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Israel Academia Monitor Follows

Anti-Israel Activities of Israeli Academics

Reprints of anti-Israel articles do not represent the position

of IAM, and they are being reproduced as a public service


IAM supports the universal tradition of academic freedom that is an indispensable characteristic of higher education in Israel. At the same time, it is concerned by the activities of a small group of academics--sometimes described as revisionist historians or post-Zionists, among other labels--who go beyond the “free search for truth and its free exposition” (to quote the American Association of University Professors) that is the hallmark of academic freedom. Exploiting the prestige (and security) of their positions, such individuals often propound unsubstantiated and, frequently, demonstrably false arguments that defame Israel and call into question its right to existence.


We are happy to announce the publication of the study Academic Freedom in Israel: A Comparative Perspective; it compares academic freedom in Israel with that enjoyed by faculty in three academic leaders- Germany, Great Britain and the United States. This first of a kind research, is systematic, detailed and meticulously referenced.
The study indicates that, contrary to the view of radical scholars and their liberal supporters, the Israeli academy has enjoyed far greater freedom than its counterparts in the comparative cases. Indeed, in all three countries a combination of case law, ethic codes and strong oversight by boards of directors and politicians who appointed them have prevented radical faculty in public universities from abusing and subverting academic privileges to push an activist political agenda.
Not countervailed by academic duties and a need to account to the public and its elected representatives, the expansive sense of academic freedom has hurt Israel’s academic standing in the world. Liberal arts and social science, in particular, have been trending well below global averages, jeopardizing Israel’s overall competitive quest.
We hope that the study will spur a long-overdue debate on how to restore much- needed balance between academic freedom and the broader interests of the society and the state.



Hebrew University
HUJ Nurit Peled Elhanan and Israeli Social Sciences: A Commentary on a Highly Politicized Discipline
For years now, IAM has reported on the Nurit Peled Elhanan (HUJ) political exploits that break every rule of academic conduct. In her newest venture, Peled Elhanan, the laureate of the politically dubious Human Rights Award of the European Union Parliament, urges to boycott Israel and indeed, expel it from the international community. [See below] 
That Peled Elhanan, a tireless anti-Israeli activist, would call for boycott is old hat. She has done in countless times in the past and will do it again. It is also quite clear that neither the university authorities nor the state have any appetite to apply the 2011 anti-boycott law, though Peled Elhanan seems to be its most blatant violator. 
What is more surprising is that the social science community has never raised objection to her dubious publication record - a string of political polemics dressed up as academic research. As expected, Peled Elhanan “found empirical evidence” to compare the Israel to the worst of Nazi Germany and South African apartheid. Published by radical European outlets, this material is presented as academic research by a “Hebrew University professor.” 
For those who may wander as to why scholars - adept at using various discursive forums – have refrained from offering a critique of Peled Elhanan, the answer is simple. Social sciences in Israel are deeply politicized and virtually dominated by leftist academics anxious to protect their radical colleagues. By criticizing Peled Elhanan, they may give succor to right-wing critics of the academy. 
No such qualms exist when it comes to perceived “right-wing” scholarship. For instance, when the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya published an survey of Iranian public attitudes toward nuclear weapons in Iran – that, incidentally found a decline in public support for the project - Professor Micha Leshem and Yuval Yonay (Haifa U) offered a scathing attack on Professor Alex Mintz and the HIC accusing them of being a front for the Mossad, published on the social science server. [See below] It is not entirely clear why Leshem – who once attached a classic anti-Semitic cartoon opposing Israeli occupation - and Yonay were so outraged. A short perusal of the relevant opinion polls by Gallop and Zogby polls, easily available on the Internet, would have confirmed that, indeed, the sanctions that devastated the Iranian economy brought down the level of approval for the nuclear weapons. Here are some relevant numbers for Leshem and Yonay to consider: after five years of increasingly harsh sanctions, only 35 percent of Iranian stated that they were better off than five years ago; almost fifty percent said they were worse off. As the high cost for keeping the nuclear development afloat became evident, the virtual 100 percent approval dropped to some 60 and less. 
The recent case of Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Bar Ilan University) reflects the same pattern. On the 21st of July a number of scholars accused Kedar of alleging that rape of women in family of Hamas was the only way to deter Hamas. The claim was posted on the social science server, prompting Haaretz to publish an article. Kedar shortly after publish his version on the issue. Bar Ilan University followed up with a clarification, stating that Dr. Kedar explained in response that he does not recommend such despicable acts, and that his intention was to illustrate how difficult it is to deter a suicide bomber. 
There is little doubt that Hamas motivation and behavior – a subcategory of Jihadist behavior - is important and should be discussed by social scientists, not just as a bone fide academic topic but also as a service to the military, policy makers and the public. But here again, because of politicization, a dispassionate debate supported by empirical evidence was lost. 
Reading the book The Koranic Concept of War, by Brigadier General S.K. Malik would be a good start. Malik, a self-described Islamist, served at the time on the Pakistani general staff. He asserted that the Koran does not make a distinction between combatants in uniforms and civilians on both sides of a war. Killing enemy civilians is, of course, permitted, but Muslim non-combatants should be ready to sacrifice their lives and become martyrs for the cause. Following the Iranian revolution in 1979, the book was adopted as an official doctrine by the Revolution Guards and then taught to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a wholly owned subsidiary of Tehran, and Hamas. 
Any respectable debate on deterrence of Jihadists should, at the very least, include Malik’s work and its tactical applications. More than a decade ago, Lt. Col. Joseph C. Myers published a highly regarded study on Malik in theleading journal Parameter. The article became the basis of academically sound and sophisticated understanding of the issue. 
Social scientists have a duty to produce and disseminate relevant knowledge, not least because they are supported by the tax payer. But this notion has probably never occurred to some Israeli faculty that view their tenured position as an extension of their political agenda.


