The Jews and Israelis who back BDS

There once was a time when you might have thought there is a typo in the headline, but nowadays we all know the sad truth. Astonishingly, there are Jews both in the Diaspora and within Israel who promote, encourage or at the very least have keep an open mind about BDS.

By now the activities of extreme groups like Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP), Jews for Justice for Palestinians, etc. are well known and thoroughly documented.  See NGO Monitor for details on how they use misrepresentation, exaggerations and outright lies to subvert Israel’s cause.

Yet there are other groups which sound benign and yet are giving a tail-wind to the boycott movement. Once such movement is Open Hillel which trades on the Hillel pro-Israel name to promote a devious agenda.  Describing the Open Hillel group as well as several others, a senior American lecturer,  A. J. Caschetta, writes in the Jerusalem Post of Backdoor BDS:

The first model allows you to disagree with what BDS says, while fighting for its right to be heard.

The Open Hillel Academic Council was founded to contest the Guidelines for Campus Israel Activities of the Jewish campus organization Hillel, which bar its 550+ chapters in the US and abroad from hosting or partnering with organizations that “support boycott of, divestment from, or sanctions against the State of Israel.”

Open Hillel claims that Hillel has been taken over by a coterie of donors with no “respect for academic freedom and who seek to enforce their own rightwing ideologies.” Accepting BDS at the table, so goes the argument, will not only “restore critical inquiry” but also end Hillel’s “stifling conversation about Israel-Palestine.”

Open Hillel was created to force Hillel to work with the enemies of Israel, which isn’t surprising given that one of the founders is Judith Butler, West Coast queen of the BDS movement.


The second form of backdoor BDS is a piecemeal version that rejects measures punishing Israelis collectively in favor of those that ostensibly target only the most “guilty.”

The Third Narrative (TTN), a project of the American leftist Zionist group Ameinu (formerly the Labor Zionist Alliance), is focused on targeting the so-called “occupied territories,” rather than the whole of Israel. Syracuse University Jewish Studies professor Zachary Braiterman, a prolific writer on this subject, denounces the American Studies Association’s “blanket academic boycott on all Israeli universities and colleges” but applauds “more targeted…boycotts of West Bank settlements,” like those of the European Union. The latter, which he calls “bds,” reflect “international consensus that settlements are illegal under international law and constitute a violation of Palestinian human rights.”

Caschetta tries to analyse the motives and mindset of those who would side with our enemies and finishes with a warning:

For many on the Jewish academic Left, the question of whether, and how far, to embrace the BDS agenda has become the defining issue of their careers, perhaps even their identities. Given the extraordinary pressures they face to disavow Israel, advocating “bds” is for some a defensive move that allows them to fit in without jumping on the bandwagon. Others suffer from what Dr. Kenneth Levin calls the Oslo Syndrome: “the recurring propensity among segments of the Jewish population to take to heart the indictments of besiegers and persecutors, and to ascribe to themselves the power to change dramatically the attitudes of their enemies by self-reform.”

But make no mistake, the growing numbers of backdoor BDS advocates are, wittingly or unwittingly, advancing the BDS cause. All of these “bds” currents implicitly accept the foundational premise of BDS – that Israelis and/or Jews should be singled out for unique treatment. After all, “individual sanctions” are tools applied only to the world’s most odious regimes, and Open Hillel treats the one Jewish group on college campuses in a way that no other identity group is treated. As Andrew Pessin points out, no one would expect African-American groups to accept white supremacists to their ranks in the name of “intellectual inquiry” or “balance.”

The only racism that is still acceptable today in polite circles is anti-Jewish racism. Yet the antisemites are outraged if you call them antisemites. They want to be able to hate the Jews while still carrying their “halo” of liberal tolerance. But it doesn’t work that way and we must continue to call them out on their intolerance and hatred.

However bad Open Hillel and its ilk are – and they are pretty dangerous – a far worse phenomenon, and one much less known in Jewish circles, is the massive support given to BDS by a group of about 20 Israeli academics, as Yair Altman reports in Israel Hayom: (emphases are added):

A new report compiled by Dr. Shahar Golan of right-wing group Im Tirtzu has revealed that some 20 Israeli academics are encouraging the American Anthropological Association to boycott Israel in a vote that is expected to be tallied at the end of the month.

The AAA is the world’s largest professional body for anthropologists, with some 10,000 members, and it has just opened the polls for a vote on whether to sever all ties with Israel.

The 20 Israeli academics supporting the boycott are university lecturers and faculty members, some of whom receive their salaries from Israeli tax dollars, meaning that they are essentially supporting a boycott against themselves.

In an effort to stop the boycott motion, the Israeli Anthropological Association wrote a letter to its American counterpart. However, two weeks later, 20 Israeli academics who belong to various left-wing groups expressed support for the boycott in a second letter.

