Friday, May 19, 2017

You Keep Using That Term, "BDS"....

The Israel Group sent out a message to their listserv warning of BDS starting to emerge at two Israeli universities -- Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Ben-Gurion University in the Negev.

At first when I read the article, I was confused. Neither of the two stories -- BGU reportedly hosting an event by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, nor HUJ declining to play "Hatikvah (Israel's national anthem) at its graduation -- constitute a boycott, a divestment, or a sanction. Whatever one thinks of either happening, they're not cases of "BDS".

But then I reread the top of the article, where The Israel Group wrote the following (bold print original):
We strongly suggest that donors to Hebrew University immediately redirect their support to other Israeli institutions, and inform Hebrew U. as to why you are doing it.
And then I got it -- it was a call for divestment! The BDS link was to the right-wing response to the events. Calls to censor Israeli academic events or to divest funding from Israeli universities based on narrow political litmus tests represents the core of the BDS ideology. And it is indeed alarming to see BDS tactics emerge on the Israeli and "pro-Israel" right -- the Israel Group is sadly not alone in aligning itself with the right-wing BDS campaign. So hopefully principled opponents of BDS will call them out on it and protect academic freedom and independence in Israel -- no matter who happens to be threatening it.


Unknown said...

Devil's advocate:

I see no reason why Hebrew U shouldn't have played Hatikvah. If people are offended by songs about Jewish liberation and freedom, then they are most likely antisemites anyway. It makes no sense that we are seemingly the only people on Earth whose national/ethnic pride needs to be kept to a minimum in our own homeland. After all, isn't the entire point of Israel to give Jews a place where we are our own masters and can fully express our cultural pride without fear of persecution?

Roy said...

Well Mark, one problem with your thesis is that the whole story never really happen. Hebrew U never played Hatikvah in their graduation ceremony, as plenty other academies in Israel, including Tel-Aviv University, do not.
Playing Hatikvah in none state ceremonies is not a thing in Israel.
It became a story Because of a combination of right wing activists who wanted to make the appearances of Heb U not playing Hatikvah to spare Muslim student feelings and very bad journalism.

David Schraub said...

I'd also reiterate that -- again, however we think of the merits of playing versus not Hatikvah -- it isn't a case of BDS. The only "BDS" activity present in the article was the call to divest from Hebrew U (after all, what is BDS but a call to stop giving money, resources, or collaboration to Israeli institutions for their real or imagined bad behavior?).