased caricatures.” I suggest she put down her Levinas and pick up her Orwell. It is precisely the spirit of censorship, and of conformity of opinion, that animates a boycott of academic institutions. In a sterling letter to the ASA, a group of distinguished American scholars noted this, and protested that “scholars would be punished not because of what they believe—which would be bad enough—but simply because of who they are based on their nationality. … This is discrimination pure and simple.”

Indeed.

132 Comments

  1. francis
    Posted December 23, 2013 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    //

  2. Posted December 23, 2013 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Subscribe

    • gbjames
      Posted December 23, 2013 at 10:29 am | Permalink

      sub

  3. John
    Posted December 23, 2013 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    “It is apparently all right for Palestinians to deliberately target Israeli civilians, but those standards don’t apply to Israel. One could even consider this racist: Arabs don’t have to abide by the standards of Israelis. In fact—and people deliberately overlook this—the Hamas charter not only calls for the extirpation of Israel, but cites that old anti-Semitic forgery, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a bogus plan for Jewish domination of the world. Isn’t that enough to boycott Palestinian universities, too?”

    This is non-sense. Israel has no legitimate claim to violence while occupying land and breaking any number of other international laws. Furthermore Hamas are on record as saying they will abide by the wishes of the Palestinian people. Both irrelevant given the fact that every year in November the world vote to attempt a peaceful solution of the conflict and every year it is the entire world on one side and Israel/US on the other.

    • Posted December 23, 2013 at 10:42 am | Permalink

      Oh, I see. Palestine apparently has, in your view, the right to kill Israelis citizens, but “Israel has no claim to violence.”

      The point is that punishing academics isn’t the way to solve the problem. And if you think it’s okay for Palestinian terrorists to deliberately target civilians, or send rockets willy-nilly into civilian areas, something is wrong with your moral compass.

      • John
        Posted December 23, 2013 at 10:59 am | Permalink

        Palestinians have a much greater legal and moral argument to be made for employing violence because they aren’t the aggressors.

        I don’t think either have a right to kill one another.

        The point is that ‘punishing academics’ isn’t meant to solve the problem. I would assume it is a tactic, along with various others, that these groups use to foster a greater power towards externally pressuring the Israeli/US state and/or building social awareness.

        • NewEnglandBob
          Posted December 23, 2013 at 11:06 am | Permalink

          “Palestinians have a much greater legal and moral argument to be made for employing violence because they aren’t the aggressors.”

          Stating that they want to eliminate all Israelis is non-aggression? LOL

        • Paul S
          Posted December 23, 2013 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

          John,
          Not the aggressors? Have you read the Hamas charter? Let’s have a peek inside:

          Introduction:
          ….This is the Charter of the Islamic Resistance (Hamas) which will reveal its face, unveil its identity, state its position, clarify its purpose, discuss its hopes, call for support to its cause and reinforcement, and for joining its ranks. For our struggle against the Jews is extremely wide-ranging and grave, so much so that it will need all the loyal efforts we can wield, to be followed by further steps and reinforced by successive battalions from the multifarious Arab and Islamic world, until the enemies are defeated and Allah’s victory prevails.

          Article Seven: The Universality of Hamas
          ….The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!

          Article Thirteen: Peaceful Solutions, [Peace] Initiatives and International Conferences
          [Peace] initiatives, the so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem, are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement.

          And just in case anyone was going to say it is a political issue and not religious;

          Article Fifteen: The Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine is an Individual Obligation
          …. We must imprint on the minds of generations of Muslims that the Palestinian problem is a religious one, to be dealt with on this premise. ……… I swear by that who holds in His Hands the Soul of Muhammad! I indeed wish to go to war for the sake of Allah! I will assault and kill, assault and kill, assault and kill (told by Bukhari and Muslim).

          My only polite response is, Dude…..

          • Paul S
            Posted December 23, 2013 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

            forgot to sub :(

        • drorharari
          Posted December 24, 2013 at 1:35 am | Permalink

          “Palestinians have a much greater legal and moral argument to be made for employing violence because they aren’t the aggressors.”

          With everyone on the west claiming that Israeli settlements in the west bank are the issue, let me remind all that the PLO charter calling for liberation of the occupied lands in 1964 referred to the areas within what is now called the green line (“67 borders”). It was only after 1967 that this got masked with a demand for return to the green line – still, if one listens to what the Palestinian leaders say to their people, the ultimate goal did not change.

          Bottom line, there is a very complex political (and to much extend religious) struggle being fought in the area. Why should the ASA get involved in this?

          /d

    • Jeffrey
      Posted December 23, 2013 at 10:56 am | Permalink

      The continued building in the West Bank and Gaza may be wrong. However, that doesn’t make it right for Palestinians to fire rockets at civilian targets in Israel.
      In my opinion, the constant harping on the wrongs of Israel when things are much worse in many other countries in the Middle East smacks of anti-Semitism to me. Your morality is very selective, John.

      • @eightyc
        Posted December 23, 2013 at 11:03 am | Permalink

        Well…..you can’t use the excuse “oh things are much worse elsewhere” in order to dismiss or diminish a wrong that is being done. You have to tackle wrongs, any wrongs as you encounter them.

        There will always be much worse things elsewhere. So that’s a bullshit excuse. Does that then mean we can’t fight for gay marriage because ppl are being slaughtered in Africa?? Do we have to completely solve the “much worse” problems in Africa before we can start on fighting for equal rights in the United States?

        So that “much worst problems elsewhere” excuse is bullshit.

        • Posted December 23, 2013 at 11:08 am | Permalink

          Lay off the cursing please. One has to ask, however, of all the countries that are doing worse wrongs “Why Israel”? And yes, we should weigh up where our efforts can best be applied. See Peter Singer’s new essay in the Washington Post on how to give to charities. His point is to direct effort where the most good can be done.

          Spending your efforts trying to enforce a futile boycott of Israeli universities is not going to solve anything, so yes, energies, even to solve the Middle East crisis, are best directed elsewhere.

          • @eightyc
            Posted December 23, 2013 at 11:17 am | Permalink

            Cursing point noted.

            See my comment below about the boycott, which was posted before my reply to Jeffrey’s comment above.

            At this time, I don’t support an institutional boycott (because of academic freedom argument; but I may change my mind if I come across a more convincing argument that can move me from valuing academic freedom above all else; one hypothetical example could be if in these academic exchanges there were things being developed that essentially also can be used to opress the people protesting (in this case Palestinians))

            Anyway, my comment above was meant to address the “oh it’s worst elsewhere” excuse and not the boycott per se.

        • colnago80
          Posted December 23, 2013 at 11:36 am | Permalink

          Missing link.

          http://goo.gl/QFj7uW

      • colnago80
        Posted December 23, 2013 at 11:36 am | Permalink

        Just a couple of days ago, Palestinian terrorists attempted to bomb a bus; fortunately the bomb was discovered and the bus was evacuated before it went off. Of course, ole John undoubtedly will consider this AOK.

        • Marta
          Posted December 23, 2013 at 11:56 am | Permalink

          “Of course, ole John undoubtedly will consider this AOK.”

          Unnecessary. And uncalled for.

          Disagree, if you will, but do try to argue intelligently when you do.

  4. NewEnglandBob
    Posted December 23, 2013 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Great! – the mass rejection.

  5. @eightyc
    Posted December 23, 2013 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    Hmmmm a tough one.

    I think at this point in time I’ll have to agree that an institutional boycott is not a good idea and not the way to go.

    Any sort of boycott should be left to individual academics to decide. Should a person decide to boycott or not to boycott is completely up to them.

