A California College Disgraces Itself out of Hostility to Israel

March 18 2019

Last week, the council of Pitzer College—a liberal-arts school in Claremont, California—voted to end its study-abroad program with Haifa University. The college’s president has declared he will not abide by the resolution of the council, a body made up of representatives of the faculty, staff, and students. But the results, writes Jonathan Marks, are nonetheless disturbing:

Pitzer maintains programs in China and Rwanda, both uncommonly repressive regimes with no regard for academic freedom. And look! They’re embarking on a program with the University of Zimbabwe, “conditions permitting.” . . .

So, to square its rejection of Israel with its rejection of absolutely no other country, the council’s motion focuses wholly on the specifics of Israel’s visa policy. Among other things, that policy bars from the country certain supporters of boycotting it. There is, of course, no reason to make that the line a nation must not cross. . . .

[T]he reason for the Pitzer boycott is the same as it has ever been [for boycotts of Israel]: to strike a blow against the intolerable presence and strength of Jews in the Middle East. Yes, the motion suggests that there may be ways to permit students to travel to Israel without dirtying themselves through contact with Israel’s universities. And yes, the motion allows for the possibility that other countries may one day also be deemed too filthy to touch. The American Studies Association said much the same thing when it voted for a boycott [of Israel] in 2013. Somehow, it hasn’t gotten around to boycotting anyone else yet. . . .

This is the first time that the stakeholders of a college—not a student government association, but the faculty, staff, and students of a college—has voted to ignore the protests of those in their community who consider [the boycott-Israel movement] anti-Semitic and to ignore their own responsibility to protect scholarship and teaching from partisanship. And all to spit on a country most of them don’t know a blessed thing about.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at Commentary

More about: Academic Boycotts, BDS, Israel & Zionism, University

Will Costco Go to Israel?

Social-media users have mocked this week new Israeli finance minister Bezalel Smotrich for a poorly translated letter. But far more interesting than the finance minister’s use of Google Translate (or some such technology) is what the letter reveals about the Jewish state. In it, Smotrich asks none other than Costco to consider opening stores in Israel.

Why?

Israel, reports Sharon Wrobel, has one of the highest costs of living of any country in the 38-member Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

This

has been generally attributed to a lack of competition among local importers and manufacturers. The top three local supermarket chains account for over half of the food retail market, limiting competition and putting upward pressure on prices. Meanwhile, import tariffs, value-added tax costs and kosher restrictions have been keeping out international retail chains.

Is the move likely to happen?

“We do see a recent trend of international retailers entering the Israeli market as some barriers to food imports from abroad have been eased,” Chen Herzog, chief economist at BDO Israel accounting firm, told The Times of Israel. “The purchasing power and technology used by big global retailers for logistics and in the area of online sales where Israel has been lagging behind could lead to a potential shift in the market and more competitive prices.”

Still, the same economist noted that in Israel “the cost of real estate and other costs such as the VAT on fruit and vegetables means that big retailers such as Costco may not be able to offer the same competitive prices than in other places.”

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Costco, Israel & Zionism