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Propagandists with Ph.D’s: Month One of the anti-Israel academic boycott

Propagandists with Ph.D’s: Month One of the anti-Israel academic boycott

The broad spectrum of mainstream Americans — from liberal to conservative — have nothing in common with this radical fringe.

It has been one month since the American Studies Association announced that its membership — or at least the small percentage who bothered to vote — approved an academic boycott of Israel.

We have had great success rallying opposition, but even this first month teaches us some important lessons.

The ASA has peddled the line that it only boycotts Israeli institutions and a select few Israeli academic representatives. As if that were not bad enough.

In truth, the Resolution approving the boycott agrees to the Palestinian demand, born at the anti-Semitic 2001 Durban NGO conference, for a complete academic and cultural boycott of Israel. The non-binding ASA guidelines purporting to scale back the actual ASA Resolution were just window dressing added late in the process to make the boycott seem less pernicious.

Boycotting institutions is boycotting the individuals who work at those institutions — as the emerging boycott of an “Oral History” conference at Hebrew University demonstrates.  University presidents — over 200 at this point — were wise to view the boycott as a threat to education and to academic freedom.

The pushback from a wide segment of American civil and political society has been breathtaking for so short a period of time.   Beyond expectations.

But don’t become complacent.  You really need to understand who is behind this movement.

Researching the numerous articles I have written this past month has been an eye-opener — and that from someone whose eyes were already wide open as to the nature of the Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement.  The hatred of Israel among the academic boycotters is beyond anything you can imagine.

The hatred of Israel is visceral, and beyond reason. Everything good about Israel is turned into a negative.

These academics hold “Homonationalism and Pinkwashing” conferences to denounce Israel for making known that it treats its LGBT citizens fairly and humanely, unlike most countries in the world. Yet the Pinkwashing anti-Israel movement is led by LGBT and “Queer” (their word) activists who would be persecuted or worse anywhere in the Middle East other than Israel. You will hear next to nothing from them about how gays in Palestinian controlled areas are abused and flee … to Israel for protection.

There is nothing good that Israel can do in their eyes. The existence of Israel is their problem, not where borders are drawn.

As I have learned more about these academic boycotters, it is obvious that Israel is just the object of a deep-seated anti-Western anger expressed as “anti-Colonial” or “post-Colonial” or solidarity with “indigenous peoples.” Of course, they deny the Jewish people, whose indigenous presence for millennia in the land of Israel is beyond historical doubt, any indigenous status.

Indeed, you can add to “Pinkwashing” other conferences on “Redwashing” — the supposed injustice of Israeli Jews expressing solidarity with other indigenous peoples. [Added – See this article at Indian Country Today taking the ASA boycotters to task, Don’t Mix Indigenous Fight With Palestinian Rights

It should not surprise you that two of the Brown University professors (here and here) supporting the shout-down protest against Ray Kelly also were anti-Israel BDS supporters.

The connection between the radical left (I’m not talking about mere “liberals”) and the BDS movement is deep and feeds off each other.   That is why you will often find avowed international socialist groups teaming up with BDS on campuses, along with Islamists.

Just read the excellent Forbes article by Richard Behar about the people on the National Council of ASA, including its incoming President from NYU.  It would be a parody of what some segments of academia have become, except that no parody is needed, just the facts.

Victor Davis Hanson correctly puts it in context:

Nazis and racists used to spearhead Jewish hatred using ancient crackpot defamations that date back to the Jewish diaspora into Europe after the Roman destruction of Judea. But lately, anti-Semitism has become more a left-wing pathology. It is driven by the cheap multicultural trashing of the West. Jewish people here and abroad have become convenient targets for those angry with supposedly undeserved Western success and privilege.

The academics behind the boycott do not represent all or even a majority of academia.  If anything, the ASA boycott will spur even greater cooperation among American and Israeli academic institutions, both because it makes educational sense and because all well-meaning academics know what is at stake.

Yet how to deal with the ideology of Israeli hatred that has captured the ASA and some university departments in the humanities and social sciences around the country?

The boycotters are crowing about the great ASA victory.  But in fact the ASA victory has revealed that the boycott movement in the U.S. is isolated, unlike in Europe, with few real successes.   It needs to be kept that way; we have avoided the European disease in the past, and we need to as to the BDS movement.

