Website policy


We provide links to articles we think will be of interest to our supporters, informing them of issues, events, debates and the wider context of the conflict. We are sympathetic to much of the content of what we post, but not to everything. The fact that something has been linked to here does not necessarily mean that we endorse the views expressed in it.
_____________________

Action Alerts


Support Amnesty International's campaign to Bring Mordechai Vanunu to London in June
_____________________

Did you know?



Settlements Generate Virtually No Economic Activity
"A recent Israeli government report estimated there are…$250 million in annual exports — [only] 0.55 percent of the national total — from the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, territories the international community generally considers illegally occupied."
Jodi Rodoren cited by Richard Silverstein, 22 Jan 2014

Daily acts of violence committed by Jewish Israeli citizens against West Bank Palestinians
"These incidents — now particularly heightened during the olive harvest season — are not the aberration from the norm, but a regular feature of life in the occupied West Bank. In 2012, over 7,500 Palestinian olive trees were destroyed. In the 5-year period between 2007 and 2011, there was a 315 percent increase in settler violence."
Mairav Zonszein, Israel Must Stop Settler Violence, 8 November 2013
______
Police impunity
After their own investigations establishing a prima facie violation, Btselem has lodged over 280 complaints of alleged police violence in the oPt since the start of the second Intifada: "we are aware of only 12 indictments" Btselem April 2013
______
Runners in the first ever Bethlehem Marathon were forced to run two laps of the same course on Sunday 21 April 2013, as Palestinians were unable to find a single stretch of free land that is 26 miles long in Area A, where the PA has both security and civil authority. See Marathon report
______
30th March, land day.
On 30 March 1976, thousands of Palestinians living as a minority in Israel mounted a general strike and organised protests against Israeli government plans to expropriate almost 15,000 acres of Palestinian land in the Galilee.The Israeli government, led by prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and defence minister Shimon Peres, sent in the army to break up the general strike. The Israeli army killed six unarmed Palestinians, wounded hundreds and arrested hundreds more, including political activists. All were citizens of Israel.
______
* Out of 103 investigations opened in 2012 into alleged offences committed by Israeli soldiers in the occupied territories, not a single indictment served to date
Yesh Din, 3 Feb 2013
______
* In total, out of an area of 1.6 million dunams in the Jordan Valley, Israel has seized 1.25 million − some 77.5 percent − where Palestinians are forbidden to enter.
Haaretz editorial, 4 Feb 2013
_____________________

Posts

Don’t even THINK about BDS

Articles from JTA, Corey Robin, JPost, plus Notes and links

The  Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations has called on universities to exclude the ASA because of its boycott vote. Above, the bigwigs at their 50th anniversary gala. Photo by Michael Priest

Academic group won’t consider Israel boycott, but its mere discussion raises hackles

Activists on both sides of the issue say the success of individual boycott efforts is less important than the fact that boycotts are being discussed at all.

By JTA
January 08, 2014

Until recently, the rule of thumb in the pro-Israel community was that the bigger the academic group, the less likely it was to consider a boycott of Israeli colleagues.

But with the 30,000-member Modern Language Association set to host a panel on BDS at its convention this week in Chicago, the rule may have to be reconsidered.

Supporters of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement have scored some victories in recent months, mostly among smaller groups. The American Studies Association, which endorsed a boycott resolution last month targeting Israeli academic institutions, claims about 4,000 members.

Though the Modern Language Association will not consider an outright boycott of Israeli universities, it will consider a resolution calling on the U.S. State Department to oppose the “arbitrary denials of entry” to American academics seeking to teach or conduct research at universities in the West Bank and Gaza.

“They proposed the travel resolution as a fallback,” said Cary Nelson, an association member and former president of the American Association of University Professors. “They’re trying something else as a step toward a boycott resolution the next time. If they can win this, they will move onto the next one.”

