The Real Target of Academic Boycotts of Israel? Jewish Scholars

While the boycotts of Israeli institutions of higher learning by scholarly organizations, university departments, and individual faculty members are ostensibly intended to “end the occupation” or avoid “complicity in apartheid,” they have so far proved to have only a minimal impact on Israeli academia, and the chances that they will in any way contribute to changes in the Jewish state’s policies are negligible. What then, asks Martin Kramer, do their proponents seek to accomplish?

The academic boycott of Israel is actually meant to isolate and stigmatize Jewish academics in America. It serves the aim of pushing Jewish academics out of shrinking disciplines, where Jews are believed to be “overrepresented.” That is how diehard supporters of [boycotts] find academic allies who have little interest in Palestine, in fields like American studies or English literature. For these allies, it is not about the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. It is about the presumed Jewish occupation of American academe by Jewish faculty and administrators.

Kramer illustrates the point with the hypothetical example of a Jewish doctoral student who receives an invitation to participate in a conference at an Israeli university:

If she does go to Israel, someone might point a finger at her: she’s a boycott buster; she’s acted outside the bounds of her discipline; she’s been unprofessional. If she is up for appointment or tenure, does she want that conference in Israel on her CV? What if someone on the academic committee sees himself as a boycott enforcer, and spots it? Will this torpedo her candidacy or promotion?

She can turn down the invitation, say nothing, and become a Jew of silence. . . . But perhaps even silence isn’t enough if you are in the humanities. . . . So a third option is to show some virulent hostility yourself—especially if you are a Jew, and therefore naturally suspected of secretly being a Zionist.

Today . . . Jews are regarded not as targets of prejudice but as bearers of privilege. And in much of academe, especially the humanities and social sciences, student demand is weak and falling, full-time academic jobs are rare, and budgets are being cut. For every tenured position, the competition has become cutthroat. And where competition is cutthroat, anything goes. Academe now seethes with struggles over diversity, ethnicity, gender, and race, and it would be naïve to think that Jewish “overrepresentation” isn’t an issue anymore.

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Read more at Israel Affairs

More about: Academic Boycotts, American Jewry, Anti-Semitism, BDS

Why Is Iran Acquiring Property in Venezuela?

In June Tehran and Caracas concluded a major twenty-year cooperation treaty. One of its many provisions—kept secret until recently—was the transfer of 4,000 square miles of Venezuelan land to Iranian control. Although the territory is ostensibly for agricultural use, Lawrence Franklin suspects the Islamic Republic might have other plans:

Hizballah already runs paramilitary training centers in restricted sections of Venezuela’s Margarita Island, a tourist area northeast of the country’s mainland. The terrorist group has considerable support from some of Venezuela’s prominent Lebanese clans such as the Nasr al-Din family, who reportedly facilitated Iran’s penetration of Margarita Island. . . . The Maduro regime has apparently been so welcoming to Iranian intelligence agents that some of Hizballah’s long-established Latin American network at the tri-border nexus of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay has been overtaken by Hizballah activities on Venezuela’s Margarita Island.

Iran’s alliance with Venezuela most importantly provides Tehran with opportunities to target U.S. interests in Latin America and potentially the southern United States. Iran, along with the Chinese Communist Party, is in the process of strengthening Venezuela’s military against the U.S., for instance by deliveries of military drones, which are also considered a threat by Colombia.

While air and seaborne arms deliveries are high-profile evidence of Iran’s ties with Venezuela, Tehran’s cooperation with Venezuelan intelligence agencies, although less visible, is also intense. The Islamic Republic’s support for Hizballah terrorist operations is pervasive throughout Latin America. Hizballah recruits from Venezuela’s ten-million-strong Lebanese diaspora. Iran and Hizballah cooperate in training of intelligence agents and in developing sources who reside in Venezuela and Colombia, as well as in the tri-border region of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina.

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Read more at Gatestone

More about: Iran, Latin America, Venezuela