Supporters of BDS Shouldn’t Be University Administrators, Unless They Pledge to Put Their Prejudices Aside

Last week, George Washington University announced the Ilana Feldman, an active advocate for academic boycotts of the Jewish state, will serve as the new dean of its school of international relations. David Bernstein names three reasons that Feldman’s association with the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel (BDS) disqualifies her for such a position:

The first reason is that almost all universities [formally] oppose academic boycotts of Israel. [If] George Washington is among the institutions that have publicly taken that official position, . . . it should not be hiring faculty for administrative positions who have publicly dedicated themselves to the opposite position. For example, could one trust such a person to negotiate an exchange program with Hebrew University? One would think not, given that she has pledged “not to collaborate on projects and events involving Israeli academic institutions.”

Second, there is the matter of universities’ legal responsibilities. Universities are bound by Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which bans them from engaging in discrimination based on race (which, for these purposes, includes ethnicity), and national origin. . . . Inevitably, [BDS] policies will have a wildly disproportionate discriminatory effect on people of Israeli national origin, and to a lesser but still significant effect on Jewish students.

Third, there is the issue of academic freedom. . . . An administrator pledged to an academic boycott is going to be an enemy of academic freedom.

But Bernstein offers one caveat:

I think BDS activists should be allowed to be administrators, but only if they publicly and contractually disavow any intention of adhering to BDS position while serving as administrators. . . . Academics who are unwilling to do this—i.e., unwilling to obey university policy, comply with civil-rights law, and respect academic freedom—have no business serving in administrative positions. In other words, faculty should not be banned from being administrators because they have held a political position.

Read more at Reason

More about: Academic Boycotts, Anti-Zionism, BDS, Israel on campus


An Israeli Buffer Zone in the Gaza Strip Doesn’t Violate International Law

 The IDF announced on Thursday that it is safe for residents to return to some of the towns and villages near the Gaza Strip that have been abandoned since October 7. Yet on the same day, rocket sirens sounded in one of those communities, Kibbutz Mefalsim. To help ensure security in the area, Israel is considering the creation of a buffer zone within the Strip that would be closed to Palestinian civilians and buildings. The U.S. has indicated, however, that it would not look favorably on such a step.

Avraham Shalev explains why it’s necessary:

The creation of a security buffer along the Gaza-Israel border serves the purpose of destroying Hamas’s infrastructure and eliminating the threat to Israel. . . . Some Palestinian structures are practically on the border, and only several hundred yards away from Israeli communities such as Kfar Aza, Kerem Shalom, and Sderot. The Palestinian terrorists that carried out the murderous October 7 attacks crossed into Israel from many of these border-adjacent areas. Hamas officials have already vowed that “we will do this again and again. The al-Aqsa Flood [the October 7th massacre] is just the first time, and there will be a second, a third, a fourth.”

In 2018 and 2019, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad organized mass marches towards the Israeli border with the goal of breaking into Israel. Billed by Palestinians as “the Great March of Return,” its name reveals its purpose—invasion. Although the marches were supposedly non-violent, they featured largescale attacks on Israeli forces as well as arson and damage to Israeli agriculture and civilian communities. Moreover, the October 7 massacre was made possible by Hamas’s prepositioning military hardware along the border under false cover of civilian activity. The security perimeter is intended to prevent a reprise of these events.

Shalev goes on to dismantle the arguments put forth about why international law prohibits Israel from creating the buffer zone. He notes:

By way of comparison, following the defeat of Nazi Germany, France occupied the Saar [River Valley] directly until 1947 and then indirectly until reintegration with Germany in 1957, and the Allied occupation of Berlin continued until the reunification of Germany in 1990. The Allies maintained their occupation long after the fall of the Nazi regime, due to the threat of Soviet invasion and conquest of West Berlin, and by extension Western Europe.

Read more at Kohelet

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, International Law, Israeli Security