In a conference call Tuesday organized by the Israel Action Network, Nelson argued that the Modern Language Association did not deserve the scorn it has weathered for hosting the panel, which will feature five supporters of BDS and no opponents. The panel is among several hundred to be held at the convention, and Nelson said such panels typically reflect a single point of view and are not debates.

The Modern Language Association also is already on record opposing academic boycotts. In response to the removal of two Israeli scholars from a British journal, the group adopted a resolution in 2002 calling boycotts based on nationality or ethnic origins “unfair, divisive, and inconsistent with academic freedom.”

Still, activists on both sides of the issue say the success of individual boycott efforts is less important than the fact that boycotts are being discussed at all.

“The mere calling for a boycott will impede the free flow of ideas,” Russell Berman, a comparative literature professor at Stanford University and a past Modern Language Association president, said on the conference call. “The calling of a boycott will have a chilling effect on academic life.”


Rosemary Feal, [above] executive director of the Modern Language Association, said what is truly alarming is the notion that just convening a panel implicates the group as anti-Israel.

“It’s chilling, the idea that putting on a session is wrong, that it signifies foregone conclusions,” Feal told JTA.

Samer Ali, the associate professor of Middle Eastern studies at the University of Texas in Austin who convened the panel, said the point is to shed light on Israeli practices.

“I think the only tangible benefit to come out of academic boycotts of Israel (and the ASA vote, the MLA roundtable, etc.) is generating discussion about the daily effects of the occupation,” Ali wrote in an email.

Far from sparking a wave of pro-boycott measures, the vote by the American Studies Association has engendered a broad backlash, with more than 100 university heads speaking out against it.

“Some may argue that BDS is picking up momentum,” said Geri Palast, who directs the Israel Action Network, an initiative of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and the Jewish Federations of North America. “The reality is that the broad academic community is rejecting BDS in terms of its singling out one country and saying there is only one narrative. We are winning this debate.”

Nelson said he would attend the BDS panel to offer his opposition before heading to a nearby hotel to speak on a panel organized by the campus group Hillel and the Israel on Campus Coalition.

Notably, there were signs of disagreement between academics opposed to BDS and pro-Israel groups over how best to counter such resolutions. The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, for instance, in its appeal to universities to reject the American Studies Association boycott also called on them to cut off the group.

“I can understand that reaction,” Berman told JTA. “But I don’t think I would want to elevate the principle that political statements should be grounds for academic sanctions.”



Professor Corey Robin, author The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin, 2011 OUP

The New McCarthyites: BDS, Its Critics, and Academic Freedom

By Corey Robin, blog
January 08, 2014

As the attacks on the BDS movement and the ASA boycott escalate, the arguments grow wilder.

It’s no longer enough, it seems, to make unfounded claims that the academic boycott violates academic freedom. The new line of march is that mere advocacy of the boycott is itself a violation of academic freedom.

What’s more, it’s not crazies who are peddling this claim; as Haaretz reports, it’s coming from the heart of the academic establishment.

“The mere calling for a boycott will impede the free flow of ideas,” Russell Berman, a comparative literature professor at Stanford University and a past Modern Language Association president, said on the conference call. “The calling of a boycott will have a chilling effect on academic life.”

If it’s true that merely calling for a boycott shuts down the free exchange of ideas, it seems logical that such calls should be prohibited. Not only prohibited, but punished.

One prominent critic of the BDS movement, Edward Beck, makes just that argument in a recent piece in The Jerusalem Post.

Beck begins from the premise that the successful vote for the ASA boycott demonstrates that defenders of Israel can no longer wait for its opponents to act; Israel’s defenders must go on the offensive, preventing the virus from spreading further.

To be reactive may well be to be too late; being vigilant and proactive is the only way to ward off these attacks on academic freedom.

What does that mean in practice?

It means that every academic who opposes academic boycotts for any reason, whether it be purely academic terms or political or other reasons, must work within his or her own institution, discipline and professional society to develop the codified organizational and institutional policies that state in language that is clear and bold that the group will not entertain any proposals for academic boycotts based on national origin or institutional affiliation because such resolutions are discriminatory, may violate legal and tax statutes and are based on the notion of collective punishment, and such, are disruptive to the flow of academic discourse and research and anathema to the basic concept of academic freedom.

