DELEGITIMATION, AMERICAN JEWRY, AND THE ZIONIST IMPERATIVE: COUNTERING THE NEW ANTISEMITISM, ON & OFF CAMPUS
Volume XI, No. 2,751 • January 31, 2012
DELEGITIMIZATION OF ISRAEL IS NEW ANTI-SEMITISM
Jerusalem Post, January 31, 2012
Israel has no greater friend in the world than Canada, Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird said during a warm address at the opening of the 12th-annual Herzliya Conference on Monday night. Ottawa stood with Israel because it was a Canadian tradition “to stand for what is principled and just, regardless of whether it is popular, convenient or expedient,” Baird said. The Canadian government supports Israel so strongly…because it embodies the values Canada holds dear…and because Israel is “a beacon of light in a region that craves freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.”
Slamming the “constant barrage of rhetorical demonization, double standards and delegitimization” of Israel, Baird characterized this as the new anti-Semitism. “Harnessing disparate anti-Semitic, anti-American and anti-Western ideologies, it targets the Jewish people by targeting the Jewish homeland, Israel, as the source of injustice and conflict in the world, and uses, perversely, the language of human rights to do so,” he said. “We must be relentless in exposing this new anti-Semitism for what it is.…”
BDS AND ACADEMIA
Asaf Romirowsky & John R. Cohn
Jerusalem Post, January 30, 2012
A self-proclaimed National Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Conference is set to take place at the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy league institution in the heart of Philadelphia, during the weekend of February 4. Last held in 2009, according to the organizers, the BDS movement intends to focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by demonizing Israel while propagating the Palestinian victimhood status in order to gain global sympathy. They believe that if universities, companies and even countries boycott, divest from and sanction Israel it will pressure the government to change its so-called “hard nosed” policies toward the Palestinians and in addition to give up land Israel supposedly “stole” from the Palestinians in 1948 and 1967.
A closer look at the BDS movement and its methodology shows not legitimate criticism but actually a racist and anti-Semitic program. In a world where refugees have been created and resettled by the tens of millions, including over 900,000 Jews that fled Arab states, BDS targets only Israel. Its stated goals vary but all include the “right” for descendants of Palestinian “refugees” to “return” to a country they have never seen, thus bringing about the end of Jewish Israel. The movement takes care to give the impression that ending specific Israeli policies such as the “occupation” or “apartheid” will also bring an end to efforts to ostracize Israel. Their maximalist demand—the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state—is carefully hidden but readily apparent to a careful examiner.
It is a matter of great concern that respected universities lend their space and name to such conferences in addition to the participation of their faculty and others from around the country. In North America, whatever goes on in a classroom is deemed protected by “academic freedom,” whether it is academic or not.… Gradually, campuses have become an “academic freedom” zone where protests and other activities now qualify as academic “speech.” This freedom to critique is, predictably, directed mostly at the twin Satans, Israel and America, although efforts to curtail speech that academics find unpleasant and unacceptable have been longstanding in the form of “speech codes” and restrictions on “hate speech.” Clearly academic freedom is a one-way street; only those having the correct opinions may claim it.…
[Accordingly], universities which should be bastions of critical thinking and opposition to fallacies of argument have become fertile ground for myth, fantasy and lies about history. North American college campuses have been suffering from a significant increase in anti-Israelism. This new situation has demonstrated the need for a clear and inclusive definition of anti-Semitism and an answer to the question of whether anti-Israelism constitutes anti-Semitism.
The apparent dilemma has been that anti-Israelism itself is not blatantly or even necessarily anti-Semitic but rather may appear merely critical of “Zionist policies,” thus distinguishing between Jews and Zionists. This well-worn distinction has enabled the anti-Israeli camp to pose as legitimate critics. What has actually emerged, in effect, is a new form of anti-Semitism, because the state of Israel acts as a proxy for Jews at large.…
In the US, politicized writing and teaching have often displaced scholarship, and academic freedom has been redefined as the liberty to dispense with academic standards. In response, hiring token Israeli Jews who subscribe to the anti-Israel narrative and support the BDS movement has become common practice on American campuses, thereby eliminating debate while providing the illusion of balance and using their Jewishness as a carte blanche to criticize Israel and question it existence.
Combating BDS has become complicated and confusing especially for those who want to believe that there is room for debating the “facts” presented by the BDS movement. What makes this battle so arduous for the pro-Israel community and so attractive for the antagonizers of Israel is the umbrella of academic freedom.…
On a positive note, the racist nature of the BDS movement has redrawn the lines of acceptable discourse. We are now seeing a sure but steady understanding of the real threats BDS and its sympathizers represent to not just the pro-Israel community but to honest academic discourse on the Middle East. The hope is that rejection of their hateful message will catch on.
THREE DAYS OF ANTI-ISRAEL VENOM AT U PENN
FrontPage, January 20, 2012
What do the administrators at the University of Pennsylvania know about the 2012 National Conference of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement about to take place at Penn and when did they know it?
“BDS,” as this virulent anti-Israeli hatefest is commonly called, is coming to the Penn campus on February 3-5, but university officials have hid from the implications of hosting such an event. They say that the university is on record as not supporting this movement, yet they let the event go forward, providing space and possibly funding, despite the fact that the sponsors may not meet school requirements as a recognized group and that their anti-Semitic message is deeply hostile to academic freedom and basic human decency. The university appears to be bending rules that would be rigidly enforced for sponsors of another cause.
U Penn’s willingness to enable the BDS conference is particularly inexplicable given the fact that this growing movement to boycott Israel and Israeli-produced goods, force divestment from any companies that do business with Israel, and establish sanctions against Israel due to its supposed violations of human rights, was created by nations and groups seeking to delegitimize and destabilize Israel such as the terrorist-sponsoring nation of Iran and the terrorist groups Hezbollah, and Hamas. As Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz has noted, the BDS movement abets terrorism: “People who advocate boycotts and divestiture will literally have blood on their hands,” he said. “They encourage terrorism and discourage the laying down of arms.…”
Among the scheduled speakers at the upcoming conference is Anna Baltzer, a “Jewish American Palestinian human rights activist,” who summarizes the line of attack on Israel when she bluntly states that its polices of “ethnic cleansing and apartheid must be stopped.” These terms are not arguments; they are knowing lies designed to weaken the Jewish State.… The insidious segregation of “apartheid” does not exist in Israel. Arabs are granted full civil rights under Israeli law.… Israeli Arab citizens vote in national elections, have representatives in the Israeli Parliament…and sit on the benches of Israeli courts (including the Israeli Supreme Court). They have more rights, and enjoy more freedom, education, and economic opportunity than the Arabs of any Arab state.
The BDS conference at Penn will feature, in addition to Baltzer, a cavalcade of anti-Israel speakers, including founder of the Electronic Intifada Ali Abunimah, whose views are summed up when he says, “Israel is a society where virulent anti-Arab racism and Nakba denial are the norm although none of the European and American leaders who constantly lecture about Holocaust denial will dare to admonish [Israeli Prime Minister] Netanyahu for his bald lies and omissions about Israel’s ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.”
The BDS National Conference at U Penn is by no means a stand-alone event. In fact the BDS movement shares radical political DNA (and personnel) with the international “Israel Apartheid Weeks” and “Palestine Awareness Weeks” scheduled to take place on campuses around the country this spring. The goal of these events, designed by the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated organizations Muslim Students Association (MSA) and Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), is to garner support for the Palestinian Authority and Hamas who seek to “push the Jews into the sea” and annihilate the Jewish state. These “weeks” have regularly sought to intimidate Jewish students, occasionally through acts of physical violence, and have become frequent occurrences at campuses like the University of California, Irvine.…
Despite the intention of the BDS conference to preach three days of systematic ethnic hatred against Jews that the university would not countenance if it were directed, say, at Muslims, U Penn officials have turned a blind eye (and a deaf ear) to the growing public outcry about the conference, claiming that it is solely a student matter and that, to stretch credulity, the university literally has no information regarding the conference, its funding, its sponsors, or its arrangements to use university facilities.
As a concerned Jewish-American citizen…I made several calls to university officials to see if I could uncover the truth about Penn’s sponsorship or funding of or cooperation with the BDS conference. I first spoke with Executive Director Karu Kozuma at the Office of Student Affairs and hit a brick wall. Kozuma claimed that all funding decisions are handled by students themselves and he did not have any information on whether PennBDS receives student funds either in general or for the upcoming conference.… A week after my initial call Kozuma responded by email to clarify that PennBDS had only recently become a recognized student organization and as such was not eligible to receive student activities funds..…
Many observers and critics of the PennBDS conference and movement note that it appears to have sprung up overnight out of thin air. Yet Penn does have rules and regulations governing how long a student organization must be in existence before it may be officially recognized by the University and thereby be eligible to use university facilities free-of-charge. The Student Activities Council (SAC) website notes that…“All groups seeking SAC recognition must have been in existence for at least one year.… The group must also demonstrate an appeal to a reasonable portion of the Penn Community.”
I once again emailed Kozuma to inquire whether PennBDS had met these criteria—in particular, whether the group had existed for a full year prior to its recognition by the Student Activities Council. My inquiries met with no response, raising questions about whether the Student Activities Council and the administrators who oversee it may have bent the rules for PennBDS. Attempts to contact PennBDS directly to ask these questions were also ignored.…
This unconcern and lack of transparency on the part of Penn…is disturbing. The BDS movement is steeped in hatred and anti-Semitism, yet Penn has taken the stance that it has no authority to forbid such hatred access to its property or even to oversee basic details regarding the organization’s use of university facilities and resources. Would Penn take the same line if the conference was being sponsored not by BDS but by the Aryan Brotherhood or the KKK?…
THE ZIONIST IMPERATIVE
Caroline B. Glick
Jerusalem Post, January 27, 2012
European and American perfidy in dealing with Iran’s nuclear weapons program apparently has no end. This week we were subject to banner headlines announcing that the EU has decided to place an oil embargo on Iran. It was only when we got past the bombast that we discovered that the embargo is only set to come into force on July 1. Following its European colleagues, the Obama administration announced it is also ratcheting up its sanctions against Iran—in two months. Sometime in late March, the US will begin sanctioning Iran’s third largest bank.
At the same time as the Europeans and the Americans announced their phony sanctions, they reportedly dispatched their Turkish colleagues to Tehran to set up a new round of nuclear talks with the ayatollahs. If the past is any guide, we can expect for the Iranians to agree to sit down and talk just before the oil embargo is scheduled to be enforced. And the Europeans—with US support—will use the existence of talks to postpone indefinitely the implementation of the embargo. There is nothing new in this game of fake sanctions. And what it shows more than anything is that the Europeans and the Americans are more concerned with pressuring Israel not to attack Iran’s nuclear installations than they are in preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear power.
Obama has a second target audience—American Jews. He is using his fake sanctions as a means of convincing American Jews that he is a pro-Israel president and that in the current election season, not only should they cast their votes in his favor, they should sign their checks for his campaign.… As to American Jewry, the jury is still out.
In truth, American Jewry’s diffidence towards taking a stand on Iran, or recognizing Obama’s dishonesty on this issue specifically and his dishonesty regarding his position on US-Israel ties generally is not rooted primarily in American Jews’ devotion to Obama. It isn’t even specifically related to American Jewry’s devotion to the political Left. Rather it has to do with American Jewish ambivalence to Israel.… As the US and the EU have given Iran at least another six months to a year to develop its nuclear bombs unchecked, it is worth considering the nature and influence of this ambivalence.
