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Boycott Calls Against Israel
Delegitimization of Israel, BDS initiatives and the recruit of Israeli academics

12.01.17

Editorial Note

A number of BDS attempts took place recently that need to be addressed.  The good news is that the MLA vote on the boycott of Israeli academic institutions was rejected. The bad news is that the Palestinians recruit some Israelis and Jews to lead the calls for boycott. 

This time Ariella Azoulay, Daniel Boyarin and Judith Butler were on hand to lend their support. The MLA Commons which links members for scholarly collaboration posted a statement by Azoulay: "The Palestinian-led BDS movement thus aims to mobilize the international community to respond to a triple call from within that advocates: full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel, an end to the military occupation of the Palestinian territories, and the right of Palestinians who were expelled in 1948 to return to their homes."

Other Israeli academics endorsed the boycott but anonymously due to the 2011 boycott law. 

Also disturbing is that the cancelled conference questioning Israel's right to exist which Oren Ben-Dor and Ilan Pappe planned at the University of Southampton, has moved to the University College Cork in Ireland, to be held on March 31-April 2, 2017.  A statement by the organizing committee which includes five academics from University College Cork, declared: “Recent developments in some countries – particularly in the US and the UK – have evidenced an chilling repression of academic freedom when it comes to critique of Israeli state policy. The history of this conference reflects these developments.  Originally it was planned to hold the conference at the University of Southampton, but growing pressure on academic freedom in the UK forced a decision to move the conference to Ireland.” It seems that only two out of the 45 speakers are supportive of Israel.

The conspiracy theorists are working overtime a blog of Rehmat World promotes hatred against Jews.  Rehmat stated about the Cork conference "Jewish whining aside – Ireland’s ties with the Zionist entity remain resolutely unchanged despite the best efforts of various Irish human rights NGOs such as B’tselem, Gisha and al-Haq – and Palestine solidarity activists." 

Interestingly enough, in 2013 the Irish University Times published an op-ed stating that Ireland is the most anti-Israel country in Europe, that Ireland has a “bizarre obsession” with Israel, that the Palestinian plight is a ‘fashionable’ cause for Irish leftists who are hypocritical and inconsistent because they ignore the more urgent crises elsewhere and that the focus on Israel is the latest manifestation of Irish anti-Semitism.  In a response, an Irish pro-Palestinian activist wrote that "Ireland’s ties with Israel remain resolutely unchanged despite the best efforts of various Irish human rights NGOs and Palestine solidarity activists." The conference questioning Israel's right to exist certainly proves him wrong.

Some of the BDS attempts never got public attention, but they deserve a look because they represent a robust network.  Some 400 participants at the International Conference of Critical Geography held in Ramallah in 2015 supported a resolution endorsing Academic boycott of Israel. The conference website states that "during the final session, conference participants voted overwhelmingly for a strong resolution drafted by the ICCG 2015 Organizing Team to sign onto the Palestinian Academic and Cultural Boycott and the broader Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. The ICGG Steering Committee also unanimously supported the resolution." Both the Antipode Foundation and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation have sponsored this boycott initiative.

But there are other spheres of sponsorship by Antipode and Rosa Luxemburg targeting Israel. For example, Antipode International Workshop Awards which "intended to support radical geographers holding events," was given to Roi Wagner and Ariel Handel of Tel Aviv University and Mada al-Carmel in Haifa for a “Summer School of Critical Palestine/Israel Studies,” granting them the sum of $10,000. No doubt that this critical studies would be critical of Israel but not of the Palestinians.

This is not the first time that Antipode sponsors anti-Israel events intending to taint Israel in negative colors and question its legitimacy. For example, by establishing a new field of research: On 8 June 2012, the "Radical Geography Community" of Antipode Foundation posted an editorial titled "Intervention – Past is present: Settler colonialism in Palestine" by several Palestinian activists including Antipode International Advisory Board member Omar Jabary Salamanca and Antipode Staff Reporter Kareem Rabie. The Settler Colonialism initiative began by them with the 2011 conference by SOAS Palestine Society, which "gathers together a series of contributions on settler colonialism and Palestine, and attempts to bring the question of settler colonialism back into Palestine Studies...It is our hope that this issue will catalyse creative, collaborative work that puts the settler colonial framework firmly on the agenda of Palestine studies." 

