Jews and Muslims Join Forces for Academic Freedom

Academic departments are known for their fractiousness, so I have never ceased to be amazed at how well my colleagues, despite our varied interests and backgrounds, get along with one another.

I have been especially appreciative of the respectful relationships that we have forged between Muslims and Jews in the Religion Department at Temple University that have made it possible for us not only to work together but to grieve together over the ongoing tragedy in Israel/Palestine.

To cite just one example: when Israel invaded Lebanon in 2006, the ancient family residence of one of my colleagues, Mahmoud Ayoub, was destroyed. His response? He invited my family for dinner at his home in Philadelphia for an evening of food, laughter, lament, and forgiveness.

A year later, the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) sought to honor Professor Ayoub upon his retirement with an endowed chair named in his honor. As department chair, I worked with the University’s development office to arrange the gift. We verified the group’s legitimacy, and their agreement that they would have no role in selecting the person we would hire. We planned a public event to announce the gift, to coincide with the Jewish celebration of Sukkot and the Muslim observance of Ramadan, in the Sukkah of one of our alumni where we would serve the traditional dates eaten at Iftar to break the daily fast.

But the event was canceled at the last minute, and the gift of the endowed chair was ultimately refused by the University. The ZOA (Zionist Organization of America) had alerted one of Temple’s Board members that IIIT was an organization with “terrorist” associations and our president was intimidated into refusing the gift. A bit of research revealed that the opposition was based on inaccurate information found on one website, discoverthenetworks.org, a product of the David Horowitz Freedom Center. The site is still in operation today.

This experience was my wake-up call that right-wing Jewish organizations are using our campuses to promote a specific political narrative about Israel and Palestine, using threats, intimidation and donor monies to further their goals.

At the beginning of this academic year I saw this network in action again on my campus.

At “Templefest,” (the yearly event that introduces the incoming class to various student groups) one student, Daniel Vessal, approached the Students for Justice in Palestine table several times, proclaiming them terrorists. They asked him to walk away but he persisted. One bystander over-reacted, and slapped Vessal. Campus police arrived, restored peace, and began an investigation. The student who had slapped Vessal issued a public apology, as did SJP.

Within hours, a media maelstrom ensued. Various organizations accused Temple of supporting anti-Semitism, claimed it was not a safe place for Jewish students, and demanded that the student who had hit Vassal be charged with a hate crime and that Students for Justice in Palestine be removed from campus.

It was easy the Jewish and Muslim faculty of the Religion Department to respond, given our ongoing relationships. We issued a statement which said in part,

The Temple Department of Religion has a long history of civil discourse and respect which we believe is the correct approach to working with others, even those with whom we disagree. We must learn to view each other as human beings, not as enemies, and to talk through our conflicts respectfully. We hope that our students, especially those with strong feelings on this topic, will follow that example.

The University’s response was also swift and thorough. The Office of Institutional Diversity stepped in, and is using this event as an opportunity to begin a conversation between the students who were involved.

I was glad to see this event become an opportunity for campus dialogue, but I was disturbed to learn that Daniel Vessal was not a first-year student, but a senior.  He is the “campus fellow” for CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America). CAMERA fellows are paid to create pro-Israel activities on campuses, and to challenge “propagandistic assaults on Israel” from groups like Students for Justice in Palestine.

Vessal was just doing his job.

Organizations like CAMERA are part of a well-funded network that sees universities as battlegrounds to pursue the strategic initiative known in Hebrew as hasbara (propaganda or public relations, depending on your point of view).

If their efforts simply involved activities on behalf of Israel, I would have no problem with them; they are entitled to the same free speech rights I demand for myself. But their actions frequently go beyond public relations to campaigns to thwart the speech of those who oppose them.

What I have learned from these experiences is that we need to do our own “discovering of the networks” and expose those groups that want to shut down the kinds of fruitful conversations my department has sought to foster.

That is why I am proud to be part of the founding group of scholars launching the Jewish Voice for Peace Academic Advisory Council, which will bring together faculty and their students from all over the country to defend academic freedom and promote intellectual exploration without fear of punishment.

If open conversation and, ultimately, justice for Israel and Palestine are our goals, there really is no other choice.

49 Comments

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    The Jewish voice for peace might be the most important voice right now. I know most Jewish voices are liberal, but the few conservative voices can do a lot of damage. I remember the 2006 war on Lebanon and I think the US has to take some of the blame there. I remember hearing the Secretary of State back then on TV saying the war has to stop, but before it stops first Israel needs to continue destroying the infrastructure of Lebanon for a while longer to make sure they have done enough damage. It seemed a strange thing to say when the rest of the world was calling for the bombing to stop, but Rice said it. Is she really that much of a warmonger? Maybe she said it to give Israel some cover because it matched what Israel was saying. They said the war was going to stop, but first they were going to destroy more of Lebanon. These things don’t get forgotten.

  • ravfirefighter@gmail.com' Howard says:

    Reading this piece one is inclined to believe that SJP is a group of mild mannered liberal well intentioned college students. The reality is in fact quite different. SJP engages in all kinds of hate filled activities on college campuses directly aimed at Jewish students, regardless of their level of involvement with Israeli and Palestinian politics. SJP is an extremist left wing group, which we all know, is every bit as dangerous as extremist right wing groups. It is disappointing to see as thoughtful a person as Professor Alpert singing the praises of SJP.

  • makeway89@gmail.com' Concerned Citizen says:

    Yep as a lebanese i can confirm that statement is not forgotten. Or when she compared the destruction of our country to the birth of a new middle east. Jewish Voice for Peace is restoring my faith in humanity and if Israelis would comply with the demands of JVP, they’d actually be neighbors I would be ok with despite the pain and bloodshed between us.

  • mrcjec@aol.com' America Firster says:

    Yes, when justice and truth are called extremism, you know you are in Zioland.

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    Are you sure extremist left wing groups are as dangerous as extremist right wing groups? That is kind of hard to imagine, and sounds more like Tea Party rhetoric. Just as a point of reference, would you rate Planned Parenthood as a dangerous or terrorist group? I know some people like to see it that way.

  • judithmax@comcast.net' Judith Maxfield says:

    Sorry dude, I’d rather trust Alpert than you, according to your loaded choice of text. I personally have witnessed attacks (words and minor violence) towards ecumenical (and Jewish) peace groups in my CA university town; attempting to disrupt discussion, vile name calling to shame people. So take your blinders off. You look rather absent of rational thinking.

  • neilselbarmstrongkbb@yahoo.co.uk' Neil Armstrong says:

    Obviously Howard is a paid jewish troll & should be ignored a rather foolish ignorant biased fool.

  • aravistarkheena2@gmail.com' Aravis Tarkheena says:

    So, can we assume that the author’s call for academic freedom will include a call to the BDS movement to stop boycotting — and thus silencing — Israeli academics?

  • aravistarkheena2@gmail.com' Aravis Tarkheena says:

    Funny to talk about the destruction of Lebanon with no mention of Syria or Hezbollah.

  • aravistarkheena2@gmail.com' Aravis Tarkheena says:

    Why do you need to “trust” anyone? These things are easy enough to find out about oneself.

  • aravistarkheena2@gmail.com' Aravis Tarkheena says:

    I’m Jewish. Where do I go to become a “paid Jewish troll”? Who’s handing out the paychecks?

  • judithmax@comcast.net' Judith Maxfield says:

    Hi Aravis:
    Albert Camus talked about what you said back in the midst of time during my college years. Sometimes you need to form an opinion or take a position that later may be proved wrong and be ready to open to a new and better informed opinion. As I recall, it might be in the book ‘The Rebel”. Not trusting anyone for information will get you nowhere it seems. I do look at the source at least until I get more info. Alpert’s essay did seem mostly true, based on my own experiences compared with what she said. Colleges being heavy handed can screw things up as well, at least in the U. of CA. There are many egos in that ivory tower. Sometimes its the best you can do, but don’t be fixed in cement. (My statement excludes doing violence of course.)

  • ajayumak@rediffmail.com' Ajay Singh says:

    Today the entire globe’s leadership is embroiled in the labyrinthine definitions of faith that separated within religious boundaries and destructive ideologies. But in fact, our religion is a subject to be followed honestly and help us to evolve under the process of nature on basis of humanity and peace.

    According to the history of human being on Earth, it had been always lethal to use religious graces for terrestrial and political beneficence. Thus we’ll have to reveal the facts, now experiencing the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

    In fact, the lack of our knowledge about the other religious tradition and culture, and the use of religious definitions for political and professional beneficence, are promoting the brutal aspects of fanaticism and creating the basis for war and terrorism.

    So to prevent the rise of terrorism (religious conflicts), we need a global promotion of the “MORAL EDUCATION” equally as we are promoting the scientific and professional academic system.

    Our money and gun power are not potential enough to combat the lethal ideologies of terrorism that conceals their sins behind religious narcissism that enthralled in mazes of terrestrial and political issues. To prevent the rise of terrorism, we’ll have to clarify the roots of faith and the facts of the materialism disgracing all believers and atheist alike. Till now, we are only destroying the embodiment of terrorism, ignoring its brutal ideology still invincible before the entire world.

    PLEASE SIGN AND PROMOTE THIS PETITION to unify the world community beyond their inherited thought, without disgracing the belief of any human kind. This silent movement is specially designed to empower the U N body to help the world leadership for the promotion of (MORAL EDUCATION) that would bridge up the religious boundaries against the further rise of hate religious campaigns and rescue humanity from the shadow of Nuclear weapons.

    http://www.change.org/petitions/a-policy-for-united-nation-to-reduce-the-cost-of-the-war-on-terrorism-unify-all-the-religious-definitions-within-scientific-insight-and-history

  • b.burgis@umiami.edu' Ben Burgis says:

    Can you give even one specific verifiable example of a “hate filled” thing they’ve done that was directed at Jewish students in general “regardless of their level involvement” with the issue that is SJP’s reason for being?

  • b.burgis@umiami.edu' Ben Burgis says:

    Not a single BDS supporter I’m aware of calls for a general boycott of academics who happen to be Israelis, as opposed to institutional links to Israeli universities. I’m sure some individuals misinterpret the boycott call issued by Palestinian civil society in that way, but I would be very surprised if any group significant to the “BDS movement” did. Do you have any verifiable examples?

  • saltzmanforest@gmail.com' Larry Saltzman says:

    This sounds like a wonderful movement that I fully support. For too long right wing pro-Israeli war crimes groups have been up to harm in many areas of American life. I am thrilled that fellow Jews are standing up to them on U.S. campuses.

  • saltzmanforest@gmail.com' Larry Saltzman says:

    Howard, be prepared to be disappointed a lot. Lots of “thoughtful” Jews have thought about it and decided that supporting Israel’s occupation of Palestine and other crimes in not right. Many of us are not willing to lend support to a country that is built on land stolen from another people, and a country that is engaged in ethnic cleansing and genocide. Israel and Zionism gets no free ride with us anymore. In fact Zionism is antithetical to Judaism.

  • aravistarkheena2@gmail.com' Aravis Tarkheena says:

    Here are just two from Wikipedia:

    Mona Baker, Miriam Shlesinger and Gideon Toury[edit]

    Main article: Mona Baker § Middle East conflict and Israeli academics

    Mona Baker, a professor of translation studies at the University of Manchester in England and a signatory of the 2002 open letter, was sharply criticized after her decision in early June 2002 to remove two Israeli academics – Dr. Miriam Shlesinger of Bar-Ilan University, a former chair of Amnesty International, Israel; and Professor Gideon Toury of Tel Aviv University – from the editorial boards of the journals Translator and Translation Studies Abstracts that Baker and her husband publish.[26]

    Association of University Teachers[edit]

    On 22 April 2005, the Council of Association of University Teachers (AUT) voted to boycott two Israeli universities: University of Haifa and Bar-Ilan University. The motions[27] to AUT Council were prompted by the call for a boycott from nearly 60 Palestinian academics and others.[28] The AUT Council voted to boycott Bar-Ilan because it runs courses at colleges in the West Bank (referring to Ariel College) and “is thus directly involved with the occupation of Palestinian territories contrary to United Nations resolutions”. It boycotted Haifa because it was alleged that the university had wrongly disciplined a lecturer. The action against the lecturer was supposedly for supporting a student who wrote about attacks on Palestinians during the founding of the state of Israel. Some aspects of the student’s research had been falsified (see this page) and the University denied having disciplined the lecturer.[29] Union members claimed that Staff and students [of Israeli universities] who seek to research Israel’s history in full are often “victimised”.[30]

  • aravistarkheena2@gmail.com' Aravis Tarkheena says:

    I’m just curious. Are you a citizen of the US? I am. And the US is a country built on land stolen from another people. A country that engaged in ethnic cleansing and genocide.

