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Sunday, May 27, 2007

The real Israel boycott issue and the role of Israeli Academics

The editors of Haaretz have understood what many Israeli academics do not understand apparently. The academic boycott movement is not about the occupation and it was never about the occupation. It is about the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state. They write:
The European hard left regards the Law of Return as the root of all evil; however, without acknowledging the Jewish character of the State of Israel, there is not even a basis for dialogue. British academia is in fact demanding that Israel democratically cease to exist as a Zionist entity, and that it be swallowed up in the non-democratic region in order to pander to the latest trend.
Ha'aretz is not a bastion of "right wing Likud neocon settler fanatic Greater Israel Zionism" (are those enough cliche adjectives??). It has been steadily and consistently and outspokenly opposed to the occupation. This is an extraordinary statement by Ha'aretz. It shows an understanding of what the boycotters really want, and in fact the boycotters have never really hidden their intentions. Everyone knows what Sue Blackwell and her friends want. She tells them at her Web site, and everyone can know what groups like Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel want. They insist that Israel is a foreign European implant in the Middle East, and has no rights at all. Almost everyone knows, except those who do not want to know.
According to an earlier Haaretz account, four Israeli academics  came to Britain to fight the proposed UCU boycott of Israel, but they did not understand the issues it seems. A union representative told them:
 "Israel commits terrible, exceptional crimes in the occupied territories."
How do Israel's "exceptional crimes" compare with Darfur, or for that matter, with the crimes of the British when they were running the Mandate for Palestine?
What was the response? Did the Israelis point out that Israel is defending itself against genocidal terrorists? The Israeli academics simply agreed with their hosts, but said they were powerless to stop the "war criminals" of the Israeli government:
At the Brighton meeting, Professor Zvi Hacohen of Ben-Gurion University, a senior official in Israel's lecturers' union, presented two arguments against the boycott: "First, there is widespread cooperation between our universities and Palestinian and Jordanian universities; the proposed boycott will damage this cooperation. Additionally, you must understand that Israeli institutions and universities are not political organizations, and they have no influence over the policies of the government or the parties."
What is he saying? He is saying that Israeli academics agree with the UCU stand that Israel has no right to exist as a Jewish state, no right to defend itself, and that the Hamas and other terrorists are blameless. Israeli academics agree that Israeli self-defense is a war crime, an "exceptional" crime, but they are powerless to stop the government: "We were only cogs in the wheel."  
The reply of UCU representative, Tom Hickey was quite logical:
...he would be willing to cooperate with any Israeli college that publicly denounced its government's activities.
So, the Jews agreed with the inquisitors that the Jews drink the blood of Christian children, and the nice inquisitors explained that they would spare any Jew who renounced his faith. A great achievement for these academics.
To be sure that there is no doubt about the stand of the academics, Ofir Frankel who coordinates the activities of Bar-Ilan's International Advisory Board for Academic Freedom added:
"We want to influence public opinion among British academics and provide them with a true picture of Israeli academe."
The "true picture" he wants to provide them with is what? That Israeli academe are not all supporters of "war criminals" and that some of them agree with Ilan Pappe, Tanya Reinhart and Jeff Halper? They agree with the UCU that the state of Israel should not exist as a Jewish State, and that the Jewish people have no right of self-determination and no right of self defense, because there is no Jewish people?
The committee is misnamed, because what is at stake is not academic freedom, but the right of a people, and of a member state of the U.N. to exist.
Ofir Frankel claimed that the newspaper report distorted what was said at the meeting by quoting out of context. He did not deny that these amazing statements were made. It may be the case, as often it is, that the newspaper report distorted the picture, but there is no way to defend those statements in any context. Frankel made no public statement to counter the impression given in the Haaretz account.
These academic representatives, like the Jew arguing with the inquisitor, are thinking of themselves and their business and professional career. They want to protect their sabbaticals in Oxford and Cambridge, and their right to submit articles to British journals. For that, they are willing to agree tacitly that Israelis are war criminals who have no right to defend themselves. They apparently agree with the UCU boycotters that the Hamas is a great humanitarian organization. It is only that they have no power to change the criminal policies of the Israeli government. They are willing to wash their hands of the Israeli government and the Jewish people in Israel. They do not understand that if there is no Israel, there will be no Bar Ilan, no sabbaticals, no journal publications. You don't have to be a university professor to understand that.
Ami Isseroff

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors. Originally posted at Please do link to these articles, quote from them and forward them by email to friends with this notice. Other uses require written permission of the author.


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