The Rosa Luxemburg Palestine office not only supports the Palestinian calls for boycott but also promotes a Third Intifada, as stated by the head of the regional office of Palestine: "The 'intifada of youth' is developed within of Palestinian society as a legitimate form of resistance against the occupation regime". Their website is hostile towards Israel with images of the separation barrier, soldiers and checkpoints as the center of Palestinian lives. The Israel office of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation offers young Israeli students and scholars to apply for grants.  Invitations are being delivered to the social Science community through the Israeli social science network

The battle over the boycott of Israel is in force and Palestinians recruit Israeli academics in their efforts to delegitimize Israel.






  • #1012914
    Profile photo of David C. Lloyd
    David C. Lloyd
    Participant
    @dclloyd
    Both Judith Butler and Ariella Azoulay have recently posted at MLABoycott\’s site, articulating their rationale for supporting the boycott of Israeli academic institutions at this time.
    \”The boycott targets the Israeli regime, not Israeli citizens, unless they act as representatives of the regime. What, then, is the position of Jewish Israeli citizens with regard to this call? They may not be able to suspend their relations with the state completely, as BDS leaders themselves acknowledge. However, they can narrow them down. Occasionally, when they are able to mobilize certain symbolic power, they can publicly boycott particular events, prizes, and ceremonies, and avoid giving services that they are required to give. In this sense, their responses to the crimes and abuses practiced by their own regime do not come from an external position and hence do not consist of solidarity of the sort offered by citizens of other countries. Jewish Israelis are governed alongside Palestinians, and they are subjects of the same political regime; their citizenship is not external or incidental to the abuses of Palestinians under this regime, but its constitutive element. Unable to endorse the boycott from the outside, Jewish Israelis can still take part in it, and their participation, as citizens denouncing their own political regime, makes the BDS movement’s call a call to redefine the nature of their citizenship altogether.
    Under the emergency regulations that have not been revoked since 1948, and whose purpose has been to maintain the principle of differential ruling, to be a good citizen means being involved, in more or less direct ways, more or less enthusiastically, in exercising the violence necessary to maintain this principle. Therefore, from the point of view of an Israeli citizen, the call for boycott can also be the beginning of the recognition of a right that Israeli Jews have been consistently deprived: the right not to be perpetrators.\”
     
    Boycotts have a time-honored place in the history of political expression.  The BDS movement opposes discrimination on the basis of citizenship, and so opposes all forms of boycott that target individuals.  It has clearly opposed anti-Semitism and all forms of racism,  These principles constitute its official policy for more than ten years.  The boycott campaign addresses those institutions that support and help to reproduce inequality, dispossession, and injustice.  What it asks is that Israeli institutions become part of the struggle to realize political freedoms and international rights, that institutions oppose the Israeli government until such time as those important political rights, principles, and freedoms are realized through the dismantling of occupation, the institutionalization of political and legal equality, and the formulation of a just solution for those who, in accord with international law, have the right to return to lands forcibly taken from them.  BDS is a movement for freedom, a call for the realization of democratic ideals, the demand for a world in which co-habitation might one day become possible.
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https://mla.hcommons.org/groups/20th-and-21st-century/forum/topic/daniel-boyarin-on-the-boycott-of-israeli-academic-institutions-2/

  • #1012761
    Profile photo of David C. Lloyd
    David C. Lloyd
    Participant
    @dclloyd
    Jewish Studies scholar Daniel Boyarin has issued the following statement about academic boycott:
    \"I am on record, even on Israeli television, as a supporter of BDS and of a limited academic boycott as well. By limited boycott I mean that I do not countenance boycotts of individuals (Let he who is sinless cast the first stone) but of institutions and institutional cooperation. Israeli academic institutions are deeply complicit with occupation and Israeli discrimination against Palestinians, and, as such fit objects for boycott. Israeli Apartheid is now quite similar structurally to its South African models and similar tactics and ethical, political justifications for boycott are fully in order. I support completely the MLA boycott resolution.\"
============================================================


“The Right Not to Be a Perpetrator”: Ariella Azoulay’s Statement in support of BDS

