(The ad was signed by 343 “scholars”, or less than one a quarter of 1% of the roughly 195,000 academics working in the UK.)
If you want to see the propaganda which informed the British academics’ decision to boycott the Jewish state – and only the Jewish state – go to their Frequently Asked Questions page, which contains libels and falsehoods more befitting Electronic Intifada and Mondoweiss than the manifesto of putatively serious commentators.
Such agitprop passing for serious thought includes the charge that Israel operates under a rubric of (Apartheid South African-style) racial laws, that there are “settler-only” roads and that the state is engaged in a campaign of “ethnic cleansing” of the Palestinians.
In responding the question of why they would target the nation’s academics (a group disproportionately on the left side of the Israeli political spectrum) they quote extremist commentator Gideon Levy of Ha’aretz arguing that every Israeli institution is tainted by the occupation.
They also respond to accusations that a boycott of the Jewish state is antisemitic. After citing a quote by Omar Barghouti, a leading figure in the boycott movement who rejects Israel’s existence within any borders and who’s on record supporting the Palestinian ‘right’ to violent resistance, claiming that BDS is an inherently anti-racist movement, they then attempt to turn the table on their Jewish critics with the following smear:
The clear intention of many allegations of antisemitism is to deflect criticism of Israel, to intimidate critics and to silence serious debate.
Of course, that’s the dictionary definition of the Livingstone formulation – essentially an ad hominem attack on the Jewish community, and one which imputes bad faith and malevolence to anti-racists who note the antisemitic pedigree of such boycott movements.
Finally, there’s a section called, “What about the Holocaust?”, which responds to those who ‘argue’ that a Jewish state is morally necessary after the horrors of the Nazi genocide. Here’s their answer in full:
Nothing in a people’s past – not even the horrors of the Holocaust – can be used to justify or excuse crimes against another people. Furthermore, many Jews reject the Zionist argument that Jewish salvation lies in separation from the rest of humanity. They do not believe that Jews in Israel are safer than those elsewhere, or that Jews in the world are safer because of the existence of an exclusivist Jewish state occupying land that does not belong to it. On the contrary, the attempt to drown out the cogent criticisms of Israel with cries of ‘Holocaust’ and ‘antisemite’, by implicating all Jews in Israel’s crimes, stokes hostility against them.
Tellingly, these academics are not ‘merely’ in favor of boycotting Israel, but clearly seem hostile to the state’s very existence.
Additionally, there is nothing in their entire manifesto which condemns Palestinian terrorism, government-sponsored incitement, and endemic antisemitism. It’s as if the signatories are so blinded by their hatred for Israel that violent and destructive Palestinian actions which prolong the conflict haven’t factored into their political calculus at all.
Of course, it’s important to put such a morally odious campaign in some perspective. Their Guardian ad will have next to no actual impact on Israel.
Academic ties between Israel and the UK are stronger than ever.
The representative body of the 133 British universities recently reiterated its firm opposition “to academic boycotts”.
Trade between the UK and Israel has reached record levels.
The UK Universities Minister last year made it clear that there will be NO academic boycotts of Israel.
Indeed, the government just recently announced plans to amend legislation in order to stop local councils launching politically motivated boycotts of Israel.
Indeed, the only likely impact of the Guardian ad will be to reinforce the fears of Jewish Britons that the small but influential privileged class which makes up the British intelligentsia are hostile to their community – the overwhelming majority of which strongly supports Israel and consider boycotts a form of intimidation.
Bottom line: No matter how artfully such regressive politics are disguised as a “progressive” endeavor, those whose ideological orientation demands that the world isolate the only Jewish state – in effect sending a message to the overwhelming majority of Jews that they are on the wrong side of history – have embraced a worldview that is antisemitic in effect if not intent.