  6. Dianne Leonard
    Posted December 23, 2013 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    The reason the ASA is boycotting academic exchange with Israel, is that that boycott has been called for, just as the academic boycott of South Africa was called for. Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa (who lived for 50 plus years under the apartheid regime) has commented that the Israeli system, both for Israeli Arabs and for the Palestinian population is worse than what he experienced under the apartheid South African regime. Everyone should be quite aware that it was the academic, cultural, sports, etc boycott and sanctions against South Africa that ultimately forced change on the apartheid state–*not* armed struggle. This was a worldwide movement and the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement against Israel is shaping up to be a worldwide movement also. I do not deny the anti-semitism in the Arab world, but I also do not deny that the establishment of the state of Israel was the last gasp of British colonialism in the region, and the state of Israel has been living up (or down, depending on how you think about it) to its origins. It became a
    “worse than South African apartheid” state all by its very lonesome.

    • colnago80
      Posted December 23, 2013 at 11:31 am | Permalink

      Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa (who lived for 50 plus years under the apartheid regime) has commented that the Israeli system, both for Israeli Arabs and for the Palestinian population is worse than what he experienced under the apartheid South African regime.

      Desmond Tutu is either ill informed or is a liar. In South Africa, blacks had no representation in the Parliament. In Israel, Arab-Israelis, not all of whom are Palestinians, do have representation in the Knessset, occupying 10 seats. In fact, the government can’t even kick disloyal people like Hanin Zoabi out of the Knesset. Would someone like Zoabi not be kicked out of the US House of Representatives?

      • Dianne Leonard
        Posted December 23, 2013 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

        (sigh) Bishop Tutu and former President Jimmy Carter both visited extensively, both within the state of Israel and in the Occupied Territories. Carter even wrote a book about his experiences and supports the BDS movement. Just as a tangential note, the US and Israel were the only two countries in the world that continued to support the South African apartheid state right to the bitter end. Neither ever instituted sanctions that had been called for by the world community, and continued to trade w/ SA and support them in international forums. One reason, perhaps that Bishop Tutu wanted to see for himself the conditions in Israel and the Occupied Territories. A final note: the occupation is illegal under international law. Period.

        • colnago80
          Posted December 23, 2013 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

          Ah gee, Jimmy the peanut, the worst president in American history.

          • gbjames
            Posted December 23, 2013 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

            Not by a long shot. You have a poor memory.

            • colnago80
              Posted December 24, 2013 at 5:55 am | Permalink

              I have a very excellent memory and, in my lifetime, only Dubya approaches Jimmy the peanut in level of incompetence.

              • gbjames
                Posted December 24, 2013 at 6:16 am | Permalink

                W holds the all time record for Bad President Award, with a commanding lead above all the rest. Saint Ronald should be granted a good sized trophy, as well, for setting the stage and putting in play the political chaos of the W years and Tea Party madness you see every time you turn on the news. Jimmy Carter doesn’t hold a candle to these true giants of catastrophic presidents.

        • Sarah
          Posted December 24, 2013 at 11:15 am | Permalink

          But the “occupation” is not illegal under any law. Anyway, most of the Palestinian land is administered by the PA. Even such otherwise respected people as Bishop Tutu and former president Carter are capable of talking through their hats.

    • colnago80
      Posted December 23, 2013 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      Yet another example of the Palestinians big lies is the claim that Yeshua ben Yusef of Nazareth was not a Jew. Of course, Mr. Abbas will have to explain why Yeshua received his bris on Jan. 1 after his birth on Dec. 25. Arabs did not begin the procedure until the advent of Islam 800 years later, which borrowed it from the Jews, much like they borrowed the aversion to pork.

      http://goo.gl/I8kqLg

      • Dianne Leonard
        Posted December 23, 2013 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

        Why are you using a mythological character to argue about modern political distortions in the Middle East, caused mostly by colonialism? (And, yes, Jesus, called the Christ, was as mythological as the hundreds of other dying-and-resurrecting gods/heroes who were born on the Winter Solstice of a virgin, etc etc.)

        • colnago80
          Posted December 23, 2013 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

          Hey, PA president Abbas raised the issue. Makes no difference whether or not Yeshua was a fictional character. My suspicion is that the biblical Yeshua described in the Christian Scriptures is a composite of a number of itinerant Jewish preachers who were active at the time.

  7. Posted December 23, 2013 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    As a practical matter, academic boycotts should be among the last applied, long after economic sanctions. You want to keep the academic and cultural lines of communication open as long as possible.

    There’s an awful lot to criticize Israel for, but there’s just as much, if not more, to criticize the Palestinians and neighboring Islamic states for. Just as sanctions against either Britain or Ireland weren’t the solution to the Troubles, I don’t see how they’ll be the solution to peace in the Middle East.

    True change, as the joke goes, must come from within. That means that Israelis are going to have to acknowledge that they need to at least stop building new developments in the West Bank…or, even better, build them, but make every other dwelling be Palestinian, and mandate said force de-segregation for a couple decades. Palestinians, likewise, will have to give up the “right of return.” Grandchildren have no inheritance claims on property their parents never even set foot on.

    Israel is wealthy enough to integrate Palestinians into its mainstream culture the same way that West Germany integrated East Germany. Yes, it’ll be expensive and painful. But it won’t be as expensive and painful as maintaining the status quo.

    Cheers,

    b&

    • colnago80
      Posted December 23, 2013 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      What’s happening in Syria is far, far, worse then anything that has happened in Palestine in the last 65 years. Maybe the Palestinians, even those living in the Gaza Strip, should give thanks that they don’t live in Syria.

      • @eightyc
        Posted December 23, 2013 at 11:50 am | Permalink

        Lol well in that line of reasoning then the poor people of America have nothing to complain about right? At least they’re not born in Palestine. Oh wait better yet, at least they’re not born in Syria!

        Lolz

      • Kevin
        Posted December 23, 2013 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

        True, but Syria has, sadly, little scientific output, compared to Israel. Nevertheless, sanctions should never exist for reputable academic institutions, anywhere. That will never solve the other problems of societies.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted December 23, 2013 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

      I was actually going to bring up the same examples – where were the academic boycotts of the UK and Ireland during the Troubles? Why not academic boycotts in several Islamic countries that don’t allow females to be educated or to drive? Jeez, we can probably find a way to boycott Canada for mistreating First Nations people and providing crummy reservations in the north.

      So, yes we do have to ask ourselves why Israel.

      However, I dislike the idea of boycotts of any kind because it really hurts the regular guy and I know they are necessary sometimes but academia is the LAST boycott that should be made because it is through the sharing of knowledge that people change.

      I am also aware that I am speaking from a privileged position in a relatively safe and lawful country and I know my friend who lives in Israel may have differing opinions on things but I think it’s the objectivity of people like me on the outside that is sometimes needed.

      And no boycotts!!

      • Posted December 23, 2013 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

        Boycotts really only were appropriate in South Africa because Mandela and the ANC called for them from within. It was, in essence, assisting in carrying out an hunger strike. Also, by that time, the ANC had abandoned violence.

        If the Palestinians cease all violence and call for an economic blockade, especially as the culmination of a process of re-modelling their movement after the ANC, I could give that some consideration. But American higher educational institutions expressing solidarity with Palestinians by boycotting Israeli academics? That makes no sense whatsoever.

        b&

      • colnago80
        Posted December 23, 2013 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

        Jeez, we can probably find a way to boycott Canada for mistreating First Nations people and providing crummy reservations in the north.

        Was the treatment of native Canadians any worse then the treatment of native Americans? I surely hope not.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted December 23, 2013 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

          Recently the squalid conditions of northern reserves have been finally brought to light.

          • colnago80
            Posted December 24, 2013 at 5:59 am | Permalink

            Yeah, but historically, Native Americans were subjected to near genocidal attacks (General Phil Sheridan: The only good Indian is a dead Indian). Did anything like this occur in Canada?

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted December 24, 2013 at 7:52 am | Permalink

              There wasn’t a concerted genocidal effort (ie: no small pocks blankets) but I’m speaking of recent events of the couple of years. Modern nations like Canada pride themselves on their standard of living but their native people in northern areas are treated terribly.

              So my original point is if the ASA is to boycott Israel, they are plenty of other nations who would also deserve a boycott, according to the ASA standards. So, why Israel?

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted December 24, 2013 at 7:52 am | Permalink

                *of the last couple of years
                *there are plenty

  8. Sidd
    Posted December 23, 2013 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    International divestment from South Africa during apartheid hurt many people, including those from academia. Nonetheless it was the right thing to do.

    The Palestinian situation is indeed apartheid, albeit one of a different flavor. This is the view of dispassionate outsiders who have no ties to the region and who have studied situation carefully.

    • Malgorzata Koraszewska
      Posted December 23, 2013 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

      Here is the singing answer to the baseless slander about Israel being an apartheid state

    • Sarah
      Posted December 23, 2013 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

      There is really no similarity between the old South African apartheid and Israel. The analogy has been made as a lazy shorthand way of condemning Israel, but Israel is amazingly free of racism when you consider what a mixture the population is. All Israeli citizens can vote; they all have equal rights under the law. It’s a Jewish state, but 20% of the population are Muslim. (Compare this with the fact that under the PA it is a capital offence to sell property to a Jew!) In Israel there are even Vietnamese boat people! “Apartheid” is an absurd slur.

      • paxton
        Posted December 23, 2013 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

        What does it mean to be a “Jewish State”? Should the US call itself a Christian state because 80% of the population is christian. Jerry, who is so sensitive to the presumptions of religionists to special privileges in our society (and I’m with him), should jump all over this idea of a Jewish state.

        • Posted December 23, 2013 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

          Don’t tell me what I should do or how I should feel, please. Now it’s time for you to stop talking. I mean it. You’ve said enough.

        • Malgorzata Koraszewska
          Posted December 23, 2013 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

          Israel is a Jewish state in the same meaning as Poland is a Polish state (Poles are the majority population), France is a French state, Jemen, Saudi Arabia etc. are Arab states. It has to do with people who share the same culture, the same language and feel connected to each other and to their common history. It definitely does not mean that Israel is a religious state (as an opposite to all those “Islamic states” with Iran at the lead).

          • Posted December 23, 2013 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

            It’s fair to describe Israel as a Jewish state in the same sense as Iran is a Persian state and Iraq is an Arab state. Of course, Israel is no more a religious Jewish state than Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was a religious Islamic state. Palestine, on the other hand, questions of statehood aside, is an Islamic state in the same sense as Saudi Arabia also is; Islam is the foundation of their

            The language can be confusing…but those who buy into the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” conspiracies and the like find the confusion useful and thus try to further it and muddy the waters such that some of Israel’s political opponents sometimes mirror that confusion. I think that explains part of this discussion.

            b&

            • colnago80
              Posted December 24, 2013 at 6:02 am | Permalink

              In fairness here, the Gaza Strip is an Islamic mini-state run by Islamic fundamentalists while the West Bank PA government is more secular.

          • paxton
            Posted December 23, 2013 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

            I think there is a real danger here. To call France a French state, suggests that it is not the state of residents and citizens who are not of French extraction. I know there is widespread discrimination in France against non-French, especially against Jews and Muslims. The French government mostly opposes this discrimination, though sometimes abets it. But I don’t believe it calls itself a “French State”.

            This discussion, and I want to emphasize I mean no animosity to anyone, reveals the that “religion” is often defined too narrowly. Nationalism too is a religion. Many Americans who do not believe in god, believe in some kind of special status or exceptionalism for America that bestows upon it rights that other states do not have. It is not based on evidence; in fact it leads believers to ignore evidence contrary to this belief. How many Americans even know about the Trail of tears? Many Americans believe we have a right to attack other countries who have not attacked us, e.g. Iraq, Iran, but want vengeance when things are reversed.

            The Jewish in Jewish state may mean, as Malgorzata Koraszewska avers, just the ethnicity of the dominant people, but for many observant Jews this is not distinguished from the religion. And many atheist Jews still believe in their heart of hearts that Judea and Samaria are rightfully theirs.

            Jerry, I apologize for saying what you should do. I am not trying to cause trouble, but just to balance out the picture. I am am horrified by the behavior of the Muslim states in the region and agree with Sam Harris that while all religions are dangerous, Islam is currently the most pernicious. But this doesn’t entitle Judaism or Israel to be given a pass. I fully support Israel’s right to defend itself, and I don’t see why Jews shouldn’t be allowed to pray on the Temple mount, although I also think women should be allowed to pray at the Western wall.

            I know it’s your website, and you can block this post if you want. But I think the conversation is best served when all reasonable views are heard, and I don’t think I’ve written anything unreasonable. In almost all respects I agree with your point of view and enjoy your posts very much, which is why I’m a faithful follower. Best wishes for an enjoyable stay in Poland. There you will be surrounded by historical evidence of the dangers of seeking racial (or ethnic, or linguistic, or religious) purity.

            • Sarah
              Posted December 23, 2013 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

              Israel is Jewish state because the whole idea of its foundation was that it should be a Jewish homeland. The early Zionists were secular. There is religious freedom, but it is useful to remember that the foundation of the state was always secular.

              • paxton
                Posted January 3, 2014 at 8:10 am | Permalink

                This idea of a “Jewish State” is a serious obstacle to peace:
                http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/02/world/middleeast/sticking-point-in-peace-talks-recognition-of-a-jewish-state.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20140102&_r=0

                Non-jewish citizens of Israel have the vote, but have never been included in a governing coalition. Jewish religious parties on the other hand have had considerable influence over Israeli laws and policies. A larger proportion of the US population is Christian than the Jewish proportion of Israel’s population. Shall we then call the US a Christian nation as many Evangelicals want to do, and give Evangelicals the same status in the US as Heredim have in Israel? Isn’t there a double standard here, focusing on the malign influence of Islam and Christianity but ignoring that of Judaism?

              • Malgorzata Koraszewska
                Posted January 3, 2014 at 8:39 am | Permalink

                Jews are a nation. Like Persians are a nation and have a country – Iran; like Poles are a nation and have a country – Poland, Jews have their country Israel and want it to have a Jewish majority. They do not want to be once again an ethnic minority on the mercy of the host nation. Religion has nothing to do with it. It is not like “Islamic republik” one or another. There are plenty of them but I do not see you or anybody else – except dissidents from those countries – protesting. But you deliberately change the national character of Jewish state into a religious character and protest loudly. But sometimes it is worth to know what one is protesting against – just look at this Wikipedia entry about Arabs in Israeli Knesset: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Arab_members_of_the_Knesset

              • Posted January 3, 2014 at 11:08 am | Permalink

                It might help to remember that the Jews who founded Israel had just escaped the Holocaust, and their forebears had lived through centuries of pogroms. To this day, many (most? all?) of the surrounding nations have official policies of wiping Israel off the face of the map. And yet Israel, despite having overwhelming military might, has no such policy or expressed desires.

                There’s an awful lot to criticize the Israeli government for in the handling of the Palestinian crisis — but, then again, there was an awful lot to criticize the British government for in the handling of the Irish Troubles. There’s an hell of a lot more to criticize the Palestinians and the surrounding Arabic and Persian states for. However, such criticisms are generally unproductive, and certainly so without accompanying serious proposals for how to resolve the crisis.

                Cheers,

                b&

              • paxton
                Posted January 5, 2014 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

                Malgorzata and Sarah, You keep emphasizing the the “Jewish State” is secular, but clearly the religious parties have a large influence over the lives of the people: marriage policy, immigration policy, military exemptions for talmudic scholars, segregation (and sometimes intimidation) of women (e.g. can’t pray at western wall). No doubt you know of much more.

                Possibly the biggest barrier to peace is the settlements. This was a strictly religious messianic initiative (Gush Emunim, Ofra)in defiance of the secular Labor government, that has become official policy of later right wing governments, most (all?) of which have had strong religious party representation.

                I realize that the arab governments are worse, and Israel has good reason to distrust them. But while the arabs talk of appropriating Israel, Israel is actively appropriating Judea and Samaria (the west bank).

                Israel cannot continue to hold millions of people in the occupied territories captive. It can either appropriate the land and the people, in which case the jewish majority is threatened, or it can return to pre 1967 borders, in which case it has 400,000 settlers to deal with.

              • Malgorzata Koraszewska
                Posted January 5, 2014 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

                I live in Poland. Poland is not only secular but we have a constitution which states that the State and the Church must be separated. In everyday life children are taught Catholic religion from kindergarten until university, state pays chaplains salaries in state hospitals, no new bill goes through parliament without getting the opinion of the Church first etc. etc. Still, Poland really is a secular country with definitely too big influence of the Church – exactly like Israel. However, I haven’t read anywhere the demonization of Poland, not to mention the demand to boycott it or dismantle it (after all, there was a long time there was no Poland and it was born again after WWI. What is more, after WWII we expelled millions of Germans from the land they were living on for centuries and annexed those lands – so why this lenient treatment? You, for example, never mention Poland).

                Settlements: Let’s start with 1948 – no settlements, 7 Arab armies attack Israel. 1964 – no settlements, establishment of PLO to “liberate Palestine”. 1967 –no settlements, Arab leaders vow to destroy Israel. 1967, directly after the 6 days war – no settlements, Arab leaders refuse to discuss any peace agreement with Israel. So let me express some doubts that settlements are really the biggest barrier to peace.

                Even today Hams says both in its Charter and in all statements of its representatives that there will be no peace and no negotiations with Israel because the Palestine must be “from the River to the Sea”. In Palestinian Authorities schools, universities, offices etc. all maps of Palestine show exactly the same – Palestine from the river to the sea with no place for Israel. If you listen to what PA leaders say in Arabic you will hear the same message. The demand to dump all descendants of refugees from 1948 on Israel soil means destruction of Israel and those Palestinian leaders know that. And this is one of the demands without which Abbas says no peace will be possible. So, again, it does not seem that settlements are the biggest obstacle to peace.

                And here are some facts about settlements about which I’m not sure you are aware. I’m quoting from a blog by “Elder of Ziyon” but I promise, he has nothing to do with the famous Protocols:

                From Peace Now report on April 19, 2012:
                “According to reports, Prime Minister Netanyahu stated this week that the Government will approve the establishment of three settlements (Bruchin, Sansana and Rechalim), in the upcoming cabinet meeting on Sunday, April 22. This decision is required in order to legalize the illegal outposts…. If approved next Sunday, it will be the first time since the Shamir Government in 1990 that the Israeli government is deciding on the establishment of new settlements.”

                That’s right. In 23 years, Israel has approved exactly three new settlements.

                Since then, no new settlements have been approved. Peace Now also has a report on settlement activity since Bibi was re-elected and not one new settlement is mentioned.

                To be sure, within existing settlement boundaries, there have been many new buildings added. The vast majority of this building takes up no additional land whatsoever. And the vast majority of the building also takes place in areas that Israel will continue to control in any possible peace agreement. (Sometimes, a few times a year according to Peace Now, new neighborhoods are approved that expand existing settlements into state land as well, never into privately owned Arab land, and always in Area C, where only about 2% of Palestinian Arabs live to begin with.)

                It is true that dozens of illegal outposts have been set up as well, against Israeli law. (Which means, by definition, their existence is not against international law no matter how you interpret the Geneva Conventions.)

                Of course, the Netanyahu government has made no secret that it intends to legalize other older settlements. Yet – it hasn’t, after being in power for nearly five years.

                In 2002, Btselem claimed that 1.7% of area of the West Bank is taken up by settlements plus roads to them. Peace Now put the amount of settlement lands at 1.36% at the time. However, Saeb Erekat said that an aerial survey of the area funded by the EU showed that Israeli settlements only took up 1.1% of the land in 2011! (He was actually arguing that since they take up so little space, “Palestine” should be created based on the “1967 lines.”)

                This is hardly the massive expansion of land that is being portrayed by the media, politicians, and now comedy programs. In real terms, Israel’s settlement policy has done very little since before Oslo to imperil any two state solution.

                Outside of celebrity scandals, Israel’s settlement policy is perhaps the most exaggerated issue in the history of news media.

              • paxton
                Posted January 5, 2014 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

                Malgorzata, I’m sure I would criticize Poland more if I knew more of it’s policies. The privileged position of the RC church would probably be at the top of the list.

                I live in the USA and I have criticized the policies and actions of this country far more than I have ever criticized Israel.

                I hope you are right that the settlements will not be a barrier to a peace agreement. The settlements have only exacerbated the basic problem, which is holding some 4 million people in captivity.

                Citing land areas can be very misleading. Some land is worth far more than other, for economic, emotional and religious reasons. What % of the West Bank is in area C, in which Israel has full control? About 75%. What % is in area A where the Palestinians have full control? 3%. This situation is very similar to that of the South African homelands.

                Poland too has been partitioned into areas such as A, B, and C, and has a long history of being abused by Germans and Russians, who often used Jews as middlemen to manage the peasantry, who in turn committed periodic atrocities on the Jews. The USA has a disgraceful history in its treatment of native americans, africans, and other minority group. And the US has been the aggressor against other countries without justification. I expect there is no country that doesn’t have skeletons in its closet.

                But the problem of the occupied territories exists now and is a festering sore for both Israel and the arabs. What is your solution?

      • Sidd
        Posted December 23, 2013 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

        The comparison is with Israel and Palestine, not with Israel and itself.

        • Rhino Petrosian-Scot
          Posted December 24, 2013 at 8:52 am | Permalink

          Exactly. I don’t get why so many people are over looking this. Also, a comparison is not saying they are the same.

      • Dianne Leonard
        Posted December 24, 2013 at 10:03 am | Permalink

        Some facts about Israel and the Arab population within the state (notice that I am not talking about the population under occupation.) There are two school systems: Jewish (a first-world system where teachers are well trained and schools well-funded) and Arab (the opposite). There are two medical systems: Jewish (a first-world system which is well funded and the staff well trained) and Arab (the opposite.) Now, there is a law in Israel, which is almost word-for-word the same as a law on this topic in apartheid South Africa. It is illegal for an Arab citizen of Israel to go to a Jewish hospital, even if they are dying and that is the closest one, *and* it is illegal for an Arab citizen of Israel to receive in transfusion “Jewish” blood. “Jewish” blood and “Arab” blood are separated in blood bank facilities. Almost the same-worded law applied to “black” blood and “white” blood in apartheid South Africa. Don’t take my word for it–look it up. This consigning of the Arab population to inferior schools and medical care and the racist implications of the transfusion law are sore points with the Arab population, citizens of Israel, noted here repeatedly that they can vote. Just because you can vote doesn’t mean you are free from discrimination. You KNOW there is no such thing as “Jewish blood” and “Arab blood”, just as there is no such thing as “black blood” and “white blood”, yet this is enshrined in the legal code of Israel. So on the surface, Israel may be a democratic state, discrimination against the Arab minority is enshrined in its laws. And–I said I wasn’t going to talk about it, but it deserves a footnote–if the population of Israel and the Occupied Territories were taken as a whole, the Arab Palestinian population would be about 50%.