    Are you calling for a boycott of the US?

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    They will have to sort that out. OUR problem was Rice. We shouldn’t be encouraging things like that, at least that is what I think.

  • saltzmanforest@gmail.com' Larry Saltzman says:

    Clever question, but it doesn’t let Israel off the hook. I am fighting to prevent the complete destruction of Palestinian culture, the theft of their land and the murder that is being heaped on them by Israel. I want to help stop this before the devastation is as complete as what indigenous Americans suffered in this continent. We can’t undo all the harm that was done to indigenous Americans, though more reparations are in order. We can’t undue the enormous harm done to Palestinians, but we have a moral responsibility to try to stop more harm and to restore as much of what was stolen from them as possible.

  • saltzmanforest@gmail.com' Larry Saltzman says:

    I think that the boycott of the above mentioned Universities is fully justified. Running courses in the West Bank for illegal Israeli squatters is not OK. Suppressing academics who support dissent against the Zionist lies is not OK.

  • aravistarkheena2@gmail.com' Aravis Tarkheena says:

    I find suspicious the undue concentration on Israel, given that every single nation on the entire planet was established by displacing a previous population.

    The point is not that this is right. The point is that given its ubiquity, the focus on one tiny nation raises suspicions of double, triple, and quadruple standards.

    There is the further problem that the situation is far more complicated than you describe. The Palestinian culture that you wish to protect, includes the policy of putting gay and lesbian Palestinians to death, which is the reason why Tel Aviv has a large, ex-pat, gay/lesbian population.

    Israel is the only liberal democracy in the Middle East, flawed as it may be. Your description of the situation is a caricature.

  • aravistarkheena2@gmail.com' Aravis Tarkheena says:

    Of course you think so. That was entirely predictable.

  • emilyk04@gmail.com' LegalizeLezMarriage says:

    It’s not that “liberal” and it’s hardly a “democracy” considering the lack of civil liberties for non-Jews, non-recognition of Jews except for the Orthodox, and lack of things like civil marriage. It’s “liberal” in that the government is left-wing economically speaking, and it’s “liberal” compared to the Arab nations surrounding it (then again so is Russia). Oh, yeah, and they accept gays, but unfortunately this has become an example of “pinkwashing.”

    The double standards used against Israel are unfair. And if, e.g., Montreal were firing rockets into NYC, the US would have a zero-tolerance policy. But if the US were occupying Montreal and didn’t have any real plans to change the unsustainable status quo any time soon, the cause of “defense” would be a lot less sympathetic.

    Not to mention, the standards by which we judge nations today are different from the ones used to judge them even 100 years ago, but most definitely 200 years ago which this nation was expanding westward.

  • aravistarkheena2@gmail.com' Aravis Tarkheena says:

    Israeli Arabs have far more civil liberties than Arabs living in Arab countries.

    Of course, claims of liberalism and democracy are relative. We are not dealing in utopias. I would argue — and could back it up — that Israel is as liberal a democracy as the US. (Swap American Blacks for Israeli Arabs and see how things turn out.)

    RE: Montreal, you’ve left out part of the story. The US and Montreal were offered a partition, by the UN, which Montreal rejected, on the cynical assumption that they could destroy the US and take the whole thing (egged on by their neighbors). Montreal then went on to wage several aggressive wars against the US, all of which it lost, and after which it then resorted to asymmetrical warfare and a massive propaganda campaign, designed to invert the good/bad narrative.

    Now, with that in place, I am ready to compare. Oh, wait…

    Isn’t it convenient how standards have changed! That way, all the worst villains can wash their hands, keep their countries, and point their newly righteous fingers at the new guy. A new guy who didn’t want to be a new guy, but kinda’ got forced into it as the result of an attempted genocide.

