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April 28, 2014 9:50 am

BDS Movement Echoes Germany in the 1930s

avatar by Tammi Rossman-Benjamin

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A Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) protest against Israel. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

In the 1930s, thousands of Jewish professors were kicked out of German universities because they were Jews. Shamefully, today in the U.S., Jewish professors are threatened with being thrown out of scholarly conferences, prevented from publishing in scholarly journals, and denied research or employment opportunities, simply because they are citizens of the Jewish State.

In the U.S., more than 1,000 scholars on more than 300 college and university campuses across the country have endorsed an academic boycott of Israel.

Make no mistake about it, the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign is pure anti-Semitism masquerading in the cloak of academic legitimacy. It was established in response to a call by Palestinian organizations, including terrorist organizations Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, to facilitate the elimination of Israel. Omar Barghouti, founder of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, has publicly described his desire to “euthanize” the “Zionist project.”

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Even though the American Studies Association’s recent adoption of a resolution boycotting Israeli universities and scholars has been subjected to scathing criticism by several prominent academic associations – including more than 250 university presidents, hundreds of state and Federal legislators, and virtually every mainstream Jewish organization – too many professors continue to promote the boycott of Israeli professors, advance lies and distortions about Israel, and advocate the elimination of the Jewish state.

Faculty members’ unbridled use of the university for promoting the boycott of Israel has had dangerous consequences.

Corruption of the academic mission of the university: The political nature of the campaign to promote a boycott of Israel damages the educational endeavor that is at the heart of a university. When the focus of a professor or department is political advocacy, the quality of teaching and research is severely compromised. One-sided partisan teaching limits the access of students to vital information and violates their fundamental right to be educated, not indoctrinated.

Creation of a hostile environment for Jewish students: Professors who use their official positions and resources to promote campaigns to harm or dismantle Israel and who encourage students to do the same, contribute to the creation of a hostile and threatening environment for many Jewish students, who report feeling emotionally and intellectually harassed and intimidated by their professors and isolated from their fellow students.

Since no other racial, ethnic, or religious group has been subjected by faculty to such pervasive harassment and intimidation, Jewish students experience this flagrant double standard as a kind of institutional discrimination that is anti-Semitic in effect if not in intent. Unfortunately, Jewish students who feel emotionally or intellectually threatened as a result of their professor’s anti-Israel advocacy are often afraid to come forward and confront the professor or to complain to an administrator, because they are concerned about potential retaliation.

Giving academic legitimacy to global campaigns to harm Israel: American colleges have become a critical front in the war being waged against the Jewish state. The language and imagery used to demonize Israel and portray it as worthy of destruction, as well as the BDS campaigns intended to be the first steps towards that end, are the main weapons of this war. They have caused significant harm to Israel’s reputation. Moreover, when anti-Semitic tropes and campaigns are promoted by faculty, a cloak of academic legitimacy attaches to them, considerably enhancing their ability to flourish on campus and contributing to the growth of global anti-Semitism.

What can be done?

The problem is a serious one and worsens with each campus-based boycott effort that goes unchallenged. Pressure must be brought from outside of the university.

Public Pressure: Information about faculty members who endorse BDS should be published and circulated widely. Then, students, prospective students, alumni, parents, donors, and taxpayers should express outrage at the university’s collusion with an anti-Semitic campaign.  Potential loss of student or donor revenue and the erosion of goodwill of the taxpaying public will send a compelling message to university administrators.

Legal Pressure: When the behavior violates state or Federal law, legal action may prove effective.

Legislative Pressure: Virtually all universities are beholden to state and Federal legislators for funding. To date, legislation that would withhold public monies from universities that engage in anti-Israel boycotts has been proposed in five states, as well as in the U.S. Congress.  Such legislation could go a long way towards curbing the behavior of academic boycotters.

Boycotts of Israeli universities and scholars are the newest expressions of anti-Semitism. On this year’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, we must commit to fight locally, on each and every campus where the anti-Semitic boycott of the Jewish State rears its ugly head.

Rossman-Benjamin is a lecturer at University of California Santa Cruz and the co-founder of AMCHA Initiative, a non-profit organization that combats anti-Semitism on college campuses across the United States.

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  • Google May 10, 1933.

  • SAS

    Comparing Israel’s critics to Nazis……how incredibly original.

