The epic fail of BDS

The effort to mobilize academic leftists into helping to destroy Israel is falling on its face, exposing the pathetic emptiness of anti-Israel bluster.  The fact of Israel itself – the vibrant, innovative entrepreneurial and technology powerhouse surpassed only by the United States in the number of hi tech startups – is refuting the efforts to stigmatize Jews for having their own nation.  Face it: the bullies can shout all they want, but the real opportunities that Israel creates for partners in science, scholarship, and business speak much louder to people doing things in the real world.

One of the most encouraging stories I have seen in a long time comes from Tablet Magazine (Hat tip: Legal Insurrection).  Yair Rosenberg writes:

… a new study released this week, conducted jointly by the Samuel Neaman Institute for National Policy Research at Israel’s Technion and the U.S.-based Israel on Campus Coalition, debunks even this presumption.

Contrary to what one might expect given the storm and fury on campuses, the study found that American-Israeli academic collaboration had skyrocketed 45 percent in the last decade. Notably, the more prestigious a U.S. university, the more likely it was to have worked with Israeli scholars. Thus, the top ten American institutions with joint academic publications with at least one Israeli co-author include the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1,835 publications), University of California-Berkeley (1,697), Columbia University (1,596), Harvard University (1,451), Stanford University (1,350), University of Pennsylvania (1,295), and Yale University (1,233). Collectively, Israeli and American scholars accounted for over 40,000 publications since 2006. In addition, according to the Institute of International Education, the number of U.S. students studying in Israel grew from 1,981 in 2005-2006 to 3,317 in 2014-2015.

What explains the disparity between the polarized perception of Israel on campus and the reality of collaboration? In large part, it’s a case of the volume of an opinion being mistaken for provenance. Niche academic organizations and radical student groups railroading measures through student council meetings are not representative of the broader university community.

Just as the mainstream media creates its own bubble, using its powerful megaphones to convince people that, say, Trump can’t win, so too do campus leftists with time on their hands create the illusion of popular support for their prejudices. 

Rosenberg acknowledges one other fact that is crucial:

… when it comes to scholarly associations, the few to have actually endorsed an academic boycott of Israel have hailed from smaller fields in the humanities, like American Studies, where little collaboration was likely to transpire in the first place. (It’s not like an analysis of Milton calls out for Israeli input.) In the Sciences, by contrast, there has been no serious BDS push, and rates of American-Israeli cooperation continue to soar.

The politicized and largely worthless work put out by the leftists who dominate the humanities and social sciences makes no difference to the real world.  It is an almost entirely self-referential bubble that nobody else really needs.

Hat tip: VM