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

Maintaining Security Cooperation with the PA Shouldn’t Require Ignoring Its Support for Terror

In accordance with legislation passed last year, the Israeli government has begun to deduct from the tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA) an amount proportional to what the PA pays to terrorists and their families. Last year, a similar law went into effect in the U.S., suspending all payments to the PA so long as it continues its “pay-for-slay” policy. The PA president, Mahmoud Abbas, has retaliated by refusing to accept any tax revenue collected by Israel—raising concerns that the PA will become insolvent and collapse—while insisting that payments to terrorists and their families are sacrosanct. To Yossi Kuperwasser, Abbas’s behavior amounts to mere extortion—which has already worked on the Europeans to the tune of 35 million euros. He urges Israel and the U.S. not to submit:

Abbas [believes] that influential Israeli and European circles, including the security establishment, view strengthening the Palestinian Authority, and certainly preventing its collapse, as being in Israel and Europe’s best interests. They will therefore give in to the pressure he exerts through the creation of an artificial economic crisis. . . .

[T]he PA leadership’s insistence on continuing wage payments to terrorists and their families, even at the price of an artificial economic crisis, shows once again that . . . the Oslo Accords did not reflect a substantive change in Palestinian national aspirations or in the methods employed to achieve them. . . . If paying wages to terrorists (including the many terrorists whose attacks took place after the Oslo Accords were in force) is the raison d’être for the PA’s establishment, as Abbas seems to be saying, . . . one cannot help asking whether Israel has to insist on maintaining the PA’s existence at any price.

True, Israel cooperates on security issues with the PA, but that serves the interests of both sides. . . . The short-term benefits Israel gains from this security cooperation, [however], are of less value than the benefits enjoyed by the Palestinians, and worth even less when measured against the long-term strategic damage resulting from Israel’s resigning itself to the constant incitement, the promotion of terror, and the political struggle against Israel carried out by the PA. Israel should not do anything to hasten the PA’s breakdown, because it has no desire to rule over the Palestinians and run their day to day lives, but it also should not feel more obligated to the PA’s continued existence than do the Palestinians themselves, thereby leaving itself open to continuous extortion.

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More about: Israeli Security, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror