Having Lost Votes, Supporters of Academic Boycotts of Israel Complain of Conspiracies

After voting down a resolution to boycott Israeli scholars and institutions, members of the Modern Language Association (MLA)—one of the most prestigious professional organizations in the humanities—overwhelmingly approved a ban last year on future boycott resolutions. But Judith Butler—a highly regarded philosopher and gender theorist who has praised Hamas and Hizballah as natural allies of the “global left”—is still trying to bring the organization around to BDS. Cary Nelson, an English professor and committed opponent of academic boycotts, describes attending a meeting of Butler and her supporters at the recent MLA conference, and their reaction to finding a dissenter in their midst:

Someone said, “You should leave” [after I identified myself], and Butler immediately proposed a vote to make that a group decision. Several others quickly supported her and repeated the demand for me to leave. Butler then asked me, “Will you honor a vote to tell you to leave?” Not answering her directly, I said that this was supposed to be an open public meeting. . . . Butler then concluded I was refusing to honor a vote demanding I leave, so they would just have to proceed as best they could. Honest discussion would be impossible with a Zionist present. . . .

She [then] declared that she had several ideas she had wanted to share about how to move the BDS agenda forward in the MLA, but felt it was not safe to do so with me in the room. . . . She urged people to contact her after the meeting and told them there would likely be funds to bring some of them out to Berkeley to consult with her.

Although half the hour was spent challenging and berating me, the core strategy Butler and the other senior member there, David Palumbo-Liu of Stanford, were using was nonetheless clear. . . . Unwilling to see themselves as a radical fringe group indulging in sour-grapes complaints, they were left with one way to explain their loss: as they asserted repeatedly this evening, they were cheated. . . .

What Butler and Palumbo-Liu managed to do this evening was to convince a group of young university faculty members and students that only a corrupt conspiracy could have defeated them in their effort to demonize the Jewish state. Their opponents were unethical and unscrupulous. At the end, Butler turned and pointed to me to conclude: “We need to overcome those who are dedicated to making the fight unfair.”

Read more at Jewish Journal

More about: Academic Boycotts, Anti-Semitism, BDS, Israel & Zionism, Judith Butler, MLA

Iran’s Options for Revenge on Israel

On April 1, an Israeli airstrike on Damascus killed three Iranian generals, one of whom was the seniormost Iranian commander in the region. The IDF has been targeting Iranian personnel and weaponry in Syria for over a decade, but the killing of such a high-ranking figure raises the stakes significantly. In the past several days, Israelis have received a number of warnings both from the press and from the home-front command to ready themselves for retaliatory attacks. Jonathan Spyer considers what shape that attack might take:

Tehran has essentially four broad options. It could hit an Israeli or Jewish facility overseas using either Iranian state forces (option one), or proxies (option two). . . . Then there’s the third option: Tehran could also direct its proxies to strike Israel directly. . . . Finally, Iran could strike Israeli soil directly (option four). It is the riskiest option for Tehran, and would be likely to precipitate open war between the regime and Israel.

Tehran will consider all four options carefully. It has failed to retaliate in kind for a number of high-profile assassinations of its operatives in recent years. . . . A failure to respond, or staging too small a response, risks conveying a message of weakness. Iran usually favors using proxies over staging direct attacks. In an unkind formulation common in Israel, Tehran is prepared to “fight to the last Arab.”

Read more at Spectator

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Syria