Ariella Azoulay is Professor of Modern Culture and Media and Comparative Literature at Brown University, a documentary film director and an ariellaazoulay_bwindependent curator of archives and exhibitions. Her books include: From Palestine to Israel: A Photographic Record of Destruction and State Formation, 1947-1950, (Pluto Press, 2011), Civil Imagination: The Political Ontology of Photography (Verso, 2012) and The Civil Contract of Photography (Zone Books, 2008); co-author with Adi Ophir of The One-State Condition: Occupation and Democracy in Israel/Palestine (Stanford University Press, 2012). She directed the following films: Civil Alliances, Palestine, 47-48 (2012), I Also Dwell Among Your Own People: Conversations with Azmi Bishara (2004).
The following is an extract from an essay in the forthcoming anthology Assuming Boycott: Resistance, Agency, and Cultural Production (eds. Kareem Estefan, Carin Kuoni, Laura Raicovich: OR Books, 2017).”
The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement is a way to achieve three things: (1) to expose the mechanisms of dispossession, segregation, and legalized discrimination against Palestinians that are part of the Israeli democratic regime; (2) to publicly and internationally express solidarity with the Palestinians as a people, confronting the Israeli regime’s continuous efforts to fragment them into groups that are governed differentially within and beyond the green line; and (3) to mount pressure capable of impacting daily life for the privileged group of the governed population, i.e., Jewish Israelis, in order to radically alter the conduct of the Israeli regime or transform it altogether. A call for boycott is based on the assumption that sovereign states are actors in an international arena, and hence individuals, groups, institutions, and states can suspend their interactions with particular regimes until the justice of certain demands are recognized and adequately addressed. The Palestinian-led BDS movement thus aims to mobilize the international community to respond to a triple call from within that advocates: full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel, an end to the military occupation of the Palestinian territories, and the right of Palestinians who were expelled in 1948 to return to their homes.
The boycott targets the Israeli regime, not Israeli citizens, unless they act as representatives of the regime. What, then, is the position of Jewish Israeli citizens with regard to this call? They may not be able to suspend their relations with the state completely, as BDS leaders themselves acknowledge. However, they can narrow them down. Occasionally, when they are able to mobilize certain symbolic power, they can publicly boycott particular events, prizes, and ceremonies, and avoid giving services that they are required to give. In this sense, their responses to the crimes and abuses practiced by their own regime do not come from an external position and hence do not consist of solidarity of the sort offered by citizens of other countries. Jewish Israelis are governed alongside Palestinians, and they are subjects of the same political regime; their citizenship is not external or incidental to the abuses of Palestinians under this regime, but its constitutive element. Unable to endorse the boycott from the outside, Jewish Israelis can still take part in it, and their participation, as citizens denouncing their own political regime, makes the BDS movement’s call a call to redefine the nature of their citizenship altogether.
Under the emergency regulations that have not been revoked since 1948, and whose purpose has been to maintain the principle of differential ruling, to be a good citizen means being involved, in more or less direct ways, more or less enthusiastically, in exercising the violence necessary to maintain this principle. Therefore, from the point of view of an Israeli citizen, the call for boycott can also be the beginning of the recognition of a right that Israeli Jews have been consistently deprived: the right not to be perpetrators.
The crimes that justify the boycott of Israel, crimes perpetrated against the Palestinians, are not just crimes against Palestinians but, to use Hannah Arendt’s expression, crimes against humanity.  Stopping crimes against humanity should not remain the interest of Palestinians alone. These should be, first and foremost, the obligations and interests of Israeli Jews and the Jewish community worldwide, of all those who were implicated in committing and perpetuating these crimes, all those who—by collaborating with the political regimes that have ordered the crimes, refused to acknowledge them, and spread misinformation about them—have been deprived of their inalienable right not to be perpetrators.
In a decades-long process, the Israeli regime has succeeded in making it almost impossible either to imagine civil life in Israel-Palestine or to recognize the common history of Jews and Palestinians as a point of departure for any process of Palestinian reparation. The engaging call of the BDS movement—“Let us harness solidarity into forms of action that can end international support for Israel’s crimes”—should be understood as addressed to the international community. Israelis cannot allow themselves the luxury of solidarity, as if the struggle to overthrow the Israeli regime and the history of almost seven decades of regime-made disaster is a Palestinian cause they support from the outside. Israeli Jews should engage in the BDS movement’s call, but they should also do much more. It is their duty to start imagining new forms of partnership devoid of any claim for Jewish supremacy.
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BDS and the Inversion of Victimhood

Submitted by faculty members in MLA-related fields at Israeli universities
The following statement is presented anonymously by Israeli academics who support the boycott of Israeli universities.  The faculty are forced to sign anonymously because of a 2011 law passed by the Israeli parliament that prohibits support for BDS among Israeli citizens.  According to the New York Timesthe law “effectively bans any public call for a boycott — economic, cultural or academic — against Israel or its West Bank settlements, making such action a punishable offense. It would enable Israeli citizens to bring civil suits against people and organizations instigating such boycotts, and subject violators to monetary penalties. Companies and organizations supporting a boycott could be barred from bidding on government contracts. Nonprofit groups could lose tax benefits.”  (NYT July 18, 2011)
As the MLA prepares to vote on a boycott resolution, many Israeli scholars have been recruited to speak out against it (and their discomfort may be understood). By contrast, the handful of Israeli scholars who support the Palestinian call for academic boycott are restricted by the Israeli boycott law which renders support of BDS illegal. Thus, practically all Israeli interventions in the boycott debate parrot state-sanctioned speech. The following brief statement attempts to disrupt this monopolization, albeit anonymously (because of these legal restrictions).
The Israel-led campaign against the boycott of Israeli academic institutions rallies around the claim that if adapted it will hurt progressive Israeli scholars. Campaigners use this tactic to divert attention from the plight of the entire Palestinian population living under Israel’s elaborate system of colonial repression and injustice to a manufactured victimization of Israeli academics. This is a manipulative inversion of victimhood.
Palestinian academics have been working and living under harsh conditions for decades. Israel has systematically isolated and stifled the Palestinian academe by preventing academics from accessing their campuses, traveling to conferences, and welcoming international guests at their home institutions; by persecuting individual scholars; and by shutting down, attacking, and invading campuses. For Palestinians these have been daily realities that directly limit their ability to engage in academic activities.
By contrast, under the emergent boycott, Israeli academics have faced neither the kind nor the degree of unfreedom that Palestinians have been experiencing, nor will BDS ever subject us to anything remotely similar. Nonetheless, most Israelis are concerned with academic isolation only in relation to their own imagined (present and future) difficulties under the threat of boycott.
The victimhood strategy is an effective tool in Israel’s anti-BDS campaign particularly when it emanates from self-proclaimed progressives within Israeli academy. It promotes the claim that the academic boycott will alienate precisely those progressive Israeli forces who should be supported so they could influence Israeli society from within. But time and again—in the face of systematic violations of Palestinian rights within the academy and beyond it—most progressive academics here have chosen to protect their own institutions and campaign against BDS rather than use their privileged positions to reform these institutions.
It is important to note that Israeli universities have long served the military occupation, and are thus complicit in violations of Palestinian human rights. They have done so through research initiatives that provide crucial scientific, conceptual, ideological, and legal infrastructure for the occupation’s arsenal and policies.
Professor Isaac Ben-Israel—a Major General (reserve) and former Member of the Knesset, who headed the Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure in the Israel Ministry of Defense, and who chairs Tel Aviv University’s Workshop for Science, Technology and Security—explained that Israeli universities collaborate more systematically with the security forces than their US counterparts because Israel has no national research labs. Therefore, “Military R&D in Israel would not exist without the universities. They carry out all the basic scientific investigation, which is then developed either by defense industries or the army.”
In addition the universities support the military, and thus the oppression of Palestinians, by running on-campus flagship training programs that prepare the next generations of elite officers, thus providing leadership infrastructure for the security forces.
At the same time, Israeli academic institutions have been glaringly indifferent to military assaults on Palestinian academic institutions and their communities. While they complain that the boycott would frustrate their efforts to cooperate with Palestinian scholars, such cooperation is meaningless as long as Palestinian universities are stifled by colonial subjugation.
Under these conditions, as far as Palestinian rights are concerned, Israeli progressivism functions as a badge of honor that replaces commitment to an action-oriented political stance. So far, many progressives have paid lip service objections to the occupation, but have failed to act. Continued external pressure can encourage them to take substantial actions for human rights. In fact, it seems that such incipient process has begun—as a result of BDS rather than in spite of it. We believe that a substantial change in Israeli academe can have real impact on the advancement of Palestinian human rights.
The anti-BDS defense of progressive Israelis, much like the charge of antisemitism that often accompanies it, is disingenuous. Its purpose is to frustrate efforts to advance Palestinian human rights, and it should be recognized as such. We invite academics committed to human rights to employ their broader critical and ethical approaches regarding academy-government relations and the public role of intellectuals to seriously consider the MLA boycott resolution.


=====================================================================


Irish University: Israel has no right to exist

The National University of Ireland, the University College Cork (UCC), is scheduled to hold a conference to debate that Israel has no right to exist. The 3-day conference will be held on March 31-April 2, 2017.
The conference is organized by Israel-born professor Oren Ben-Dor whose earlier attempt to hold a similar conference at the Southampton University was cancelled by then home secretary Theresa May under Jewish Lobby pressure in March 2015.
UCC professor James Bowen praised the decision to host the event in Cork saying academic freedom is still fairly well protected, unlike in the UK, where it seems to have come to be regarded as a disposable luxury.
Professor Geoffrey Alderman (University of Buckingham) who has accepted invitation to participate the UCC event said that he was very pleased the conference is going ahead, very sorry it is not going ahead in the UK.
Dr. Alderman is a committed Zionist Jew who has come under enormous  pressure from UK’s organized Jewry to pull out of this conference. However, he stood-up to Jewish bullies, and insists on delivering a paper, entitled, Jews, Judaism and the Jewish state: ethnic rights and international wrongs.
Irish Jewish Lobby (JRCI) has condemned the conference as no more than an anti-Israel hate-fest.
The Irish4Israel advocacy group concurred, expressing dismay that such hatred is still found in Ireland.
Dr. Denis MacEoin (Jewish), chairman of North-East Friends of Israel in England and a senior fellow at the Washington-based anti-Muslim Gatestone Institute, has been closely monitoring the activities of the conference since it was first introduced in 2015. He says the whole thing is rigged, because it is thoroughly biased in one direction, with only two pro-Israel speakers out of 45.”
On April 12, 2015, George Phillips whined at Gatestone Institute website: “Despite being a member of the United Nations along with Israel, Iran nevertheless does not recognize Israel’s right to exist. As Netanyahu has continually stated, a nuclear Iran is a threat to Israel’s existence and America’s existence.”
Doesn’t the idiot know that Iran was the first Muslim country which recognized the Jewish occupation of Palestine in 1949 – followed by Turkey in 1950? Currently, 36 UN member-states don’t recognize the Zionist entity. Why the coward Israeli Jews are afraid of a possible nuclear Iran in the future when Israel already has more than 240 nuclear bombs and backed by world nuclear powers such as the US, UK, France, and Russia?
In a statement the organising committee, which includes five academics from University College Cork, said: “Recent developments in some countries – particularly in the US and the UK – have evidenced an chilling repression of academic freedom when it comes to critique of Israeli state policy. The history of this conference reflects these developments. Originally it was planned to hold the conference at the University of Southampton, but growing pressure on academic freedom in the UK forced a decision to move the conference to Ireland.”
Jewish whining aside – Ireland’s ties with the Zionist entity remain resolutely unchanged despite the best efforts of various Irish human rights NGOs such as B’tselemGisha and al-Haq – and Palestine solidarity activists. Indeed the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) maintains healthy contact with Israeli officials and goods from illegal Israeli settlements still make their way into Irish supermarkets.
Alan Shatter, representing 1000 Irish Jews, mostly expelled from Spain and Portugal after the fall of Muslim rule, was country’s defense and justice minister (2011-2014).
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http://www.universitytimes.ie/2013/12/is-ireland-obsessed-with-israel/

DEC 6, 2013
Is Ireland Obsessed with Israel?
Alan McEneaney discusses why Ireland was named the most anti-Israel country.
Alan McEneaney | Contributing Writer

There is no shortage of humanitarian causes across the world to keep the modern bleeding-heart liberal occupied. Oppression in Tibet has been an issue for over six decades now with no compromise in sight. I’ve never seen a Tamil Tiger solidarity march down O’Connell Street and West Papua’s struggle for independence from Indonesia barely gets a mention in Western mainstream media. The average Joe on the street could even be forgiven for being unaware that such a campaign exists.

However, there is one volatile region of the world that hasn’t left the Irish political consciousness since the 1970s. I am of course talking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – an issue so divisive that it can send an ordinarily placid, peace-loving hippy into an apoplectic fit of rage. Ireland has an internal and external image of being very pro-Palestinian whilst also being very anti-Israeli. We were deemed the most “hostile country in Europe” in 2011 by the Israeli foreign ministry after an over-the-top pantomime performance on Grafton Street where activists portrayed IDF soldiers as Nazis – a particularly insensitive and hard-hitting insult to the majority Jewish state.

Why are we as a nation so obsessed with a land over 4000 km away, with which we have no historical ties? Surely we should be more concerned with getting our own back yard in order?
This begs the question: why are we as a nation so obsessed with a land over 4000 km away, with which we have no historical ties? Surely we should be more concerned with getting our own back yard in order? Let’s examine several theories often put forward to explain this peculiarity.

The perceived parallel with Northern Ireland is perhaps the most oft-cited reason, with Republicans seeing their anti-imperialist struggle against occupation mirrored in the events in the Palestinian territories. When Nationalists started flying the Palestinian flag in the early 2000s as an act of solidarity, Unionists reacted by immediately adopting the Israeli flag. It’s almost a case of fighting by proxy amongst the Northern Irish communities. But their new found empathy with Israel made the local Jewish community feel uneasy, given the long history of connections between Loyalist paramilitaries and neo-Nazi groups such as Combat 18, prompting calls for the passive-aggressive flag waving to cease.

College is a time when most young people form their political views and so are especially vulnerable to swallowing what may be propaganda being shoved at them from questionable quarters.
At first glance, the comparisons of the Ulster plantation and the foundation of Israel seem obvious. The history behind each is not so straightforward of course, but the simple analogy suffices for the lazy barstool commentator not willing to delve deeper into the details, especially if it can be twisted to suit one’s personal political slant. In both cases, religion is used as motive for aggression even though it’s all about land. There are further complexities when you consider that the Provisional IRA received training and arms from the PLO from the 1970s to mid-80s.

The continuous presence of Irish peacekeepers in Lebanon on behalf of the UN since the late 70s has also ensured Israel remains in the spotlight. However, the other peacekeeping missions in Bosnia, Chad or Liberia don’t seem to have warranted the media attention that the Lebanon deployment did, maybe because of the deployment size, the length of the deployment or even because there were very few incidents on them.

The keffiyeh-clad Palestinian teenager throwing rocks is seen as the underdog fighting the all-powerful US/Israeli military machine – a replica of the David and Goliath scenario.
It’s seen as a “fashionable” cause, particularly amongst left-leaning university students. A cliché, I know, but the heavy presence of various Palestinian solidarity groups on university campuses cannot be ignored. College is a time when most young people form their political views and so are especially vulnerable to swallowing what may be propaganda being shoved at them from questionable quarters. The keffiyeh-clad Palestinian teenager throwing rocks is seen as the underdog fighting the all-powerful US/Israeli military machine – a replica of the David and Goliath scenario. The Western media latch onto these emotive images and broadcast them on our nightly news, thereby recruiting more middle-class Western supporters of the Palestinian cause. This stark contrast in power is not so conspicuous in other conflicts.

Which leads nicely onto my next point: The Palestinians have a bloody impressive propaganda machine, derogatorily dubbed “Pallywood” by critics. In the past, they’ve been exposed for staging photos of IDF soldiers apparently harassing women and being overly-aggressive with children. The trained eye, however, can quickly spot the fakes, with the actors caught out holding the wrong issue gun or subtle giveaways with an incorrect piece of uniform. The Internet has been convenient for spreading propaganda, but conversely it is also a great tool for debunking it.

Finally, it wouldn’t be thorough to conclude the article without examining anti-Semitism as a possible explanation for the Irish fixation with Israel. A highly contentious one, but one that must be addressed nonetheless in the interests of leaving no stone unturned. It would be highly naïve to think there isn’t a cohort of people out there using the cloak of Palestinian rights to attack the Jews. Brief instances of anti-Semitism dot our recent past, mainly stemming from the omnipresent, domineering influence of the Catholic Church, which propagated the usual myths of the Jews being Christ killers and the like. Limerick priest Fr. John Creagh led a pogrom against the tiny population of Jewish merchants in the city at the turn of the last century. Then there was Fine Gael TD Oliver J. Flanagan, infamous for his anti-Semitic rants in the Dáil right up to the 1980s. His re-election fourteen times would suggest he had his supporters. Is the current bizarre obsession with Israel the latest manifestation of Irish anti-Semitism?

The eyes of the world were drawn to the Middle-East and have never really left it. The Tamil Tigers never brought their war to Europe like the Palestinians did. It could be argued that we were never interested in the conflict until we were dragged into it.
Equally we could ask does Israel gain Western supporters from some wrongheaded notion of guilt for having set up the Jews after the Holocaust? British colonial interference in the Middle East is responsible for many of the current borders there, which lump different warring ethnic groups and communities together while dividing others.

Palestinian terrorists (or freedom fighters, depending on your slant) have really grabbed the attention of the West in the past few decades, with high profile plane hijackings and the Munich Olympics disaster. The eyes of the world were drawn to the Middle-East and have never really left it. The Tamil Tigers never brought their war to Europe like the Palestinians did. It could be argued that we were never interested in the conflict until we were dragged into it.


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http://www.universitytimes.ie/2013/12/response-is-ireland-really-obsessed-with-israel/
DEC 18, 2013

Response: Is Ireland Really Obsessed With Israel?

Gary Spedding questions whether Ireland really is obsessed with Israel.

Gary Spedding | Contributing Writer
Recently, The University Times published an opinion piece outlining a number of theories explaining accusations that Ireland is the most anti-Israel country in Europe. According to the author, several possible explanations exist; Ireland has a “bizarre obsession” with Israel, the Palestinian plight is a ‘fashionable’ cause for left-leaning students, Irish leftists are hypocritical and inconsistent because they ignore arguably more urgent crises elsewhere, and focus on Israel is without a doubt the latest manifestation of Irish anti-Semitism.
Well, once we’re done debasing, mischaracterising and demeaning human-rights-conscious activism in Ireland, it might become clear that criticism of the calibre directed at the Irish progressives, liberals and social democrats isn’t anything we’ve not heard repetitively time and time again.
Let’s turn our attention to the author’s main assertions and his omissions:
Irish leftist seem so much more preoccupied with Israel, than they are with situation X. There is no question – oppression in Tibet, the despicable inhumanity feted out by Bashar al-Assad upon the Syrian people, the situations in the Congo, Sudan, Iraq, Zimbabwe and Afghanistan makes the abuses perpetrated by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territories – East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza – appear far less urgent and extraordinarily tame when placed on any comparable scale.
I’ll admit that the left have a hard time defending themselves against accusations of hypocrisy and double standards. And without proper analysis the public might just continue accepting the notion that the existence of one case negates another. However, upon delving a little deeper it’s apparent just how absurd it is that we should conform to an arbitrary and fundamentally flawed definition of which human rights situations are more meritorious and deserving our attention.
Seriously, just ask yourself when was the last time we heard someone slate a medicine and food donationsappeal for Malawi based on the idea that a more desperate situation exists in Ethiopia?
There is a clear agenda underpinning the attack upon Irish progressives. Its main objective is to stifle criticism, obscuring the reality of Israel – Palestine and prevent information from reaching international audiences. This is achieved by introducing a hierarchical scale on which we litmus test cases of human rights abuse. Hasbarists frequently utilise and rely upon framework. One of the most commonly protestations we hear is that “Arabs have more freedom in Israel than they do in many Arab countries” – as if this somehow offsets the fact Israel has never treated Palestinian Arabs equally to that of Jewish Israelis in terms of human and civil rights or dignity.
Ireland is the most hostile country in Europe and protestors portrayed IDF soldiers as Nazis. No it isn’t, and no they did not. Ireland’s ties with Israel remain resolutely unchanged despite the best efforts of various Irish human rights NGOs and Palestine solidarity activists. Indeed the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) maintains healthy contact with Israeli officials and goods from illegal Israeli settlements still make their way into Irish supermarkets. The accusation of hostility originate from an unnamed Israeli foreign ministry source and were made at a time when the Tánaiste, Eamon Gilmore lambasted Israel’s illegal settlement expansion in East Jerusalem and had also given his support for “any move at EU level to exclude settlement products from entry to the EU” – Yes Israeli officials really are so fickle as to attempt bullying Ireland in such an uncouth way. This phenomenon, more commonly referred to as Israeli exceptionalism is present in a number of political arenas.
To further contextualise the hostility accusation I think it only fair we consider the response given by the DFA (Irish Times) when a spokesperson made Ireland’s position quite clear: “The notion that this Government is or would be trying to stoke up anti-Israeli feeling is untrue. We are not hostile to Israel. We are critical of policies, particularly in the occupied Palestinian territories. These are not the same things.”
The same article also rubbished claims that protestors had portrayed IDF soldiers as Nazis, highlighting that the assertion made by Israeli newspaper YediotAharonot was “contradicted by all available evidence.”
This isn’t the first time Ynet news has reported on an issue in Ireland to deliberately cause controversy and hysteria. In July it was suggested that yellow stickers advocating a boycott of Israel were akin to racial and genocidal hatred targeting Jews. Surely the colour yellow isn’t anti-Semitic?
The Parallels with Northern Ireland. One thing I’m in agreement on is that parallels with the Northern Ireland conflict are not straight forward. I have found that by misappropriating the conflict of another, the communities in Northern Ireland can in some ways sustain their own divisions. Ultimately though, no two conflicts can ever be completely analogous, whilst some core concepts may be the same there are always unique nuances. A documentary style short film, Shalom Belfast gives a stark insight into the frightening polarisation that occurs when radical elements adopt different causes or conflicts. What we should consider is whether a radical Irish republican view or the disturbing ideology ofloyalist Gordon McKnight is truly representative here? I say not.

Palestinians are serial liars and experts at the art of drama, which they export through an impressive propaganda machine, derogatorily dubbedPallywood
. I’m not in the business of denying that there have been instances where photos have circulated on social media attributing false actions to IDF soldiers. But we should never just dismiss every instance (see here and here) of legitimate footage or the meticulous human rights reports compiled by Israeli – Palestinian peace NGO’s such as B’tselemYesh DinGisha and al-Haq. These groups exceptional work helps to bring accountability and shine a spotlight on harrowing examples of criminality perpetrated by Israel.Students are vulnerable to propaganda being shoved at them from questionable quarters.
 There are many throughout the world that take on Middle East conflict dynamics, conflict transformation and conflict resolution as serious subjects to take action on. To assert that students are so unintelligent or lazy that they wouldn’t bother utilising the assets at their disposal in an academic environment to look at the facts is quite devaluing. I reject the assertion that students are so easily brainwashed or that the movement to free Palestine consists of lazy barstool commentators. As the founder of the QUB Palestine Solidarity Society, I’d also really love to know in what reality this ‘heavy presence of various Palestinian solidarity groups on university campuses’ exists in Ireland – to my knowledge there are only two (Belfast and NUI Galway) though I wish there was more.
The term ‘Pallywood’ is now quite widely used by those who take an uncritical Israel-advocacy position. According to Lisa Goldman, the purpose is to divert attention away from pertinent questions that bring into focus the checkpoints, land confiscations, arbitrary arrests, military trials that are effectively kangaroo courts, arbitrary beatings at the hands of Israeli security forces and settlers, a life without civil rights or legal recourse, night raids by the army, destruction of water cisterns, destruction of homes, no freedom of movement, etc. It is this existential reality that Irish human rights defenders are speaking out against and it’s because of their criticism that they’re labeled ‘anti-Israel’.
At the end of the day, I sit comfortably in the knowledge that there is absolutely nothing shameful, negative or even controversial about Irish activists or indeed the government in Ireland making public their enmity toward Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians. They have absolutely nothing to apologize for nor are they evil manic obsessives.
Gary Spedding is a writer, blogger and activist covering the Israel – Palestine conflict. During his time at Queen’s University Belfast (2010 – 13), Gary founded the Queen’s University Belfast Palestine Solidarity Society.
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