    The whole conversation on this stinks. It stinks to suggest that Israel should do to the Palestinians what they are doing. But it also stinks to suggest that the Palestinians are some noble savages, who were invaded by a European colonial power. Both narratives are false, and neither will lead to anything in the ME other than the Palestinians losing even more than they’ve already lost. Because Israel isn’t going anywhere. Not after the Shoah.

  • tommmaquino@yahoo.com' Jarnauga says:

    I think we also have a moral responsibility to give Asia Minor back to the Greeks, since it was filched from the Byzantines by the Ottoman Turks. After all, we have a moral responsibility “to restore as much of what was stolen from them as possible.”

    And while you’re at it, tell me why the Palestinians matter so much more than Tibet, if we exclude cynical realpolitik.

  • emilyk04@gmail.com' LegalizeLezMarriage says:

    Every time we bring up the Holocaust to defend Israel’s existence we do 2 things: We lose a little bit of the argument. And we deny the impetus behind Herzl and the Tel Aviv Settlers’ motives. It’s time to give up the persecution narrative, especially since not all Jews in Israel have the same connection to it as the Ashkenazim.

    “Israeli Arabs have far more civil liberties than Arabs living in Arab countries.”

    …and fewer than if they lived in the US, or Europe. Seriously, comparing Israel to the Arab nations is just foolish. We don’t say “well the US might be racist but we’re not as racist as the Jim Crow South was.” Um, true? But our standards for “not racist” aren’t Jim Crow and our standards for human rights aren’t the Arab Nations.

    As for “goalposts moving,” yes. What is acceptable in 1948 or even 1967 is no longer acceptable in 2015, and that’s true for everyone. One day the shattered, war-torn populace over there will wake up and realize they have barely any allies except for eager Christian Zionists, and that is a most conditional “love.”

    It would be one thing if Israel were saying “we acknowledge the occupation. We acknowledge Nakhba. We are sorry.” It’s quite another to just pretend it’s not happening and hand right-wing settlers government subsidies behind everyone’s backs. Racism in the US is an acknowledged problem. Occupation in Israel isn’t.

  • aravistarkheena2@gmail.com' Aravis Tarkheena says:

    Ask American Blacks about their civil liberties. Look at their incarceration rates. Look at police brutality towards Blacks. Indeed, look at our incarceration rates overall. We incarcerate at a higher rate than China. You’re simply wrong about the US in comparison with Israel on this front. Tel Aviv is a more liberal and progressive place than most of the US.

    I am not appealing to the Shoah to justify anything. I am simply giving you the causal reason as to why Israel is not going anywhere.

    I happen to be on the Zionist Left. I believe that Israel should return to the 1948 borders, remove all Settlements and make a lasting peace with their neighbors. What I reject, however, is the lopsided narrative that is going on here, one that ignores the neighborhood that Israel finds itself in, lies to itself about the nature of that neighborhood, and ignores the relevant history.

  • tommmaquino@yahoo.com' Jarnauga says:

    “And we deny the impetus behind Herzl and the Tel Aviv Settlers’ motives.”

    Huh? It was the anti-Semitism in Europe that pushed Herzl to his position in Der Judenstaat (whether it was the Dreyfus case or Karl Lueger that was the catalyst doesn’t matter). How does invoking the Shoah deny that impetus? Whether or not all Jews necessarily have a direct connection is also not that important, it seems to me. The creation of the state itself tied to anti-Semitism, of which the Shoah is Exhibit A. Given that the amount of hatred toward Jews in the Arab world matches that of 1930’s Germany (just look at some of the vicious material archived at the MEMRI website) I see no reason to be PC about the Holocaust.

  • saltzmanforest@gmail.com' Larry Saltzman says:

    Yes there is lots of evil on this planet, but the evil that Israel is doing is happening now and many people feel morally bound to fight it. I also do not consider Israel a liberal democracy. The repression of the indigenous Palestinians and Bedouin is as bad or worse than apartheid or the Jim Crow era of the South. You also get no points for pointing out the Palestinians are not perfect, that does not excuse the crimes being committed against them by Israel.

  • aravistarkheena2@gmail.com' Aravis Tarkheena says:

    So where’s the Boycott and Divest on China? Their repression of Tibet is happening right now. Where’s the Boycott and Divest on Egypt, which just had a military dictatorship overthrow an elected government?

