Academic Freedom at Risk: The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement Against Israel
A symposium at the University of Baltimore School of Law entitled Academic Freedom at Risk: the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement Against Israel featuring a variety of experts, including retired Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz who delivered the keynote address. With regard to faculty who rarely speak out against the BDS movement Dershowitz commented that he has “never met a less courageous group of people than tenured professors…who don’t have the guts to stand up to the loud-mouth people on the hard left who try to create an atmosphere of political correctness on our campus.”
It was precisely for that reason that the conference was organized by Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME), the American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists (AAJLJ), and the University of Baltimore Law School, with the goal of highlighting the role of faculty. SPME is the largest faculty grassroots group, with approximately 40,000 members around the world and all parts of the political spectrum, who are committed to combating BDS. The AAJLJ has taken a leading role in defending Israel in courtrooms and in legal forums.
At the conference Professor Jeffrey Herf of the University of Maryland described the underhanded means in which BDS was pushed in the American Historical Association and how it was eventually defeated. Dr. Alex Joffe detailed the structure of the BDS movement, emphasizing its connections to the Muslim Brotherhood and to far left organizations, including Jewish ones. Finally, Professor Richard Landes contextualized BDS as a theology where Israel has been given the role of the devil.
All of this, gave a diverse audience that included students and professors, Jews and non-Jews an inside look at one of growing problems we face in academe today.
Never met a less courageous group of people than tenured professors…who don’t have the guts to stand up to the loud-mouth people on the hard left who try to create an atmosphere of political correctness on our campus
Combating BDS requires a deep understanding of the movement, its funding, organizational architecture, and the plethora of Jewish and Muslim NGOs who fund-raise and train on its behalf, for example, the Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). There is finally movement in the anti-BDS camp to break down some of the basic elements that need
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