And a couple of responses this week:
DAVID HIRSH asked Ran Greenstein why the University of Johannesburg singles out an Israeli university for boycott. Greenstein’s reply is that the British government has imposed sanctions against a whole lot of other countries. I don’t understand what the record of the British government has got to do with UJ’s decision to single out Israel, and only Israel, for boycott.
Richard Gold, Manchester, UK
People will have heard about the poisonous atmosphere on campus in which debates concerning Israel and Palestine take place, but last week they had the opportunity to sample it for themselves on the pages of the SA Jewish Report. Prof Ran Greenstein, a fellow sociologist, says that for me neither words nor reality matter; he says I’m afraid of equality and democracy. He characterises my academic work on anti-Semitism as a campaign to manufacture hysteria and distortions. In other words, I don’t just get it wrong, I’m getting it wrong on purpose. Ran referred, on a public website, to one of the Jewish Report’s journalists as “some stupid hag in a rag”. Why do we see such a departure from the norms of rational debate which usually insist that a person is treated with respect when the truth or falsity of what they say is addressed?
It seems to me that it is no accident that this departure accompanies a campaign to single out Israeli academia for exclusion from the global academic community. Israeli universities are to be boycotted, not because of anything they do, or say, but because they are Israeli. The boycott campaign, which exists to silence the voices of Israeli academia, prefers angry denunciation to answering the arguments of its critics.
David Hirsh, London