But success is not a given.

These propagandists with Ph.D’s see themselves as just a few retirements away from true departmental power.  And they are not completely wrong.  American civil society was asleep for a generation as parts of the humanities and social sciences were turned into nothing more than outposts for anti-Western political activism, most prominently manifesting itself as anti-Israeli BDS agitation.

Pushing back, as we have this past month, is necessary, although not sufficient.

Among other things, it is important to educate the American public as to who is behind this movement and what they truly represent.  All you have to do is quote them.  Their own words are the most damning evidence.

The broad spectrum of mainstream Americans — from liberal to conservative — have nothing in common with this radical fringe.  Their takeover of the ASA does not change that reality.

In addition to education, it is important too that universities, businesses and municipalities apply their non-discrimination rules and laws to anti-Israel boycott groups, as they would to any other groups.

The University of Texas – Austin would not dream of sponsoring and hosting a conference that excluded academics from Arab universities, yet UT-Austin is sponsoring a conference for an academic boycott group this spring at which Israeli academics would be excluded under the boycott.

Hotels would not dream of hosting a conference that excluded people based on national origin, as that would violate public accommodation and discrimination laws, yet that that will happen at the ASA 2014 conference at the Westin Bonaventure in Los Angeles next fall if the ASA boycott rules are enforced.

And so on, and so on.

We must insist that ASA and other boycott groups be treated like any other groups engaged in similar conduct — not singled out they way ASA singles out Israel.

All we will ask is that the rules and laws be applied equally to anti-Israel boycott groups.  That is why I filed a challenge to ASA’s tax-exempt status under the law of charities and the facts of the boycott. ASA’s response was to do what it consistently has done, play victim, characterizing it as “legal bullying.”

But there is nothing bullying about equal application of the law.  There is no legal privilege for BDS boycotters.

You will be hearing more about that in the coming months here.

At the same time, reacting to ASA and other boycotters is not the ultimate solution, just the remedy for the current manifestation of the disease.

There is a positive case to be made for Israel, and it needs to be made better and not defensively.  When some members of the Modern Language Association stood tall and defended Israel in person and with facts, it made a difference.

Larger, more organized groups need to engage in vigorous educational efforts to counter the propaganda about “Israel Apartheid” and so on.  You cannot expect university professors to give a balanced presentation on the Middle East.

The propagandists with Ph.D’s have created a false narrative on campuses that needs to be countered based on the facts, which are on our side.

This needs to be a multi-year project.

It is doable and must be done.

(Featured Image: BDS protesters at U. Michigan)


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A group of slobs who obviously can’t dress themselves. Who cares what they think?



Professor J never went for my LI Summer weekend in Vegas convention idea.

The Westin Bonaventure is a few blocks from my office. Nice place. Did a few laps in the pool naked one night after a bout of drinks and karaoke, but that was a long time ago and not important now.

How about a LI convention at the Bonaventure, say, November 6-9, 2014?

Rustle up a few news media types to cover the tension of competing conventions? Plenty of ’em here in LA. The Breitbart team is nearby in West LA.

Be a nice happening. Fun … publicity … standing up to your ideological enemy by day and karaoke and skinnydipping by night.

I’m just a dreamer.

Behar’s open letter at Forces should be required reading for any ignorant progressive. Too bad it is so long.

Here is a revealing quote which shows why these boycott proponents are antisemitic:

“I should note that Maira and many of her council comrades seldom use the word “Jews,” but it’s something they need to do when discussing “Israelis.” They surely never mean Israel’s 21% of Arab citizens when they accuse the state of pinkwashing, genocide, racism, apartheid, ethnic cleansing and imperial colonialism. So why not say it? Many ASAers know that this could get them accused of anti-Semitism, so they stick to safe, politically-correct euphemisms.”

    LukeHandCool in reply to oldschooltwentysix. | January 16, 2014 at 10:49 pm

    Syria? Tibet?

    It’s anti-Semitism or the most bizarre prioritization method I’ve ever seen.

    Take your pick. I think they are flaunting their priority … the delegitimization of Israel and Jewish exceptionalism.

