When it comes to the boycott of Israel, who has the real double standard?

18 Dec

Last month, Brandeis University announced that it was severing its decade-long relationship with the Palestinian university Al Quds. Since 2003, the  two universities have engaged in sustained academic exchanges, involving joint research projects, conferences, study abroad programs, and more.

Brandeis severed the relationship in response both to an Islamic Jihad rally on the Al Quds campus that featured Nazi-style salutes, military-style outfits, and fake weapons, and to the failure, in Brandeis’s eyes, of the Al Quds administration to respond appropriately to that demonstration. Three Brandeis professors who have been involved in the Al Quds exchange wrote a lengthy report protesting this decision by Brandeis.

In terms of actual academic exchange, this decision by Brandeis has a substantive impact. It ends a real relationship, with real infrastructure and opportunities for scholars and students to communicate with each other and work together.

To my knowledge, not a single professor of American Studies at Brandeis has publicly protested the decision of the university. Indeed, the only public comment on the controversy by an American Studies professor at Brandeis that I could find was a criticism of the professors’ report protesting the decision.

Now the ASA has voted for an academic boycott of Israel. In response, the entire American Studies department at Brandeis has resigned from the ASA in protest. Claiming, among other things, that “we can no longer support an organization that has rejected two of the core principles of American culture–freedom of association and expression.”

• • • • • •

In related news: In response to the BDS movement against Israel, critics say, “It’s not South Africa!” Turns out that in response to the sanctions movement against South Africa, critics said, “It’s not Palestine!” Seriously, they did.

15 Responses to “When it comes to the boycott of Israel, who has the real double standard?”

  1. Glenn Adler December 18, 2013 at 4:49 pm #

    Freedom of association for me, but not for thee.

  2. Malcolm Schosha December 18, 2013 at 5:45 pm #

    Corey wrote: “Brandeis severed the relationship in response both to an Islamic Jihad rally on the Al Quds campus that featured Nazi-style salutes…”

    Corey, is it possible that you see nothing wrong with that Islamic Jihad rally? According to Wikipedia: Islamic Jihad “…has been labelled as a terrorist group by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, Australia and Israel.”

    As far as I know Brandeis has severed its ties with Al Quds, but has not advocated that that it be boycotted. I don’t see a double standard.

    • Corey Robin December 18, 2013 at 7:36 pm #

      “I don’t see a double standard.”

      And I don’t doubt that you never will.

    • mike December 19, 2013 at 12:55 am #

      You are reasonable, right, and wasting your time. But when you talk to a right or left wing ideologue, you will never get a straight answer, just an insult. Of course the rally was despicable, and if a similar rally were held in Israel, you’d hear the worldwide outrage.
      Talk about double standards!

  3. ezeflyer@comcast.net December 18, 2013 at 5:55 pm #

    Dear Corey:

    Would you endorse this idea?

    Incorporate 300 million Americans and issue all citizens equal non-negotiable shares in the trillions of dollars worth of publicly owned resources like public lands, public airwaves, national parks, mineral resources, marine resources, public buildings, the Defense Department, government institutions and everything our taxes pay for.

    The dividends 300 million people accrue from existing and renegotiated leases of public resources and uses thereof would lift everyone out of poverty. We the People Inc. can control wages, the proper use of our natural resources and we can hire and fire our management by equal votes at online stockholders meetings like any other corporate giant. The difference is that there would be no powerful majority stockholders dictating outcomes in their favor. In other words, we eliminate greed and oligarchy from the equation and substitute it for democracy, direct and decentralized through the corporate model.

    Studies have shown that popular decisions consistently beat politician’s decisions by a wide margin. All the people would in essence make the laws that run the country through our People’s Corporation.

    The key to its success is to make our public’s stock non-transferable and non-negotiable. Otherwise Wall Street Casino politics will guarantee its failure.

    The goal of a tiny Ruling Class is to privatize all public resources by corporate takeover. This would effectively enslave the public. We the people must incorporate before Wall Street corporations succeed in their privatization scheme and we lose all of our public property and the dividends that should accrue to all the people, the actual owners of the public treasure.

    Troy

  4. Random December 18, 2013 at 10:06 pm #

    I don’t understand- Al Quds controls its students. Israeli universities do not control the Israeli government. How is it a double-standard to want to end a relationship with an organization that could have acted in a way to prevent a harm, but not want to support a boycott punishing organizations that have no say either was as to how a group acts?

    • Malcolm Schosha December 19, 2013 at 8:12 am #

      Random, there is no double standard in this, and Corey’s snide reply to my comment above indicates he has no substantial argument to back up his accusation.

    • Michael M December 29, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

      I know I shouldn’t engage a troll, but it is absolutely absurd to state that “Al Quds controls its students,” especially when the president of the university denounced the demonstration. In fact, part of what outraged Lawrence (wrongly, in my opinion) was that the president of Al Quds, Sari Nusseibeh condemned the actions of “Jewish extremists” as well as the demonstrators as damaging the university’s ability to be a place for free and open inquiry.

      This is language that Lawrence sees as “inflammatory”: “To express any
      position or opinion in a way that inspires hatred against others violates the concept of respect, which is one of the fundamental elements of freedom–for example, if anyone tries to impose a position on others by force, by verbal threat, or by violence.”

    • hbookbinder December 29, 2013 at 2:25 pm #

      I know I shouldn’t engage a troll, but it is absolutely absurd to state that “Al Quds controls its students,” especially when the president of the university denounced the demonstration. In fact, part of what outraged Lawrence (wrongly, in my opinion) was that the president of Al Quds, Sari Nusseibeh condemned the actions of “Jewish extremists” as well as the demonstrators as damaging the university’s ability to be a place for free and open inquiry.

      This is language that Lawrence sees as “inflammatory”: “To express any position or opinion in a way that inspires hatred against others violates the concept of respect, which is one of the fundamental elements of freedom–for example, if anyone tries to impose a position on others by force, by verbal threat, or by violence.”

  5. BillR December 18, 2013 at 11:53 pm #

    “The conquest of the earth, which mostly means taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter nose than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much.”

    Heart of Darkness

    http://www.dissidentvoice.org/Jan04/Ash0126.htm

  6. louisproyect December 19, 2013 at 8:16 am #

    There’s quite an irony here in that Bard College has “partnered” with Al Quds, an unequal relationship if you think in terms of dependency theory. Leon Botstein, who fired Joel Kovel for his anti-Zionist writings, must be feeling buyer’s remorse big-time now.

  7. Luke December 24, 2013 at 3:56 am #

    The Palestinian university was having NAZI RALLIES, so Brandeis didn’t want to be associated with that.

    The Israeli universities AREN’T DOING ANYTHING WRONG, and have a MILLION ARAB STUDENTS who get a great education.

    But the Israeli universities are in the Jewish state, so extreme-left anti-Jewish bigots want to boycott them.

    • Elisabeth December 25, 2013 at 11:11 am #

      Right on.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Does the ASA Boycott Violate Academic Freedom? A Roundtable | Corey Robin - December 23, 2013

    […] But were universities to drop joint programs of exchange and research—as Brandeis University recently did with Al Quds—that would take away a road that had facilitated that exchange and research. Perhaps not the […]

  2. The Last Link Encyclopedia of 2013 | Clarissa's Blog - December 30, 2013

    […] “When it comes to the boycott of Israel, who has the real double standard?“ […]

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