        • Malgorzata Koraszewska
          Posted December 24, 2013 at 10:24 am | Permalink

          It is amazing what kind of lies a person is prepared to believe without any evidence when it comes to Israel.

          Arab children are free to go to Jewish school and quite a lot do so. There are Arab schools and Jewish schools because Arab parents want more education in Arabic and Arab history, while Jewish parents want more education in Hebrew and Jewish history but there is no law which prohibits children going to each other school. A daughter of my friends (father Jewish, mother Arab) decided to send her to Arab school because she is anyhow steeped in Hebrew.
          All Israeli citizens get to go to the same hospitals and are there treated by doctors and nurses who may be Jews or may be Arabs. Even Palestinians from Gaza and West Bank are treated in the same Israeli hospitals. A few weeks ago Mr. Hanijeh (the leader of Hamas swearing that he will destroy Israel and kill Jews) have sent his granddaughter to the Israeli hospital because doctors from Gaza were unable to treat her.
          Blood transfusion and organ transplant between Jews and Arabs are also absolutely common occurrence. The restriction – like in many countries in the world – relate to blood donors: those who were in countries with high prevalence of AIDS (among other some African countries) are not accepted as donors.

          Do you also believe that Mossad trains sharks to gobble German tourists in Egypt to damage the tourist industry? That Jews trained rats to nibble only on Arabic flesh? That Jews are raising pigs to let them go and desecrate Arab soil? That Mossad use eagles and other birds as spies? All those stories (and more) were absolutely seriously reported in Arabic press.

          • Posted December 24, 2013 at 11:20 am | Permalink

            On the one hand, I would so love to have an eagle that spied on my surroundings, even if I had no way of learning from the eagle what it saw.

            …and, on the other hand, I can imagine people using such a rumor to wantonly kill eagles, which would be a terrible tragedy.

            b&

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted December 24, 2013 at 11:20 am | Permalink

              That’s why you need a spy butterfly because, as Bart Simpson says, no one suspects the butterfly!

              • Posted December 24, 2013 at 11:36 am | Permalink

                I dunno…if you ask Vernor Vinge, they’re not to be trusted at all….

                b&

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted December 24, 2013 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

                But I bet no one suspected them!

              • Posted December 24, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

                Been years since I read the book, but I’m pretty sure they weren’t the most popular species in the galaxy.

                b&

        • Sarah
          Posted December 24, 2013 at 11:21 am | Permalink

          Wow. Where does this stuff come from? It is so untrue it is almost funny. (“Almost” because people can be conditioned to believe it, and that is not at all funny.)

        • Posted December 24, 2013 at 11:34 am | Permalink

          If you want to provide documentation for your ridiculous “facts,” be my guest. I’m particularly interested in your assertions about separate hospitals that are legally mandated.

          If you don’t provide proof of that (and not Palestinian propaganda), then you don’t belong here, where we expect people to provide facts rather than lies.

  9. paxton
    Posted December 23, 2013 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    This boycott seems particularly ill-considered, but that should not distract from the fact that Israel is holding a large population of people captive without political rights. Contra colnago80 above, the occupied population has no representation in the Knesset. Only those arabs the Israelis were not able to drive out of the country in 1948 have such rights. Gaza is supposed ly not occupied but is blockaded by Israel from free commerce with the rest of the world.

    For a balanced report on the human rights violations on both sides see: http://www.hrw.org/world-report/2013/country-chapters/israel-palestine

    In the US antisemitism (a misleading characterization since the arabs are semites also) is more than counterbalanced by anti-Islamic sentiments and a the large influence of the Jewish lobby over the US government. Not only jews, but evangelical christians are rabid supporters of Israel for religious reasons.

    • Posted December 23, 2013 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

      And that should not distract from the fact that the Palestinians are deliberately targeting and killing Israeli civilians, but that’s okay, right?

      And really–“the Jewish lobby”?

      • paxton
        Posted December 23, 2013 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

        Of course it’s not okay for Palestinians to be targeting and killing Israelis, and I did not suggest it was. But the Israelis have killed far more Palestinians than the reverse. The report I linked has a balanced view of human rights violations on both sides.

        Perhaps I should have said Israeli lobby rather than Jewish lobby. AIPAC?

        • Sarah
          Posted December 23, 2013 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

          But why have more Palestinians been killed in the clashes with Israel? One side builds rocket shelters and the other doesn’t. One side shoots rockets from densely populated areas and the other doesn’t. One side uses its hapless people as human shields and the other side doesn’t. It is not enough to say “more Palestinians have been killed” as though that proves something.

          • NewEnglandBob
            Posted December 23, 2013 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

            +1

          • Rhino Petrosian-Scot
            Posted December 24, 2013 at 8:55 am | Permalink

            This exactly proves israel’s use of excessive force.

    • Malgorzata Koraszewska
      Posted December 23, 2013 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

      The “occupied population” does not have any representation in Knesset, but neither do Israelis have any representation in Palestinian Legislative Council. Nor would Israelis have the right to vote for Palestianian Authority’s president, when PA finally decides to call for such election. Why should Palestinians, who are governed by PA, have their own legislature, their own central bank, own stamps, postal service, own courts and all the other attributes of a state, and even gained the status of a state in UN, but are not Israeli citizens be represented in Knesset? And over 95% of Palestinian population of the West Bank is governed by PA. In Gaza they, too, have their own government – Hamas. So shoyld those Palestinians who have their own governments be the only people in the world entitled to representation in a parliament of a foreign country (and a country they want to destroy?). Strange demand. Israeli Arabs, who are Israeli citizens, do have their represantation in Knesset and have exactly the same rights as other Israeli citizens.

      • paxton
        Posted December 23, 2013 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

        How can you consider the West Bank and Gaza as independent states with their own governments when their every move is controlled by the Israeli military?

        • Malgorzata Koraszewska
          Posted December 23, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

          It just isn’t true that their each move is controlled by Israel. It ridiculously is not true. If it were treu would children in West Bank and Gaza learn in school that the highest honor they can achieve is by becoming martyrs while killing Zionists? Would they learn this not only in schools but also in their summer camps? Would streets, squares, sport facilities and what not bear names of people who earned this honor by blowing up Israelis (often children)? Israelis do not interfere in other areas than security area. Of some strange reason they do not like to have their children killed. Such inconsiderate people…

          • paxton
            Posted December 23, 2013 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

            OK, not “each move”, but:

            Israel maintained onerous restrictions on the movement of Palestinians in the West Bank, including checkpoints, closure obstacles, and the separation barrier. Settlement-related movement restrictions forced around 190,000 Palestinians to take time-consuming detours rather than the most direct route to nearby cities, the UN reported.

            Israel continued construction of the separation barrier around East Jerusalem. Some 85 percent of the barrier’s route falls within the West Bank, isolating 11,000 Palestinians who are barred from traveling to Israel and who must cross the barrier to access livelihoods and services in the West Bank, and separated Palestinian farmers and landowners in 150 communities from their lands, the UN reported.”

