Fall 2018: BDS Returns to Campus and Politics: Alexander Joffe, SPME, Oct. 3, 2018— As the academic year begins, controversy over the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism — which includes demonization of Israel — has now spread to the United States.
BDS New Low? Impeding Student Travel to Israel: Jonathan S. Tobin, JNS, Sept. 18, 2018— A teacher writing a letter of recommendation for a student is a commonplace event.
Entertainment Industry Group Works to Thwart the Cultural Efforts of BDS: Shiryn Solny, Algemeiner, Sept. 28, 2018— Since its founding in 2005, the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement has targeted Israeli universities, businesses, and cultural organizations.
Demonizing Israel and the Hijacking of Language: Melanie Phillips, Jerusalem Post, Sept. 14— Not so long ago, freedom and democracy seemed to be on the march in the world, with Turkey and Pakistan, two strategically important Muslim-majority nations, near the front of the parade.
On Topic Links
The True Origins of BDS (Video): Canary Mission, Sept. 3, 2018
Professor Draws Ire After Declining to Help Student Study in Israel: Tamar Lapin, New York Post, Sept. 20, 2018
Bridges, Not Boycotts: David Renzer, Steve Schnur, Jerusalem Post, Sept. 15, 2018
A BDS Lesson in Dishonesty via the New York Times: Daniel Pomerantz, Honest Reporting, Sept. 4, 2018
FALL 2018: BDS RETURNS TO CAMPUS AND POLITICS
SPME, Oct. 3, 2018
As the academic year begins, controversy over the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism — which includes demonization of Israel — has now spread to the United States. Following the lead of the Department of State, the US Department of Education has adopted the IHRA guidelines, leading to accusations that it is “censoring” free speech on Israel. One result of the new policy is that a 2014 case from Rutgers University, where Jewish students were charged a different admission fee to an event, is being re-investigated. Protests that the IHRA definition is “dangerously broad” quickly emerged from hostile media outlets and pro-BDS sources.
The IHRA controversy goes beyond semantics: BDS supporters and others now claim that demonizing language, such as calling Israel a “Nazi state,” allegations of dual loyalties, and other accusations are not antisemitic hate speech, but merely exercises of free speech. Overall, the right of Jews to define antisemitism is being removed.
The clash between free speech and protections for Jewish students was also highlighted by reports that a faculty member at the University of Michigan rescinded his offer to write a letter of recommendation for a student after learning that she planned to study in Israel. In his email to the student, the faculty member stated his decision was in conformity with BDS guidelines. The university quickly expressed disapproval and reiterated its policy of no boycott, but refused to sanction the faculty member, as was called for by a coalition of groups. The BDS movement expressed support for the faculty member, while other academics questioned whether providing a letter of recommendation was a professional requirement or open to individual decisions.
The case demonstrates another area where BDS has contaminated the personal relationships between individual students and faculty, going far beyond the classroom. Because individual faculty boycotts are almost always covert, there is no way to know how many BDS supporters have declined to write letters of recommendation for travel abroad, graduate programs, or other seemingly routine things simply because the student had some relationship with Israel.
Systemic responses to the situation are difficult to imagine and unsavory, undermining further the integrity of academic institutions and student-professor relationships. For example, Jewish and Israeli students might be encouraged to investigate the background of professors before taking their classes. Realistically, however, most students are unwilling and unable to undertake this sort of due diligence, and even the suggestion is an infuriating admission that sectors of higher education are increasingly unsafe for Jews and Israelis.
Needless to say, the harsh BDS standard related to study in Israel, and to Israeli or Jewish students supporting Israel, does not apply to students interested in or supporting countries with egregious human rights records, such as Turkey, China, or Qatar. The IHRA’s definition of antisemitism and the question of demonizing Israel are also at the core of the British Labour Party’s ongoing crisis. After a bitter controversy regarding IHRA definition, the party’s executive committee adopted it — but with a “free speech” clause that effectively neutered the guidelines.
In a new development, Labour activists loyal to party leader Jeremy Corbyn have begun to push “deselection” of pro-Israel Members of Parliament as a means of driving them out of the party and politics. A Labour-associated union leader also accused Jewish organizations of “manufacturing” the antisemitism crisis as a means of undermining the party. Critics of Labour antisemitism are regularly assailed as “the lobby,” “right wing,” “Trump supporters,” and more. Meanwhile it was revealed that Corbyn had called for a boycott of the Arsenal football club over a minor Israeli sponsorship, and that Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, had participated in a protest calling for the boycott of all Israeli goods. Corbyn claimed further that describing the creation of Israel as “racist” was not antisemitic.
