Anti-Israel sentiment mixed with age-old anti-Semitism has reached a fever pitch at Vassar College. It is time that faculty and administrators take a stand against this toxic brew on behalf of academic values.
AEN in the News
Pro-Palestinian protesters this past Friday, January 22, 2016, forced the cancellation of a reception and in Chicago at the National LGBTQ Task Force’s annual conference. The gathering was to have featured two LGBT rights advocates from the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance in Israel. More than 200 people disrupted the event sponsored by A Wider Bridge (AWB) at the Creating Change Conference. The AWV seeks to bolster LGBTQ connections with those working on LGBTQ issues in Israel.
“No justice, no peace,” the protesters chanted at the Chicago Hilton. They were intent on preventing what they called “pink-washing” efforts to promote Israel’s LGBT rights record as an alleged strategy to deflect attention from Israel’s oppressive policies toward Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. The protesters chanted “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free,” leaving little doubt about their program or commitments, and pushed in and took control of the stage. The visiting Israeli activists had to be rushed out a back door.
As the BDS movement continues to roil college campuses around the country, the focus of attention in the Jewish community has largely been on students. High-profile and big-money efforts — $50 million from Las Vegas billionaire and Republican mega-giver Sheldon Adelson, $100 million from the Jewish National Fund — are underway to help arm Jewish students in fighting the campus wars aimed at delegitimizing Israel.
Missing in the loud and troubling debate in any significant way has been the voice of Jewish faculty.
(JTA) — If you want to understand why the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, or BDS, has gained so much ground in the past two years, look no further than intersectionality, the study of related systems of oppression.
Intersectionality holds that various forms of oppression — racism, sexism, classism, ableism, and homophobia — constitute an intersecting system of oppression. In this worldview, a transcendent white, male, heterosexual power structure keeps down marginalized groups. Uniting oppressed groups, the theory goes, strengthens them against the dominant power structure.
JTA — Alarmed by what they called “Orwellian efforts” to link Israel with a multitude of free-speech issues now roiling American college campuses, a group of influential academics has launched an initiative to combat anti-Semitism and facilitate constructive dialogue about Israel.
Led by Mark Yudof, president emeritus of the University of California system, and Kenneth Waltzer, former director of Jewish studies at Michigan State University, the Academic Engagement Network has taken it upon itself to combat “Orwellian efforts to link Israel with a multitude of issues, from the shootings in Ferguson to high levels of student tuition.”
In an October 2015 essay on BDS in the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, distinguished historian and UCLA chair of Jewish Studies David N. Myers offered that not all Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) supporters are anti-Semitic, but some indeed are.
He found the single-minded focus by BDS on Israel in a world filled with numerous radical aggressions against human rights deeply troubling. ISIS? Syria? Russia? He also argued it’s not enough to fight BDS but opponents of BDS must also fight the ongoing Israeli occupation. “We need a new campaign,” he wrote, “ that makes clear that we stand with Israel and its right to exist, but can no longer tolerate the occupation and settlement-building.”
George Orwell remarked in 1984 that “if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” Orwell’s aphorism describes the strategy of today’s proponents of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement on college campuses against Israel. They see their movement as a way of protesting Israel’s alleged mistreatment of Palestinians, its efforts to defend itself in a dangerous neighborhood and its purported colonialism. Yet their rhetoric corrupts the language of human rights and expropriates the words historically used to demean the Jew, focusing instead on the Jewish state. The strategy, as Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has stated, is to accuse “Israel of the five cardinal post-Holocaust sins: racism, apartheid, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and attempted genocide.”
(JNS.org) A newly formed network of academics will work to support Israel and oppose the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against the Jewish state on American college campuses.
Launched this week, the Academic Engagement Network (AEN) says its group of faculty members and administrators will “anticipate and address anti-Israel and anti-Semitic activities as they arise, counteract the BDS movement, and maintain constructive ties with those on other campuses who are confronting similar challenges.” Additionally, AEN members intend to facilitate “reasoned discourse about Israel on campuses, while protecting and nurturing the exercise of academic freedom and freedom of expression.”
The phrase “connect the dots” originally referred to a children’s game in which a bigger picture was revealed by drawing lines among the points. In adult lingo it became a metaphor for teasing out salient relationships often overlooked by the less subtle. The boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, moving to integrate itself with nearly every progressive campus cause, has put the metaphor on steroids.
NEW YORK – Enlisting faculty members at American colleges and universities as allies in the fraught battle against the BDS…