            2013 Human Rights Watch report

            • Malgorzata Koraszewska
              Posted December 23, 2013 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

              There were no check-points and no barrier as long as Israeli citizens were not blown up in buses, restaurants, shop malls. It really is inconvenient for Palestinian (and Israelis in Israel where you can’t go into any place with many people without being checked). But the inconvenience of being delayed or haveing to drive 20 minutes longer is better than the inconvenience for your family who has just a few scraps of your body to bury. Every week on those check points soldiers stop Palestinians with explosives and other weapons.

    • Sarah
      Posted December 23, 2013 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

      Just to take the most obvious errors: Palestinians want their own state, of course they are not represented in the legislature of another country. They could have had their own state many years ago if they (or their leaders) were not more committed to destroying Israel. Nobody is holding the Palestinians captive (except possibly their own corrupt PA). In 1948 people like David ben Gurion and Golda Meir begged the Arabs to stay put, but the Arabs were more afraid of the consequences if the 5 Arab armies then attacking the new state of Israel should prevail and take revenge on them. The Arab citizens of Israel now are the descendants of the ones who trusted ben Gurion and Meir.

      • paxton
        Posted December 23, 2013 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

        Nobody is holding the Palestinians captive? From the 2013 Humans Rights watch report:

        “Israel, operating in conjunction with Egypt, has impeded the rebuilding of Gaza’s devastated economy by blocking virtually all exports from Gaza. Israel has also barred Gaza residents from traveling to the West Bank. Israel’s use of lethal force against Palestinians close to Israel’s border with Gaza deprived them of access to 35 percent of Gaza’s farmland and 85 percent of its fishing waters.”

        • Pasteur
          Posted December 23, 2013 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

          Are you really quoting the HRW? The organization that has passed in it’s history more anti Israel condemnations than the entire world together?

        • Sarah
          Posted December 23, 2013 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

          Then again, Israel is helping Gazans export their produce. That seems to contradict your information. http://www.algemeiner.com/2013/12/23/the-truth-about-gaza-there-is-no-limit-on-exports-and-imports/

          • paxton
            Posted December 23, 2013 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

            Dig a little deeper. The article says there is no limit on the capacity of the Kerem Shalom crossing, which is a truck crossing on the Israel Gaza border. Why is that important? Because all imports into Gaza must come through Israeli ports and then be reexported into Gaza. And in spite of the articles title there are limits on exports and imports. Israel controls what comes and goes. What other supposedly independent people are subject to such restrictions?

            • colnago80
              Posted December 23, 2013 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

              I have a flash for Paxton, the Egyptians aren’t allowing anything into the Gaza Strip through their common border, mainly because of the support of terrorist organizations in the Sinai by elements therein.

              • paxton
                Posted December 23, 2013 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

                Did I hold Egypt as a model to follow in any way?

    • colnago80
      Posted December 23, 2013 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      Contra colnago80 above, the occupied population has no representation in the Knesset.

      Excuse me, the Palestinians living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip don’t have representation in the Knesset because they are not citizens of Israel. Those areas are not, as we sit here today, part of Israel.

      Only those Arabs the Israelis were not able to drive out of the country in 1948 have such rights.

      Ah gee, the implied claim of ethnic cleansing again. Since there are in excess of 1 million Arabs currently living in Israel (not all of them Palestinians), the Government if Israel must be the most incompetent ethnic cleanser in the history of the world. The Czechs did a much better job ethnically cleansing the Sudetenland of ethnic Germans.

      • paxton
        Posted December 23, 2013 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

        “Excuse me, the Palestinians living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip don’t have representation in the Knesset because they are not citizens of Israel. Those areas are not, as we sit here today, part of Israel.”

        Yes, that’s the point. They are a captive people, ruled by the state of Israel, but without a voice in its governance. How long can this continue?

        • Sarah
          Posted December 23, 2013 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

          No, they are ruled by Hamas, unfortunately. Hamas seemed preferable to the very corrupt Fatah at the time of the election, but it was good-bye frying pan, hello fire.

  10. Lianne Byram
    Posted December 23, 2013 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    This is good news. A boycott would be ridiculous and utterly unfair.

  11. Posted December 23, 2013 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    “We have to start somewhere”. And once again, Jews are the chosen people.

  12. Rhino Petrosian-Scot
    Posted December 23, 2013 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    I believe it is a good start – better than nothing, at least. This article is proof of that as it brings attention to the issues at hand. I think the excuse that there are worse places out there that need the attention doesn’t wash nor constitute anti-zionism. Also, having this separation between politics and academia (or sports) is wishful thinking. Everything we do has political ramifications. We had this debate in NZ with people boycotting the south african rugby team in the ’80’s and it was evident that not separating politics and sports provides worthwhile results. Jerry claim of racism(i think his words were anti-semitism. are arabs not semitic people too?) strikes very close to claiming islamophobia is a form of racism. Being Israeli or jew is not a definition of ethnicity. Comparing the actions of the state of israel with freedom fighter/terrorists is like comparing apples and oranges. One is the problem and the other an ill conceived answer. This boycott is aimed at the original problem. At least no one is suggesting sanctions or invading or preemptive strikes on israel for crimes against humanity, harboring nuclear weapons and threatening attacks on sovereign nations.

    • Malgorzata Koraszewska
      Posted December 23, 2013 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

      This is somewhat old canard “Arabs are semitic people too”. The term “antisemitism” was coined in Germany at the end of 19′ century, especially to describe hatred of Jews because just “hatred of Jews” (Judenhass) didn’t sound too good. So people proudly called themselves antisemites (until 1945 when it was not so fashionable any more). It was never meant to be about anybody else than Jews.

      It might also be relevant that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, quite recently during his visit in South Africa, said in an interview that PA does not call for the boycott of Israel. And PA is not boycotting Israel – it is even negotiationg peace with Israel just now.

      • Rhino Petrosian-Scot
        Posted December 23, 2013 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

        Well you can hardly blame me for asking if jews keep on insisting on using archaic terminology. Jerry threw the racist card out there and my point still stands. I generally have an aversion to israelis but that does not make me an antisemitic, anti zionist nor racist. Maybe the PA isn’t asking for boycotts but that shouldn’t prevent the rest of us from being proactive.

  13. Kevin
    Posted December 23, 2013 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    Dumb.

    “It is also resolved that the ASA supports the protected rights of students and scholars everywhere…”. {{No they do not.}} Not if someone apparently does research in Israel.

    Prejudice is the route such a boycott will take. Really ignorant.

  14. Andrew van der Merwe
    Posted December 23, 2013 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    Jerry, are you aware of the pivotal role that the sports boycott played in the struggle against Apartheid? I ask this in response to your saying that academics, like sports, should be free from political pressures.

    Also, on the University front here in South Africa, selective outside pressures made the Universities take the struggle more seriously. Universities became sites of struggle. Universities prize openness and a university which finds itself breathing through a straw is more likely to raise its voice against the bad government practices that bring it on.

    If you ask me, Israeli universities have the power to turn the thinking around in the Middle East but they are too reticent, even cowed. Action like this will at first see them recoil but it wont be long before they start agitating for local change.

    • Sarah
      Posted December 23, 2013 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

      I think the fallacy here is that (again) Israel and South Africa are not comparable. The South African government was not representative of its people, not everyone could vote,and some citizens were discriminated against along racial lines. None of that is true of Israel. Why, in this case, are outsiders supposed to coerce an elected government of a democracy to do their bidding, never mind what the electorate has decided?