  • i heisler

    what is the matter wth you colly gies,universities,presidents,professors,facylty,etc.etc. can’t you read past your noses??are you scared of your so called students???????????then quit and dig ditches.

  • What else can be done? American Jewish students should consider boycotting U.S. higher education, and apply to Israeli schools. Do not waste shekels on American schools, when Israeli schools offer a first-rate education. Finally, the “B Movement” is intellectually dishonest because it knows that anti-Israel equals anti-Jewish.

  • Jusuf P A

    Education Institution should always be neutral and secure of any crime so that young people can focus on learning with a critical mind.
    When such institution supporting the anti-ethnic group, we can expect that institutions will continue anti-any other kind of ethnic and soon even anti-government.

  • Sandy Manny

    Theo Horesh: it is easy to identify you as an anti-semite masquerading as a human being. Anyone who cites kill-ratios is simply someone lamentimg the fact that Jews are not easily killed. If untrained terrorists found it easy to kill Israelis, then Israel would cease to exist.

    Palestinians treat Christians and women like chattel, let alone smaller minorities like homosexuals and the handicapped who face imminent death on a daily basis.

    When the fervor against others reaches a level of intellectual honesty, I will consider what Israel may or may not be doing.

  • Stephen Aron

    Appreciate that someone is speaking out against this intimidation.

  • Robert Gasner

    Unfortunately we are so far behind solving this eternal Jew hatred issue that the only solution is exactly the same as what occurred in the 1930’s. It will eventually come to out-and-out world war and in the end it will probably be deaths in the hundreds of millions.

    Just like in the 30’s it could have been stopped by the few, so too in the 90’s it could have been stopped by a few. Unfortunately they were more concerned with money nd used a scapegoat people to get what they think they wanted. In the end its just another revolution of the age old cycle of waiting too long to stop the catastrophe so it will costs so many lives.

    I’d love to be here to see it, but I’ll be long gone shortly followed by many others including most of the useful idiots progeny, needlessly wasted.

    Its been fun watching…I just wish it would for once turn out to everyone’s benefit. So easily accomplished but so hard to turn off the basic human instinct of evil…hows that going for you ??

  • Bernard Rubin

    I would like to write appropriate letters to various
    universities as a protestor. I would like/need a list
    of offending profs and their institutions, and one-sided
    conferences they have sponsored so that I could
    write to the university presidents.

  • Theo Horesh

    The BDS campaign would be anti-Semitic if Israel equalled Judaism. But Israel is seperate and distinct from Judaism and must remain so in the minds of Jews if Judaism is to remain free from the corruption that is inevitable in all states.

    Individuals and groups must always have the freedom to criticize the actions of a state. Removing this freedom is a recipe for the further corruption of a state. That Israel happens to be Jewish is incidental to the criticism of most people. The greater concern is with the injustices of an otherwise developed and democratic state. When developed, western states become lawless and abusive, people sit up and take notice. This is not Syria or Arghanistan after all.

    Students are regularly afraid to speak in class about subjects around which they are ill-informed. Jewish students, who have been subjected to years of inaccurate indoctrination concerning Israel run the risk of saying inaccurate and insensitive things in class, and this accounts for most of their fear to speak out. And of course, when students say inaccurate things concerning the states they love, in an effort to defend them, many professors will get heated. This is not what college is about after all.

    The simplest of facts do not support Israel. The state has maintained an occupation, carried out under military law, of another people, for almost half a century. Kill ratios between Israelis and Palestinians have shifted recently from 2-to-1 on up to 25-to-1. Israel continues to build colonies on land stolen from Palestinians, using water stolen from their farms. Let’s drop the inflammatory rhetoric about anti-Semitism on this one and deal with the facts in the ground instead.

    • i heisler

      bds a 1930th.nazi org. muudering. undesireables jews,gypsies,gays,lesbians,mental and physicaly handicapped (Mengele experiments on and 0n etc.etc.ww2}looming ww3???????

    • Thomas

      Theo,
      Stolen land? Do you know your history? The current Arabs called Palestanians never had a country even when Israel didn’t exist. The Arab countries didn’t get on any band wagon about giving up the land to them when they controlled it. When the Jewish people were given back their historical homeland then the hate reared its head and lies started and people like you believe them being unaware of history.

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