In Calling for a Boycott of Israel, Professors Express an Illiberal and Herd-Like Mentality

Nov. 30 2018

Earlier this month, the faculty of Pitzer College, a small, highly selective school outside of Los Angeles, passed a resolution in favor of the boycott, divest, and sanctions movement (BDS) and another one calling for an end to the college’s study-abroad program in Haifa. No resolutions were passed about similar programs in China, Rwanda, or other counties. In an open letter to Pitzer’s president, John Moscowitz recalls his days as a student there and the two teachers from whom he learned the most: the German Jewish political scientist Lucian Marquis and the Students for a Democratic Society activist Tom Hayden:

I was close to both, not just while [at Pitzer] but until the end of each of their lives. I would speak with each about my love of Israel, including with Tom as he was dying two years ago. . . . Hayden, much like Lucian Marquis, would become allergic to the kind of herd-like mentality that consumed Lucian’s mid-century Germany. It was one of the reasons the hard left eventually bore Hayden much ill will.

In any case, I strongly suspect both men, were they alive today, would share my deep disappointment. Both saw Pitzer as different from other colleges and universities: freer from dogma, more wedded to fairness, more inclined toward principle. Not perfect, but worthy of significant esteem. I learned the virtue of independent thinking from these two men. I’ve been grateful ever since.

This was the Pitzer that Lucian and Tom knew—indeed, the college I experienced and have since been proud to include on my résumé. No longer. The Pitzer faculty’s Haifa vote is illiberal—and betrays a knee-jerk animosity toward Israel as ignorant as it is disguised as principled. This is the kind of animus that often proves infectious, even dangerous, as it can turn individuals into crowds. It’s hardly what the Pitzer College I once knew was about. . . .

[T]he vote badly tarnishes the college—and leaves a foul wind in its wake that won’t easily dissipate.

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More about: BDS, Israel & Zionism, Israel on campus, New Left

Hizballah Prepares for War, and UN Peacekeepers Do Nothing

Dec. 10 2018

According to last year’s UN Security Council Resolution 2373, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL)—the peacekeeping force created after the Second Lebanon War to keep both Israel and Hizballah out of southern Lebanon—is authorized “to take all necessary action in areas of deployment of its forces, and as it deems within its capabilities, to ensure that its area of operations is not utilized for hostile activities of any kind.” If anything ought to rouse UNIFIL to action, writes Elliott Abrams, it should be the IDF’s recent discovery and destruction of tunnels dug by Hizballah to move troops into the Galilee:

The existence of these tunnels, dug from precisely the area of southern Lebanon that UNIFIL is meant to patrol, means that this area is indeed “utilized for hostile activities.” What, then, is the meaning of [UNIFIL’s statement in] response that it “will communicate its preliminary findings to the appropriate authorities in Lebanon”? The meaning is that UNIFIL will likely do nothing.

UNIFIL is not supposed to be merely a means of communication, or the Security Council would have bought cell phones instead of paying for a military force. Moreover, there are no “appropriate authorities” in Lebanon; if there were, Hizballah would never have been able to dig its tunnels.

The tunnels are hardly the only brazen Hizballah violation of the Security Council resolutions undertaken right under UNIFIL’s nose. Consider this: Hizballah is blocking roads in southern Lebanon to smooth the path of missiles it is moving into the area. . . . Then there is the village of Gila, just north of the Israeli border, where there is a Hizballah headquarters and according to the Israelis about twenty warehouses with weapons, combat positions, lookout points, and dozens of underground positions. All this was built in an area supposedly patrolled by UNIFIL. . . .

This is a test of UNIFIL and its new commander, [Stefan Del Col, who took over in August]. “Communicating” to “appropriate authorities” is a euphemism for doing nothing at all. Hizballah is preparing for war. UNIFIL is supposed to get in its way. If it cannot hinder Hizballah’s war preparations in any way, and is even ignorant of them, UNIFIL is a waste of time and money.

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More about: Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Lebanon, United Nations