The policy also has to state sanctions for individual members engaging in such behavior, as this would be a violation of institutional or organization policy and regarded as academically unethical.

Read that language carefully. No academic institution is to entertain or consider a proposal for a boycott. Presumably this is to be codified in a set of bylaws or a faculty code of conduct, though Beck does not say. What he does say is that it is not the boycott itself that violates academic freedom; it is the “resolution” for a boycott. The vote for a boycott, in other words, interferes with the basic campus activities of research and discussion.

That policy must be enforced with sanctions—Beck doesn’t specify the sanctions but presumably these could include anything from a reprimand in one’s file to being fired—on any individual faculty member “engaging in such behavior.”

But what exactly is “such behavior” that would warrant the sanction? At first, I thought Beck meant an individual faculty member engaging in a boycott. So my personal refusal to attend a conference in Israel, because it is in Israel, would qualify.

But the antecedent for “engaging in such behavior” is not the boycott itself but “such resolutions.” Beck, remember, wants the defenders of Israel to move beyond reacting to boycotts that are happening; in fact, he wants to move beyond successful votes for boycotts. He wants to head those votes off at the pass, to prevent them from becoming votes at all.

The only way to make sense of what Beck is saying is that he thinks individuals who advocate for boycotts ought to be sanctioned by their universities and professional associations.

Thus, if I push my college or professional association to adopt a BDS resolution, or publicly proclaim my intention to vote for one (with the clear purpose of persuading others to do the same), I am “engaging in such behavior.” If I merely call for a boycott, to use Professor Berman’s language, I am “engaging in such behavior.”

Berman says he’s not willing to go as far as sanctions: “But I don’t think I would want to elevate the principle that political statements should be grounds for academic sanctions.” It’s not clear why he thinks this: given what Berman said about mere advocacy impinging on academic freedom, it would seem entirely appropriate to punish such advocacy. After all, if I walk into the classroom of my colleague next door, shouting and screaming nonsense, being needlessly disruptive and preventing her from teaching her students, I would be subject to disciplinary action. For the very reason that my activity prevents the free flow of ideas and communication that is the essence of campus life. So if the mere call for a boycott does essentially the same thing, why shouldn’t it be punished?

Who knows? But the mere fact that we’re even having this discussion at all should tell us how far down the road of repression the opponents of the ASA boycott are willing to go—all in the name of academic freedom.

These bizarreries of freedom being squelched in the name of freedom remind me of nothing so much as arguments that were common during the McCarthy era.

Deploying similar chains of extended causality, anticommunists—including a great many liberals—argued that the problem with the Communist Party in the United States was not that it had attempted a violent overthrow of the US government; clearly it had not. It was not that it had organized an attempt to violently overthrow the government; clearly it had not. It was not that it had organized a movement that would attempt to violently overthrow the government; it hadn’t even done that.

No, the real crime of the Communist Party, as the Supreme Court put it so beautifully in Dennis v. United States, was that it had organized a movement that advocated, and sought to teach its members, the notion that when the time was right, at some completely undefined point in the future, it would be entirely justified and appropriate, indeed necessary and obligatory, to attempt a violent overthrow of the government.

In making this argument, the Supreme Court drew from a particular definition of political speech crimes, which were found in the Smith Act, the 1940 statute upon which the leadership of the Communist Party was tried and convicted in 1949. The relevant sections of the statute do not criminalize the violent overthrow of the government or even advocacy of the violent overthrow of the government. Instead, they criminalize the following:

Whoever organizes or helps or attempts to organize any society, group, or assembly of persons who teach, advocate, or encourage the overthrow or destruction of any such government by force or violence….

Notice just how many steps removed from actual violence these speech crimes are, how many discrete actions must be engaged in before we even get anywhere near something like a violent overthrow of the government: “attempt”….”to organize”….”a group”….”that advocates”…”the violent overthrow of the government”…at some undefined moment in the future. Talk about six degrees of separation!

