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Erasing academic freedom in America by Congressional legislation

By William Cook | MEMO | October 1, 2017

Senator Chuck Schumer’s plaintive lament before the US Senate decrying the supposedly despicable practice of criticising Israel under the guise of anti-Zionism moves inexorably closer to fulfilment. The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act has passed through the Senate unanimously. Shumer’s presentation of his case is classic Hasbara; propaganda disguised as empathy. His emotional appeal casts the Jews as victims of anti-Semitism even when critics of Israel target Zionism and not Jews per se. “Anti-Semitism… has been used throughout history when Jewish people are judged and measured by one standard and the rest by another,” he explains.

As an example of historic anti-Semitism, Schumer claims that Jews could not farm “when everyone else was allowed to.” When, though, were the Jews not allowed to farm? According to Steven Landsburg, “… for well over a millennium … Jews had not been farmers – not in Palestine, not in the Muslim empire, not in Western Europe, not in Eastern Europe, not anywhere in the world.” Indeed, the economist pointed out in a 2003 article (“Why Jews don’t farm”) that you have to go back almost 2,000 years to find a time when Jews, like virtually every other identifiable group, were primarily an agricultural people. “Around AD 200, Jews began to quit the land. By the seventh century, Jews had left their farms in large numbers to become craftsmen, artisans, merchants and moneylenders—the only group to have given up on agriculture. Jewish participation in farming fell to about 10 per cent through most of the world; even in Palestine it was only about 25 per cent. Everyone else stayed on the farms.”

That Jews don’t farm has nothing to do with anti-Semitism yet it becomes an emotionally charged condemnation of those who criticise the state of Israel by citing the truth about its founding ideology, Zionism. From its founding in the late 1800s to the present day, political Zionism has been an ideology determined to bring into existence a nation state for the Jewish people. Prior to World War One, the Zionists argued their right to a homeland, but until the opportunity arose to edge their way into an agreement with a failing Britain for fiscal support through the Balfour Declaration, the possibility of creating that state in Palestine did not exist. (See The Balfour Declaration 1917—2017: 100 years of Deceit, Devastation and Genocide, AHT, 30 March 2017, William A. Cook)

Ralph Schoenman provides a detailed analysis of Zionism in his classic work The Four Myths. Chapter 2 outlines the Zionist Objectives. Nothing so epitomises the reality of Zionism as Vladimir Jabotinsky’s writings on what it asserts and how it must achieve its goals. “We cannot give any compensation for Palestine, neither to the Palestinians nor to other Arabs,” insisted the revisionist Zionist leader. “Therefore, a voluntary agreement is inconceivable. All colonisation, even the most restricted, must continue in defiance of the will of the native population. Therefore it can continue and develop only under the shield of force which comprises an Iron Wall through which the local population can never break through. This is our Arab policy. To formulate it any other way would be hypocrisy… To the hackneyed reproach that this point of view is unethical, I answer, absolutely untrue. This is our ethic. There is no other ethic.”

This is Zionism, raw and vicious. Today, Zionism is still racist, militaristic and unethical. It is inherently anti-democratic yet proclaims to be democratic; it proclaims victimhood yet it is merciless in its occupation and oppression of the Palestinians; and it proclaims friendship with the people of the United States yet continues to take billions of dollars from its ally caring nothing for the people of America who must shoulder $20 trillion of debt, even though Israel is one of the wealthiest nations in the world.

How can the US Congress justify protecting Israel and Zionism by erasing the first amendment to the Constitution regarding freedom of speech, with the “Anti-Semitism Awareness Act”? How can Senators justify silencing critics of this racist, Zionist state when it is clear to the people of the world at large that its ideology openly defies international law, damns as irrelevant the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and claims an ethical code that supersedes the law? That is what Senators are about to do by “criminalising critics of Israel”. (see “Congress Considers Sweeping Bills to Fine and Jail Backers of BDS”. Democracy Now!, July 17, 2017).

Since the US Congress and Israel have been unable to find a solution, it seems logical to look elsewhere. Consider this fifteen-month collaborative study from South Africa which set out to examine legally the following question: Do Israel’s practices in occupied Palestinian territory, namely the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, amount to the crimes of colonialism and apartheid under international law?

Apartheid is defined as an institutionalised form of racism in which states enact laws which function as the apparatus to commit inhuman acts for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them. Apartheid regimes rely on three “Pillars of Apartheid” to maintain their domination:

  1. The state codifies into law a preferred identity: (See full report for evidence)
  2. The state segregates the population into geographic areas based on their identity.
  3. The state establishes security laws and policies designed to suppress any opposition to the regime.

