Academic boycotters: Knuckleheads in faculty gowns
The Israel persecuting, prosecuting don might be a knucklehead, but is undeniably a savvy knucklehead. Money talks, far louder than integrity
Lord Jonathan Sacks, rabbi and philosopher, heard one Oxford don remark about another:
‘On the surface he’s profound, but deep down he’s superficial.’
Oh to demolish a rival so profoundly! Alas he could not have been one of those overbearing dons that swell the anti-Zionist bubble to the point of bursting. Profound or superficial: dons are seldom if ever active Zionist-hunters.
We’re unlikely to bump into them at a gathering of boycott advocates, or hear one on a platform at an Israel Apartheid Week event. We can suppose that calls to ‘Solidarity for Palestine’ and similar slogans leave the average don stone cold. After all, what is there to gain from ostracising universities and academics only because Israel happens to be a trendy taboo?
Where indeed is the gain? Many must wonder why a few denizens of the ivory tower seem more than willing to subjugate careers to persecuting academia in one barely visible slick of land on a desolate khaki canvas. Ultimately that would be the poser for academic prosecutors to answer. What’s in it for them?
We shall take a look into a few of these persecutors and prosecutors, none of whom can be called profound or superficial. They are uniformly prickly, on the surface and deep down. They bristle at the ‘I’- name, and are bad liars, a pairing as inevitable as bread and butter.
To round off Israel-hunting dons, they are mercenary. Like a drunk over his bottle they fondle and ply their grievance over a lick of land that succours Jewish people, withstanding all the plotting and cursing a don can muster.
And when the scandal of living thriving ‘J-people’ becomes too heavy to bear, a don may break out with a final solution. Settler Jews ought to be "shot dead," the Oxford don, Tom Paulin, said.
Pinned down to what ‘settler’ means to him, Paulin is bound to refer to pretty much any Israeli with the chutzpah to live beyond the confines of Tel Aviv. Such are the limits of the Jewish ghetto that Paulin types will allow to survive.
It is normal for a healthy hatred of one people to be counterbalanced by a healthy love for another. As Hitler loved the Fatherland so we’d expect Israel-hunting dons to love Palestinians. Do they love them? Here’s a question for a scientifically derived answer.
Experiment of magnification
Consider some object -- a leaf -- through a magnifier. Unfocused, the glass filters weak sunlight around the leaf. Now position the glass so that it concentrates sunlight onto a point no bigger than a pinhead. Hold the pinhead of sun steady over the leaf until it burns hot enough to set the leaf aflame.
Now apply the image to the behaviour of Israel-hunting dons. A dispersed weak focus is the trademark of their interest in Palestinians, wherever that unhappy people live. No heat results. Nothing catches fire.
War-torn Syria displaces and murders Palestinians by the thousands. Lebanon stops them from entering. Palestinians within Lebanon are treated as a class of people without rights. Egypt closes tunnels into Gaza, strangling the life out of Palestinians in the strip. Dons get on with their lives.
Next we can reposition the glass onto Palestinians living in the West Bank. Here’s land Jew-settlers ‘occupy’ and others want. The pinpoint focus burns into Paulin types. They catch fire and, in that vulgar phrase, all hell breaks loose.
What does that tell us? The glare of the Israel-hunter is fixed where? Not on Palestinians. Paulin types as good as told us that, by getting on with their lives. It must be the second object under the magnifier that sets their fury ablaze. It must be the ‘I-people’, public code name for Jews. It’s that people, not the Palestinians, making dons burn. The Jews make them catch fire.
Now if someone gets hot over Jews what may we call him? Some dons get hot over Jews. Such dons are therefore Jew-haters.
They also happen to hate, of all things, academic freedom. Bemoaning the goings-on within universities and student bodies of Britain, Lord Jonathan Sacks spoke of a “A long, slow, insidious process intended to undermine academic freedom; and it must not be tolerated."
Now, there are faculties and student bodies that not just tolerate the process, they go so far as to actively undermine academic freedom. For a real working model we’ll no better than go to another continent, to the hamlet of Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape, to the venerable university of Rhodes where faculty and student bodies are up to the full bag of tricks.
A team of investigators from the South African Jewish Board wrote it all up.
“They refuse to engage in any public debate, despite multiple approaches to do so. Those calling for debate are smeared as racists, Islamophobes, etc. In the normal course of academic discourse, one may argue for what one believes, but on the issue (of Israel) no other view is permitted".
Are these mere allegations or verified facts? A political science don at Rhodes is a model abuser, and to her we should turn. Georgina Barrett lays down the rules. “There needs to be a dramatic change in the actions of the Israeli state and its external supporters before dialogue can effectively begin.”
So, until people agree with Barrett’s own claims and doctrines, opinion and speech remain verboten. People may not support Israel – not on any campus platform.
What is this but rule by skinhead: ‘Do as I say or get clobbered.’ Prickly dons are knuckleheads. Look no further than a proposition to which all adhere: ‘To declare a slogan is to declare real facts.’ How effortlessly dumb is that!
Nevertheless Peter Slezak, a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Sydney, would stake his life on it.
“BDS has been misrepresented by apologists for Israel, despite the fact that it is a rights based movement which is opposed to racism in all its forms – including, explicitly anti-Semitism”.
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