The crisis reverberated into the Labour Party’s annual conference, where Marxist members handed out pamphlets comparing Israel to Nazis, Palestinian flags were waved, and other members decried the antisemitism-related “witch hunt.” Meanwhile, at least one Jewish party member required a police escort to enter the conference, while others chose not to attend. Corbyn himself announced that were Labour to come to power it would immediately recognize the “State of Palestine,” while the party passed a resolution calling for Britain to institute an arms boycott on Israel. The bizarre centrality of Israel to Labour politics is difficult to explain in terms other than antisemitism. At the same time, polls suggest that the general public is becoming alienated from Labour as a result of the crisis.
Similar antisemitism crises are emerging in the US Democratic Party. The September primary elections were rocked by revelations that a BDS-supporting “democratic socialist” candidate for the New York legislature, Julia Salazar, had lied about being Jewish, foreign born, from an impoverished background, and a college graduate. When her deceptions were exposed, she and her supporters accused the “alt-right” media of conspiring to embarrass her — some at the behest of Israel. She further accused David Keyes, spokesman for Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, of having sexually assaulted her during the brief period when she was a pro-Israel activist…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
BDS NEW LOW? IMPEDING STUDENT TRAVEL TO ISRAEL
Jonathan S. Tobin
JNS, Sept. 18, 2018
A teacher writing a letter of recommendation for a student is a commonplace event. Teachers refusing such requests may also be common, but when it happens, we assume it is because the student is asking for an endorsement they don’t deserve. But what are we to think about a refusal that is based in prejudice, rather than lack of merit?
That’s the upshot of a disturbing incident at the University of Michigan that was revealed this week. John Cheney-Lippold, an associate professor working in Michigan’s Department of American Culture, had promised a student (who chose not to reveal her identity) that he would write a reference required for her to take part in a semester-abroad program in Israel. But a few weeks later, Cheney-Lippold wrote back to tell the student that he had changed his mind. Rather than having misgivings about her qualifications or worthiness for the program, the professor said his refusal was about what he termed “politics.”
He wrote her: “I am very sorry but … as you may know, many university departments have pledged an academic boycott against Israel in support of Palestinians living in Palestine. This boycott includes writing letters of recommendation for students planning to study there. I should have let you know earlier, and for that I apologize. But for reasons of these politics, I must rescind my offer to write your letter. Let me know if you need me to write other letters for you, as I’d be happy.”
Is he within his rights to act in this manner? While the student government at Michigan passed a pro-BDS resolution, the university’s board of regents rejected the measure with six of its eight members. After the student referred Cheney-Lippold’s communication to University president Mark Schlissel, he told The Algemeiner that the criteria used by the professor was wrong. “Teachers shouldn’t have a right to inject their personal viewpoints about this.” Schlissel went on to say that BDS is “false” and “anti-Semitic,” and misrepresents Israel.
He’s right about that, but was Cheney-Lippold breaking the law? According to BDS advocates, he was merely expressing his political opinion. He has a right to “support” “Palestinians living in Palestine” if that’s what he believes in, however amorphous that statement is defined. But as with the debates about anti-BDS laws—one of which happened to have been passed in Michigan—the issue is not the professor’s right to hold an opinion about Israel. His refusal to write a letter that he had already agreed to give her was an act of bias.
Let’s be clear: The professor seems to be perfectly willing to endorse student visits to all sorts of nations governed by tyrants, including the Communists in China and Cuba, or the repressive regimes in Saudi Arabia or the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. He also seems to think that the one Jewish state on the planet is the only place that ought to be isolated in this fashion. Indeed, if he is a supporter of BDS, it’s likely that his line about “Palestine” is not merely a comment about the territories the Jewish state took in a defensive war in 1967, but a reference to pre-1967 Israel, which BDS advocates consider to be just as much an “occupied territory” as the West Bank.
Anti-BDS laws are legal because they ban commercial conduct—economic boycotts that attempt to discriminate against only the Jewish state and are therefore inherently anti-Semitic—that would be illegal in this country under any other circumstances. But if you were wondering why a professor of American culture is doing seeking to prevent Americans from going to Israel, it’s actually not a coincidence. The American Studies Association (ASA) was one of the first such academic groups to vote to endorse BDS in 2013. That academics supposedly devoted to teaching about American values would support a program designed to eradicate the only Jewish state is bad enough. But it also happens to be illegal.