Boycott Calls Against Israel
Part IV: The Committee of University Heads Moves on BDS - The Role of Horizon 2020 in Shaping BDS
This is the fourth of a four-part summary of some points to consider when dealing with academic BDS. 
The Role of Horizon 2020 in Shaping BDS 
In the past Israel was eligible to participate in the Framework Program for Research (FPR) as part of the benefits ascribed to Israel through the EU-Israel Assertion Agreement. But the new Horizon 2020 – a multiyear, multilevel project to stimulate scientific activity among EU countries and beyond adopted a controversial condition stipulating that Israel’s control over the territories and East Jerusalem contravenes international law. 
The stipulation was the result of a tireless campaign by British Universities for Palestine (BRICUP) and the European Coordination of Committees and Association for Palestine (ECCAP) and pushed by a coalition of Socialist and Green parties in the European Parliament.
In spite of serious misgiving about the language of the document, Israel decide to sign it, thus making Israeli academic institutions and other entities eligible for grants from the 77 billion euros Horizon 2020 budget. 
The EU Guidelines on Israeli Settlements attached to Horizon 2020 declares that no entity operating in the occupied territories is eligible for grants. Further clarifications states that a grantee must be registered in the pre-1967 territory of Israel. An entity can apply for a grant when its activity takes place within Israel; the only exception is accorded to entities whose activities in the territories protect persons or promote Middle East peace in accordance with EU mission. 
The Horizon 2020 Guidelines create a problems for academic institutions and individual faculty. Application requires an honor-based statement that the entity is not registered in the territories and that no part of the activity covered by the grant takes place in the territories. 
Clearly, the honor-based system makes it easier for the Horizon 2020 bureaucracy to make decision about the grants. But the pro-Palestinian groups who advocated for the Guidelines promised to “expose” grant applicants who “mislead” the EU authorities. 
The same groups are behind a campaign to disqualify the Hebrew University and the Technion from receiving grants; the former is accused of building on land expropriated from Palestinians and the latter for having helped to develop military and other systems responsible for subjugating the Palestinians. 
At the time of this writing it is impossible to assess the possible complications introduced by Horizon 2020. One wild card is the activity of the pro-Palestinian “monitors.” Past history indicates that BDS activist are extremely persistent, giving some credence to their threats. 
The recent changes in the EU Parliament and Executive Offices are another wild card. Following the May 2014 elections, a large contingent of right wing and neo-fascist parties claimed seats; though some like the British UKIP are not unfriendly to Israel, others are mostly hostile. 
The incoming EU President, Jean-Claude Juncker, is a veteran socialist politician from Luxemburg, an ardent supporter of a more federated Europe and an advocate of a large international role for EU, including in the Middle East.