Using these criteria, the May 2009 South African study found that, “Israel, since 1967, is the belligerent Occupying Power in occupied Palestinian territory, and that its occupation of these territories has become a colonial enterprise which implements a system of apartheid.”

Despite claims to being a democracy, in practice, Israel’s preferred identity is Jewish, and its separate system gives Jews privileges over non-Jewish citizens. Israel’s domestic law establishes that collective rights extend to Jews only. All other people lack the right to a national life anywhere in Israel proper or in occupied Palestinian territory.

For example, Israel’s state resources, including land in occupied Palestinian territory which Israel has declared “state land”, are specified as being for the exclusive benefit of Jews, administered under the World Zionist Organisation, Jewish Agency and Jewish National Fund. Since 1967, when Israel completed its occupation of historical Palestine, it supplanted existing laws governing Palestinian territory with two separate sets of law: Israeli domestic law applies to Jewish settlers and Israeli military law applies to Palestinians.

Israel denies Palestinians the right to an education through indirect measures such as creating obstacles to movement so Palestinian students cannot get to their schools and universities; repeated closure of Palestinian schools; military attacks on schools and students; destroying educational infrastructure; and denying Palestinian students exit permits preventing them from studying abroad.

What Israel does to the Palestinians in the occupied and besieged Gaza Strip is cruel and inhumane. From 2000 to 2004, Israel demolished over 2,500 homes in the Gaza Strip leaving 16,000 Palestinians homeless. According to the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions (ICAHD), an estimated 24,813 “Palestinian structures” have been demolished in the occupied territories since 1967. This excludes the destruction caused by Israel’s frequent military offensives.

Under international law, the State of Israel has the duty to:

  1. Cease its unlawful activity.
  2. Dismantle the structures of colonialism and apartheid.
  3. Promote full rights and expression of the Palestinian people.
  4. Pay reparations and damages to the Palestinians people.

Furthermore, third party states are obligated to:

  1. Not recognise the illegal situation as lawful.
  2. Not render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation.
  3. Cooperate to bring the illegal situation to an end.
  4. Not become complicit in the crimes by failing to fulfil the first three obligations.

As a next step the report recommends that states take action to meet their legal obligations under international law and urgently request the International Court of Justice to issue an advisory opinion on the question of Israel’s practices in occupied Palestinian territory.

I am a Professor Emeritus at an American university; a scholar and researcher; a mentor of a Fulbright Scholar from Morocco; a professional academic administrator at four institutions in four different states, public and private; and a full-time tenured professor at a private university for the past 14 years. I also have an aggregate of 52 years of experience from Instructor to Vice President for Academic Affairs. I believe, therefore, that I can speak with some authority relative to academic freedom, tenure, ethics and values appropriate to this profession.

The action threatened by Representatives Peter Roskam and Dan Lipinski through their HR 4009 proposal seeks to curtail not only freedom of expression voiced against a political entity, the state of Israel, for perceived crimes against humanity in its destructive actions against Palestinian educational institutions and their students, but also presents the American people, most particularly the faculty and administrators at American institutions, with obligations to support a state that has been found guilty of apartheid actions that require international legal action. This could, at some time in the future, result in a finding that convicts this nation and its people themselves of crimes against humanity. The evidence presented in truncated form in this article damns the state of Israel for crimes that are intolerable by any intellectual measure, crimes that cannot be supported by those committed to justice, human dignity and respect for the rights inherent in all humans under the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Geneva Accords, most especially the definition of genocide as expressed in the UN charter.

Israeli forces brutally arresting a Palestinian youth [File photo]

Israeli forces brutally arresting a Palestinian youth [File photo]

It would be better for these two Congressmen and their peers to offer the American people a gift of peace. They could begin with the withholding of the $8 million per day provided to Israel so that it can maintain the horrendous conditions it imposes on those living under its military occupation. They could also suggest that Israel’s institutions of higher learning demand of their government a commitment to open the gates of the walled-in State of Israel to all people of goodwill, beginning with an interscholastic dialogue on equity for all – the citizens of Israel as well as the citizens entrusted to their care under international law as occupiers – that all may share the gifts of thoughtful interchange as citizens of the world.

After all, the purpose of higher education is to enhance the intellect and promote the expansion of its capabilities; to recognise that all things, both living and non-living, infuse the possibilities of life by providing richness in artistic expression; to nurture compassion in the understanding of differences and creativity in technical advancement for the benefit of all; to seek, in the realm of the unknown, what enriches us and lifts us beyond our limited selves, because we see the joy of fulfilment in the multitude of faces among whom we live, play, work and pray. The great wonder of higher education is in its freedom of thought and expression; its openness to ideas and explorations of the mind; its quest to know, to seek answers, to thrive on speculation, to entertain paradoxes, mystery, fantasy and intuition, and yet know that all accept that journey of the mind and do so without threat to another, without fear of another, without anxiety or anger or hate.

There is no place in that purpose to criticise with vitriol; to lash out at perceived ignorance; to mock others; to devise weapons of destruction whether of the military kind or mental; or to hate and create “exceptionalism” which blossoms against and excludes others to enhance a few. All of these are anathema to learning. We must all learn from this exercise that the criminals in the US Congress should not be the ones responsible for dictating how academia responds to its purpose.

Read also: Opposing Zionism is not racism

October 1, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 2 Comments

AAUP Backs Iymen Chehade, Supports Academic Freedom at Columbia College Chicago

Iymen Chehade, a professor at Chicago's Columbia College.
Iymen Chehade, a professor at Chicago’s Columbia College
By Eva Bartlett | Palestine Chronicle | March 28, 2014

American Association of University Professors (AAUP) Illinois statement of support for Iymen Chehade, a professor at Chicago’s Columbia College, marks the latest, and most significant, step forward in the fight against pervasive attempts to control discourse on Occupied Palestine, via stifling academic freedom on college and university campuses.

Chehade, employed by Columbia since 2007, has taught three different courses on the Middle East, but by far most popular has been his Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, a course he designed in 2010.

“The class is popular on campus. Students hear about it from other students and try consistently enroll in it,” says Chehade. “Its one of those history classes that is not history, it’s actually present, its also future. As we are speaking, history is being made.”

Considerable student demand for the course led to Chehade’s teaching three sections of it at one point. As of fall 2013, Columbia offered Chehade two sections to his Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

As part of his course content in fall 2013, Chehade showed his students the award-winning documentary 5 Broken Cameras.

“The film itself is about the occupation of the village of Bil’in, the occupation of Palestine. My objective in showing the film was to humanize the issue,” says Chehade. “Student reaction was very positive.”

In spite of student demand for the course and student interest in the documentary, not long after showing it in his class, one of Chehade’s two spring 2014 sections was canceled.

“I received an email from the Chair’s office saying that they wanted to speak to me about an issue. Before going his office, I checked my mailbox and saw I’d been assigned two sections of the course for spring 2014.”

At Chair Steven Corey’s office, Chehade was told a student had complained of “bias” in his class. The student’s identity was not revealed, nor was Chehade able to discuss the allegation with the student. Corey instructed Chehade to be “more balanced” in his class, and asked him to produce his teaching qualifications, a request Chehade says is not in itself unusual. “But in the context of the situation, that makes it alarming.”

The week following the meeting with Corey, Chehade’s two sections were posted for Columbia’s spring 2014 offerings. Yet, within a couple of hours, one section of the course was eliminated, in violation of his contract with Columbia.

Chehade took the matter to the union, who brought the cancellation up with administration. “So they gave me another class,” says Chehade. “The class was The Middle East Up To Mohammad, which is 1400 years ago, 1300 hundred years removed from when the Israeli-Palestinian conflict began.”

According to Academic Vice President and Provost Louise Love, the college supported Chehade’s showing of the film, which she lauded as “widely acclaimed” and noted provided “an important perspective.” However, in her statement, she went on to note that the elimination of sections “reflect a multitude of factors such as overall student enrollment, targets for average class size.”

“If their objective was to reduce classes, and increase class sizes, why did they give me a different class?” asks Chehade. “Whether they like the film or not is not the issue. Eliminating the opportunity for a professor to teach his perspective is the issue here. That’s exactly what they did.”

Since the sudden cancellation of his section, support has grown rapidly for the professor and for the larger issue of academic freedom. Chehade and the AAUP Illinois Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure maintain that the cancellation was an act of academic stifling.

“We have over 6000 signatures on our petition for academic freedom,” says Chehade. Signatories include supporters from around the world, as well as Columbia faculty, current and former students, and academics nation-wide. “Many people have volunteered their time on this campaign. Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voices for Peace at Columbia College have been very active in bringing this issue to light.”

Regarding the cancellation, one former student, Alex Quiroz, notes: “I took this class knowing absolutely nothing about the conflict. Professor Chehade explained everything in a balanced and honest way. It would not be fair to other students who want to take this class.”

