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On the Brighter Side
Friday Special: Stuart Stanton calls TAU to take a stand after call for support of boycott / Words have multiple meanings


The Jerusalem Post               
 Thu, Feb 10, 2011   6 Adar I, 5771

UK physician to TAU: Discipline pro-boycott academics
02/10/2011 05:37

Prof. Stuart Stanton calls the school to take a stand after two of its lecturers call for support of a boycott of Israel.

LONDON – A Jewish community leader and prominent physician has written to the rector and president of Tel Aviv University, calling for the school to take a stand after two of its lecturers called for support of a boycott of Israel in a British newspaper last week.

Prof. Stuart Stanton, president of the British Society of Urogynecology and chairman of Hadassah UK, wrote to TAU rector Prof. Aron Shai and president Prof. Yossi Klafter after Prof. Rachel Giora and Dr. Anat Matar, along with 10 other Israeli activists, wrote a letter that was published in the Guardian, calling for British author Ian McEwan to turn down the Jerusalem Prize.

McEwan is set to receive the prize, Israel’s highest literary honor for foreign writers, at a ceremony at the Jerusalem International Book Fair on February 20.

The letter also reiterated support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign.

“As Israeli citizens who support the boycott, divestment and sanctions call on Israel, we believe that if Ian McEwan accepts the Jerusalem Prize in Jerusalem, it will make him a collaborator with Israel’s worst human rights offenders and its ‘business as usual’ policy,” the letter stated.

Maintaining that the prize was awarded by the Israeli establishment, “which is keen on branding Israel in general, and Jerusalem in particular, as beacons of enlightenment and democracy,” the activists said McEwan would be playing into the hands of “cynical politicians who are trying to whitewash their systematic human rights violations.”

Stanton – a visiting professor in Hadassah’s Obstetrics and Gynecology Department who goes to Jerusalem to teach, consult and operate on a voluntary basis – said in his letter that with academic freedom comes responsibility, and that if the two lecturers had been working for a public or private company, they would have been suspended.

“Academic freedom is not just a privilege and a right, but it also entails a responsibility, and you must be painfully aware that many Jews, myself included, find this public call by other Israelis, particularly lecturers from your university, for boycott divestment and sanctions, utterly unacceptable and degrading,” he said.

Calling for the university “to take a stand,” he stated, “It is hard for me to understand how you will continue to employ them [the lecturers], and compromise and prejudice the name of your university. Their actions are totally counterproductive to fundraising for your university abroad, particularly in the UK.

“I hope you will give consideration to taking disciplinary action against them and look forward to hearing from you,” he said.

"We are firmly against BDS in all its forms, but there is something particularly insidious in calling on writers and thinkers, and academics for that matter, to participate in boycotts,” said Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. “Closed minds are not the solution to the problems in the region."

Last year, Matar, from TAU’s philosophy department, was the guest speaker at an event advocating a boycott of Israel at London University’s School for Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), a campus renowned for anti-Israel activity. Her talk was entitled “Supporting the Boycott of Israel: Campaigning from Within.”

Both Giora, of the university’s linguistics department, and Matar are active in the BDS campaign and are members of a group called “Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS call from within.” In 2009, they both stood in solidarity with Ben-Gurion University academic Neve Gordon, who was criticized for an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times calling for a boycott of Israel.

“As citizens and residents of the State of Israel, we stand with Dr. Gordon in echoing the Palestinian call for boycott, divestments, and sanctions, and in saying NO to the persecution of those who strive for freedom,” they said.

Practical measures included adopting “wide, context-sensitive and sustainable boycotts of Israeli products, companies, academic and cultural institutions, and sports groups, similar to the actions taken against apartheid South Africa.” They also called for the “canceling and blocking” of free trade and other preferential agreements with Israel.

The same year, they sent a letter signed by other activists to Madonna and Leonard Cohen, telling them to not play in Israel.

“A performance here would simply support for the illegal and inhumane policies [of Israel], described by many as war crimes and crimes against humanity,” Giora said as the group’s spokeswoman.

Recent recipients of such requests included singer Macy Gray, who, like McEwan, refused to heed to the call. Gray is set to play in Tel Aviv this weekend.




Words have multiple meanings in the rough-and-tumble world of Israeli democracy

January 24 2011

By Alexander Maistrovoy

Our century is the epoch of cheap clichés, vulgar shows and aggressive ignorance. Smug professors accuse their opponents of Stalinism, knowing about Stalinism not more than schoolchildren. Semiliterate journalists use the word “Nazism” for the description of Guantanamo base or Israeli prisons. Pacifists call soldiers dispersing demonstrators in Bilin “fascists”.

Pathology becomes the norm, values have been devaluated.

An adherent of barbarous anachronisms is a true representative of multiculturalism; a religious fanatic becomes a “victim of discrimination”.

Let’s consider the terms.

“Nazism” is the policy of racist nationalism, not a demolition of an illegally built Arab house.

“Fascism” is a totalitarian regime forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism and not a parliamentary committee for investigating funding of a non-governmental organization.

“Stalinism” is a repressive authoritarianism that has annihilated dozens of million people, and not an arrest of a terrorist supporter.