Boycott Calls Against Israel
Part III: The Committee of University Heads Moves on BDS - Responding to BDS: Actors, Options and Pitfalls
This is the third of a four-part summary of some points to consider when dealing with academic BDS. 
Responding to BDS: Actors, Options and Pitfalls 
Like the BDS movement, the response to BDS is made up of dozens of agents, mostly Jewish organizations and individuals. StandwithUs, Engage, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East and MLA Members for Scholars Rights, the Legal Project are just a few that operate in the field. Multiple actors seldom work in tandem, creating redundancies and overlaps in some areas whereas other areas are not covered. 
The anti-BDS effort has opened deep fissures in the Jewish communities in the West. Some Jewish groups such as Jewish Voices for Peace support BDS thus legitimizing the BDS drive. Other groups view the BDS debate as a free speech issue, creating high-profile confrontations with Jewish establishment. For instance, the Free Hillel movement on a number of American campuses is a response to the Hillel directive to ban BDS speakers from Hillel-financed events. 
There is a broad-range of options to fight BDS. Among the more efficacious is to create a counter group within a particular association such as MLA Members for Scholar Rights. Contrary to popular perception, generalized anti-BDS appeals have the least amount of impact because the discourse of the academic community is not susceptible to broad public relations endeavors. 
Political and legislative initiatives to limit BDS on campus have not met with much success so far. The Roskam-Lipinski bill in Congress "Protect Academic Freedom Act" that seeks to ban federal funds from institutions that support BDS has been either opposed or met with reservations by some Jewish experts and major organizations such as Anti-Defamation League. Opponents imply that, if passed, the bill may deepen the perception that Jews are stifling academic discourse and manipulating American foreign policy - an argument that found favor among some leading American scholars. 
Fighting academic BDS in court has so far failed in Great Britain and Australia. Indeed, the claim that BDS is anti-Semitics - the basis in the two suits backfired, empowering the defendants – the University and College Union (Great Britain) and Jack Lynch (Australia) and causing a rift in the local Jewish communities. 
To sum up, there is no sliver bullet, each remedy has its pitfalls.