Altman lists these treacherous academics who teach in various Israeli colleges as well as overseas: Tel Aviv University, Tel Hai College, Sapir College, The Open University. There are several other Israelis in the list who no longer live here:

Professor Uri Davis (who converted to Islam and married a Palestinian woman from Ramallah), Dr. Naor Ben-Yehoyada, Eliran Bar-El, Hadas Weiss, Barak Kalir, Hilla Dayan, Erella Grassiani and Nitzan Shoshan.

The universities defended themselves by distancing themselves from these lecturers’ opinions, stating that they did not represent the universities, only their own opinions, and these are protected by free speech. As for the academics themselves, they explained their actins by claiming they are concerned for the future of Israel (they have a funny way of showing their concern!) and by asserting that the ASA boycott call is “is a response to Palestinian civil society’s call for non-violent struggle against the occupation” and not led by Israelis. I’m sure you all find that terribly reassuring. Not.

Why have the university administrations not taken action against these subversive academics? Do they not understand that the activities of these academics could in theory lead to the closure of their own schools?

As Matan Peleg, CEO of Im Tirtzu states:

“The decision-makers and university presidents in Israel are struggling against the BDS phenomenon around the world, but they are completely ignoring the boycott phenomenon within, which is being led by Israeli academics. It is sad to see that the boycott leaders are cutting the branch upon which they are perched and working behind the scenes to critically harm the future of Israeli academia.”

So what is the real motive for their self-hatred, or rather for their disdain of their fellow Israelis who think differently to them? Is it Oslo Syndrome, being convinced by the enemy that their cause is the right one? Is it a form of Jewish antisemitism? Do they look down on right-wing Jews and Israelis and think they are superior to them? Is it a purely commercial decision? Are they hoping to attract better paying jobs and more fame by jumping on a radical-chic trendy bandwagon? Are they subversive anti-Western anti-imperialists on a mission?

Or are they simply so open-minded their brains fell out?

This entry was posted in Academia, Antisemitism, Boycotts and BDS, Incitement, Israel news and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to The Jews and Israelis who back BDS

  1. Pingback: The Jews and Israelis who back BDS – 24/6 Magazine

  2. ShimonZ says:

    Is Butler a Jewish name? … or is that the prison where Pollard was held?

    • anneinpt says:

      Judith Butler claims she’s Jewish, but if she is she is an “as-a-Jew”.

      It is also the prison where Pollard was held. Interesting. Never thought of the mysterious coincidence…

      • DR. WENDY COOPER JOY says:

        I knew Judy Butler from Yale Grad School. What a self-hating Jew! She was a total creep even then. The running joke about her (courtesy of me, of course) was Q: “What do get when you cross a Mafioso with Judy Butler?” A: Someone who makes you an offer you can’t understand!” LOLOL!

        • Brian Goldfarb says:

          according to Wikipedia (dubious of course): “Judith Butler was born in Cleveland, Ohio,[9] to a family of Hungarian and Russian Jewish descent.[10] Most of her maternal grandmother’s family perished in the Holocaust.[11] As a child and teenager, she attended both Hebrew school and special classes on Jewish ethics…”

          That would appear to make her Halachically Jewish, which probably annoys the hell out of her. Or, as Anthony Julius one, memorably, said (in a public meeting), “these people don’t hate themselves. Indeed, they love themselves. It’s their parents they hate!”

        • anneinpt says:

          Wow, Dr. Wendy, I do not envy you your past relationship! But that’s a very funny description. 🙂

  3. A.t. says:

    I think Jews would have a much better understanding of the longstanding “self-hatred” problem if they had a better understanding of Christianity. Classically, Christianity promotes “I’m ok; you’re not ok” thinking; and Jews simply are not okay unless they accept Jesus Christ. This may no longer be the conscious sticking point for those of a secular bent (though it certainly is for the many angry Bible quoters populating “Israel” forums), but the traces of “not okay” thinking surely remain. To Jews who embrace this vibe, double-standards feel entirely appropriate. (And it almost doesn’t matter why one individual Jew is susceptible and another not.)

    Of course there is a paradox in that Jews cannot criticize Christianity without “confirming” that they are indeed evil enemies of Christianity. So no clear gain there. However, a failure to understand the West’s foundational religion, both factually and empathically, is an amazing blind spot of Jews (reading a modern English New Testament wouldn’t be a bad start). This will likely shed light not only on “self-hatred,” but also on the related inability of so many to “see” anti-Semitism.

    • anneinpt says:

      I get your point AT but I disagree. The Jews never internalized the subliminal message from the Christians that “they’re not OK”, just like they never absorbed the same message from the Muslims who also regard them as infidels, maybe Dhimmis in a best case scenario.