“Apartheid” is an official policy of racial segregation, and not the creation of a security fence.

“Genocide” is a deliberate destruction of a whole nation, and not banning the importation of building materials into Gaza.

However, reading newspapers and listening to our politicians, an uninformed tourist could decide that a military junta has already come to power in Israel, and “death squadrons” prowl the country.

Now let’s get to the heart of the matter.

The Israel Beiteinu proposal to create an inquiry commission to investigate the activities and sources of financing of the left-wing non-governmental organizations is the result of Im Tirtzu movement work.

Im Tirtzu has arisen as a spontaneous student movement against anti-Zionist campaign in campuses.

Former senior lecturer in political science at Haifa University Ilan Pappé accuses Israel of “genocide in Gaza” and describes the IDF as a “killing machine”. Shlomo Sand (obviously not the disciple of Polybius) insists that Jewish nation does not exist any more.

Alexandre (Sandy) Kedar from Haifa University and Oren Yiftachel from Ben-Gurion University call Israel an “ethnocracy”, comparing the fate of Israeli Arabs with that of American Indians.

Dr. of Politics and Government at Ben-Gurion University Neve Gordon called Israel an increasingly “proto-fascist” state and an “apartheid state”. Nine regular lecturers in his faculty are members of left-wing radical groups.

Im Tirtzu students found out that Gordon and his staff are part of management of NIF that supports 16 of human rights groups: “Shovrim shtika”, “Betzelem”, “Adalah”, “Coalition of Women for Peace”, “Women in Black”, “New Profile”, “Physicians for human rights”, and others. All of them got 8 $ million during 2006 – 2008.

The Goldstone Report was based on their data. The same organizations initiated legal claims against Israeli military men and politicians.

Every Yom a-Azmaut NIF organizes tours across the USA lecturing about “the Palestinian Catastrophe” (“Nakba”).

The main goals of NIF are to delegitimize IDF, impose sanctions against Israel, encourage desertion from the Israeli army and support legal claims against IDF officers abroad.

They have no doubts about who is a bandit and who is a victim.

“Shovrim shtika” asserted that IDF “over and over again fired on the civilians who were not participating in clashes”.

“Betzelem”: “Security force abusing their superiority, continue to scoff at Palestinians and beat them, including children”.

“Physicians for human rights”: “It seems that attacks on Gaza were meant to initiate terror so they did not spare fire”.

NIF director Naomi Chazan considers the Gaza blockade a “war crime”.

Main partners of NIF are Ford Foundation (Henry Ford was famous for his anti-Semitism) and EU.

Ford Foundation financed claims abroad Israel against Avi Dichter, Moshe Ya’alon, Doron Almog, Shaul Mofaz and Amy Ayalon via Palestinian Center For Human Right and Center for Constitutional Rights.

As for EU and many West European states, their activity is rather doubtful. We remember boycotts of Israel in Great Britain; blatant anti-Israel incitement in Norway (including the “Gaza Monologues” play); “Israeli organ trade scandal” in Sweden; in Spain, according to a local journalist Pilar Rahola, “any Israeli act of self-defense becomes a massacre, and any confrontation, genocide” and so on.

The aim of the investigation is not to clamp down on these organizations but to estimate their legal permissibility. The goal of HAMAS (as well as “Hizbullah”) is not only the destruction of the Jewish State, but the total annihilation of the Jewish population. The idea has massive Palestinian support. It is not a border dispute, but the war of militant theocracy against democracy till utter annihilation.

IDF don’t fire rockets on civil population of the enemy as it happened during World War II when the allies leveled German cities, causing hundreds of thousands of casualties. But those are inevitable among Palestinians, because HAMAS uses civilians as “human shields”.

If Naomi Chazan, NIF, “Physicians & Rabbis for human rights” and “Women in Black” can’t acknowledge reality, they are “useful idiots”. These people can’t tell the difference between cause and effect, perceive the intentions of the enemies. They forget that human rights organizations must protect victims from a violent regime and not vice versa.

Anyway all of us have the right to know if an entity is defending human rights or undermining Israel’s security.

The second aspect is the validity of financial streams.

Who supports the Palestinian Center for Human Rights and Center for Constitutional Rights?

The “Coalition of Women for Peace” is sponsored (besides NIF) by MOK (Spain), the Heinrich Boell Foundation of North America, “Responding to conflict” (Britain) and so on.

“Physicians for human rights” is financed by EPER/HEKS organization, “Diakonia”, “Healing Across the Divides”, “Christian Aid”, and many others.

What are they and their aims? Who stands behind them?

We have the right to know everything about them.

In countries of developed democracy everybody has the right to express his or her own opinion. Neve Gordon can call Israel a “proto-fascist state” and Ilan Pappé – an “apartheid state”. Norman Finkelstein has the right to characterize Israel as “insane” and “lunatic”, a member of the Jewish Labour Movement Sir Gerald Kaufman can compare HAMAS to Jewish resistance in the Warsaw ghetto.

But it doesn’t mean that other should share their views. Nor does it mean that these people may turn their doubtful ideals into reality.


Alexander Maistrovoy, a journalist with the Russian-language Israeli newspaper Novosty nedely. Alexander can be reached at: amaist@lycos.com


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