Boycott Calls Against Israel
Part II: The Committee of University Heads Moves on BDS - Role of Israeli Academics
As noted, the Committee of University Heads has recently decided to create a special forum to track academic BDS. According to the article below, authorities have been worried that the BDS campaign – largely confined to liberal arts - will spread to sciences. 
Professor Zvi Ziegler (Emeritus, Technion), the head of the new forum, outlined its goals: “to examine and map out the scope of the threat, gathering information on potential boycotts as well as coordinating with relevant parties and institutions in Israel and abroad to minimize the damage.” Such information, in his view, can provide warnings about pending “boycott endeavors,” and “will help us thwart the initiative before it stews.” He added that “we see the importance of information regarding cases of discrimination against Israeli researchers such as rejecting articles for illegitimate reasons, refusal to take part in conferences alongside Israeli researchers or discrimination against inviting Israeli researchers to conferences.” 
Over the years, IAM has reported on this and hundreds of other instances of BDS in Europe and the United States and has amassed the largest database on the issue. 
This is the second of a four-part summary of some points to consider when dealing with academic BDS. 
The Role of Israeli Academics in the BDS Movement 
Israeli faculty have played a leading role in the BDS movement from its very inception. Indeed, BDS organizers are well aware of the benefits of Jews and especially Israeli Jews among their ranks - it legitimizes the movement and offers protection from charges of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. 
Post-Zionist scholars have provided the the theoretical justification for the BDS campaign - based on the model to fight apartheid in South Africa. Oren Yiftachel and Neve Gordon (both from BGU) were the first to produced research that “proved” Israel to be an apartheid state. Adi Ophir and Moshe Zuckermann (both from TAU) and Moshe Zimmermann (HUJ) developed the theory that Israel treats the Palestinians in ways comparable to the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany. Ariella Azoulay, who describes herself as a lexicographer at the Minerva Humanities Center, TAU produced pictoral evidence that makes the Holocaust–Palestinian Nakba equivalences. 
Post-Zionist scholars have contributed greatly to the movement by helping to organize the various BDS drives. For instance, Rachel Giora, Anat Matar (TAU) and Kobi Snitz (Weizmann Institute) were among the founders of Boycott from Within (aka BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within). The Boycott group collaborated with Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI). In August 2009 Neve Gordon called for boycott of Israel in an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times. 
The 2011 Knesset anti-boycott law did not put a total end to this activity. In 2012 Anat Matar took credit for persuading the British director Peter Brook to cancel his participation in a Kameri Theater workshop on the grounds of Kameri performance in Ariel. In April 26, 2014 Neve Gordon traveled to Belgium to speak before a group that supports BDS. In April 13, 2014 Kobi Snitz spoke to a group at the Unitarian Church of Vancouver Canada in favor of BDS. Additionally, Snitz a wrote an open letter to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA to urge it to adopt BDS. Many of those who voted for the resolution to boycott Israel that passed in June 2014 cited the encouragement received from “progressive Jews.” 
Academic authorities have refrained from taking steps against these and other scholars because of the very broad definition of academic freedom in Israel. According to Academic Freedom in Israel: A Comparative Perspective, Israeli faculty far surpass the degree of academic freedom of their counterparts employed in public universities in Germany, Great Britain and the United States. The Maltz Committee and other government panels created to bring the Israeli academy in line with tertiary education institutions in Europe and the United States have largely failed because of strong resistance from faculty. It is noted that a combination of case law and contractual agreements makes it impossible for public university faculty to call for boycott in western countries. 
Academic authorities are highly reluctant to censure BDS supporters. In 2009 BGU refused to fire Neve Gordon in spite of pressure from donors. In 2010 TAU refused to fire Rachel Giora and Anat Matar in spite of pressure from its Board. If anything, the backlash against efforts of the Council for Higher Education (CHE) to close down the Department of Politics and Government at BGU has increased the reluctance to act. As widely known, following the appeal of the leaders of BGU to the international community, an unprecedented campaign was organized on a short notice. A large number of professional associations, universities and hundreds of individual scholars wrote letters of protest to the Ministry of Education and the CHE. 
The 2011 anti-boycott law is being currently appealed to the Supreme Court. The law has never been applied and it is not clear whether it will be tested. As it stands, the law is too broad-based; its key term "call to boycott" does not cover the range of support that Israeli academics offer to BDS.


Boycott Calls Against Israel
Part I: The Committee of Universities Heads Moves on BDS
It has been recently announced that the Committee of Universities Heads decided to create a special forum to track academic BDS. According to the article below, authorities have been worried that the BDS campaign – largely confined to liberal arts - will spread to sciences. 
Professor Zvi Ziegler (professor emeritus, Technion), who would head the new forum, outlined its goals: “to examine and map out the scope of the threat, gathering information on potential boycotts as well as coordinating with relevant parties and institutions in Israel and abroad to minimize the damage.” Such information, in his view, can provide warnings about pending “boycott endeavors,” and “will help us thwart the initiative before it stews.” He added that “we see the importance of information regarding cases of discrimination against Israeli researchers such as rejecting articles for illegitimate reasons, refusal to take part in conferences alongside Israeli researchers or discrimination against inviting Israeli researchers to conferences.” 
The new forum is a belated but welcome initiative to combat academic BDS that was initiated by the British lecturers' union (NATFHE) in the early 2000s in Great Britain. 
Over the years, IAM has reported on this and hundreds of other instances of BDS in Europe and the United States and has amassed the largest database on the issue. 
The following is a four-part summary of some points to consider when dealing with academic BDS: 
The BDS movement is driven by scores of organizations and individuals who network in complex and difficult to discern ways. Groups such as 'the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel' (PACBI), 'the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine' (BRICUP) and 'the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel' (USACBI) provide leadership, resources and liaison with other groups. A sophisticated network analysis is needed to map out the BDS phenomenon. NA and forensic accounting is needed to determine the financial inputs in the BDS initiative. 
Student-level activity is directed by Student for Justice in Palestine (SJP) which has hundreds of branches on campus’s in the United States and Europe – often in cooperation with Muslim students association. 
Faculty-level drives are “stealth operations” mounted by activists within professional associations that utilize small panels of like-minded members that pass BDS resolutions. Hard to predict and prevent, this strategy creates a tactical surprise; even if the general membership subsequently rejects the proposal, the resolution serves as an important exercise in PR. The Modern Language Association (MLA) is a prominent case in point. 
So far, the bulk of the BDS efforts occurred in the liberal arts (social sciences and humanities). The few attempts to boycott Israeli scholars were individual initiatives and quickly rescinded under pressure from the relevant professional association. A more organized effort to censure Israel has occurred in urban planning and architecture.