In passing the boycott resolution, the ASA violated the terms of its corporate charter, which just happened to be approved by Congress when it was founded, and the District of Columbia Non-Profit Corporation Act that requires an organization to operate only within the provisions of its charter. Promoting a campaign to stigmatize Israelis and to deny them access to U.S. institutions and vice versa is not only an act of despicable prejudice, but has nothing to do with the ASA’s purpose of promoting scholarship about American studies.
A number of ASA members have sued the leadership over this violation of its charter that, according to the plaintiffs, was accomplished by underhanded means that also violated the organization’s bylaws approved by Congress. While the litigation over this continues, JNS has asked the federal court presiding over the case to release materials related to this activity that the ASA has been forced to divulge during the discovery process. Among the materials that have already been revealed are documents that show the group has changed the rules governing its endowment that has allowed it to pilfer its funds to finance their defense against the suit, as well as public relations and lobbying activities. This might also be deemed illegal since that sort of political behavior is also prohibited to nonprofit groups like the ASA.
But, like the University of Michigan professor, the ASA leadership is a lot more interested in promoting anti-Semitic attacks on Israel—in this case, through the means of a student merely wanting to travel and learn—than in promoting the study of American history or culture. The perversion of a group that was founded to promote scholarship about America into one that aims at attacking Israel is a scandal.
That applies to both the ASA and Cheney-Lippold’s attempt to stop students from studying in Israel. That the academy has become a bastion of prejudice shows there is something very wrong about a certain sector of intellectual culture of this country. It’s up to the universities and the courts to demonstrate that responsible institutions won’t stand by while anti-Semitic discrimination is passed off as scholarship.
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY GROUP WORKS
TO THWART THE CULTURAL EFFORTS OF BDS
Algemeiner, Sept. 28, 2018
Since its founding in 2005, the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement has targeted Israeli universities, businesses, and cultural organizations. Most recently, its efforts against Israel’s music scene have made headlines. The chatter circulated around American singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey, who was attacked by BDS supporters for agreeing to perform at the Meteor Festival in Israel, a decision she originally defended on Twitter with a lengthy statement on August 19.
The “Summertime Sadness” singer said at the time that “music is universal and should be used to bring us together,” and that her “plan” was for the concert to be done with “a loving energy with a thematic emphasis on peace.” But after facing a tremendous amount of pressure to call off the show, Del Rey did just that on September 1, a week before she was scheduled to perform — she said that she will reschedule when she is able to play in “both Israel and Palestine.” Afterwards, 15 or so other artists also cancelled their performances at the Meteor Festival.
Del Rey’s original plan to perform in Israel came less than a year after New Zealand singer Lorde announced her intention to play in Tel Aviv, a move that also prompted an enormous amount of online pressure and resulted in the “Royals” singer canceling her show in late December. At the time, Lorde said her decision was made after an “overwhelming number of messages and letters” from those who opposed her performance. More than a few headlines about Del Rey calling off her concert attributed the cancellation, like Lorde’s, to “BDS pressure.”
“We believe Lana genuinely wanted to postpone her performance, and reschedule concerts for both Israelis and Palestinians. Unfortunately, BDS has made it clear if an artist books in Israel, they will not play in a Palestinian venue,” said Aviva Miller, New York Regional Director of Creative Community for Peace (CCFP), a non-profit group comprised of prominent members in the entertainment industry who are “dedicated to promoting music and the arts as a means to peace and to countering the cultural boycott of Israel,” according to its website. The organization is in no way funded by the Israeli government or backed by any institution in Israel.
As CCFP’s New York director, Miller — an entertainment attorney by trade — is focused on cultivating a group of supporters and creating a “community” of supporters in New York and on the East Coast. The community consists of entertainment executives and other supporters who will become part of a global network. New York City and its surrounding areas account for 40 percent to 50 percent of the entertainment industry in the United States, she said.
CCFP co-founder David Renzer said that the organization offers the support and information artists and their representatives need to “resist boycott pressure when they come across it.” He added that “as an entertainment-industry organization, we utilize our deep network of relationships to reach out to artists to make sure they are receiving a ‘balanced’ view of the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict, [as] opposed to the misinformation that pro-BDS groups promote. … Artists that boycott are not furthering peace and need to be educated about the true agenda of BDS.”
It was the CCFP who helped Jewish actress Scarlett Johansson in 2014, when she was barraged with requests from BDS supporters to cancel her contract as the global brand ambassador for SodaStream, an Israeli carbonated-beverage company. Johansson’s publicist and manager turned to CCFP and asked for assistance in creating a narrative that allowed the actress to defend her decision to maintain the endorsement deal despite facing pressure from the BDS movement.
