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?