Tel Aviv University
[TAU, Philosophy] Taxpayers Report: Paying for Anat Matar’s Activism
Anat Matar, a senior lecturer in the Department of Philosophy at TAU, has been the subject of previous postings. Matar is a leading member of a group of radical faculty at TAU – along with Yehouda Shenhav, Moshe Zuckermann, among others - who have used their tenured positions to push their political causes. 
Matar, a veteran member of the Communist Party, has virtually abandoned all her research duties to devote herself full time to her topics of choice such as BDS and Palestinian security prisoners who, in her view, should be reclassified, as political prisoners / civil resisters, and promoted conscious objection among Israelis. 
At one time or another, Matar has been activist with The 21st Year, Open Doors, Hacampus-Lo-Shotek, Ta'ayush, Refuseniks Parents' Forum, The Israeli Committee for Palestinian Prisoners. In addition, Matar co-edited a book on the alleged abuses of security prisoners, as well as traveled extensively with her colleague, Rachel Giora, to promote BDS. 
Given that Matar is teaching in a public university, her activism may seem excessive. But Matar explains that it is her duty to expose the “truth.” 
“Truth is political: 
theoretical (“constative”) content cannot be separated from practical (“performative”) force, and the latter is always politically “tainted”; the liberal fantasy about academic purity and freedom eliminates truth and reinforces conservatism and obedience. Theory should be interwoven with praxis – both within and outside academia." 
Most observers would conclude that it is ironic that this Marxist heroine of “praxis” makes a living courtesy of the taxpayer. But Matar evidently does not see this here; she is truly convinced that it is the duty of the said taxpayer to support her mission of “truth.”


Tel Aviv University
TAU Yehouda Shenhav’s Newest Career Choice – What is the Israeli Taxpayer Subsidizing Now?
Hired to teach and research sociology of organizations in the Department of Sociology at TAU, Shenhav - after being tenured - has launched a profitable career in political activism masquerading as academic endeavor. As IAM reported, after co-founding the Keshet Mizrahit (The Mizrahi Rainbow), he set out to prove that the Mizrahim are Arab Jews and natural allies of the Palestinians. When, contrary to his expectations, the Mizrahim ended up creating the right–wing religious party, Shas, Shenhav moved on to offer his vision of a bi-national Israeli-Palestinian state where the 1948 Palestinian refugees would be offered their former homes. 
With the Israeli-Palestinian conflict nowhere near a solution, Shenhav took up a new career – translating Arab writings into Hebrew. His first venture was “White Mask” a book by Elias Khoury, radical critic of Israel involved the BDS movement. Shenhav, now under the name Shenhav-Sharabani to emphasize his Arab Jewish heritage, explains his new mission. “Do you know how many Israeli Jews are fluent in Arabic? Two percent. It’s outrageous! And how many Palestinians in Israel speak Hebrew? Ninety-two percent. What does that say about someone coming to a place and not speaking the language? That you are a tourist, or a chance tenant? It’s not logical. It shows the colonial relationship even between the languages.” 
He admits that his own return to the Arab language was difficult, as he had to learn it from scratch, but, since translating Khoury, he plans on translating six more book. 
Of course, Shenhav has all the time required for this ambitious project as the Israeli taxpayer will foot the bill.


General Articles
Hijacked: Feminist Studies in Israel and Beyond
Phyllis Chesler, one of the pioneers of women studies in the United States notes in her article that feminist activists have turned the field a tool for bashing Israel. The forthcoming meeting of international women studies is indicative of the trend- as many of the panels and individual topics are devoted to condemning Israel. Chesler explains that women studies came under influence of neo-Marxist, critical philosophy that is inherently hostile to Zionism and Israel. 
Women studies in Israeli universities reflect the same pattern. Many of its practitioners - such as Hanna Herzog, Merav Amir, Hadar Kotef, Michal Givoni, among others, are activists who virtually exclusively focus on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. This is not a coincidence; IAM has frequently reported that, regardless of their nominal field of expertise, radical faculty tends to do research and publish on the conflict. 
That so many among the faculty in women studies engage in this practice is deplorable; it robes students and society from the benefit of research on a broad variety of issues. Once again, it leaves the taxpayer with footing the bill for a political enterprise dressed up in academic robes.



Ben-Gurion University
[BGU] Neve Gordon - After Pinkwashing Comes "University Washing"
Neve Gordon (BGU) took the pinkwashing theory of his radical gay colleagues one step further. As noted, academic pinkwashers such as Aeyal Gross (TAU) and Roy Wagner (HUJ) assert that Israel's liberal treatment of gays is a cover up for the occupation. In an article published by the prestigious Chronicle of Higher Education, Gordon claims that the existence of high-caliber universities in Israel is just another effort of the regime to hide the occupation, hence "university washing." In his words, "it may be precisely that image of freedom, innovation, and critical thinking that helps legitimize Israel’s colonial project." In the strange logic of radical faculty, all aspects of Israeli life are nothing but a public relation ploy to hide the "dark colonial side." 
Gordon's assertion that "in its silence," the Israeli academy "colludes with occupation," echoes the academic BDS initiatives on the campuses. While admitting that over the years, many academics have protested - this is not enough - in his view. He demands that all faculty as well as the universities institutions should raise their voices: "But the general failure of the Israeli academy to stand by Palestinian universities and against the occupation is no less colossal." 
Apparently Gordon, a veteran Communist, does not see anything wrong with this Stalinist view of academic freedom. He should be advised to peruse the statements adopted by the Association of American University Professors (AAUP) and its equivalent in other Western societies to learn that academic institutions and the faculty are not extensions of political parties, no one has demanded that all French universities should condemn the French war in Algeria or that all American universities should excoriate Washington's war in Vietnam. 
But then again, Gordon can be excused for mixing academics and politics as he and his peers turned the Department of Politics and Government at BGU into a hotbed of political activism. In 2012, an International Committee of Evaluation concluded that the Department failed to provide core political science classes because so many of its faculty were critical scholars engaged in furthering their political agenda. The Council for Higher Education recommended closing the Department but was forced to retreat after a huge international outcry. 
With his job secured, Gordon can go on repeating the mantra of the academic BDS.


Boycott Calls Against Israel
Kobi Snitz Got His Wish - the Presbyterian Church Divests from Companies Accused of Helping the Occupation
IAM reported last week that Kobi Snitz (Weizmann Institute, Olfaction Research Group) wrote an open letter to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA to urge BDS. Indeed, on June 21, the GA passed a resolution to divest from three companies that, in the language of the resolution, support the occupation of the Palestinians. 
The vote caps a decade old struggle between BDS supporters and opponents in the Church. It is also a stinging rebuke to Jewish America leaders, including Eric Joffe, the former head of the Reform Movement, that personally lobbied against the resolution. 
With its more than a million members, the Presbyterian Church USA is one of the smaller Christian denomination, but the numbers belie its importance, as the flagship of mainline Christian churches. The Methodists have already passed a BDS resolution and other mainline churches are expected to follow suit. The Presbyterians have also an outsize influence among the political and cultural elites in America. There is little doubt that the vote would give the BDS movement, once relegated to fringe groups, a boost in legitimacy. 
If the Presbyterians are counted on legitimizing the BDS movement, American and Israeli Jews have helped to generate legitimacy for the divestment vote. Many of the members of the GA argued that the high-profile presence of Jewish support at the convention encouraged them in their decision. Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP), a small but growing group took the lead in lobbying for BDS. 
Its mission statement reads: 
"Jewish Voice for Peace members are inspired by Jewish tradition to work together for peace, social justice, equality, human rights, respect for international law, and a U.S. foreign policy based on these ideals. 
JVP opposes anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim, and anti-Arab bigotry and oppression. JVP seeks an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem; security and self-determination for Israelis and Palestinians; a just solution for Palestinian refugees based on principles established in international law; an end to violence against civilians; and peace and justice for all peoples of the Middle East." 
Needless to say, Israeli Jews like Snitz, and other Israeli academics who made the rounds of mainline churches - hold a special place in this "legitimacy hierarchy." Their presence makes it harder to claim that the measure is anti-Semitic or anti-Israeli.


