Controversy Erupts Over Dartmouth Appointment of Anti-Israel Dean: Paul Miller, New York Observer, April 8, 2017— One of the nation’s most prestigious colleges has come under fire for appointing a prominent advocate of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign to the position of dean of faculty.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Jewish Problem: Zoe Kellner, Algemeiner, May. 3, 2017— In late March, representatives of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s student government proposed a resolution: “Social Responsibility and University Divestment from Corporate Human Rights Abuses.” The measure claimed to target human rights abuses committed by corporations in which UW may be invested. In reality, the measure clearly singled out the State of Israel.
Israel’s Wrongheaded Retreat on BDS: Evelyn Gordon, Commentary, Apr. 26, 2017 — Regardless of whether you support or oppose a new law allowing Israel to bar entry to prominent supporters of anti-Israeli boycotts, one outcome was eminently predictable: Israel would lack the guts to enforce it even when doing so was most justified.
Linda Sarsour’s CUNY Speech: A Moral Disaster: Jeffrey S. Weisenfeld, The Forward, May. 10, 2017 — In Linda Sarsour’s case, CUNY selects an honoree who proclaims, “You can’t be a feminist in the United States [and not] stand up for the rights of Palestinian women,” and that “nothing is creepier than Zionism.” They celebrate a woman who said of anti-Islamist writer and politician Ayaan Hirsut Ali and conservative journalist Brigitte Gabriel, “I wish I could take their vaginas away.” Sarsour also called Palestinians who threw stones at Jews “courageous.”
On Topic Links
Not So Safe Space [WATCH]: Eliana Rudee, Israel Video Network, Mar. 30, 2017
Northwestern Students Mourn Terror Victims Ahead Of Rasmea Odeh Talk: JTA, May 17, 2017
BDS Suffers Another Defeat at University of California-Santa Barbara; Divestment Resolution Gets Zero Votes in Favor: Rachel Frommer, Algemeiner, May 11, 2017
New Jersey University Rejects BDS Motion: Israel National News, Apr. 29, 2017
New York Observer, Apr. 8, 2017
One of the nation’s most prestigious colleges has come under fire for appointing a prominent advocate of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign to the position of dean of faculty. By naming N. Bruce Duthu as Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Dartmouth President Philip Hanlon has brought into question the college’s commitment to academic freedom. Duthu is a co-author of the “Declaration of Support for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions” by the Council of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA).
Regarded by pro-Israel advocates as a movement born out of anti-Semitism, BDS singles out the Jewish state for condemnation while ignoring atrocities committed by other countries such as Iran, Syria and North Korea. Critics of the Duthu appointment view Hanlon’s decision as the latest chapter in the school’s history of anti-Semitism.
“The message seems to be that Dartmouth is perfectly comfortable appointing a dean who is in favor of the anti-Semitic BDS movement and is unaware of or is unconcerned with the contradictory public positions he has taken with regard to his obligations as dean of the faculty,” Dartmouth Economics Professor Alan Gustman told the Haym Salomon Center. “I had hoped that the specter of past anti-Semitism had left Dartmouth. Now, I am not so sure.” Gustman shared his concerns with his Dartmouth colleagues in a May 3 email that reads in part:
“In advocating the boycott of Israeli academic institutions, BDS is anti-Semitic. The chant of the BDS movement, from the river to the sea, is anti-Israel, anti-Zionist, and profoundly anti-Jewish. It refers to sweeping the Jews out of Israel… I have no reason to believe that Professor Duthu is anti-Semitic. His friends and colleagues do not consider him to be anti-Semitic and are sincere in their opinions. What is relevant here is that he is supporting a movement that is substantially anti-Semitic and that he has taken a position with regard to the BDS movement that is in opposition to the position and responsibilities he will have as dean of the faculty. Most importantly, he has not publicly renounced his public NAISA statement on the BDS movement… Professor Duthu’s public advocacy of BDS and his responsibilities as dean of the faculty are in direct conflict.”
Susan Julien-Levitt, co-founder and executive director of Alums for Campus Fairness, shares Gustman’s concerns, noting the absurdity of targeting Israel “as a human rights abuser worthy of pariah status while ignoring the substantial ongoing human rights abuses occurring in Israel’s neighboring countries.” She adds, “Professor Duthu’s apparent belief that academics and academic institutions should be shunned based on the policies of their governments shows a disregard for the fundamental principles of academic freedom.”
Diana Lawrence, Dartmouth’s associate vice president for communications, provided the Haym Salomon Center an exclusive statement after an inquiry was sent to President Hanlon’s office. In December 2013, Hanlon made Dartmouth’s position clear on the boycott of Israeli academic institutions. He opposed it. As a member of the administration, Duthu firmly supports the institutional position.
