On the heels of the ASA and MLA meetings at which anti-Israel resolutions were discussed, and the “Israel Apartheid” weeks taking place on many campuses around the world, we are seeing a growing concern regarding the impact of the BDS movement. It is precisely because of this unease that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s March 4th, 2014, AIPAC address focused on BDS (mentioning it eighteen times), stating correctly that:
“Most people in the BDS movement don’t seek a solution of two states for two peoples. On the contrary, they openly admit that they seek the dissolution of the only state for the Jewish people. They’re not seeking peace, they’re not seeking reconciliation. But some of their gullible fellow travelers actually do believe that BDS advances peace.
Well, the opposite is true. BDS sets back peace because it hardens Palestinian positions and it makes mutual compromise less likely.
But I think these are all important points, but not the critical important. The critical thing is that BDS is morally wrong. It turns morality on its head. This is the main point. And I can tell you, it’s not that Israel, like all states, is not beyond criticism. We have a boisterous democracy where everyone has an opinion. And believe me, no one in Israel is shy about expressing it — about anything. In Israel, self-criticism is on steroids. But the BDS movement is not about legitimate criticism. It’s about making Israel illegitimate. It presents a distorted and twisted picture of Israel to the naive and to the ignorant. BDS is nothing but a farce.
Here’s why, listen: In dozens of countries academics are imprisoned for their beliefs. So the universities of which country does BDS want to sanction and boycott? Israel — the one country in the Middle East where professors can say, write and teach what they want.”
Additionally, columnist Jeffrey Goldberg’s interview with President Obama during the AIPAC conference was highly revealing and alarming regarding American foreign policy towards Israel. Specifically, Obama’s statement that “we also know that Israel has become more isolated internationally” echoed similar statements made by Secretary of State John Kerry. All have contributed to giving wider credibility to BDS activity on campuses in Europe and the US.
This general climate, coupled with an ongoing activism in academia to demomize and delegitimize Israel, means that SPME’s work is critical and suggests the kind of battles we are fighting, in and out of academia.
As always, we welcome your feedback and article submissions.
Asaf Romirowsky, PhD