Friday, February 07, 2014

The Ruthless Suppression of All Dissent Continues

Bills have been introduced in Congress, as well as several state legislators, which would cut or strip funding to organizations (such as the American Studies Association) engaged in an academic boycott of Israel (the bills often have somewhat broader language than that, but nobody denies academic boycotts of Israel are the target. Though, to be fair, no other country is being targeted for an academic boycott). In any event, "merits" of the boycott aside (and I am of course on the record as viewing the BDS movement as fundamentally anti-Semitic in character -- David Hirsh makes the points far more eloquently), one can still view such bills as a serious threats to academic freedom -- a freedom which includes the freedom to take wrong, or even racist, positions.

But undoubtedly, I'm an exception, right? Those dreaded Jewish organizations who are ever-eager to crush the slightest dissonant voices on Israel -- why, they must be leading the charge for these laws? Or not:
Two of the major Jewish groups are not planning to back a new bill that seeks to pull federal funding from universities that boycott Israel, according to a source familiar with the situation.
“The legislation is almost certainly unconstitutional, it’s a bad law, and it reinforces stereotypes about Jewish influence,” said one pro-Israel Democratic strategist familiar with the groups’ thinking. “It’s so bad that AIPAC and ADL oppose it.”
“There’s no way they’ll say they support it,” the strategist said.
“We welcome any effort to challenge or fight the boycott, divestment and sanctions in colleges and universities,” said Abe Foxman, director of the ADL. “However well-intentioned, we are not sure that this bill would be the most effective means of recourse.”
AIPAC and Abe Foxman -- those are the typical bogeymen, aren't they? And while they aren't mentioned in the context of the proposed federal legislation, the AJC has come out against a similar bill proposed in New York. Together, AIPAC, the ADL, and the AJC comprise a fairly hefty chunk of the Jewish center, center-left, and center-right.

I predict this development to have precisely zero influence on how people speak about the contribution of Jewish groups to this debate.

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