An anti-Israel and anti-Semitic wave is consuming England. Several groups are waging an aggressive war against Israel, and the battle has reached new heights of late.
A group of British university lecturers with 67,000 members recently decided to support the Hamas government and recommended its members sever all ties with Israeli scientists who refuse to denounce “Israel’s apartheid policies in the territories.” Another academic organization tried to pass a similar motion last year, but abandoned the effort after being threatened with legal action.
For the past several years these organizations have been trying to impose an academic boycott on Israel. Every year they alter their proposals in the hope they will finally be approved.
Trampling academic, actual freedom
The phenomenon started with proposals to boycott all Israeli universities and academics; last year they focused on Bar Ilan University and Haifa University, and when that failed, they recommended British academics personally boycott Israeli scientists. This proposal was finally approved.
This represents a serious trampling of academic and scientific freedom. It is a political witch hunt, and to a very large degree it is a cynical, anti-Semitic move. No similar decisions have been taken about any other country, even ones responsible for serious human rights abuses.
This decision joins other serious steps. In the past year, lawyers have gotten arrest warrants for IDF generals, including Shaul Mofaz, Aviv Kochavi and Doron Almog, claiming they committed war crimes.
A group of British architects passed a resolution to boycott their Israeli counterparts because, according to them, the Israelis were partners in creating the “criminal” security fence. The editor of Dance Europe refused to publish an article by Israeli choreographer Sally-Anne Friedland unless she issue a public denunciation of the “Israeli occupation,” and the Anglican Church has recommended boycotting Israeli businesses, which would mean pulling investments from companies and factories that do businesses with Israel.
In each of these cases, the underlying motor driving these efforts is a rejection of Israel’s fundamental right to exist. They are more than simple criticisms of Israeli policy.
There are several reasons for this British hostility, including the anti-Israel activities of radical and post-Zionist Israelis living in England, Israel’s portrayal in the British media, and the country’s weak Jewish community.
The British media systematically supports the Palestinians, and openly slants its reporting about Israel and Israeli policy. The left-wing Guardian and Independent newspapers regularly print accusatory, anti-Israel editorials, and their correspondents in Israel file biased, and occasionally false, reports. The supposedly prestigious BBC has long been a sounding board to trumpet Palestinian propaganda.
Britain’s academic community has proven just how small and outrageous it really is. Maybe the English think they still rule the Land of Israel. Perhaps they are just taking revenge for losing their mandate here to small, determined group of Jews.
The time has come to focus on Britain. The government must join together with non-governmental organizations to focus efforts on repelling the spiteful wave of ugly anti-Semitism.
Eitan Gilboa is a professor of political science and media studies and a member of the Academic Freedom Committee at Bar Ilan University