And what is the name of that justice who serves on Israel’s Supreme Court?

February 04, 2014

* Charles Krauthammer: Given that Israel has a profoundly democratic political system, the freest press in the Middle East, a fiercely independent judiciary and astonishing religious and racial diversity within its universities, including affirmative action for Arab students, the charge that it denies academic freedom to Palestinians is rather strange.

* The American Studies Association boycott has nothing to do with human rights. (If it did, the ASA might have something to say about the appalling human rights situations in Iran, Syria and over 100 other countries around the world.) It’s an exercise in radical chic, giving marginalized academics a frisson of pretend anti-colonialism, seasoned with a dose of edgy anti-Semitism.

* “Discrimination against Jews has a name. It’s called anti-Semitism. Former Harvard president Larry Summers called the ASA actions ‘anti-Semitic in their effect if not necessarily in their intent.’ I choose to be less polite. The intent is clear: to incite hatred for the largest — and only sovereign — Jewish community on Earth.”

* “But academia isn’t the only home for such prejudice. Throughout the cultural world, the Israel boycott movement is growing. It’s become fashionable for musicians, actors, writers and performers of all kinds to ostentatiously cleanse themselves of Israel and Israelis.”

***

* Below: A little quiz published in the Los Angeles Times for those academics, media columnists and NGO activists making false accusations about “apartheid” in Israel. As the paper says: “Perhaps the professors need to study their subject a little harder.”

***

Barry Rubin, a tribute: “How amazing is that?”

 

* You can comment on this dispatch here: www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia. Please also press “Like” on that page.

 

CONTENTS

1. “An unusual man has made an unusual statement”
2. Barry Rubin
3. “How to fight academic bigotry” (By Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post)
4. “Apartheid in Israel? Hardly” (By Seth Siegel, The Los Angeles Times)


“AN UNUSUAL MAN HAS MADE AN UNUSUAL STATEMENT”

[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach two recent articles from the Washington Post and Los Angeles Times on boycotts and false accusations of “apartheid” against Israel. I didn’t post them earlier because I didn’t want to post too many dispatches at the same time.

It is rare to see such articles in major publications and (as I and fellow European writers know from experience), most European publications refuse to print such pieces. (At least one third of subscribers to this list live in the 50 or so European countries, so I think it is worth sending these two pieces even though many Americans may have seen them already.)

On the Washington Post website, Charles Krauthammer (who is a subscriber to this list) links to my dispatch from last month about Evgeny Kissin: “I do not want to be spared of the troubles which Israeli musicians encounter…” (Dec. 5, 2013)

Krauthammer notes in his article:

In this sea of easy and open bigotry, an unusual man has made an unusual statement. Russian by birth, European by residence, Evgeny Kissin is arguably the world’s greatest piano virtuoso. He is also a Jew of conviction. Deeply distressed by Israel’s treatment in the cultural world around him, Kissin went beyond the Dershowitz/Weinberg stance of asking to be considered an Israeli. On Dec. 7, he became one, defiantly.

Upon taking the oath of citizenship in Jerusalem, he declared: “I am a Jew, Israel is a Jewish state. . . . Israel’s case is my case, Israel’s enemies are my enemies, and I do not want to be spared the troubles which Israeli musicians encounter when they represent the Jewish state beyond its borders.”

 

ADDITIONAL NOTE: BARRY RUBIN

Professor Barry Rubin, who died yesterday in Tel Aviv at the age of 64 after an 18-month battle with cancer, was an important Middle East scholar and a prolific writer.

Barry was incredibly knowledgeable. He either authored or edited almost 100 books (with two more due to be published shortly), and wrote a very large number of articles.

He was absolutely passionate about his work. He felt it was important to get out what he considered to be accurate information and make it as accessible as possible. He also invested a lot of time helping others, including many young researchers. He answered emails at all hours of the day and night and sometimes it seemed that he never slept.

In his dying days, Barry (who was a subscriber to this email list since it first started in 1999) asked me to inform readers that he had put 13 of his books online for free, here: http://www.gloria-center.org/pt_free_books/

Two of the books that Barry considered among his most important were “The Tragedy of the Middle East” and “The Truth about Syria.”

You can read my review for The Wall Street Journal of Barry’s biography of Yasser Arafat, written with his wife Judy (third article here): www.tomgrossmedia.com/ArafatArticles.html.

***

“HOW AMAZING IS THAT?”

As The Jerusalem Post notes in its obituary today (extracts below):

Rubin did not see a near-term solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, believing Jews should defend themselves. Anti-Semitism was “at the highest point in the West and the world generally since 1945,” he wrote in 2010, believing that the West is in denial about this reality. He saw revolutionary Islamism as the current driving force behind this hatred.