In his capacity as associate dean for International Studies and Interdisciplinary Programs, Duthu has been instrumental in making Jewish Studies a success on campus. He has facilitated the often complex arrangements to bring visiting professors from Israeli universities to teach at Dartmouth, as well as graduate students and post-docs from abroad. Duthu has the full confidence of President Phil Hanlon, Provost Carolyn Dever, and the Dartmouth Board of Trustees. He has broad support among the faculty, including the leaders of the college’s Jewish Studies program. He has offered to meet with Alan Gustman to discuss his concerns; however, Professor Gustman has declined.
Gustman explained, “I refused to meet with Professor Duthu because the only adequate response to his public support for the BDS movement is that he publicly renounce his support for BDS or that he resign. I made that clear to Professor Duthu in a letter I wrote to him in response to his invitation to meet. It would not matter if he pledged to ignore the conflict between his public position supporting BDS and his responsibilities as dean. If he publicly renounced his support for BDS, I would be satisfied. I made that clear to the president and dean before going public, but there was no public renunciation.” Professor Duthu did not respond to our request for comment.
Algemeiner, May 3, 2017
In late March, representatives of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s student government proposed a resolution: “Social Responsibility and University Divestment from Corporate Human Rights Abuses.” The measure claimed to target human rights abuses committed by corporations in which UW may be invested. In reality, the measure clearly singled out the State of Israel.
Not only were Jewish students hurt by the content of this hateful resolution, but we were also extremely disappointed by the undemocratic and unethical manner in which it was proposed. The Associated Students of Madison (ASM) representatives who proposed the measure neglected to engage with our community. Despite this — and with just 29 hours to prepare — we managed to mobilize approximately 130 students to attend the March 29 council meeting; more than 30 students, including myself, testified there during an open forum.
As I sat on the floor for six and a half hours — to ensure that my voice was heard — I found myself in a hostile environment, where I was clearly unwelcome. Although the resolution was tabled indefinitely by a 13-12-1 vote, everyone left that meeting hurt. And the damage will be lasting. The next ASM meeting was set to take place on April 12 — during the Jewish holiday of Passover. On April 7, a Jewish student representative, Ariela Rivkin, sent an email to ASM Chair Carmen Gosey informing her of the holiday, and asking the ASM to postpone any continuation of the March 29 meeting, so that Jewish students could participate. Gosey, however, ignored the request, and placed the divestment item on the agenda — thereby excluding many in the Jewish community.
Prior to this meeting, Badgers United Against Hate — an organization committed to fostering unity and inclusion on campus — worked with the authors of the initial ASM divestment legislation to try and craft a new resolution. And during the April 12 meeting, the authors claimed that Jewish students supported the new legislation.
That was a lie. In fact, the Jewish students’ comments, edits and feedback were not incorporated into the new legislation, and the Jewish community never signed off on it. Furthermore, according to the organization’s rules, it should have taken six weeks to pass the new legislation. However, the ASM suspended its rules to allow for an immediate vote on the resolution. Because of all these shenanigans, a student court ruled that the April 12 vote violated the rules, and blocked it from taking effect.
In late April, during the final ASM meeting of the semester, a resolution was proposed that calls for divestment from businesses involved with private prisons, arms manufactures, fossil fuels and border walls. This resolution, in its initial form, did not target Israel. Therefore, regardless of our deep disappointment with ASM’s past actions, the Jewish community showed up to voice our appreciation to the authors of this resolution for hearing our concerns.
To our dismay, ASM members then introduced amendments to this legislation that targeted Israel, and evoked strong anti-Israel and anti-Jewish sentiment. These amendments were premeditated, and the sponsors of the resolution were not transparent about their true intentions.
The incredible tolerance of anti-Jewish rhetoric, and the direct harassment of Jewish students, on the part of ASM and the UW student population is a heartbreaking reminder of our provisional acceptance on campus. This student body has acted in a way that repeatedly excludes the Jewish community — and makes us feel targeted and unwelcome. And as a Jewish student, I feel deeply let down by my “representatives.”
Commentary, Apr. 26, 2017
Regardless of whether you support or oppose a new law allowing Israel to bar entry to prominent supporters of anti-Israeli boycotts, one outcome was eminently predictable: Israel would lack the guts to enforce it even when doing so was most justified. That was amply proven by Wednesday’s decision to grant a one-year work visa to Human Rights Watch researcher Omar Shakir. By this decision, Israel eviscerated the one crucial point the law got right, despite the many it got wrong: You cannot wage an effective war on the BDS movement while giving the people behind it a pass. As the old truism goes, people are policy.
Shakir is the epitome of someone who should have been denied entry, and his case exemplifies why the law’s basic assumption–that boycotters must be targeted personally–is 100 percent correct. He has given lectures on college campuses in which he accused Israel of being an apartheid state, advocated anti-Israel boycotts, compared Zionism to “Afrikaner nationalism,” rejected a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the grounds that it would “institutionalize injustice,” and called for ending Israel’s existence as a Jewish state. His resume also includes a stint as a legal fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights, an organization that provides legal assistance and training to BDS activists and files war crimes suits against Israeli defense officials. Nor would discovering all this require any great research skills on the part of government officials; it’s all in a handy memo, complete with links, that NGO Monitor published in December.
Yet in his new role as HRW’s “Israel and Palestine director,” Shakir is supposed to oversee the production of unbiased, objective reports about human rights violations in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. Needless to say, the very idea is fatuous; when someone has already made up his mind that Zionism is racism, Israel practices apartheid and a Jewish state has no right to exist, expecting him to produce unbiased research on this subject is like expecting the head of the Ku Klux Klan to preside fairly over the trial of a black man accused of raping a white woman. Instead, Shakir will spend his year here producing reports full of vicious anti-Israel slurs. Thanks to the “halo effect” enjoyed by all human rights organizations, those findings will be treated as credible by numerous well-meaning people overseas and will further undermine Israel in the international arena.
In short, allowing Shakir to take up his post will do Israel incalculable harm. Yet, instead of doing the minimum research required to justify barring him as an individual, the border control authorities made a hasty decision in February to deny him a visa on the sweeping grounds that HRW is an anti-Israel organization. Clearly, accusing an entire organization of being anti-Israel is far harder to justify, even if it happens to be true (which, in HRW’s case, I believe it is). Doing so without exhaustive research and intensive preparation for the inevitable diplomatic backlash was insane.
The predictable result was that the State Department exerted pressure on HRW’s behalf since it’s an American organization. And then, instead of retreating to the narrower and more easily defensible position of barring Shakir on the grounds of his clear unfitness for his post, Israel capitulated completely. Thus instead of HRW being justly embarrassed at having chosen someone so patently unqualified as its “Israel and Palestine director,” boycott advocates were handed a totally unjustified and very public victory.
One might think this is simply a case of bureaucratic ineptitude that has nothing to do with the new law, especially since Shakir’s visa was initially denied before the new law even passed. But the new law actually makes such damaging outcomes even more likely. Why? Because it differs from the old law, which also allowed prominent boycott advocates to be denied entry, in one respect only: Instead of border control officials needing the interior minister’s permission to bar a prominent boycotter, they can now do so on their own authority, unless the government intervenes.
In other words, under the old law, visas were theoretically denied only in cases where the government had already decided it was prepared to stand behind the denial. By handing this authority over to relatively low-level officials, the new law makes it even more likely that the government will end up beating humiliating retreats from eminently reasonable decisions simply because they were made without the necessary research and preparation.
In all other respects, the new law is identical to the old. Like the old one, it applies only to the most prominent boycott advocates. Consequently, it accomplishes nothing except to further increase the likelihood of bureaucratic snafus, while also producing a lot of unfavorable publicity, upsetting even many of the country’s prominent defenders, giving extra ammunition to people who seek to tar Israel as anti-democratic, and creating unwarranted anxiety among well-meaning people who now fear being denied entry on grounds that aren’t even actionable under the law, such as a personal refusal to buy settlement products.
If Israel is to fight the BDS movement effectively, anti-Israel activists like Shakir must be called out as publicly as possible instead of being allowed to pose as objective researchers whose anti-Israel screeds should be considered credible. And barring them from entering the country, precisely because it’s such a high-profile step, can be an effective way of doing so. But if Shakir’s case is any example, the new law will at best contribute nothing to this essential effort, and, at worst, may even end up hindering it.
Jeffrey S. Weisenfeld
Forward, May 10, 2017
One can have visions of shenere un besere velt, a better and more beautiful world, as prophesied by the Workmen’s Circle, when reading the delusional praise of Linda Sarsour in the Forward by New York City Councilmember Brad Lander. Alas, his naive ilk bears historical precedence in bad Jewish outcomes. Before getting to the state of American Jewry, however, I must correct some misperceptions that Lander and so many others have regarding free speech on campus.
As a former trustee of CUNY, I can state categorically that claims of free speech in these matters are nonsense and amount to deliberate obfuscation by elected Democratic officials who have placed their chits with the radical left — to the detriment of Jews. Rare exceptions include Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who, in summing up Sarsour’s shortcomings, remarked that “surely CUNY can do better.”
CUNY Chancellor James Milliken’s declaration that “taking action… would conflict with the First Amendment and the principles of academic freedom” is a fallacious statement. The conferring of honorary degrees and commencement speeches are pure marketing tools designed to draw attention to a school and burnish its image. These are honors bestowed by a college or university; they have little to do with free speech. Instead, bestowing an honorary degree to Sarsour amounts to the administration making a value judgment.