Noting the impact of pro-Israeli lobby efforts on college and university campuses nation-wide, Jewish-American Peter Cohen, signs “I find it unacceptable that a small, extremist and highly moneyed lobby that claims to represent my interests be allowed stifle legitimate voices and opinions in academia.”

Love, herself, has been at the heart of prior incidents repressing academics. Notably, in 2006, as the associate provost at Roosevelt university, Love supported Susan Weininger (then Chair of the Department of History, Art History, and Philosophy) in her firing of World Religions professor Douglas Giles.

“Weininger was upset with him over for allowing his students to have this open forum,” says Chedhade, noting that  it has been publicly documented that Weininger said to Giles, “What disturbs me is that you act like Palestinians have a side in this. They don’t have a side…they are animals…they are not civilized.”

Love in turn defended Weininger as “passionately defending” her position, Chehade notes.

“Imagine if she said that about an African-American or if she said that about a Jew? She would be fired. She should not be let within 1000 feet of an academic institution. Racism is racism. What type of message us Columbia College sending when you have this supporter of racism as one of the main heads of this institution?”

For Chehade, a Palestinian-American, Weininger’s comment and Love’s defense of her position is extremely insulting.

“I was sitting in front of this woman who I was grieving my issue to, knowing that she supported someone who said this about Palestinians. Columbia College should not have hired her. ”

In its letter to Louise Love, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) Illinois first cites the Columbia College Collective Bargaining Agreement, which includes prohibiting “explicit or implicit threat of termination or discipline for the purpose of constraining a faculty member in the exercise of his or her rights under such principles of Academic Freedom. [CBA art. V (1), (2).”

Highlighting the standard norm of dealing with student complaints, the AAUP statement notes that the alleged complaint against Chehade “trespassed on the academic freedom of a professor and should have been referred back to the instructor for resolution.” Critically, the statement notes that “neither Dr. Steven Corey, the chairperson of the Department of Humanities, History and  Social Science nor School of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean Deborah Holdstein directed the student to take the complaint to the instructor,” calling their actions “a violation of widely accepted norms of academic due process.”

According to the AAUP, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is “not easy pedagogy because of the passions it arouses among disparate groups in the United States….It is beyond dispute that the film 5 Broken Cameras was directly related to the course topic.”

In response to Chair Corey’s admonition to Chehade that he be “balanced,” and Provost Love’s questioning Chehade whether he presented his material in a “balanced” manner, the AAUP notes that the issue of “balance is “frequently used to reign in a professor from critical thinking…towards a consensus approach that is more acceptable to elite or mainstream opinion.”

Similarly, for Chehade, the term “balance” is a loaded term. “When it is applied to the academic context, and specifically to the context of teaching the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it is extremely problematic. This is an issue that lacks balance. It’s an asymmetrical issue: there are a people that are occupied,millions who have no civil rights.  As a professor in a college, how do you present that as “balanced”? It would be like presenting the African-American struggle for liberation from the Jim Crow laws in the South as a“balanced” issue, where you have African Americans who are trying to gain rights, and you have white, southern oppressors who have institutionalized and systemized laws that violate their rights. How do you present that as “balanced”?  If somebody asked that from an African American professor, who presents the African-American struggle for liberation, it would be ludicrous.”

In the detailed account of the cancellation of one of Chehade’s sections, the AAUP Illinois finishes its statement by noting that the six days between Chehade’s meeting with Corey, and the subsequent removal of the second section are “linked events.”  Notably, the AAUP reiterates “we conclude that Professor Chehade’s academic freedom was violated as a result.”

In line with Chehade’s own expectations, the AAUP asks that Columbia College reinstate both sections of Chehade’s popular Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in fall 2014. They also emphasize the need for a “strategic reassessment” of Columbia’s policy of handling student complaints, noting that at present the system for doing so is “clearly broken and conducive to academic freedom violations.”

Chehade, who wants to ensure that other professors who speak about Palestine in a fact-based manner are not stifled, applauds the AAUP statement.

“I would like to thank the AAUP for their conclusion. Discussing the Occupation of Palestine is not an exception to the rule of Academic Freedom at Columbia College or any college campus in the United States.”

March 28, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chicago’s Columbia College cancels class because of 5 Broken Cameras screening


This petition is in protest of Columbia College’s decision, following a student complaint about “bias,” to cancel one of the two sections of a course about the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The course is well grounded in fact and presents a diverse overview of Israeli/Palestinian history, including interviews with both Israelis and Palestinians.  The class receives overwhelmingly positive evaluations by students, and many report having to wait to get in to the class.  After registration opened last November, however, Columbia College removed its second section of the course only hours after it was posted. 

