Unlike last year’s nefarious attempt to boycott the University of Haifa and Bar Ilan University, led by the dubious British academic Sue Blackwell, this time around the motion is urging a “personal” boycott of Israelis who have not expressed opinions in line with the motion’s authors’ warped views.
This latest boycott attempt, if passed, is to be waged individually by every member of the UK’s Natfhe union, at its members’ “personal discretion.”
This approach stems mainly stems from a fear of a lawsuit, and has been aptly described by Professor Jon Pike, who has been leading efforts to combat the boycott, as a “gutlessness McCarthyist test.”
This column is not aimed at refuting the patently false libels which form the basis of the new boycott attempt against Israel.
In fact, it is time to change the standard defensive, explanatory response which automatically follows such attacks.
Instead of repeatedly pleading against a boycott of Israel, Israeli academics at the receiving end, and Israel’s friends abroad, should take a new approach, which does not unwittingly support the self-appointed role of those who seek to boycott this country. Those who would like to boycott Israel are not, as they would like to believe, our judges, juries, and executioners.
Israel is not on trial, and the bigoted rogues who inhabit the ivory tower world in Britain, and who are behind the repeated boycott attempts, are in no position to level charges at the thriving, diverse Israeli academic world.
Examining the accusers
Rather, it is time for the accusatory finger to be leveled at those who point it in our direction. It is time to boycott those academics who are boycotting us, as well as any university in the UK which supports a ban on Israeli academics.
The reason for boycotting such figures are obvious: They are guilty of violating the principles of free thought, by demanding that Israeli academics agree with their own twisted view of the Israeli - Palestinian conflict, and attempt to demonize Israel, while backing up their demand with threats of punishment.
They are guilty of hypocrisy, by failing to demand a boycott of their own country, Britain, involved in a war in Iraq in which tens of thousands of people have been killed. The same boycotters have failed to demand that academics from dozens of other countries oppose their government as a condition for not being boycotted. And they are guilty of violating the principle of free flow of ideas. On all of these charges, those who seek to attack Israelis with a boycott are guilty.
From an academic perspective, the loss will be Britain’s - the achievements of Israeli scientists, thinkers, and researchers, are too many to list in this limited space.
The counter-boycott against bigotry can begin with Professor Richard Seaford, of the University of Exeter, who this week turned down an invitation by Bar Ilan University to write a book review for its journal. “Alas, I am unable to accept your kind invitation, for reasons that you may not like. I have, along with many other British academics, signed the academic boycott of Israel,” Seaford gleefully told Bar Ilan University.
Seaford also signed a petition calling for “the Zionist structure of the State of Israel to be dismantled” - in other words, he has signed his name to a call for Israel to cease to exist.
Professor Seaford should be boycotted, and informed that academics around the world have no desire to work with individuals like himself who practice discrimination against Israelis.
There is a time and a place for explaining Israel’s reality and perspectives to the world. Accepting the role of defendant in a show trial, run by racists, is not it.
If Britain’s largest union of academics votes to boycott Israel, the union, and all those who back the boycott, should face international isolation through a counter-boycott.