How Anti-Israel Animus Brought Down a British Government Minister

Nov. 10 2017

Earlier this week, British media outlets reported that Priti Patel, the secretary for international development, had “secretly” traveled to Israel and met Benjamin Netanyahu and other government officials in August, unbeknownst to Prime Minister Theresa May. The Guardian proclaimed that this “covert summer trip was a gift to Israelis who seek to influence British policy.” But the supposedly sub-rosa visit was reported in the Israeli press at the time, and Israeli politicians publicly tweeted about their meetings with Patel, who has since resigned. Tom Rogan comments:

[Most likely] the real reason Patel resigned is that she recognized the forces arrayed against her wouldn’t rest until she fell. The first culprit is Patel’s own Department for International Development (DFID). Officials at DFID leaked Patel’s query to them earlier this summer over whether the British government could sponsor an Israeli aid project in the Golan Heights. One official told the BBC that Patel’s query was in and of itself “inappropriate.”

Of course, it didn’t matter that the aid project in question is specifically designed to save Syrian refugees, only that DFID officials hate the idea of supporting Israel in any way. Because the UK regards the Golan Heights as Israeli-occupied Syrian territory, DFID officials were especially furious at Patel’s conduct.

The second challenge came from the Labor party opposition. Their fury here was inherently unsurprising but had nothing to do with Patel’s breach of the ministerial code. Rather, led by the avowed Israel-hater Jeremy Corbyn, Labor embraces any opportunity to distance Britain from Israel. . .

Nevertheless, Patel should not have resigned. Instead, she should have apologized and then forced her DFID officials to look in the mirror. . . . [W]hile DFID will spend $51 million in the Palestinian territories this year and roughly $65 million next year, it has actively sponsored anti-Israel non-governmental organizations. . . .

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel & Zionism, Theresa May, United Kingdom

A University of Michigan Professor Exposes the Full Implications of Academic Boycotts of Israel

Sept. 26 2018

A few weeks ago, Professor John Cheney-Lippold of the University of Michigan told an undergraduate student he would write a letter of recommendation for her to participate in a study-abroad program. But upon examining her application more carefully and realizing that she wished to spend a semester in Israel, he sent her a polite email declining to follow through. His explanation: “many university departments have pledged an academic boycott against Israel in support of Palestinians living in Palestine,” and “for reasons of these politics” he would no longer write the letter. Jonathan Marks comments:

We are routinely told . . . that boycott actions against Israel are “limited to institutions and their official representatives.” But Cheney-Lippold reminds us that the boycott, even if read in this narrow way, obligates professors to refuse to assist their own students when those students seek to participate in study-abroad programs in Israel. Dan Avnon, an Israeli academic, learned years ago that the same goes for Israel faculty members seeking to participate in exchange programs sponsored by Israeli universities. They, too, must be turned away regardless of their position on the Israel-Palestinian conflict. . . .

Cheney-Lippold, like other boycott defenders, points to the supposed 2005 “call of Palestinian civil society” to justify his singling out of Israel. “I support,” he says in comments to the [Michigan] student newspaper, “communities who organize themselves and ask for international support to achieve equal rights [and] freedom and to prevent violations of international law.”

Set aside the absurdity of this reasoning (“Why am I not boycotting China on behalf of Tibet? Because China has been much more effective in stifling civil society!”). Focus instead on what Cheney-Lippold could have found out by using Google. The first endorser of the call of “civil society” is the Council of National and Islamic Forces in Palestine, which includes Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and other groups that trade not only in violent “resistance” but in violence that directly targets noncombatants.

That’s remained par for the course for the boycott movement. In October 2015, in the midst of the series of stabbings deemed “the knife intifada,” the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel shared a call for an international day of solidarity with the “new generation of Palestinians” who were then “rising up against Israel’s brutal, decades-old system of occupation.” To be sure, they did not directly endorse attacks on civilians, but they did issue their statement of solidarity with “Palestinian popular resistance” one day after four attacks that left three Israelis—all civilians—dead.

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More about: Academia, Academic Boycotts, BDS, Israel & Zionism, Knife intifada