      • Posted December 23, 2013 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

        That’s a really important point that many overlook: in Apartheid South Africa, a small minority of whites held power over everybody else. In the Knesset, the demographics are as close a mirror to that of society as a whole as you’ll find in any modern democracy.

        b&

      • Rhino Petrosian-Scot
        Posted December 23, 2013 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

        Sarah you are missing the point. Andrew is not comparing the two or saying israel has apartheid.

        • Sarah
          Posted December 23, 2013 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

          Nevertheless, boycotts are somehow supposed to persuade Israel, or Israeli universities, to follow an outside scenario that foreigners want to impose on them. Andrew is using the example of South Africa to say something about Israel, and pretty much any comparison will lead only to misunderstanding.

          • Andrew van der Merwe
            Posted December 25, 2013 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

            I have enough background in political studies to know the similarities and differences between Israel and South Africa. Also, I am a South African who grew up under Apartheid. If you ask me, it’s just as misleading to say the the comparison is not informative as it is to call Israel an Apartheid state.

            Sarah, your saying “… to follow an outside scenario that foreigners want to impose on them” sounds uncannily like the rhetoric I remember used by the Apartheid government back in the 80’s. Are you suggesting the rest of the world has no legitimate interest in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? And if you do answer that question, bear in mind that I might not be a nationalist.

            But the main point I was trying to make was simply to disagree with Jerry on the separation of politics from sport and education. I disagree strongly on that score.

            • Sarah
              Posted December 26, 2013 at 5:27 am | Permalink

              Andrew, you say: “Are you suggesting the rest of the world has no legitimate interest in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? And if you do answer that question, bear in mind that I might not be a nationalist.”
              The legitimate interest of the rest of the world has become an obsession in some quarters and ultimately serves to prolong the conflict rather than to resolve it. I don’t understand your second sentence. What has my answer to do with your personal politics?

          • paxton
            Posted December 25, 2013 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

            It seems that there are some parallels between the South African homelands and the Israeli occupied territories.

  15. Posted December 23, 2013 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    An academic boycott may be going to far but it is an expression of international frustration at the lack of willingness on the part of Israelis to confront the settlement issue which is the real cause of the ongoing conflict. Israel is the only country in the Middle East actively occupying and seeking to expand its territory and needs to learn to live within its own borders. Israel already occupies all the best bits of historic Palestine and now a minority of religious fanatic settlers have driven the country off a cliff and turned it into a colonial occupation power and apartheid state. The settlements thus poison the civic and political life of the country, overshadow the country’s achievements and create hostility internationally and with its neighbors. These views are commonplace within Israel itself so please stop with the “anti Semitic” argument-ending nuclear option, that simply clouds the real issue. Israel is an amazing country in in all sorts of ways but it has gone off track, partly I believe because of the corrupting effect of the blank check of security provided by the USA. Israel needs some tough love and I would personally support some sort of boycot. I never buy any Israeli products and never will until Israel withdraws behind its proper borders.

    • colnago80
      Posted December 23, 2013 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

      An academic boycott may be going to far but it is an expression of international frustration at the lack of willingness on the part of Israelis to confront the settlement issue which is the real cause of the ongoing conflict.

      Absolute and complete balderdash. The reason why this conflict has not been resolved is the demand of the Palestinians that Palestinians currently occupying refugee camps be resettled in Israel. Until such time as they drop this demand, there will be no settlement of the conflict as no Israeli Government will agree to any such thing.

      I never buy any Israeli products and never will until Israel withdraws behind its proper borders.

      I have a flash for you buddy boy, the computer you are currently typing your comment on is almost certainly using a CP chip developed in Israel.

      • Posted December 23, 2013 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

        Well “buddy boy” does that make settlements right? Right of return is an impossibility and I think most Palestine would accept that but they should certainly have compensation and an acknowledgement of their situation. Such an acknowledgement is difficult for Israel because it would involve recognizing that the Palestinians were there first hence it’s easier to try to pretend they don’t exist. Palestinians have lost almost all the land of their ancestors, I don’t believe that is even an issue any more but when the neighbors who took your stuff deny it then try to start taking what little you have left the right of return becomes a useful bargaining point. To me the ball is in Israel’s court. Whatever latest peace talk farce that will shortly ensue will probably suit Israel’s “divide and rule ” colonial policy that has served it so well for so many years.

        • Sarah
          Posted December 23, 2013 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

          About the “land of their ancestors” and the Palestinians’ being there first: modern “Palestinians” were just Arabs until the 1960s. An Arab inhabitant in 1940 would have resented being called a “Palestinian”. After the war of 1948 a “refugee” was defined in a way no refugee has been defined before or since–it was a person who had lived in a given place for the previous two years or more. You could have lived in Egypt all your life, then moved to Haifa in 1946 and qualified as a “refugee”. Israel absorbed all its own refugees who had to flee from Arab countries, but the Arab refugees of Palestine have been left high and dry by their Arab “brothers”.

          • paxton
            Posted December 23, 2013 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

            Sarah, Before WWI Palestine was 90% muslim. In 1947 there were still almost two muslims for every Jew. Clearly there were a significant number who fled who had not just moved in from Alexandria. I agree with your last sentence though. Israel’s strength is that it takes care of its own, as the Muslims do not.

            • Jeffrey
              Posted December 24, 2013 at 9:30 am | Permalink

              ” Israel’s strength is that it takes care of its own, as the Muslims do not.”
              You mean the “Palestinians” are the only muslims who care about muslims?
              Then maybe you have a point, the vast muslim lands surrounding Israel could easily have absorbed them if they really cared about their welfare, instead of crowding them into refugee camps.

        • colnago80
          Posted December 23, 2013 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

          Hey boyo, Native Americans were living in what is now the USA for a long time before Caucasian Europeans showed up and massacred them in droves.

          Just for your information, the American writer Mark Twain visited Palestine in the late 1860s and found the area apparently depopulated. Jerusalem appeared to have fewer inhabitants then his native Hannibal, Missouri, hardly then or now a major metropolis. Most of the Arabs who were living in Palestine in 1947 were descendents of Arabs who migrated to the area in the late 19th Century attracted by the competition between Great Britain and Imperial Germany for influence there, and thus employment opportunities. It turns out that the Kaiser had a considerable interest in the area.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted December 23, 2013 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

      Well buying my Naots, so there! I hear Naots are crummy in Israel as so happens – the good stuff is for export.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted December 23, 2013 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

        Oh my. I should have known I was getting a migraine when I wrote that. Sorry for my incoherence but it should convey my Naot love. :) Also, it’s hard for Israel to trade with its neighbours. As my Israeli friend says, most of Israel’s neighbours are enemies of Israel.

  16. Sarah
    Posted December 23, 2013 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    “needs to learn to live within its own borders” What borders? The Palestinians were supposed to agree on borders back in about 1974 but have so far refused to discuss them! Why not try “tough love” on the Palestinians, who answer peace overtures with terrorism?

  17. godsbelow
    Posted December 23, 2013 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    I agree with those who regard boycotts of academic (and, for that matter, cultural) institutions as contrary to academic freedom and, therefore, indefensible. I also think that academic boycotts are counter-productive, given that universities tend to foster liberal attitudes – precisely the type of attitudes which are needed in Israel if there is ever to be a peaceful solution to the Palestinian problem.

    I would like to point out, however, the reason that many opponents of Israel’s policies don’t regard Israel as analogous to despotic states such as Zimbabwe or Iran. They’re not necessarily* opposed to Israel’s treatment of its own population (which of course includes Arab citizens with full civic rights), but Israel’s treatment of the foreign population under occupation in the West Bank or under embargo in the Gaza strip. This is why some* supporters of the academic boycott would say that they are not calling for similar action against states which oppress their own populations. I think.

