After Strikes on Syria, Will Anything Change?

April 16 2018

While the coordinated American, British, and French attack on Syria may hinder Bashar al-Assad’s ability to use chemical weapons and deter him from using them in the future, and have shown the weakness of Russian-manufactured air defenses, Yoav Limor suspects they won’t alter the overall situation, or improve Israel’s position:

[T]he element of surprise was . . . missing and the entire endeavor was seemingly geared toward achieving the bare minimum. The scope of the attack was obvious to everyone. . . . As a result, the Western trio squandered an opportunity to reshape the rules of the game in Syria. . . . Russia’s regional superiority received a renewed stamp of approval, and Moscow could respond by imposing harsher restrictions on foreign activity in Syria—with an emphasis on Israel—so as not to disturb it from reaping the fruits of economic rehabilitation. Assad, for his part, understands that the world will not stop him from retaking control of his country, still bleeding from seven years of civil war.

Consequently, the only player left wanting is Israel, which remains alone in the fight against the forces of evil amassing in the northern sector. Friday’s report in the Israeli media—that the drone launched by Iran into Israel on February 10 was armed with explosives—was not a coincidence. Its purpose was to illustrate how the Iranians are dragging the region toward conflagration, against everyone’s interests—including [those of] Russia and Assad. . . .

Israeli officials believe Iran is preparing its response to last week’s [presumed Israeli] airstrike targeting a drone base it is building in northern Syria. . . . Assuming Russia doesn’t pose any restrictions, Israel poses a clear threat to Iran—not only can it retaliate to aggression with extreme force, it has the power to . . . eradicate Iran’s entire military operation in Syria.

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More about: Bashar al-Assad, Iran, Israeli Security, Politics & Current Affairs, Russia, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy

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