    Your comparison with Jim Crow is absurd. American Blacks did not fire thousands of missiles into the United States. Their patrons, in the surrounding nations, did not launch aggressive war after aggressive war against the United States.

    Ignore the history all you want. Ignore the current facts in the region. Ignore every other situation like this around the world. Simply go after Israel again and again and again.

    I know what that looks like to me. And it looks like that to an awful lot of other people as well. You might not get that in an echo chamber like RD, where you hear nothing but an echo of your own voice, but national survey data tells a very different story.

  • saltzmanforest@gmail.com' Larry Saltzman says:

    Israel’s human rights record is good according to you. What alternative reality is that a fact? Israel has just devasted Gaza committing serious war crimes. Israel is stealing land and destroying property daily in the West Bank. Israel has been engaged in ethnic cleansing since the 1940s and Zionists have been planning that ethnic cleansing of Palestine at least back the 1920s where you can find clear descriptions of it in Zionist papers and the thinking of Ben-Gurion.

  • saltzmanforest@gmail.com' Larry Saltzman says:

    Israel created the neighborhood it lives in. Decades of ethnic cleansing against Palestine which has now reached the level of genocide helped create the neighborhood. Multiple and unjustified wars against it’s neighbors have also created the neighborhood that Israel lived in. Israel barged into the neighborhood in the first place as a land thief and yet Israel wonders why the neighbor resent Israel.

  • aravistarkheena2@gmail.com' Aravis Tarkheena says:

    Your history is revisionist at best, utterly fictional at worst. You may be entitled to your own opinions, but you are not entitled to your own facts.

    Enjoy your echo chamber. Just remember, it ain’t reality.

  • tommmaquino@yahoo.com' Jarnauga says:

    Ah, the old story of the evil, conniving Jew and the innocent, victimized Arab. Look, I’m for withdrawal from the territories and a settled peace with a two-state solution. But this narrative? This is ridiculous one-sided rhetoric. Yes, in the context of other Western nations (including the US), the record of Israel is quite good.

  • b.burgis@umiami.edu' Ben Burgis says:

    Just saw this–sorry for the late reply.

    But the first example is exactly the kind of thing I already allowed for in the comment your responding to. Remember, I said:

    “I’m sure some individuals misinterpret the boycott call issued by Palestinian civil society in that way, but I would be very surprised if any group significant to the ‘BDS movement’ did.”

    Mona Baker’s deeply absurd and offensive misinterpretation of Palestinian civil society’s BDS call is one thing. But the BDS movement is an entirely different animal.

    …and your second example isn’t an example at all. I said I wasn’t aware of any examples of BDS organizations calling for boycotts of individual Israelis “as opposed to institutional links to Israeli universities.” You’ve given me an example of a boycott targeted not at individuals but at institutional links to Israeli universities. That the BDS movement calls for that isn’t in dispute. What we’re disagreeing about is the claim that the movement (as represented by large groups, not occasional confused individuals) advocates the boycott of individual Israeli academics, and you still haven’t given me so any examples of that happening. I’m not accusing you of being dishonest or anything–I’m sure you’ve picked up the impression that this is the case–but I think if you’ll look at it carefully, you’ll find that the problem with finding relevant examples is that they don’t exist.

  • aravistarkheena2@gmail.com' Aravis Tarkheena says:

    From the BDS website:

    Academic Boycott Guidelines

    After years of activism, networking and intellectual development of the campaign, PACBI issued its Guidelines for the International Academic Boycott of Israel in 2009 and revised them slightly in 2010. The following excerpts introduce the logic of the Guidelines.

    Before discussing the various categories of academic activities that fall under the boycott call, and as a general overriding rule, it is important to stress that all Israeli academic institutions, unless proven otherwise, are complicit in maintaining the Israeli occupation and denial of basic Palestinian rights, whether through their silence, actual involvement in justifying, whitewashing or otherwise deliberately diverting attention from Israel’s violations of international law and human rights, or indeed through their direct collaboration with state agencies in the design and commission of these violations. Accordingly, these institutions, all their activities, and all the events they sponsor or support must be boycotted. Events and projects involving individuals explicitly representing these complicit institutions should be boycotted, by the same token.

    http://www.bdsmovement.net/activecamps/academic-boycott

    So, as you can see, there is a blanket call for the boycotting of *individuals* who represent *any* Israeli academic institutions, all of which are deemed complicit, “until proven otherwise.”

