Shutting Down Debate about Israel at Princeton

Nov. 14 2017

Last week Princeton University’s Center for Jewish Life canceled a planned speech by Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Tzipi Hotovely—a member of the Likud party and an ally of Benjamin Netanyahu—in response to objections from anti-Zionist groups. (It later apologized for its action.) Jonathan Tobin comments:

One of the [frequently heard] complaints about the organized Jewish community is that it is silencing criticism of Israel. Left-wingers paint a dismal picture of a Jewish community in denial about Israel’s sins and determined to squelch debate about the peace process or controversial issues like settlements. . . .

[But it was the] Alliance for Jewish Progressives—a campus left-wing group—[that] ginned up an indictment of [Hotovely] as some sort of extremist because she had dared to call out the Palestinian Authority for its attempt to erase Jewish history and ties to Jerusalem. They claim anyone who supports the Jewish presence across the Green Line or in parts of Jerusalem is, by definition, a racist. They were also upset that the [Center for Jewish Life] had refused to sponsor appearances by anti-Zionists or those whose presentation consisted of slanders of the IDF for its efforts to halt Palestinian terror. . . .

The lesson here is that the conventional wisdom about the plight of critics of Zionism is a myth. On campuses, it is those who speak up for the Jewish state who are often the ones being shut up. The atmosphere at many, if not most institutions of higher learning is one of intense hostility to pro-Israel advocates. . . .

Instead of crying crocodile tears about Israel-haters being silenced, it’s time for Jews to face up to the way the rising tide of anti-Semitism sweeping across the globe has spread to our shores. That is a grim reality about which we dare not be silent.

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More about: American Jewry, Israel & Zionism, Israel on campus, Princeton

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