Here’s how the Supreme Court interpreted that language in the Dennis case, which upheld the conviction of eleven leaders of the Communist Party.

Obviously, the words cannot mean that, before the Government may act, it must wait until the putsch is about to be executed, the plans have been laid and the signal is awaited. If Government is aware that a group aiming at its overthrow is attempting to indoctrinate its members and to commit them to a course whereby they will strike when the leaders feel the circumstances permit, action by the Government is required….In the instant case, the trial judge charged the jury that they could not convict unless they found that petitioners intended to overthrow the Government “as speedily as circumstances would permit.” This does not mean, and could not properly mean, that they would not strike until there was certainty of success. What was meant was that the revolutionists would strike when they thought the time was ripe.

….

The mere fact that, from the period 1945 to 1948, petitioners’ activities did not result in an attempt to overthrow the Government by force and violence is, of course, no answer to the fact that there was a group that was ready to make the attempt. The formation by petitioners of such a highly organized conspiracy, with rigidly disciplined members subject to call when the leaders, these petitioners, felt that the time had come for action, coupled with the inflammable nature of world conditions, similar uprisings in other countries, and the touch-and-go nature of our relations with countries with whom petitioners were in the very least ideologically attuned, convince us that their convictions were justified on this score. And this analysis disposes of the contention that a conspiracy to advocate, as distinguished from the advocacy itself, cannot be constitutionally restrained, because it comprises only the preparation. It is the existence of the conspiracy which creates the danger.

It’s that kind of repressive language and logic of containment, of nipping the threat in the bud, of suppressing speech before it becomes action, of holding that the speech itself is a crime, that we see in opponents of BDS and the academic boycott.

Like their predecessors—I’m thinking now of Sidney Hook, who argued that members of the Communist Party should not be allowed to teach in schools, also on the grounds of academic freedom—our latter-day McCarthyites throw around the word of freedom as they slowly and steadily destroy it.


The key to preventing academic boycotts successes in the future

By Edward S. Beck, OpEd, JPost
January 06, 2014

The good news is that approximately 60 colleges and universities from around the country have had their administrations committee to not participating in academic boycotts as a reaction to the recent academic boycott resolutions of the American Studies Association, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association and the Asian American Studies Association. The bad news is that there are well over 3,500 colleges and universities in the United States alone that have not spoken out on this issue.

Moreover, there are hundreds of academic and professional affinity groups where faculty are independently active, and via which they make reputations for themselves through publications in journals and association leadership. These associations are the currency of the realm for academics, where peer review and politics reign supreme.

These association set standards for curricula, program accreditation and publications which are accepted by colleges and universities as standards for their program offerings.

One of the leading organizations, the Modern Language Association, which has 30,000 members from hundreds of colleges and universities, has been in existence since 1883 and professes to study language, is perhaps one of the most influential of these academic associations in the humanities and social sciences. It shall be meeting beginning January 9 in Chicago.

At these meetings there will be programs dedicated to the teaching of English, Foreign Languages, Literature – and at the Delegate Council there will be a resolution on boycotting Israeli Academics and Institutions, the wording of which has not been publicly released. No one is taking any bets on whether this resolution will pass or not, but do not be surprised if it does.

Why might it pass? Because academics opposing academic boycotts have not been alarmed enough by the very successful persistent and predictable strategy of the pro-boycott movement: infiltrate academic societies and strategically introduce such resolutions while marshaling support from the governance body, and getting on the agenda when it may be too late to thwart the effort.

I speak as an insider who has fought the academic boycott movement since 2003 and who knows full well the tactics of this contingent. By the time it reaches the various governing councils of these organizations, it is too late in many cases to reverse the momentum.

It is quickly becoming too late for anti-academic boycott faculty to be successful with reactive measures to these boycotts. Frequently votes are taken at times when attendance is low or meetings are breaking and people are hustling to leave and catch planes. Frequently these votes are passed by a small minority of the general membership because faculty members simply aren’t paying attention or think others will take care of their concerns, thinking it can’t happen here. Well, it has happened, and academia has had a wake-up call.

So what is the antidote? Unfortunately this problem will not be solved with position statements by organizations or donations from large donors or even condemnations from the press.

The only antidote to these attacks on academic freedom will come from faculty themselves when they decide, in the words of the great humorist W.C. Fields, “to grab the bull by the tail and face the situation.” What does that mean? It means that every academic who opposes academic boycotts for any reason, whether it be purely academic terms or political or other reasons, must work within his or her own institution, discipline and professional society to develop the codified organizational and institutional policies that state in language that is clear and bold that the group will not entertain any proposals for academic boycotts based on national origin or institutional affiliation because such resolutions are discriminatory, may violate legal and tax statutes and are based on the notion of collective punishment, and such, are disruptive to the flow of academic discourse and research and anathema to the basic concept of academic freedom.

The policy also has to state sanctions for individual members engaging in such behavior, as this would be a violation of institutional or organization policy and regarded as academically unethical.

These statements must be codified, so that when the organized committees come to recruit vulnerable departments, faculty members and disciplines, the policy can be pointed to as a principle of the organization or institution.

Consequently, the challenging news is that this is hard work and only a few of us have rolled up our sleeves to do it discipline by discipline, campus by campus. These codes will supersede institutional statements by administrators who come and go. These codes will uphold time-honored commitments to academic freedom and freedom from discriminatory practices that have been hardfought battles won, and which have made academics stronger as a result.

Only academics in their societies, faculty senates and academic governance groups can make this happen. Those of us who are institutionally- based faculty cannot abandon this responsibility or they will learn, as many of my friends and colleagues have learned from the ASA experience and may well learn from the MLA experience, that their disciplines were considered vulnerable and conquerable by the academic boycott movement.

It is time for faculty to take their heads out of the sand and realize that to be silent is to be an accomplice.

To be reactive may well be to be too late; being vigilant and proactive is the only way to ward off these attacks on academic freedom.

The author is Steering Committee Coordinator at the International GrassRoots Faculty Committee on Academic Freedom and Integrity, and co-founder and president emeritus of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East.

Notes and links

Edward Beck, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

From Jewish community heroes
How is your Hero working to make the world a better place?Professor Beck has mobilized nearly 100,000 grass-roots faculty members world wide to address issues of anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism on campuses by creating Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, a not-for-profit organizations that is run by faculty for faculty to work with faculty, students, their institutions and disciplines and the communities in which they live.Meet the Faculty, Walden

from interview with By Amy DerBedrosian, July 2012

WHY DID YOU START SCHOLARS FOR PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST?
The goal was to establish a network of faculty members willing to discuss issues civilly with a solutions-oriented process. Being a person who likes to bring people together, I started a listserv to get other scholars to share. The network grew to 100,000 faculty members around the world and included 50 Nobel Laureates and college presidents. This is an example of what one person can do when you put your mind to it.

WHAT SUCCESSES DID YOU EXPERIENCE WITH SCHOLARS FOR PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST?
We’ve been most effective in bringing attention to the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement. We engaged, educated, and empowered faculty to stand up against the boycotts of Israeli universities. With Walden students, I don’t get into politics, but I draw from my experiences and talk about how to overcome obstacles.

Smith Act
The Alien Registration Act of 1940 (Smith Act), 76th United States Congress, 3d session, is a United States federal statute enacted June 29, 1940, that set criminal penalties for advocating the overthrow of the U.S. government and required all non-citizen adult residents to register with the government.

Approximately 215 people were indicted under the legislation, including alleged communists, Trotskyists, and fascists. Prosecutions under the Smith Act continued until a series of United States Supreme Court decisions in 1957 reversed a number of convictions under the Act as unconstitutional. The statute has been amended several times. From Wikipedia

Print Friendly
Be Sociable, Share!

Comments are closed.