    ————————–

  • aravistarkheena2@gmail.com' Aravis Tarkheena says:

    I notice you did not reply to any of the specific examples. All you did was spout your boilerplate.

    Get back us when you actually have a substantive answer.

  • b.burgis@umiami.edu' Ben Burgis says:

    Blatant equivocation. The boycott call is for institutions, not individuals. Individuals are only boycotted if they “explicitly represent” the institution. Can you really not see the difference between a call for severing institutional links, that means you can’t have an event where someone is there as an “explicit representative” of the boycotted institution, and a call for boycotting individual Israeli academics in general? I really don’t see how the difference could be clearer.

  • aravistarkheena2@gmail.com' Aravis Tarkheena says:

    I’m happy to let people decide what the Guidelines mean.

    I am a professor at a large, public university and whenever I use my institutional affiliation, in any document, whether it be a conference paper or something written for publication, I am “explicitly representing” my institution, and this is something that every academic knows. This is why, when I do other sorts of writing, I never include my affiliation.

    Call it anything you like. The fact is, it is a disgusting, illiberal tactic, not to mention the fact that it is not being employed against universities and academics hailing from countries with human rights records a hundred time worse than Israel. The whole thing, frankly, stinks.

  • b.burgis@umiami.edu' Ben Burgis says:

    If it means what you think it means–that the simple presence of a professor from an Israeli university at a conference is grounds for boycott–you should be able to come up with examples of it being applied that way, not by an individual like Mona Baker but by an organized campaign. While I agree that it’s a poorly written sentence of guideline that should be revised to eliminate that ambiguity, I don’t think a mere listing of institutional affiliation is what they mean with talk of people acting as representatives of an institution. If it is, sure there should be more examples of the BDS movement interpreting it that way than the zero examples that have been furnished in this discussion.

  • aravistarkheena2@gmail.com' Aravis Tarkheena says:

    If BDS is motivated by a general humanism and not just anti-Israel sentiments, could you please explain why they are not boycotting countries with human rights records a hundred times worse than Israel, including some of the countries that are parties to the Arab-Israeli conflict?

  • b.burgis@umiami.edu' Ben Burgis says:

    There’s no such thing as the “Arab-Israeli conflict”, and there hasn’t been for a long, long time. There’s the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in which the utterly powerless, ethnically cleansed, brutalized and defeated Palestinians are entirely on their own. Many Middle Eastern countries, like Egypt, are horrific human rights abusers, but they’re also engaged in long-term security partnerships with the Israel. Who else are you talking about? Iran, which the US already has sanctions on? ISIS, who no one does business with? It’d be awfully redundant to call for boycotts of them.

  • aravistarkheena2@gmail.com' Aravis Tarkheena says:

    I don’t think we’re getting anywhere. If you think Israel is not still fighting a war against its neighbors, by way of their proxies, you don’t understand what’s going on in the region. And if you don’t see the double, triple, and quadruple standards involved in applying BDS style boycotts to Israel, nothing I say will convince you.

    Being unable to persuade one another, we will meet in the field of politics. We’ll see who’s side wins.

  • b.burgis@umiami.edu' Ben Burgis says:

    Yeah, might makes right. When you’re defending an apartheid regime, that’s generally the best moral argument you can make.

  • b.burgis@umiami.edu' Ben Burgis says:

    What does that even mean? By that standard, was the divestment movement against apartheid South Africa motivated by “general humanism” or “anti-South Africa sentiments”? Certainly, at the time a routine complaint of conservatives was that SA was being arbitrarily singled out when many other African countries had awful human rights records.

  • b.burgis@umiami.edu' Ben Burgis says:

    No, I don’t. Then again, you don’t “see” it either, because it doesn’t exist. People who are defending morally insensible hours always claim double standards, because that’s all they can say to rationalize it to themselves so they can sleep at night.

  • aravistarkheena2@gmail.com' Aravis Tarkheena says:

    Careful. You’re frothing.

    Look, you can draw any conclusions you want. I really don’t care. I just don’t think that we are going to persuade each other, so I don’t see any point in continuing.

    If you want to declare victory and run a few laps, who am I to begrudge you?

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