Time Running Out – #Anthroboycott Against Israel
At this very moment, and until May 31, the membership of the American Association of Anthropologists (AAA) is voting whether or not to boycott Israeli institutions of higher learning and research, a vote going by the nickname, #Anthroboycott. Shame on them! Here are some of the most recent
articles pieces of drivel in support of academic boycott published on their website.
Advocates for BDS Instigator, Omar Barghouti
— Al-Shabaka الشبكة (@AlShabaka) May 17, 2016
On May 17, the Committee on Academic Freedom of the Middle East Studies Association sent a 3-page letter to Bibi and to Minister of the Interior Aryeh Deeri complaining about restrictions of movement placed on BDS instigator and Tel Aviv University PhD candidate Omar Barghouti and the suggestion to revoke his residency status in Israel. They write:
Given that Mr. Barghouti has been living in Israel with permanent residency status for 22 years and has been travelling regularly in recent years to promote the BDS campaign, we are led to believe that the new restrictions to which he is being subjected are political in nature, related to his non-violent support for Palestinian rights.
Damn right the motive is political! I’d like to see what would happen if I decided, from my platform as a student at an American university, to campaign for academic boycott of American universities. How long do you think I would be given to get out of the country, my student visa revoked? Had I been married to an American and have children, my spouse and kids would probably be invited to leave with me or to visit me in jail. I think Israel should extend that very same invitation to Barghouti’s Israeli Arab wife and their kids. Perhaps one of the universities intent on boycotting Israel would sponsor his immigration to the States, or he and his family can go to where he was born – Qatar. I hear life is very good there for Israel-haters.
Distinguished Professor Saud Joseph Discovers the Merits of #Anthroboycott
On May 24, Saud Joseph posted a short piece that included the following:
Crossing the barriers into Ramallah, Palestine was a world-change. The effects of occupation were everywhere. Destruction, development held hostage, mobility crippled, lives upended and denied. While I was there, a colleague’s house was searched and torn through by the Israeli police. The bright spots were the universities, where scholars worked hard on research and teaching and young Palestinians committed to learning fought through the interminable barriers to attend classes. They could not come and go as they wished, even in their own country; visas to other countries frequently denied; constant constraints on opportunities for jobs/awards/grants; lives, careers, families destroyed.
First of all, did she think to ask why development was being held hostage in a regime that receives billions from Europe and the USA? Did she ask to see the estates on which the PA leadership live? Did she think to ask why her colleague’s house was searched or does she think the Israeli security forces just randomly pick on families with no reason at all? And yes, travel from place to place in the PA is highly inconvenient. Did Joseph think to ask her hosts when the check posts went up (when the terror attacks began) and what could be done to get them taken down (stop terror)?
I wonder what she would think if she was told by a faculty member at a PA university, as I was, not to believe everything reported in the media because the media exaggerates or what she would think if she was told by another faculty member, as I was, that: “No one can guarantee that Paris, America or any other country is safer than here in these day[s].”
Joseph, if you want to explore the issue of PA universities yourself (that, by the way, were established only after 1967), go to their websites and read how they brag about their international conferences, participation of their students in studies overseas, the high level of their faculty. Their main problem is lack of funds and not Israeli oppression.
I guess that, while Israeli oppression gets points in the academic-boycott-against-Israel world, it would not get points among students looking for a place to study. As I concluded in one of my articles:
. . . academic freedom in the Palestinian Authority can be taken for granted as long as the university and/or its students desist from engaging in activities that are considered to threaten the security of Israel.
Unless, of course, these universities are lying to foreign students who take an interest in attending (and paying tuition fees, of course) and telling them it is safe when it is not. You cannot have it both ways – claiming academic freedom is suppressed in order to demonize Israel and then claim that it is not when you want to attract foreign students.
Belittling Requests to Oppose #Anthroboycott
Roberto J. González, chair of San José State University’s anthropology department, was “bewildered” (in his own words) by University of California President Janet Napolitano’s letter to the AAA asking members to oppose the boycott. He goes on to write:
Among the concerns identified by those supporting the AAA resolution is the destruction of academic freedom for Palestinian colleagues living under Israeli occupation. Faculty who protest Israeli policies are subjected to surveillance or retaliation, while Palestinian students routinely face discrimination.
Let’s put aside for now the lie of “Israeli occupation” (that is the subject of separate articles); I want to ask Prof. González what he means by “destruction of academic freedom”. He so facilely writes about “routine discrimination” and “surveillance or retaliation”. Does he really have proof of this? On the other hand, Palestinian Arabs routinely criticize Israel; the problem is planning terrorist acts, not criticism.
What happens to faculty who might want to protest Palestinian policies? Is it safe to protest? Perhaps one should ask the family of the East Jerusalemite who was murdered a few weeks ago because he had the gall to cooperate with Israeli efforts to improve the standard of living for Arab residents. I think road construction and playgrounds were on the drawing board. Claiming Israeli oppression and human rights violations is so easy. I know, the UN helps you with this. But think for yourself! I thought that was what an education was for!
My Final Word on This Subject (Until Next Time)
#Anthroboycott is a great sound-byte. And I guess bytes is what we have all got used to with our greatly decreasing attention spans in this new digital world. Small bytes with no substance. You take a byte at this and a byte at that and you are left not really understanding the greater picture because you let others define it for you with catchy labels and loud voices.
You have let the Arabs who now call themselves Palestinians define your (mis-)understanding of the Middle East. You believe them at their word without doing any research for yourselves on the subject. It makes me wonder at the value of any academic research project you may publish, if this is the level of your exploration of a topic. I have the feeling that if you were to truly undertake a study of the higher education situation in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank in your parlance), you would be quite surprised at what you would find. But, alas, I don’t think you will bother to do that.
I pity the people of small minds who do not do their own research into matters they consider monumental enough to take up such huge time and space as this thing called #Anthroboycott.