Boycott Calls Against Israel
[Weizmann Inst.] Kobi Snitz's letter to the Presbyterian Church calling to divest
Kobi Snitz (Weizmann Institute) was one of co-founders - together with a number of radical faculty - of Boycott from Within! The group worked in tandem with Omar Barghouti's PACBI to organize boycott initiatives against Israel. 
Following the 2011 Knesset law against BDS weakened the ranks of Israeli boycott supporters. But Kobi Snitz, a self described anarchist involved with Anarchists Against the Wall is not deterred. To the contrary, as BDS activity has increased, so has Snitz's involvement and his profile. IAM recently reported on his travel to Canada to promote boycott. 
His latest effort pertains to the Presbyterian Church USA. As well known, the General Assembly of the Church is meeting this week in Detroit to vote on a BDS resolution. Jewish American groups and Israel are watching the proceedings anxiously, as last year a similar resolution failed by a small margin. There is a virtual consensus that much is at stake, because of the high profile of the Presbyterian Church in American politics and society. 
On the other side of the divide is Snitz who wrote an open letter titled "An Israeli letter to the Presbyterian General Assembly." Snitz is clearly trying to encourage those who may have qualms about voting against Israel. "Palestinians’ land is continually stolen and their rights denied, and Israelis suffer too by being condemned to perpetual conflict. Please make your church a leader in setting moral standards — not simply by issuing statements but in actually refusing to profit financially from the occupation. We will be with you in spirit as you deliberate in Detroit. Please remember our voices and have no fear in following your conscience." 
Snitz has been also active in a call to boycott international academic conference - The Oral History conference at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and there is also a call to boycott the Cinema and TV Studies conference at Tel Aviv University. As the organizers of the boycott boasted, some key foreign participants dropped out, leaving mostly local speakers.
On a number of occasions Snitz reflected on his duties as an anarchist to challenge the state and its institution. Like many radical faculty, Snitz can mount these challenges from a financially secure academic position that, as noted before, imposes only minimal research demands on his time in what is otherwise a highly competitive and demanding publication environment. 
It is not clear why the Weizmann Institute authorities allow Snitz to continue his time consuming anarchists activities at the expanse of the taxpayer. It is even less clear why the state tolerate his open defiance, which send the message that academics are above the law.


Boycott Calls Against Israel
BDS Update: The Modern Language Association Resolution Failure - a Moral Victory
The much watched BDS initiative at the Modern Language Association (MLA), the huge American association of language and literature scholars, has turned into a battlefield for pro and anti divestment advocates. 
As reported, during its annual meeting in January 2014, the group failed to pass a BDS proposal; instead a resolution urging the State Department to pressure Israel to allow American scholars access to the West Bank. 
Failing to get a mandated 10 percent of the membership ballot, the resolution was recently defeated: 6.5 percent of the 24,000 active members voted for and 4.4 voted against. 
Both sides of the debate claimed victory. Bruce Robbins, a professor of literature at Columbia University who authored the resolution, noted that it was a moral victory and promised to try again. Critics suggested that the ballot reflected the reluctance of the MLA members to get involved in non-core issues. 
However, the debate – posted on a special server – reflected a worrisome trend. There were numerous allusion to the power of the Jewish lobby to quell any pro-Palestinian sentiments in the academy. One post referred to the “humongous influence that Jewish scholars have in the decision-making process of Academia in general.” 
The current debate is reminiscent of the one triggered by the controversial book of John M. Mearsheimer and Steven M. Walt The Israeli Lobby and US Foreign Policy published in 2007. Although at the time, two professors - from Chicago University and Harvard University respectively, were excoriated by critics for promoting anti-Semitic tropes, their notions have mainstreamed by the media, including the popular TV show Saturday Night Live. The BDS advocates understand that by putting forward BDS they can keep the debate going. As Robbins suggested, “I think of this [the resolution] as a successful exercise in getting people informed.”





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