David R. Graham | January 16, 2014 at 11:54 pm

Arabs are Semites. “Anti-Semitism” is an empty descriptor if meant to refer to Jews. Similar to “American” to mean a USA citizen. Any citizen from Hudson Bay to Tierra del Fuego is an American. More specificity is needed. What is meant is “Anti-Jew.”


    Check virtually any mainstream dictionary or encyclopedia: “antisemitism” applies to Jews, not Arabs.

    The claim of Arabic “semitism” is usually made by antisemitics.

    Slartibartfast in reply to David R. Graham. | January 17, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    Merriam-Webster says:

    Full Definition of ANTI-SEMITISM
    : hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group

    Sorry that your strict-definition approach to language has misled you so badly, in this instance.

On a more pedestrian note, it’s a shame that college professors can’t spell.

These academics hold “Homonationalism and Pinkwashing” conferences to denounce Israel for making known that it treats its LGBT citizens fairly and humanely, unlike most countries in the world. Yet the Pinkwashing anti-Israel movement is led by LGBT and “Queer” (their word) activists who would be persecuted or worse anywhere in the Middle East other than Israel. You will hear next to nothing from them about how gays in Palestinian controlled areas are abused and flee … to Israel for protection.

The root cause of the problem is their hatred of God. Who gave us the God that the majority of the world worships? Israel. Who gave us the God who said homosexuality is sin worthy of death? Israel. Were it not for Israel, the Greek ethos, pretty similar to the Arab ethos (women for children, men for pleasure) would be dominant.

Destroy Israel, eradicate every trace of his presence from the earth (yeah, right!), and these “academics” will rejoice because they will think they have triumphed over the God who made promises to Israel .

Here’s one of the founder of this movement.

Omar Barghouti

This man argues that Israel is an Apartheid State, yet his life is the counter argument for his own theory. The man is pursuing a Master’s in Philosophy at Tel Aviv University.

innocent bystander | January 17, 2014 at 8:15 am

Prof. Jacobson wrote: Just read the excellent Forbes article by Richard Behar about the people on the National Council of ASA, including its incoming President from NYU.

Please click to the Behar article. It has 31,000 clicks and deserves more. It is deeply researched and rippingly written. Wow!

It’s the orange link labeled “Richard Behar” about half-way through the post above. The online article is spread over many pages. You can get it as a single page by clicking the “print” icon at the bottom of the first page of the article (about the middle of the webpage).

Finally got a reply from University of Rhode Island:

Exposing evil and calling it out is the best way to deal with those who pursue evil in the name of social justice.

PhDs if anyone should know that there is always more to learn. They don’t have all the information. They should sit down with those they disagree with and seek understanding with truth and not merit badges from liberal think tanks.

As a former propagandist myself (without a Ph.D or any particular sentiment towards Israel either negative or positive). Following the general story over December and January, it seems that these boycott groups lack a clear view as to who is their target audience. They seem to be appealing to folks who already have an anti-Israel sentiment and already support their cause, which is redundant.

Also the quality of the propaganda is very poor. Anyone with even basic understanding of world history is going to have a hard time drawing a parallel between Apartheid in South Africa and Israel’s expansion and occupation of Palestinian territory during and following the Six-Day War.

A good example of this is the pictures used on the protest signs above. The soldier is in a security halt, his posture is non threatening and he is pointing his weapon away from the lady and her kids. (also it appears to be a bad Photoshop job, based on the relationship between the soldier’s shoulders over his hips in the squat; i don’t think someone could maintain that posture without falling over backwards.)

the other pictures are reminiscent of a Mexican day of the dead celebration, which combined with the Apartheid narrative is just confusing.

I really doubt that these folks have a coherent argument other than, ‘Israel is bad’.

expected to see more birkenstocks in that photo 🙂

At this time Israel is a de facto member of the West.

It is the only major Western state that acts with competent cultural confidence.

That’s another reason, in addition to standard antiSemitism, why Israel is the prime target for the West’s internal enemies.

first sign on left.
boycott isreal.
no, its not real.

Henry Hawkins | January 17, 2014 at 2:14 pm

How are you people able to read their signs with that mass of supporters surrounding them?

“The hatred of Israel is visceral, and beyond reason.”

The destruction of the Jews is Satan’s top priority. Human reason has very little to do with the phenomenon of Jew hatred.