After Professor Chehade’s in-class screening of the Oscar-nominated film 5 Broken Cameras, which depicts life under and popular resistance to Israeli military occupation, a student complained about “bias.”  Dr. Steven Corey, the chair of the Department of Humanities, History, and Social Sciences, then held a meeting with Professor Chehade informing him that he should address the subject matter in a more “balanced” way.    

Showing a movie depicting popular resistance to Israeli occupation does not constitute bias, and retaliating against a professor for engaging students about pressing social issues is a blatant violation of academic freedom.  Furthermore, professors are not obligated to present an opposing view to every opinion or fact presented in class. Columbia College’s own academic freedom policies protect professors against such interference.  The cancelation also restricts Columbia students from participating in learning and discussion about Israel-Palestine, a topic for which they have demonstrated a clear interest.          

Help defend academic freedom by signing this petition telling Columbia College to reinstate and maintain the course offerings of Professor Chehade’s Israeli-Palestinian Conflict class. 

To:       Dr. Louise Love, Provost, Columbia College

            Dr. Deborah Holdstein, Dean, School of Liberal Arts and Sciences

            Dr. Steven Corey, Chair, Dept. of Humanities, History, & Social  Sciences

We, the undersigned, wish to express our grave concern about Columbia College’s retaliation against Professor Iymen Chehade for the content of his course, The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. 

The circumstances suggest that the college’s decision was not based on legitimate academic considerations, but rather avoidance of controversy and the desire to keep Columbia courses from straying from the mainstream discourse.              

This attempt to stifle the discussion of Israel and Palestine is a violation of academic freedom and a disservice to the academic community and  to Columbia’s students.   As such, we, the undersigned, urge the administration at Columbia College to uphold its commitment to academic freedom and to its students by reinstating and maintaining the course offerings of Professor Chehade’s Israeli-Palestinian Conflict course.


March 9, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | Leave a comment

Whose Academic Freedom Are We Talking About?

By Lawrence Davidson | To The Point Analyses | January 14, 2014

Part I – An Inevitable Controversy

The controversy that broke out over the American Studies Association’s December 2013 vote to adopt an academic boycott of Israel was inevitable. The ASA’s academic boycott is a just a part of a much larger effort – the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement – which has been growing worldwide over the last decade. In fact the movement’s progress in the United States has been relatively slow, but this is changing, and the ASA controversy is an indicator of this shift. That being the case, the reaction on the part of Zionist supporters of Israel in and out of academia came as no surprise.

On 5 January 2014 the New York Times reprinted a piece from the Chronicle of Higher Education more or less summarizing the reaction to the ASA move. It noted that “the presidents of more than 80 United States colleges have condemned the vote.” In addition five of these institutions of higher learning “have withdrawn from ASA membership.” The Chronicle piece concludes that the ASA has become “a pariah of the United States higher-education establishment.”

That is a rather premature judgment. There are roughly 4,500 colleges and universities in the U.S. Being condemned by the administrations (which is not the same as the faculties and student bodies) of 80 represents condemnation by less than 2 percent. Over one hundred institutions of higher learning have ASA membership. Losing five is again a small percentage. All of this hardly makes the ASA a “pariah.”

There are also other ways of judging the impact of the ASA action. If one goal of the ASA boycott move is to stimulate debate about Israeli behavior and policies within a society (the U.S.) that has long been dominated by Israeli propaganda, then the move is certainly a success. It has brought to the surface many statements and charges that demonstrate just how decontextualized attempts to defend Israeli behavior are. If insightful counterarguments are spread about because of the ASA resolution, then the “pariah” has done quite well.

Part II – Charges and Responses

Let’s take a look at some of the public charges and possible responses:

Damaging Academic Freedom:

  • Carolyn A. Martin, president of Amherst College: “Such boycotts threaten academic speech and exchange, which is our solemn duty as academic institutions to protect.”
  • Molly Corbett Broad, president of the American Council of Education: “Such actions are misguided and greatly troubling, as they strike at the heart of academic freedom.”

