“What should not be in dispute is that those actions, however salutary and productive of good results, were and are antithetical to the academic enterprise, which while it may provide the tools (of argument, fact and historical research) that enable good and righteous deeds, should never presume to perform them.” Professor Fish
While I agree with Professor’s Fish’ final point, I don’t see why the other corollary arguments are not also valid.
The issue of double standard is pertinent here. Why boycott Israeli academics and not say Chinese ones whose oppression of Tibet is much worse than anything Israel did? Moreover, the Tibetans have not randomly killed Chinese nor have they threatened to eliminate China from the map.
The reason given in the past by some pro boycott people is that pressure on Israeli academics would work while not on Chinese ones. So the standard they use for deciding who to boycott is not truth but efficacy of action. By such reasoning the powerful should never be censured for the gross injustice they commit while the less powerful should be censured even the violence they are involved in the result of self defense measures they had taken after being attacked.
It’s clear that reason and logic isn’t what drives the boycotters and yes we should look at other explanations. Whether they acknowledge it or not whether they call themselves Jews or not antisemitism is one such explanation.
Well, johng, just for starters, China has incorporated Tibet into China, has resettled many ethnic Chinese in Tibet, relocated many Tibetans out of Tibet, banned the Tibetan form of Bhuddism, attempted to impose their own choice for the next Dalai Lama…(I’m sure that others can and will come up with other reasons).
Israel, you might wish to note, has withdrawn from Gaza, permits religious autonomy within Israel, grants legally (if not actual) equality to all non-Jewish permanent residents/citizens, and more. What Jacob didn’t add (but possibly should have) “or Sudan (300,000 dead in Darfur, 3 million displaced), Zimbabwe, Congo, Saudi Arabia, Iran…” just for starters.
In other words, in order for the action not be seen as antisemitic (and Jacob points to this, with his unspecified reference to Tom Hickey’s article in the online version of BMJ, June 2007), any proposed boycott of Israeli universities should be accompanied by parallel proposals to boycott the universities of other human rights offending states. It never is, nor do these left-wing paragons of Palestinian rights ever propose to boycott the US or the UK for their invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.
I wonder why not?
Good enough for you johng? Probably not, because reason and evidence never do seem to satisfy those determined on a course of action despite all the available evidence. It’s called an ideological justificatoon, and in this case, “ideology” _is_ meant in a pejorative sense.
You are a pro-boycotter and, I think, an academic of some calibre or other. The onus is on you, not Jacob, to answer the question: In what sense is Israel so much worse than China, or Iran, the UK, the US &c, &c, &c that it alone deserves boycott?
The occupation of Tibet is but one example of China’s suppression of human rights, but Dalai Lama recently described the Chinese occupation as a nightmare that, among other things, sent 90,000 Tibetans into exile in India after a non-violent protest in 1959, cost the lives of thousands and has resulted in the near extinction of the language and culture of its native, non-Han population on the pretext of “freeing the serfs”.
johng Says: “In what sense “much worse”? Genuine question”
Why is it worse?
I have noticed that when it comes to Israel its critics tend to use the standard of absolute morality.
The language of quantity is rarely used and comparison to other conflicts be they in the Mid East or elsewhere in the world are not allowed.
This is how they manage to convey the message that Israel is uniquely monstrous place.
Add to this the fact that the conflict has taken a totemic aura in much of the Muslim world and among leftists you get the sense of what supporters of Israel are up against.
A brief comparison with China’s occupation of Tibet will show what I mean.
China took over, not just occupies Tibet in 1950.
“rebellion against the Chinese occupation was led by noblemen and monasteries and broke out in Amdo and eastern Kham in June 1956. The insurrection, supported by the American CIA, eventually spread to Lhasa. It was crushed by 1959. During this campaign, tens of thousands of Tibetans were killed and the 14th Dalai Lama and other government principals fled to exile in India.”
“Mao’s Great Leap Forward (1959-62) led to famine in Tibet. “In some places, whole families have perished and the death rate is very high,” according to a confidential report by the Panchen Lama sent to Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai in 1962. “In the past Tibet lived in a dark barbaric feudalism but there was never such a shortage of food, especially after Buddhism had spread….In Tibet from 1959-1961, for two years almost all animal husbandry and farming stopped. The nomads have no grain to eat and the farmers have no meat, butter or salt,” the report said.”
Because absolute numbers are hard to come by I am skipping over exact figures but this should be enough to give one a sense of what China’s occupation has meant for Tibet till the early 1960’s.
There is more:
“The subsequent Cultural Revolution was a catastrophe for Tibet and for the rest of the PRC. Large numbers of Tibetans died violent deaths due to the Cultural Revolution, and the number of intact monasteries in Tibet was reduced from thousands, to less than ten.”
I would compare Tibet to Israel in the sense that both are unique cultures and are isolated in the region.
A quick glance at casualties in the Arab Israeli conflict reveals the following:
“In the six decades since Israel’s founding, “only” some 62,000 people (40,000 Arabs, 22,000 Jews) have been killed in all the Israeli-Arab wars and Palestinian terror attacks.
During that same time, some 11 million Muslims have been killed in wars and terror attacks — mostly at the hands of other Muslims.
In Arab nations such as Lebanon (150,000 dead in the civil war between 1975 and 1990) or Algeria (200,000 dead in the Islamists’ war against their own people between 1999 and 2006),”
In any case it is obscene to compare this kind of destruction to the Arab Israeli conflict.
Israel can and should be criticized for its treatment of Arabs on the West Bank and it should work towards set up an independent Palestinian State living in peace alongside Israel.
However, they use of a moral absolutist language when criticizing Israel makes it that much easier to ignore claims made on behalf of the Palestinians.
And while Brian brings up the BMJ piece by Hickey let us never forget that Hickey let the mask slip big time from the Boycott Movement in his appeal in that issue by explicitly targeting Israelis not as “occupiers” but as Jews, including the leveraging of “Jewish” stereotypes (namely, the global “nerd” chestnut) upon Israel. This would never have been accepted against Islamic states or China (nor should it have been). But for Hickey and his friends, that was just fine.
“But Jacob I really objected to the ideological thrust of that Heinsohn piece. ‘Self Help’ by Samuel Smiles came to mind.
This numbers game feels like an insult to the dead and their families.”
I don’t endorse everything written in that article, Mira.
I also agree that “the numbers game” in and of itself doesn’t tell us much.
However, we do need some way of measuring the severity of conflicts and looking at statistical is part of the way we can go about. Otherwise we are at the mercy of people who make absolute claims and won’t be able to counter such over the top comments as ‘Israel is the “worse violator of human rights,” or “Israel is an apartheid State.” As we both know these are not the worse comments that are being made about Israel.
Jacob, I think a good response to absolute claims is to ask for evidence. As johng did when you made your absolute claim that “oppression of Tibet is much worse than anything Israel did”. These metrics are necessary – I realise that. They’re necessary to the officials allocate aid, for example. But I can’t see how they’re relevant to us – we don’t want to tell people who want to support and sustain Palestinians that they have their priorities wrong. Rather we want people to support and sustain Palestinians in ways which build for peace and coexistence in the longterm.
I agree with the ultimate aim of supporting and sustaining “Palestinians in ways which build for peace and coexistence in the long term, Mira.
But this is not what pro-boycotters are after, nor is it what most people who vilify Israel are after.
It seems to me that it is as important to defend Israel from slander as it is to criticize its actions, when it is called for.
I also didn’t think I was making an absolute moral claim when I stated that “oppression of Tibet is much worse than anything Israel did”.
My comment was only in relation to Israel. I would never say for example that Chinese oppression of Tibet is worse than Russian oppression of Chechnya. There are a lot of bad actors out there and the obsessive focus on Israel keeps people from paying attention to abuses that are objectively speaking much worse than anything found on either side of the Israel Palestinian conflict. (Hamas and Fatah don’t exactly pass the human rights test either)
Unlike anti-Israel activists, I make no absolute moral claims and I believe that each conflict should be treated individually. This is not what is happening today when only Israel is seen as a bad actor and most6 other conflicts are ignored. Look how long it took before action was taken on Darfur.