Today’s principal form of Jew-hatred is anti-Zionism.… The problem that anti-Zionism poses for American Jewry is that it forces them to pay a price for supporting Israel. This is problematic because Zionism has never been fully embraced by American Jewry.… Unlike every other Diaspora Jewish community, the American Jewish community has always perceived itself as a permanent community rather than an exilic community. American Jews have always viewed the United States as the new Promised Land.…
In a recent op-ed in Haaretz, Hebrew University political science professor Shlomo Avineri contrasted world Jewry’s massive mobilization on behalf of Soviet Jewry in the 1970s and 1980s and their relative silence today in the face of Iran’s Holocaust denial and open calls for the annihilation of the Jewish state. Avineri is apparently confounded by the disparity between Western Jewry’s behavior in the two cases. But the cause of the disparity is clear.
Supporting the right of Soviet Jews to emigrate was easy. Unlike Israel, Soviet Jews were powerless. As such, they were pure victims and supporting them cost Diaspora Jews nothing in terms of their position in their societies. Just as important, the cause of freedom for Soviet Jewry was perfectly aligned with the West’s Cold War policies against the Soviet Union.… In contrast, supporting Israel, and the cause of Jewish freedom and self-determination embodied by Zionism, is not cost-free for Diaspora Jews. At root, to support Israel and Zionism involves accepting that Jews have inherent rights as Jews. To be a Zionist Jew in the Diaspora means that you embrace and defend the notion that the Jews have the right to their own interests and that those interests may be distinct from other nations’ interests. That is, to be a Zionist involves…embracing the fact that Jews require national independence and power to guarantee our survival. And this can be unpleasant.
Pro-Israel American Jews have historically tried to tie their support for Israel to larger, more universal themes, in order to extricate themselves from the need to admit that as Jews and supporters of Israel they have a right and a duty to support Jewish freedom even if it isn’t always pretty. Again, for Israel’s first several decades, it was about helping poor Jews and refugees. In recent years, the predominant defense has been that Israel deserves support because it is a democracy.
Certainly, these are both reasonable reasons for supporting Israel. But neither support for Israel because it was poor nor support for Israel because it is free is a specifically Zionist reason for supporting Israel. You don’t have to be a Zionist to support poor Jewish refugees and you don’t have to be a Zionist to support democracy. You do have to be a Zionist however, to defend the Jews in Israel and throughout the world in a coherent manner when the predominant form of Jew-hatred is anti-Zionism.
You have to be willing to accept and defend the right of the Jewish people to freedom and self-determination in our national homeland against those who deny that right.… And you have to be a Zionist to realize that since Jewish survival is dependent on Jewish power, and anti-Zionists reject the right of Jews to have power, that anti-Zionists seek to bring about a situation where Jewish survival is imperilled.…
Since 2007, the US government has effectively ruled out the use of force against Iran’s nuclear weapons program and embraced a policy of pursuing negotiations with ayatollahs while enacting impotent sanctions to quell congressional pressure.… [Therefore], to oppose Iran’s nuclear program effectively, American Jews are required to oppose these strongly supported US policies. And at some point, this may require them to announce they support Israel’s right to survive and thrive even if that paramount right conflicts with how the US government perceives US national interests.…
In a speech this week at the Knesset, [Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu…embraced Zionism’s core principle: “With regard to threats to our very existence, we cannot abandon our future to the hands of others. With regard to our fate, our duty is to rely on ourselves alone.” We must hope that world Jewry will recognize today that the fate of the Jewish people in Israel and throughout the world is indivisible and rally to Israel’s side whatever the social cost of doing so. But even if they do not recognize this basic truth, the imperatives of Zionism, of the Jewish people, remain in place.
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Jerusalem Post, January 30, 2012
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Wall Street Journal, January 31, 2012
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Prof. Frederick Krantz, Director (Canadian Institute for Jewish Research)
Prof. Harold Waller (McGill University)
Prof. Ira Robinson, Associate Chairman (Department of Religion, Concordia University)
Baruch Cohen, Research Chairman (Canadian Institute for Jewish Research)
Rob Coles (Canadian Institute for Jewish Research)