    *It does seem quite obvious that many supporters of the “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” movement simply hate Israel or Jews, and would do regardless of Israeli policies.

  18. Rhino Petrosian-Scot
    Posted December 23, 2013 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    If we are on the subject of Syria…what about Golan Heights eh. Another reason why it’s not good to live in syria, Israel might come and blow your house up too.

  19. Paul S
    Posted December 23, 2013 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    Way bad form to call your host a whackaloon.
    Beside that, your comment about Palestine occupying Israel shows that you don’t understand the goal of Palestine. Read the Hamas charter. They not only want Israel driven into the sea, but the eradication of of all Jews, not just in Israel, everywhere. They wouldn’t be fundamentally powerless, they wouldn’t be, period.
    While I don’t condone violence by either side, I don’t see how you can broker peace when the goal of one of the parties is genocide.

    • Paul S
      Posted December 23, 2013 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

      Just to clarify, this was a response to a comment that has since been deleted. So it may not make sense.

  20. MNb
    Posted December 23, 2013 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    “In the end, this singling out of Israel as opposed to other countries reflects not just anti-Zionism, but anti-Semitism.”
    Some more anti-semites:

    http://jews4big.wordpress.com/
    https://sites.google.com/site/jewsagainstracistzionism/jews-for-boycotting-israeli-goods—sboycott-divestment-sanctions-against-apartheid-israel

    Of course the singling out argument reflects the christian persecution syndrome, quite like creacrappers like to do (and as such I’m applying for a ban again). Thus JAC neglects the fact that well before 1990 people called upon a boycott of South Africa for exactly the same reason. Too inconvenient. Of course there aren’t too many international contacts with Hamas either, so mentioning that organization is just a tu quoque.
    Having said that all I’m actually not advocating an academic boycott of Israel at this moment. I’d like to learn first what the victims of Israeli apartheidspolitics say about, like the Negev-Bedouins.
    I’m just saying that JAC’s way of defending the case of Israel isn’t much better than Klinghoffer’s propaganda for IDiocy (and that’s my second application for a ban.
    To anticipate on another favourite claim of JAC: here are (for the second time) my full credentials.

    Mark Nieuweboer
    Moengo, Suriname

    (not that JAC now knows anymore about me than he knew before; I’m just doing him a favour)

    • Jeffrey
      Posted December 24, 2013 at 9:25 am | Permalink

      “Thus JAC neglects the fact that well before 1990 people called upon a boycott of South Africa for exactly the same reason.”
      Yes, and that academic boycott was also wrong. Many univerities in South Africa fought hard for their academic freedom that the National Party tried to curtail. Many were the academic protests against Apartheid. I know, I worked at the University of Cape Town from 1979-1989.

      • Andrew van der Merwe
        Posted December 25, 2013 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

        Then you might recall how many of us, studying at UCT, were in favour of boycotts, academic ones included, even if it affected the quality of our education. Similarly, the business boycotts were supported by many workers who stood to loose their jobs through disinvestment.

  21. MNb
    Posted December 23, 2013 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    “Many Israeli academics, as do I, oppose some of policies of their government that are inimical to a Middle East solution, like constructing settlements on the West Bank.”
    I begin to like this one, after having read this several times in several articles. I guess that’s why JAC never writes stuff actually reporting and criticizing Israeli governmental abuse of power. Like this.

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/outward/2013/11/21/israel_won_t_legalize_gay_marriage_here_s_why.html

    Perhaps LBGTQ’s in Israel just should be content not having to live in Gaza and people like me should shut up on the issue because of that same Gaza.

    • pacopicopiedra
      Posted December 23, 2013 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

      You should shut up on the issue because the things you say are stupid.

    • colnago80
      Posted December 24, 2013 at 6:43 am | Permalink

      Compare the situation with gays and lesbians in Israel with their situation in the Muslim World. For instance, in the Gaza Strip, homosexuals are subject to the death penalty and a number of gay Arab men form there are hiding out in Israel, supported by GLBS organizations there. If they were outed, they would be subject to being returned to the Strip and certain death.

  22. Gordon
    Posted December 24, 2013 at 2:18 am | Permalink

    So much heat. So little light.

  23. John Q
    Posted December 24, 2013 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

  24. John Q
    Posted December 24, 2013 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

  25. Jeffrey
    Posted December 26, 2013 at 4:35 am | Permalink

    Gee, I always thought it was the laager mentality. In fact, Israel is surrounded by muslim states that would love to see her destruction. So I think their laager mentality is justified. It’s not paranoia when they are all out to get you.

  26. Malgorzata Koraszewska
    Posted January 6, 2014 at 1:32 am | Permalink

    @Paxton
    In this thread about academic boycott of Israel you talked about Israel being a religious state (wrong); dangers of calling Israel a Jewish state and you said that you do not believe France is calling itself a “French state” (wrong – the French Republic; Poland is “Rzeczpospolita Polska” which means “Polish Republic”, not to mention all those Arab or Islamic republics and kingdoms); and some other things worth, according to you, to show in a discussion why only one country in the world was chosen as a subject to academic boycott by American academics.

    And all the time you return to the notion of 4 million people held captive by Israel. You are wrong in this as well. 1.5 million live in Gaza where there is not one Israeli soldier. True, the border between Gaza and Israel is closed an guarded because Israelis do not like being killed; they also do not allow import of weapons by sea. However Gaza has a long border with Egypt and if Egypt is closing this border because of murderous tendencies of Gaza’s rulers – Hamas – you cannot blame this on Israel. Of the West Bank’s population of some 2.5 million Arabs only about 50,000 live under Israeli occupation in Area C. This is less than real slaves in Arab countries and somehow nobody calls for academic boycott because of slaves in Yemen, Mauretania, Saudi Arabia etc. You dispute that the rest of Palestinian are not under Israeli jurisdiction. So how come they have their own embassies and they have explosives and assault rifles in those embassies, as was just discovered when Palestinian Ambassador to Czech Republic [oh! another one which calles itself by the etnicity of the majority group](not appointed by Israel, I presume) blew himself up while inexpertly manipulating with explosives.

    BTW You are also wrong stating that Israelis expelled Arab population 1948. They didn’t, except in a few cases dictated by war situation. Arab politicians urged Arab population to move from the war theater until the last Jew was killed.

    You ask me what is my solution. Well, neither you nor I are in any position to force a solution on two big populations which are in conflict. They have to come to the agreement themselves. Without external pressures (and I mean other Arab countries, UN, EU, NGOs, world media and boycotting academics) Israelis and Palestinians have a chance. With those pressures their chances diminish. And that is the biggest obstacle to peace.

    • paxton
      Posted January 6, 2014 at 10:44 am | Permalink

      You may be right, Malgorzata. I was not supporting the boycott (which seems rather insignificant)but trying to provide some balance to the discussion. I don’t think the issue is as one sided as you seem to feel.

      I’d be happy to see the U.S. cease its “external pressures” and let Israel go it alone as you wish. No more military aid to anyone in the region. If Israel wants to bomb Iran, that’s their business, not ours. But as long as the U.S. is providing major support to Israel, I feel that US citizens have a voice.

      I’d be interested in any reading recommendations on the history of Jews in Poland or Israel. I have read SM Dubnow’s History of the Jews in Russia and Poland, and am just finishing Ari Shavit’s My Promised Land.

      Best wishes for the new year.


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