      The self-hatred stems from a wish by those Jews to fit in to the host society, and they are willing to deny their own heritage and the work to the detriment of their co-religionists in order to ingratiate themselves into that society.

      In other words, if they have internalized a message at all, it’s that being different is not OK.

      Their self-hatred morphs into self-love because they feel they’re doing the “right thing” and their hatred turns outwards towards their own stubborn brethren who won’t follow them.

      They don’t realize that it’s precisely the Jews’ otherness, their differentness, that has preserved them throughout all the ages.

      So, no need to learn the Christian texts, nor the Muslim texts. We have learned enough to know we are not interested in other religions. We just wish to be left alone in peace.

      • A.t. says:

        I agree entirely with your inferences about the “self-hating” Jew’s internal process; these observations do not contradict my post; they reinforce it.

        As for my suggestion that Jews familiarize themselves with the New Testament, this was not for the purpose of finding spiritual direction; but for “knowing one’s enemy.” You are disadvantaged if you do not know that the Koran calls Jews sons of apes and pigs; likewise that the New Testament calls Jews sons of the Devil. You state, “We just wish to be left alone in peace.” This will not happen as long as core Christian/Muslim beliefs hold sway; my very point. Thus, perhaps broadened education will help where mere “wishing” has failed. Also, not understanding Christian passions leaves more Jews prey to fig leaf arguments about Israel’s “behavior.”

        As for those who contend that today’s troublemakers are progressives, I would say that the progressive concept of extolling the poor and despising the rich is a Christian one. (Compare to Hindu India.) Indeed Marx’s conversion to Christianity ran parallel to his contempt for Jews and capitalism.

        If you are not up for the New Testament, then you might read Daniel Jonah Goldhagen or James Carroll.

  4. Judy Prager says:

    I think any Israeli academic who openly supports anti semitic oeganisations should be instantly dismissed from his/her post. Ido not want my taxes to be used to fund these places of learning. We have enough foreign haters without supporting such disgusting self haters who might indoctrinate our youth behind our backs.

    • anneinpt says:

      I agree with you totally, but I wish you (and me!) luck in implementing such a move. Can you imagine the geschrei? “Discrimination! Silencing Free speech! Bigotry!” etc.And our leftist courts would probably come to their defence too.

  5. Brian Goldfarb says:

    I think I agree, in principle, with many of the arguments concerning both Israeli and non-Israeli Jews siding with the oppressors.

    However, there is a serious issue of free speech here: while it should not be extended to those who use “free speech” to deny (should the gain political power) any who disagree with them their own right to free speech, there has to be an allowance for people like this to express their repugnant views.

    They won’t, we know only too well, accept anything we say in response as valid, but to deny them the right to say it may well open the door to allowing them to find a way of denying us the right to disagree with them.

    What I do think we have to do, over and over again, is ask them, no, demand of them, that they substitute “black”, or “female”, or “Muslim”, or “gay”, “lesbian”, “transexual” for Israel and/or Jew, and then see if they say the same thing.

    Those really on the extreme right might well say they would, but those supposedly on the liberal or hard left would, if honest, say of course not.

    And to those who refuse to respond, on the grounds that “Israel” and “Zionists” are their interests, not these other groups, we should keep asking the question and refuse to accept any evasions.

    We may not get an answer, but with luck we might start to make some of them feel uncomfortable.

    Why should be alone in our discomfort?

    • anneinpt says:

      I agree with you in almost everything Brian. I like the idea of challenging them to substitute “blacks” or “Muslims” for Jews. But they don’t allow themselves to be confused with facts.

      The main problem is that these people are not only – or even – exercising free speech. They’re not only condemning Israel and slandering it in the media and academia. They are calling for a boycott. That goes beyond free speech and into the territory of active damage. That’s why they have to be stopped.

      There is also the added problem of the effect of this “free speech”. It amounts to incitement to violence when expressed in certain forums, and is therefore the equivalent of shouting “fire!” in a crowded theatre. Why should they be allowed to damage Israel and inflame antisemitism just to satisfy their own “progressive” sentiments?

      They know and we know that they can criticise Israel all they like, freely and without limit, everywhere, even in Israel. But they should not be free to spread libels, slander, and calls for boycotts.

  6. Anne, thank you for this article. I have a 1st cousin who is a member of Jewish Voice for Peace and obviously thinks she is doing something noble. When I think of her, I always think of Chaim Rumkowski, the Head of the Lodz Ghetto, who thought that labor for the German war cause would preserve the lives of the Jewish inhabitants of this Ghetto. Rumkowski and his family were on the last transport to Auschwitz, slated for extermination just like all the other Jews.

    • anneinpt says:

      Thank you Marjorie for your insights. I do feel sorry for your cousin, she is very misguided to say the least. And as you say, when trouble comes, G-d forbid, being a “good Jew” makes no difference to the antisemites.

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