In Linda Sarsour’s case, CUNY selects an honoree who proclaims, “You can’t be a feminist in the United States [and not] stand up for the rights of Palestinian women,” and that “nothing is creepier than Zionism.” They celebrate a woman who said of anti-Islamist writer and politician Ayaan Hirsut Ali and conservative journalist Brigitte Gabriel, “I wish I could take their vaginas away.” Sarsour also called Palestinian thugs who threw stones at Jews “courageous.”
Lander cannot claim to be a feminist and a Zionist and then go on to “stand with Sarsour,” any more than I can be a Zionist and stand with Louis Farrakhan. Several years ago, when the CUNY School of Law wanted to honor Lynne Stewart, attorney for terrorist Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, aka the “Blind Sheikh” (who herself spent time in jail for illegally smuggling messages from her client to his rabid followers), the chancellor and the trustees at that time, including me, said no way. CUNY damages its brand when it associates with unworthy honorees.
As to the larger picture: I see the Jewish masses proudly marching, working, building coalitions with spurious partners — assisting the Black Lives Matter movement, cooperating with the likes of Sarsour, other participants in the BDS movement — in short, a potpourri of anti-Semites. Where is the simple instinct of dignity to at least demand reciprocity of Jewish goals in exchange for Jewish support, and to understand the needs of all Americans when advocating for actions that they believe are derived from Jewish law?
In the name of “social justice,” those very Jews fight government incentives that could benefit Jewish education while advocating for abortion rights and opposing charter schools.
Jewish liberalism and leftism may have made sense in the era before labor unions, Social Security and other components of the basic safety net, but today, they are a backbone of the BDS movement and other causes inimical to Jewish survival. What’s happened?
Jews in the Reform, Conservative and Orthodox movements were mostly in sync on core Jewish survival issues until about 50 years ago. However, as the Conservative and Reform movements began to see largely empty pews on the Sabbath, their leaders concocted out of whole cloth an expanded tikkun olam.
Tikkun olam is a simple, direct injunction proclaiming just that we should “repair the world by proclaiming God’s sovereignty,” nothing more, nothing less. In the past several decades, however, not only did application of the term expand, but it also did not possess the self-respect of insisting on reciprocity. To the contrary: Tikkun olam, as opposed to the direct and simple injunction of God’s sovereignty, has morphed into Palestinian rights, Black Lives Matter (no friends of the Jews), LGBT rights, abortion rights, etc. Many of these are legitimate social issues, but they have nothing to do with tikkun olam.
I am not some perfectly practicing Orthodox Jew, but the fact is that the Conservative and Reform movements are disappearing because their leaders have created an alternative religion through what the late economic professor of Stephen Plaut of Haifa University dubbed the “tikkun olam fetish.”
As Jews, we end up advocating for our enemies and expect no reciprocity, nor receive it; I call it, “Tikkun olam for thee, but not for me.” What other racial/ethnic/religious/national group would foolishly do for others while receiving betrayal in return, let alone reciprocity? For our critical role in the civil rights movement because it was right — not because of the tikkun olam fetish — we applaud Black Lives Matter partnering with our libelous enemies? If there is a majority of American Jews who wish to proclaim their liberalism, that’s their business — just don’t falsely attribute their philosophy and actions to Scripture. Our Scripture does remind us, “your enemies shall emerge from within you.”
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Not So Safe Space [WATCH]: Eliana Rudee, Israel Video Network, Mar. 30, 2017—This video satire on safe spaces shows a side-by-side comparison of the difference of responsibility between an Israeli 18 year old and an American 18 year old. Footage provided by the Sderot Media Center.
Northwestern Students Mourn Terror Victims Ahead Of Rasmea Odeh Talk: JTA, May 17, 2017— Jewish students at Northwestern University organized a vigil for two Israeli students killed in a 1969 bombing ahead of a campus talk by a Palestinian activist, Rasmea Odeh, convicted of participating in the terrorist attack. Odeh was among the organizers of International Women’s Day in March.
BDS Suffers Another Defeat at University of California-Santa Barbara; Divestment Resolution Gets Zero Votes in Favor: Rachel Frommer, Algemeiner, May 11, 2017— Zero votes were cast in favor of a boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) resolution at the University of California-Santa Barbara (UCSB) early Thursday morning following a marathon debate between pro- and anti-Israel activists. Ultimately, 16 student representatives voted against the resolution, which was titled “Divest From Companies that Profit From Human Rights Violations in Palestine/Israel.” There were seven abstentions.
New Jersey University Rejects BDS Motion: Israel National News, Apr. 29, 2017— The student government at Montclair State University in New Jersey reportedly voted down a resolution calling on the school to boycott Israel. According to the report, the measure was defeated Wednesday by a vote of 11-1, with six abstentions.