BDS (Amira Hass at Birzeit)


This is why BDS is the damaging thing that it is, the damage being done not just to Israel, or actually less to Israel than to Palestinian civil society whose call its U.S. advocates of BDS intend to support. At Birzeit University, Amira Hass was booted off a conference because there’s a rule that no Israeli Jews are allowed on campus. The conference was organized by the German Rosa Luxemburg Foundation and The Center for Development Studies. Apparently, Katja Hermann, director of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation’s Regional Office in the Occupied Territories was shocked. Hass writes that Hermann told her that “had she known about the law at Birzeit, and the decision to exclude [Hass] from the conference’s audience, she wouldn’t have agreed to hold the event within the university walls.” The story’s here. It suggests to me that ultimately BDS is going to overreach, hurting the very people whose cause it is intended to champion.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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5 Responses to BDS (Amira Hass at Birzeit)

  1. Gail says:

    Ok, yes, I get it and I agree with you. But isn’t there some small chance that this policy mirrors Israeli practices of controlling (through things like walls and security points if not equally reciprocal irrational policies) the titer of ethnicities in certain quarters? It’s not just BDS, I don’t think. Policies of disempowerment breed policies of disempowerment. It’s a negative spiral.

    • zjb says:

      Thanks, Gail, and yes, it;s a negative negative spiral indeed. The shock here is that Hass is a leading figure in left activist journalism, who has lived many years in Gaza and Ramallah. She is as much a part to that culture as any Israeli could be. As for the important point about checkpoints and walls and other systems of control, I don’t recall any Israeli university submitting a blanket rule to prohibit the presence of Palestinian scholars on its own campus. That’s a governmental function, not a “civil society” one. I’d have felt more comfortable with the Palestinian Authority, as the putative governing body, ruling out or determining her status than a university doing the same.

      • efmooney says:

        I learned today that the Liberal Studies Program, with which I’m affiliated at Tel Aviv, went out of its way to ensure that a student living in Ramallah under the Palestine Authority would be assured the proper paperwork permitting her to take classes this fall. The professors who worked this out are the same ones being boycotted and maligned by American academics.

    • efmooney says:

      Yes we learn from our enemies, mimic their moves. But as you say, that’s not a good thing. In the ’70s there was a controversy among German academics. One famous and blinded professor of history claimed that Hitler’s rounding up of Jews was inspired by Stalin’s rounding up of Jews . . . so Germany wasn’t really to blame, Stalin was. Habermas attacked him, but there was a ‘debate’ that went on for months. That anyone had the gall to speak from a prestigious university chair this way is (was) appalling, yet many thought he had a point. I hate to say it but I think BDS is a mimic of Hitler’s attack on Jews in the University in the first years of his power.

  2. efmooney says:

    It hurts conversation between well-meaning academics at every level, not just in Israel, but any non-Israeli who would like to attend (say) a conference on rebuilding Gaza, irrigation projects in Palestine, etc. As I mentioned in my post the logic of Academic Boycott can be expanded to blacklisting faculty who attempt to talk to Israeli academics, or to burning books of Israeli authors or those in the states who “fraternize with the enemy” by writing in Israeli journals or buying books by Israelis. Why academics in the USA want to muzzle themselves [and muzzle other accademics in a kind of witch hunt] is a deeply troubling question — fascism afoot in the States.

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