“She did not listen to the BDS movement, but the chatter was so loud that it was horrifying,” recalled Miller. “They cut out photos of her sipping from a [SodaStream] glass … and they put it up against these horrifying pictures of people behind barbed wire and dead people — you don’t even know who these people were, but it looks as though she was standing in front of Palestinians who were being murdered and somehow oppressed.”…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
DEMONIZING ISRAEL AND THE HIJACKING OF LANGUAGE
Jerusalem Post, Sept. 14
If there’s one refrain which gets me chewing the carpet, it’s the plaintive question, “Why is Israel unable to get its message across?” The naivety behind this question is itself a large part of the answer. It’s not just the fact that – as has now become all too obvious – the demonization and delegitimization of Israel is inextricably linked to the ineradicable poison of antisemitism. More pertinently, Israel has been up against a black propaganda exercise which has inverted truth and lies with devastating effect. Its only equivalent in scale, skill and evil intent is the manipulative mind control practiced by totalitarian regimes.
No coincidence: This strategy of psychological warfare deployed by the Palestinians was devised by Yasser Arafat in cahoots with the Soviets, who knew a thing or two about subverting the values of an entire culture. And the war against the Jews is part of the broader war against the free world and the core tenets of Western civilization. The attempt to counter this by Israel’s defenders has been woefully misjudged. There’s the defensive-crouch response (“Hey guys, why are you dumping on us – can’t you see we’re the victims here?”) which, by responding on the enemy’s own distorted grounds of purported Israeli aggression, is itself halfway to conceding defeat.
Or there’s the attempt to persuade the world of Israel’s elevated standards of ethical behavior (“Hey guys, look at all the Palestinians we’re treating in our hospitals, even including the ones who’ve just tried to murder us!”) Since the one thing the Western world does not want to hear is the perceived moral superiority of the Jews – of which it is pathologically, irredeemably and sometimes murderously jealous – this particular approach turns abject stupidity into an art form.
Given that the demonization of Israel is the key strategy in the war of extermination being waged against it, “getting Israel’s message across” is the equivalent to using a leaky bucket to ward off a tsunami. The essence of such psychological warfare is as simple as it is seismic. It is the manipulation of language. Words have been hijacked so that they come to be understood as the opposite of what they really signify. The importance of this tactic can hardly be overstated.
Many people know little or nothing about the Middle East and have even less interest in finding out. For them, it’s just background noise. But if the language which forms that background noise is hijacked, then the story of the Middle East is hijacked too. Key concepts have been presented as if in mirror writing so that Israel, the victim of aggression, has been turned falsely into the aggressor while its would-be exterminators are transformed into its victims. And that’s been achieved not just by telling lies about what’s going on today or happened in the past. Crucially, those falsehoods have been framed by language which conditions the listener to accept them because the language itself has been turned into a lie.
Consider, for example, the word “colonialism.” In left-wing ideology, colonialism is the crime of crimes that defines Western iniquity: the subjection of indigenous peoples in the developing world by white-skinned westerners who occupied their lands and ruled, enslaved and oppressed them. Left-wingers believe that white, Western Israel has occupied the lands of the indigenous Palestinians whom it is proceeding to rule, enslave and oppress…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!
On Topic Links
The True Origins of BDS (Video): Canary Mission, Sept. 3, 2018—The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement claims to be a grassroots human rights movement but in reality, it is a carefully crafted continuation of anti-Jewish boycotts predating the state of Israel.
Professor Draws Ire After Declining to Help Student Study in Israel: Tamar Lapin, New York Post, Sept. 20, 2018— A University of Michigan professor refused to help a student study abroad in Israel because of an academic boycott against the country — and claims he’s getting death threats for his decision.
Bridges, Not Boycotts: David Renzer, Steve Schnur, Jerusalem Post, Sept. 15, 2018—The Meteor Festival in northern Israel opened on September 6 with dozens of artists from around the world. They included many performers who were pressured to boycott – such as Kamasi Washington, Pusha T, Soulwax, and Mura Masa – but instead created a space where Israeli fans of all backgrounds and opinions could set aside their differences and come together in peace.
A BDS Lesson in Dishonesty via the New York Times: Daniel Pomerantz, Honest Reporting, Sept. 4, 2018—In a 2,000 word diatribe in the New York Times, Joesph Levine, philosophy professor and a member of the Jewish Voice for Peace Academic Advisory Council, defends BDS, asking, “Is Boycotting Israel ‘Hate’?” He claims, “Opponents of the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement are involved in a dishonest branding campaign.”