“Let us try to preserve as much as possible of the rapidly disappearing Jewish people. And if you want to boycott someone, why not start with those who insist on remaining our enemies and who would like to murder us?” he said.

Rubin also wrote about his relatives who perished in the Holocaust. In 2013, he published Children of Dolhinov, an account of the Jews of Dolhinov, which today is part of Belarus.

“For 2000 years my ancestors dreamed of returning to their homeland and reestablishing their sovereignty. I have had the privilege of living that dream. How amazing is that?”


ARTICLES

“THIS DISCRIMINATION AGAINST JEWS HAS A NAME”

How to fight academic bigotry
By Charles Krauthammer
Washington Post
January 9, 2014

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/charles-krauthammer-how-to-fight-academic-bigotry/2014/01/09/64f482ee-795e-11e3-af7f-13bf0e9965f6_story.html

For decades, the American Studies Association labored in well-deserved obscurity. No longer. It has now made a name for itself by voting to boycott Israeli universities, accusing them of denying academic and human rights to Palestinians.

Given that Israel has a profoundly democratic political system, the freest press in the Middle East, a fiercely independent judiciary and astonishing religious and racial diversity within its universities, including affirmative action for Arab students, the charge is rather strange.

Made more so when you consider the state of human rights in Israel’s neighborhood. As we speak, Syria’s government is dropping “barrel bombs” filled with nails, shrapnel and other instruments of terror on its own cities. Where is the ASA boycott of Syria?

And of Iran, which hangs political, religious and even sexual dissidents and has no academic freedom at all? Or Egypt, where Christians are being openly persecuted? Or Turkey, Saudi Arabia or, for that matter, massively repressive China and Russia?

Which makes obvious that the ASA boycott has nothing to do with human rights. It’s an exercise in radical chic, giving marginalized academics a frisson of pretend anti-colonialism, seasoned with a dose of edgy anti-Semitism.

And don’t tell me this is merely about Zionism. The ruse is transparent. Israel is the world’s only Jewish state. To apply to the state of the Jews a double standard that you apply to none other, to judge one people in a way you judge no other, to single out that one people for condemnation and isolation — is to engage in a gross act of discrimination.

And discrimination against Jews has a name. It’s called anti-Semitism.

Former Harvard president Larry Summers called the ASA actions “anti-Semitic in their effect if not necessarily in their intent.” I choose to be less polite. The intent is clear: to incite hatred for the largest — and only sovereign — Jewish community on Earth.

What to do? Facing a similar (British) academic boycott of Israelis seven years ago, Alan Dershowitz and Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Weinberg wrote an open letter declaring that, for the purposes of any anti-Israel boycott, they are to be considered Israelis.

Meaning: You discriminate against Israelis? Fine. Include us out. We will have nothing to do with you.

Thousands of other academics added their signatures to the Dershowitz/Weinberg letter. It was the perfect in-kind response. Boycott the boycotters, with contempt.

But academia isn’t the only home for such prejudice. Throughout the cultural world, the Israel boycott movement is growing. It’s become fashionable for musicians, actors, writers and performers of all kinds to ostentatiously cleanse themselves of Israel and Israelis.

The example of the tuxedoed set has spread to the more coarse and unkempt anti-Semites, such as the thugs who a few years ago disrupted London performances of the Jerusalem Quartet and the Israeli Philharmonic.

Five years ago in Sweden, Israel’s Davis Cup team had to play its matches in an empty tennis stadium because the authorities could not guarantee the Israelis’ safety from the mob. The most brazen display of rising anti-Semitism today is the spread of the “quenelle,” a reverse Nazi salute, popularized by the openly anti-Semitic French entertainer, Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala.

In this sea of easy and open bigotry, an unusual man has made an unusual statement. Russian by birth, European by residence, Evgeny Kissin is arguably the world’s greatest piano virtuoso. He is also a Jew of conviction. Deeply distressed by Israel’s treatment in the cultural world around him, Kissin went beyond the Dershowitz/Weinberg stance of asking to be considered an Israeli. On Dec. 7, he became one, defiantly.

Upon taking the oath of citizenship in Jerusalem, he declared: “I am a Jew, Israel is a Jewish state. . . . Israel’s case is my case, Israel’s enemies are my enemies, and I do not want to be spared the troubles which Israeli musicians encounter when they represent the Jewish state beyond its borders.”

Full disclosure: I have a personal connection with Kissin. For the past two years I’ve worked to bring him to Washington to perform for Pro Musica Hebraica, a nonprofit organization (founded by my wife and me) dedicated to reviving lost and forgotten Jewish classical music. We succeeded. On Feb. 24, Kissin will perform at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall masterpieces of Eastern European Jewish music, his first U.S. appearance as an Israeli.

