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


Syria’s Druze Uprising, and What It Means for the Region

When the Arab Spring came to Syria in 2011, the Druze for the most part remained loyal to the regime—which has generally depended on the support of religious minorities such as the Druze and thus afforded them a modicum of protection. But in the past several weeks that has changed, with sustained anti-government protests in the Druze-dominated southwestern province of Suwayda. Ehud Yaari evaluates the implications of this shift:

The disillusionment of the Druze with Bashar al-Assad, their suspicion of militias backed by Iran and Hizballah on the outskirts of their region, and growing economic hardships are fanning the flames of revolt. In Syrian Druze circles, there is now open discussion of “self-rule,” for example replacing government offices and services with local Druze alternative bodies.

Is there a politically acceptable way to assist the Druze and prevent the regime from the violent reoccupation of Jebel al-Druze, [as they call the area in which they live]? The answer is yes. It would require Jordan to open a short humanitarian corridor through the village of al-Anat, the southernmost point of the Druze community, less than three kilometers from the Syrian-Jordanian border.

Setting up a corridor to the Druze would require a broad consensus among Western and Gulf Arab states, which have currently suspended the process of normalization with Assad. . . . The cost of such an operation would not be high compared to the humanitarian corridors currently operating in northern Syria. It could be developed in stages, and perhaps ultimately include, if necessary, providing the Druze with weapons to defend their territory. A quick reminder: during the Islamic State attack on Suwayda province in 2018, the Druze demonstrated an ability to assemble close to 50,000 militia men almost overnight.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: Druze, Iran, Israeli Security, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy