BDS and the Intellectuals
As a graduate student of English literature, I was constantly dismayed to discover that far too many literary luminaries held deeply anti-Semitic beliefs. Mary Ann Evans a.k.a. George Eliot was a notable exception and it was her book Daniel Deronda that gave me hope that intellect coupled with perceptive appreciation and empathy can sometimes go hand in hand.
But now some 40 years later, I am still confronted with the disquieting truth that intellectual accomplishment does not, indeed, result in empathy with other human beings, particularly Jews.
Enter Stephen Hawking, British professor who has now joined the ranks of those who support the academic boycott of Israel. Thus, he has decided to pull out of the upcoming Israeli president's conference in Jerusalem entitled "Facing Tomorrow", which features international personalities and attracts thousands of participants. In a Jerusalem Post article, Greer Fay Cashman writes that Hawking has
approved a statement published by the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine which described his withdrawal from the conference as 'his independent decision to respect the boycott, based upon his knowledge of Palestine, and on the unanimous advice of his own academic contacts there.'
According to The Guardian, in the four weeks since it had been announced that Hawking was participating in the conference, he had been bombarded with messages from Britain and abroad urging him to change his mind. He was subsequently persuaded on the advice of Palestinian colleagues.
While several British artists and academics have either cancelled or refused invitations to visit Israel, others have defied and even denounced the boycott. The Guardian quoted writer Ian McEwan, the 2011 recipient of the Jerusalem Prize who said: "If I only went to countries that I approve of, I probably would never get out of bed ... It's not great if everyone stops talking.
Does Hawking truly understand the import of the BDS or Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions program? It is global in scope and utilizes
new strategies to delegitimize the Jewish State. Unable to defeat the IDF militarily or weaken the population through persistent terrorism, the extremist groups, Islamic terrorists and their rogue regime allies have embarked upon a global effort to demonize and isolate Israel, casting it as a pariah state.
The wide-spread Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and the utilization of Lawfare are the main components of the "Durban Strategy" adopted by Israel's opponents at the U.N.'s Human Rights Conference in 2001. Tactics like the Gaza Flotilla, the effort overseas to indict IDF officers and elected officials for war crimes, blood libels in the media, the boycotting of Israeli academics, and the persistent debate over whether a Jewish State has a right to exist, are having a perilous impact on Israel's security and diplomatic capabilities.
It behooves any decent individual to read the piece entitled "Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) Against Israel: An Anti-Semitic, Anti-Peace Poison Pill" by Dr. Harold Brackman from the Simon Wiesenthal Center to understand the insidious and invidious actions of the BDS movement.
Ironically, it is important to note that Stephen Hawking's "whole computer-based communication system runs on a chip designed by Israel's Intel team." Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, director of Shurat HaDin Israel Law Center, suggests that if "Hawking truly wants to pull out of Israel, he should also pull out his Intel Core i7 from his tablet."
In fact, it might be appropriate to cite the extraordinary medical breakthroughs coming from Israel that have contributed to help humanity at large. And yet, anti-Israel bias won't even permit proper acknowledgment of these amazing breakthroughs!
Furthermore, at risk to its own safety, Israel has actually assisted Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza as explained here.
Lest one think BDS actions are mere aberrations, here are some recent BDS moves against Israel and Jews.
According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, members "of the Association for Asian American Studies voted in April 2013 to support a boycott of Israeli academic institutions, making the [AAAS] group the first U.S.-based scholarly association to support such a measure." The resolution says the boycott is "in protest of the illegal occupation of Palestine, the infringements of the right to education for Palestinian students, and the academic freedom of Palestinian scholars and students in the West Bank, Gaza, and Israel."
Are these Asian American students aware of the anti-Jewish and anti-American education that Palestinian students do receive from terrorist groups? How quaint that in the midst of the hourly invectives against Israel, the University of Gaza which is a hotbed of terrorist activity, remains open all under Hamas supervision. Do Leslie Bow, Lucy Burns, David Eng, Candace Fujikane, Susette Min, Sarita See, Dorothy Wang and other signers of the Association for Asian American Studies resolution know that
It is official policy of the Israeli government to foster the language, culture, and traditions of the Arab minority, in the educational system and in daily life. Arabic is an official language in Israel, together with Hebrew. Israel's Arabic press is the most vibrant and independent of any country in the region. There are more than 20 Arabic periodicals. They publish what they please, subject only to the same military censorship as Jewish publications. There are daily TV and radio programs in Arabic, Arabic is taught in Jewish secondary schools. Israeli universities are renowned centers of learning in the history and literature of the Arab Middle East.
Education and literacy of the Arab population in Israel is as high as and probably higher than in any Arab country. The literacy rate among Israeli Arabs is 95%, virtually the same as for Israeli Jews. There are close to 1,000 Arab educational institutions in Israel, with about 300,000 students -- more than 200 times as many as in 1948, when the State of Israel was created. Ninety percent of Arab children attend school, probably the highest ratio of any Arab population anywhere. Israeli universities and technical institutions are freely available to the Arabs. About 5,000 Arab students attend such schools.
William A. Jacobson at Legal Insurrection asserts that the academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions by the Association of Asian American Studies [AAAS] is "a stain on academia." In fact, Jacobson maintains that "AAAS has been hijacked by anti-Israeli activists who are active participants in the BDS movement, and who very adroitly maneuvered the organization into being the first professional academic association outside the Middle East to adopt the BDS agenda."
Jacobson deplores the indifference of other academics and asks if "anyone is going to say anything" when, in fact, "Asian American Studies programs exist at some of the most prestigious universities in the country, including Cornell, Columbia, Stanford, UW-Madison, and the University of Pennsylvania?"
In another part of the world, The Student Representative Council of the University of Sydney, Australia recently voted to endorse the BDS campaign. They voted to "pass a resolution calling on the university administration to cut ties with the Technion -- a globally known and appreciated Israeli academic institution for technology."
Then, a group of American Indian scholars recently sent a letter to Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly urging him to shun the Israeli democracy because of claims the latter does not mirror parallel "indigenous values and justice." Thus, they claim that "[a]s indigenous educators, we find your support for the state of Israel to be in complete contradiction to our values and sense of justice. Israel has illegally occupied Palestine for decades [.]"
Adding to the mix is the Teachers Union of Ireland which recently voted to end all academic links to the Jewish democracy, including joint research and exchange programs. The resolution, which calls Israel an "apartheid state," was unanimously passed and stresses that the body must "cease cultural and academic collaboration with Israel, including the exchange of scientists, students, and academic personalities, as well as all cooperation in research programs."
Sadly, these teachers need a refresher course on what an apartheid state is. They need to check out these posters at the StandWithUs site. The posters are straight to the point and clearly debunk these false charges. These bits of information might help them truly understand the moral compass of Israel as compared to its Muslim Arab neighbors' culture of death and depravity.
Not to be outdone, British artists called on Shakespeare's Globe Theater to boycott Israeli cultural institutions. Perhaps these alleged artists should really study Shakespeare's "Merchant of Venice" as they have patently forgotten those famous lines
I am a Jew. Hath
not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs,
dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with
the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject
to the same diseases, healed by the same means,
warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer [.]
If you prick us, do we not bleed?
if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison
us, do we not die?
Shame on the villainy of all these groups! To them all, I offer the Yiddish
Me ois vaxen svi a tsibele miten cup in vant which means "You should grow like an onion with your head in the ground!"
Eileen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org