Response: It is hard to argue against the ideal. Everyone associated with higher education does, or should, value academic freedom and the free flow of ideas. The problem is, people such as Dr. Martin and Dr. Broad and many others are directing their criticism at the wrong party. The ASA resolution, which one suspects has not been read by many of its critics, is not directed against individual scholars, researchers or teachers. It is quite explicitly directed against Israeli institutions – institutions that have abetted in the destruction of the Palestinian right of academic freedom for decades. The Israelis have just done this largely out of sight of the American academic community, to say nothing of the American people.

The fact is that the Israeli government, assisted by many of the country’s academic institutions, runs an illegal occupation that has long impeded education in the Palestinian Territories. One wonders just how aware of this historical fact are those who criticize the ASA. The facts in this regard are not a secret, although one does have to go out and look for them. Just do a thorough on-line search of the subject and all kinds of reports, analyses, and documents show up. For instance, here is a link to a report about the complicity of Israeli universities in maintaining the occupation. Here is another on the impact of occupation on Palestinian education, and yet another on the struggle for Palestinian academic freedom.

It should also be mentioned that the Israeli government is embarked on an effort to enforce its own version of history on Palestinian schools. This may soon appear as an Israeli priority in its ongoing negotiations with the Palestine Authority. And, right now in the U.S., the Zionist student organization Hillel has laid down rules restricting any free discussion about Israel in their chapters on American college campuses. These facts should raise questions about the sincerity of Zionist concern over academic freedom and the free flow of ideas. It is policies and actions such as these, which have multiplied themselves out many fold, that are part of the context of the BDS movement and the action taken by the ASA.

Damaging Institutional Reputations and Solvency:

  • William G. Bowen, former president of Princeton University and president emeritus of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation: “Boycotts are a bad idea. … It is dangerous business … for institutions to become embroiled in these kinds of debates. The consequences for institutions are just too serious.”

Response: What might this mean? I don’t think that Dr. Bowen is implying that what the ASA did is “dangerous” because it allegedly put the institution on the wrong side of a moral question. Here is another possible answer:

  • Leon Botstein, president of Bard College: “Calls from alumni to take a stand against the boycott had played a role [in Bard College’s withdrawal of its institutional membership in the ASA]. … I recognize that the American Jewish community is disproportionately generous to American higher education. For the president of an institution to express his or her solidarity with Israel is welcomed by a very important part of their support base.”

Response: Dr. Botstein is suggesting that if one wants to know why “the presidents of more than 80 United States colleges have condemned the vote,” one should follow the money, and not necessarily the ideal of academic freedom.

Promoting Anti-Semitism:

  • Lawrence Summers, former president of Harvard University, on the Charlie Rose show of 10 December 2013: “I regard them [boycott efforts against Israel] as being anti-Semitic in their effect if not necessarily in their intent.” That is because these efforts “single out Israel.”

Response: Dr. Summers can say this only because he and other Zionists take the position that Israel and the Jews are one. This is factually wrong. There are many Jews in the U.S. (and elsewhere) who do not identify with Israel and, in fact, a good number who publicly oppose Israeli behavior and the notion of a Jewish state. As to the singling out of Israel, it is certainly warranted given the influence Zionist supporters exercise over U.S. politicians and foreign policies and the resulting inordinate amount of aid and assistance given to Israel.

Part III – Conclusion

A lot more has been written about the ASA position, and below I list a small number of articles in support of the academic boycott position by thoughtful Americans.

  1. Henry Siegman, former director of the National Jewish Congress, “There is no bigotry in the boycott.”
  2. M. J. Rosenberg, former longtime aide to various congressmen and  senators, Propaganda vs. History.
  3. Joan W. Scott, scholar at the Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton, N.J., “Changing My Mind about the Boycott.”
  4. Eric Cheyfitz, professor at Cornell University, “Why I Support the Academic Boycott of Israel,”
  5. Sydney Levy, director of advocacy for Jewish Voices for Peace, “Academic Freedom.”

If the academic freedom of Palestinians was not being destroyed as part of an overall policy of ethnic cleansing and apartheid, there would be no need for an institutionally centered academic boycott of Israel. As it is, however, the Zionists in their relentless drive to create a Jewish-only state in historic Palestine have created the conditions for resistance, and the boycott in its many forms is part of that effort. It is not going to go away.

Israel’s future is one of increasing isolation. The Zionists recognize this possibility and that is why they are kicking and screaming. They even want to outlaw aspects of the boycott effort. It might be easier if they joined the twenty-first century by giving up their racist ambitions. However, ideologues rarely give up their ideologies willingly, so we will all have to do this the hard way.

Lawrence Davidson

Professor of History
West Chester University
West Chester, PA 19383-2133

January 14, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment