Category: Israel


This boycott continues the anti-Zionist war on academia. Most academics seek intellectual precision — yet calling Israel an apartheid state sloppily makes apartheid mean “apartness,” separation, sanitizing its ugly racial distinctions while falsely making the national conflict between Israelis and Palestinians seem racial. Most scholars recognize the world’s complexity — yet regarding Israel, simplistic sloganeering and one-sided finger pointing prevail. Most intellectuals defend ideas’ permeability — yet boycotts impose harsh borders in what should be a seamless cerebral world. Most teachers applaud diversity, yet boycotts shut down debate. And most professors aspire toward scholarly objectivity, yet targeting Israel — especially given Palestinian terrorism, extremism, and authoritarianism, along with so many other countries’ crimes — reeks of bias and a particular, historic prejudice, anti-Semitism.

I hate making this argument. But how else can we explain this disproportionate, one-sided, pile-on against this one country that is also the world’s only Jewish state?

The boycott call is also politically counter-productive. It emboldens Palestinian rejectionists, enrages the Israeli right, demoralizes the center, and undermines the left. Compromise cannot occur in the lynch mob atmosphere the ASA endorsed.

Gil Troy, “Why I’m Boycotting the American Studies Association”, The Jewish Week (27 December 2013), 20.

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…there are competing understandings of what it means to be a Jewish state, both in regard to relations with non-Jewish Israelis as well as concerning the place of Jewish religion and tradition in the legal system and in the public sphere. It is also impossible to ignore the fact that the discussion of the status of non-Jews in Israel takes place in the context of a longstanding conflict, in which the very legitimacy of the state is challenged. These should not be reasons for ignoring the need to create a common language between Jewish tradition and human rights. Even Jews who are wary of innovations in Jewish law must understand the challenge to Jewish tradition of a modern state based on democratic principles, and formulate an appropriate Jewish response.

Kalman Neuman, “Equal Under the Law?”, The Jewish Week (3 January 2014), 25.

In recent decades the left that whitewashed the crimes of the Third World rulers has ‘koshered’ any policy that presents as being anti-colonialist. It has turned against Israel and sought to define it as an apartheid regime. The hope was to label it, and then bring it down through boycotts, divestments and sanctions – all the while studiously concealing that such a ‘victory’ would enable mass destruction of the Israeli Jews. They ignore the critical differences: that Israel’s Jewish population represents the return of a people to its homeland; that its Jewish land was bought and reclaimed, not seized; that that Arabs were offered a nation of their own but chose to try to destroy the Jewish state; that much of the Palestinian Nakba was self-inflicted; and that Israel is a vital functioning democracy despite living under constant siege.

The key to the delegitimation strategy is to so exaggerate normal faults and inescapable errors in self-defense, and to invent evils and thus define Israel as an apartheid society. The bald-faced lie of this claim is blatant because in Israel itself, the opposite of apartheid is true. Despite the Arab states’ unrelenting assaults from without, the internal Arab minority was granted full voting rights and all civil rights. Starting as a disadvantaged community, Israeli Arabs have steadily improved their levels of public health, education, and economic well-being – beyond any of the Arabs in neighboring states. They are still behind the Jewish curve but – like blacks in America – they have the full range of democratic mechanisms available to improve their status. Their fate is significantly in their own hands.

The left that airbrushes the evils of ‘underdogs’ or ex-colonial peoples and demonizes the Jewish state, has seized upon the West Bank situation to give the color of validity to its apartheid caricature. In so doing they ignore the fact that overwhelmingly the restrictions on the Palestinians were instituted to protect against terrorism. They omit that successive governments of Israel have offered to give 90% plus of the West Bank to a Palestinian state in return for a credible secure peace agreement. They cover up the continuing Palestinian rhetoric of revenge and genocide. They falsely equate the systematic use of terror and hatred with highly marginalized violent actions or expressions of bigotry. They treat as equivalent official Arab glorification of genocide with a minority desire for conquest on the Israeli side. This ‘neutral’ mendacity encourages Palestinian revanchist policies.

Rabbi Irving “Yitz” Greenberg, “Mandela, Apartheid And The Jews”, The Jewish Week (13 December 2013), 28.

Fulfillment of this demand for recognition of Israel as a Jewish state — which is really about mutuality since Israel already recognized the legitimate right of the Palestinian people to self-determination — is a prerequisite for genuine reconciliation, and it should enjoy full support from peace supporters across the political spectrum.

I like to use the metaphor of two families living together in one house, representing the Jewish and Palestinian national movements occupying the small tract of land between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea. Yes, it is true that there will be no peace unless and until a permanent border can be drawn separating these two peoples. The border is necessary, but not sufficient. If, after a border is drawn, current and future generations are taught that members of the other family sharing the house are not there by right, have no legitimate claim, are essentially thieves, interlopers — simply there because eviction was impossible or impractical — the seeds of future conflict will continue to be sown.

Martin Raffel, “Why Recognition Of Jewish State Is Fundamental To Peace”, The Jewish Week (10 January 2014), 26.

How then should…

How then should Israel look to the future? This is a difficult proposition for a country whose leaders are notorious for their short-term perspectives on policy. Nevertheless, it is a question that Israelis and their American supporters must face. Geography is relatively unchanging, and Israel will always find itself caught between rival great powers, whether those proximate to it, like Egypt or, more likely, those further afield, like Turkey or Iran, or those even more remote, but with expanding military reach, like China and India.

Dov S. Zakheim, “The Geopolitics of Scripture,” The American Interest (July/August 2012), 16.