Philip Carl Salzman: Anthropologists Adopt National Socialist BDS Policy
For anthropologists, it is 1935 all over again, and the Nuremberg laws, apparently an inspiration for boycotting, divesting, and sanctioning Jews, just as when Germans, under Hitler’s National Socialists boycotted Jews, refused to patronize Jewish stores, and punished wholesalers who supplied Jewish stores.
When early in 2016 the Parliament of Canada voted to condemn BDS, and the Principal of McGill declared that McGill opposed BDS, five anthropology professors, along with more than a dozen others from the social sciences and humanities, signed a letter saying that these anti-BDS policies were “not in my name,” and that these luminaries would commit to BDS. On 28 November 2016, the McGill Anthropology Graduate Students Association, future professors of anthropology, announced their commitment to boycott, divest, and sanction Jews.
Anthropologists’ rationale for scapegoating Jews is no longer the religious deviation that justified pogroms over the centuries in Christian and Muslim countries, or the racial theories that divided peoples into pure European folk and racially corrupt Jews, Gypsies, and Poles. No, today Jews are guilty of inhabiting their ancient homeland, Israel, and running their own lives, successfully. For anthropologists, that is unforgivable.
These National Socialist BDS anthropologists trot out the usual anti-Israel excuses, such as that, according to the AGSA statement, Israeli “anthropologists have been implicated in colonial projects in unacceptable ways, and anthropological methodologies have been used ‘by the Israeli state to further occupation and colonization’ both in theory and in ethnographic or archaeological work.” More generally, the AGSA says that “we see the Israeli state’s treatment of its Palestinian citizens as fundamentally impinging upon the right of people and peoples everywhere to the realization of their full humanity.” Yet Palestinian citizens of Israel have the same rights as Jews, Christians, Druze, Bahais, and others, full rights as citizens to gain education, vote and run for office, to serve in the government, military, and professions, including the Supreme Court of Israel. Along with the students’ unfounded concern about Palestinian Israelis, no concern is expressed about the rights of Jews to live in their homeland in peace.
To hear yet again these absurd accusations against Israel makes you wonder if gross historical ignorance, a lack of reason, or malicious antisemitism lies behind them. Is Israel a colony, or a “settler colony,” as some have it? Syracusa was a colony of Athens, and Canada and America were colonies of Britain. What home state is Israel a colony of? Israel is not a colony because it is the homeland of the Jews. Similarly, Israel cannot be an occupation, because it is the homeland of the Jews. When the Romans invaded the Holy Land in the century before Christ, they found only Jews, who they fought and later dispersed. The Jews’ historical claim to Israel was recognized officially by the San Remo Conference, the League of Nations, and the United Nations. Are supporters of BDS totally ignorant of this? Jews’ historical claim to Israel is so profound and decisive, that Palestinians attempt to deny Jewish history, in the hopes of claiming rights to the area.
Supporters of BDS are not simply speaking up on behalf of the rights of Palestinians, but are taking sides in a shooting war that has been going on for 100 years. Of course Islam declared war against Jews fourteen centuries ago, and oppressed and exploited Middle Eastern Jews off and on during that long darkness. But with first European Jews returning at the end of the 19th century to the Holy Land to join the modest number of Jews who had never left, the Arab terrorist war began in earnest. In mid-20th century, the eight hundred thousand Jews in Middle Eastern countries chased out of the lands where their ancestors had lived for centuries, all of their property stolen, made their way to Israel. The Arab terrorist war against the Jews ramped up, and continues unabated today due to constant incitement by Palestinian authorities, religious and secular.
Supporters of BDS have purposefully or inadvertently, directly or indirectly allied with Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fatah, and other Palestinian terrorist organizations. They have allied with the Palestinian who this year stabbed to death 13 year old Hallel Ariel in her bed, with the Palestinian who this year stabbed to death Dafna Meir, mother of six, in front of her teenage daughter, and with the Palestinian who earlier stabbed to death five members of the Fogel family, not to mention all of the bombings of buses and restaurants, and the mowing down of Jewish pedestrians with cars. Supporters of BDS have allied with Hamas who shot twelve thousand rockets at Israeli civilians. Supporters of BDS have encouraged terrorism and war by convincing the Palestinians that they are winning.
Supporters of BDS side with the Palestinians when they say “Palestine from the river to the sea,” for the real goal of the Palestinians is to destroy and replace Israel. This is already accomplished on Palestinian Authority maps. The Palestinians and Arabs more generally cannot accept Israel because according to Islamic law the Holy Land, having long been under Islamic control, is an Islamic wakf or endowment, and must never be alienated from Islamic governance. That alone would be enough for the existence of Israel to be rejected. But there is another powerful reason. During the second half of the 20th century, the Jews, despised as inferior by the Arabs for 1300 years, defeated the Arabs decisively in three wars, causing the Arabs to lose their honor. The Arabs can only regain their honor by conquering the Israel and the Jews. For these reasons, the Palestinians desire not peace, but triumph, and through it regaining honor and the Islamic wakf.
The McGill Anthropology Graduate Student Association most generously says “ AGSA opposes all forms of discrimination, including anti-Semitism.” The only problem with this is that BDS itself is antisemitic. Using the U. S. Department of State Fact Sheet “Defining Anti-Semitism,” we find that BDS is antisemitic for “blaming Israel for all inter-religious or political tensions.” Given the constant incitement to violence by the Palestinian authority, Hamas, and other Palestinian nationalist groups, and the continual terrorism against Israeli civilians, the idea that the conflict is all Israel’s fault is absurd. Note also that Israel has been invaded by Arab armies three times, hardly an initiative of Israel. And while some “experts” say that the recent Arab-Israel conflict is the cause of all conflicts in the Middle East, the Shia-Sunni conflict has been going on for 1400 years, and the Arab-Iranian conflict not less, so too the Iranian Turkish conflict.
Among the multitude of ethnic and religious conflicts around the world, only Israel is selected for boycott, divestment, and sanctions. Not the Turks vs. the Kurds, not the Turks vs. the Greeks in Cyprus, not the Shiites vs. Sunnites in Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Pakistan, among many others around the world. Especially galling is the condemnation of Israel at the very moment that a half million people have been slaughtered next door to Israel in Syria thanks to the combined efforts of Arabs, Russians, and Persians.
Another State Department criterion for antisemitism is “applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.” Israel is, according to the supporters of BDS, supposed to “make peace” with the Palestinians, at the same time that Palestinians shoot thousands of rockets into Israel, and Palestinian terrorists stream into Israel to murder its citizens. If Canada acted toward the U.S. the way Hamas has acted toward Israel, Canada would be razed to the ground.
BDS supporters are antisemitic for “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, and denying Israel the right to exist.” Allying with Palestinians whose slogan is “Palestine from the river to the sea,” never mind those who chant “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas,” not only denies Jews their rights, but encourages genocide, as is promised by the Hamas Charter: The Prophet says, "The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.”
The McGill anthropology professors who declared their support for BDS can be proud that they have shaped the minds of their graduate students, who have followed in their footsteps. The distorting lens of postcolonialism and other marxist theories have undoubtedly had an impact, as has a lack of historical knowledge. Whether we can call that education or indoctrination is very much open to question. Whether implementing racist and genocidal National Socialist policies advances rights and justice is highly doubtful.
Prof. Frederick Krantz, Director (Canadian Institute for Jewish Research)
Rob Coles (Canadian Institute for Jewish Research)