Asaf Wohl
Israeli flag burned at protest - the new anti-Semitism
Photo: AP

An academic boycott? An anti-Semitic boycott

There’s a strange and inexplicable phenomenon affecting large segments of the world’s population: Anti-Semitism. Asaf Wohl says anti-Semitic blood libels are back, this time under guise of 'criticism of Israel'

It was the longest aerial sortie ever executed. Two Vulcan bombers from the Royal British Air Force required no fewer than 11 refueling planes over 16 hours to pass over the 8,000 miles to the remote Falkland Islands. It happened on May 1, 1982, some 25 years ago.


I was reminded of this because of the British academic boycott of Israel, decided upon last week, and the concern expressed earlier this week by Israeli ministers that the boycott was liable to spread.


What’s the connection? One of the official reasons for the boycott on the Israeli academy is the occupation. Isn’t it ridiculous to hear such criticism from the citizens of a country that sends its army to the other side of the earth just to keep under its colonialist patronage two arid scraps of land in the middle of the ocean? From the citizens of a country that refuses to return Gibraltar to its legal owners? Not to mention its soldiers who are fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.


Trying to give rational explanations here would appear to be a waste of breath, since this has nothing to do with logic. This strange and inexplicable phenomenon, which affects large segments of the population every so often (Jews as well) is called “anti-Semitism.”


We’re not anti-Semitic, just anti-Israel

Over the course of history the plague of anti-Semitism has broken out, mostly in Europe, in several forms. In the ancient period it was because of the targeted killing each of us committed against the son of God, in the Middle Ages we spread the black plague and baked matzah from the blood of Christian children, and later science was used to back up the various racial theories. And now, in our generation, we’re fortunate to see the latest version of anti-Semitism, couched in terms of “criticism of Israel.”


Great, you aren’t anti-Semites, you’re “anti-Israel.” It’s no secret that the Jewish state must always justify itself and apologize for not being prepared to go along with those who seek to destroy it. There is no other country in the world that receives such criticism. Millions can be slaughtered in Darfur without world public opinion batting an eyelash.


The nations of Europe must ask themselves: Why is Israel of such great interest to them? Who exactly do they seek to boycott? The only democracy in the Middle East, which has produced Nobel Prize winners, drugs, medical technology, advanced agriculture, intellectuals and philosophers, or the dictatorships that have no civil rights, that execute people and war monger?


Are they motivated by jealousy?

The learned British have still reached the conclusion that of all the countries in the world, it’s Israel they should be boycotting. So if that’s what you think, take it to its logical conclusion. Do as did your predecessors who boycotted Jewish physics. Stop taking drugs produced in Israel or those based on research by Israeli Nobel Prize laureates. Boycott economic models, medical equipment, and control systems, and why shouldn't you burn books by Israeli scientists?


In the meantime you can learn from the Palestinians about suicide bombings, persecution of homosexuals, reciprocal slaughter, burning down holy buildings, oppressing women, launching missiles at crowded populated areas, and handing out candies after attacks on New York and London.


Is it possible that your condemnation stems from envy? Or is it hard for you to accept the fact that Jews have received 22% of the Nobel Prizes even though they constitute only 0.2% of the world’s population?


I do not bear good tidings. It would appear that we’ll continue to exist and to progress. In every generation they’ve tried to refute the words of the Prophet Samuel that “the Strength of Israel will not lie,” and they’ve failed.


I can only remind you anti-Semitic boycotters of a sentence from a speech made by Albert Einstein in Berlin in 1929: “Judaism has proven that the intellect is the best weapon in history.” And it is this intellect that you have chosen to boycott. Unlike you, Einstein was an enthusiastic Zionist, which is why he deserves condemnation. Even so, he did have a bit of brains.


Asaf Wohl has a BA in philosophy and is the winner of the Dean’s Prize for Excellence for MA students in the Jewish History Department of Haifa University


פרסום ראשון: 06.06.07, 21:08
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