The persistence of anti-Semitism, that most ancient of poisons, is one of history’s great mysteries. Even the shame of the Holocaust proved no antidote. It provided but a temporary respite. Anti-Semitism is back. Alas, a new generation must learn to confront it.

How? How to answer the thugs, physical and intellectual, who single out Jews for attack? The best way, the most dignified way, is to do like Dershowitz, Weinberg or Kissin.

Express your solidarity. Sign the open letter or write your own. Don the yellow star and wear it proudly.

 

APARTHEID IN ISRAEL? HARDLY.

Apartheid in Israel? Hardly.
Those who call for a boycott of Israeli universities should take this little quiz.
By Seth M. Siegel
The Los Angeles Times
January 12, 2014

www.latimes.com/opinion/commentary/la-oe-0112-siegel-israel-boycott-apartheid-20140112,0,546937,full.story#axzz2qxBt39ha

Two American academic groups — the American Studies Assn. and the Assn. for Asian American Studies — have called for a boycott of Israeli universities. Those resolutions have met with many objections. Much has been made, for example, of the inherent hypocrisy of attempting to ostracize Israel for its treatment of Palestinians and their Israeli Arab cousins when there are so many far worse situations in the Middle East and around the world. But there is another objectionable element in the boycott movement: the abuse of language.

In the discussion that surrounds the call for a boycott, South African apartheid is almost invariably invoked. Say what you will about the Israeli occupation, but the South Africa analogy is false. The word “apartheid” isn’t accurate, but it is emotional and inflammatory.

Of all people, professors should be more precise in their use of language. That they are not, and that they use such freighted language, suggests a goal other than helping the parties get to two states for two peoples.

Let’s use an academic tool — a surprise quiz — to examine the intellectual integrity of the apartheid allegation.


1. The valedictorian of the most recent graduating class at the medical school at Israel’s MIT, Technion, was:

a) A West Bank settler

b) An Orthodox Jewish man

c) A wounded veteran

d) A Muslim woman


2. The only country on the following list in which the Christian population isn’t falling precipitously is:

a) Iraq

b) Syria

c) Egypt

d) Israel


3. Which of the following is true of Israel’s Arab Christians?

a) They make up about a third of Israel’s pharmacists

b) They are among the winners of the Israel Prize, the country’s highest civilian honor

c) Their high school students have a higher rate of success on their graduation exams than Israeli Jewish students

d) All of the above


4. Since Israel left Gaza in 2005, the number of rockets fired from there into Israel is:

a) 8

b) 80

c) 800

d) 8,000 [TG: Actually, it is over 9,000]

5. Which of the following is not true:

a) Arabs from Israel, the West Bank and Gaza have access to Israeli hospitals

b) Arab doctors and nurses treat Jewish and Arab patients in Israeli hospitals

c) Hundreds of wounded civilians and fighters in the Syrian civil war have been treated in Israeli hospitals

d) By law, Israeli Jews may refuse to be treated by an Arab doctor


6. When West Bank Palestinians have a claim that their rights have been abrogated by an Israeli action, they can file a lawsuit with:

a) A West Bank military court

b) A special court for Palestinians

c) No one

d) The Israeli Supreme Court acting as a court of primary jurisdiction


7. The number of Israeli Arabs currently elected to serve in the Knesset, Israel’s 120-person parliament, is:

a) None

b) 1

c) 3

d) 12


8. The Golani Brigade, an elite Israeli army unit, recently made news when it:

a) Blew up a Hezbollah arms depot

b) Stopped a suicide attack on a city bus

c) Disbanded because Israel faces few military threats

d) Appointed Col. Rassan Alian, a Druze, as its commander


9. Salim Joubran is:

a) An Israeli Arab serving a five-year sentence for insulting Israel’s president

b) A human rights organization fighting for Palestinian rights

c) An Israeli restaurant shut down because it doesn’t serve kosher food

d) An Israeli Arab who serves on Israel’s Supreme Court


10. Israel’s 2013 Miss Israel beauty queen was:

a) Bar Refaeli, a fashion model

b) Agam Rodberg, an actress

c) Sandra Ringler, a fashion stylist

d) Yityish Aynaw, a black Ethiopian immigrant to Israel


Before looking at the answer key, try to imagine the condition of blacks in South Africa, the victims of apartheid, in each of the settings in the quiz.

Israel isn’t a perfect country. Criticism of Israel is legitimate, and Israelis themselves do it every day. But as the quiz reveals — D is the correct answer to each question — whatever Israel is, it isn’t an apartheid state.

Perhaps the professors need to study their subject a little harder.

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.