Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) and Antisemitism

The Academic Engagement Network (AEN) in the US has published David Hirsh’s keynote presentation at its first national conference, as aaen pamphlet.

The pamphlet is available as a pdf on the AEN website.  To download it, follow this link. 

AEN has also published a podcast of a conversation between its Executive Director Ken Waltzer, and David Hirsh.

To listen to the podcast,  “Making Democracy Sexy: David Hirsh on Combating BDS and Antisemitism by Rediscovering Democracy”, follow this link. 

The new definition of antisemitism is only a threat to antisemites – David Hirsh

This piece, by David Hirsh, is from theJC.com

Characterising something as antisemitic is a political judgment. It requires knowledge about how antisemitism works, an understanding of context, somedownload thought about intentions, but also analysis of unintended consequences. The working definition, which has now been adopted by the UK Government, offers helpful guidance on the making of such political judgments.

How would you decide whether a joke was antisemitic, or sexist for that matter? You could not invent a machine to do this for you. In part it would depend on whether the joke was funny, on who told it, how and why; on who laughed at it and why they laughed.  It is a matter of judgment, and there is room for legitimate disagreement and debate over judgments.

In our time, people who do and think antisemitic things frequently believe themselves to be opponents of antisemitism. Those who single out Israelis and their supporters for boycott angrily deny that they are antisemitic; some who conflate Zionism and Nazism consider themselves to be antiracists; those who say Jews were among the chief financiers of the slave trade or who want to address the ‘Jewish question’ complain they are targets of Zionist smears.

On the level of words, prohibitions and taboos against racism and antisemitism remain firmly in place; but this does not prevent antisemitic and racist ways of thinking becoming ever more significant and influential in public discourse. Because the veneer of respectability is still important, denial and counter-accusations of bad faith tend to drown out rational and democratic discussion.

Antisemitism lurks under the surface; we are reluctant to see it in our allies and we are eager to see it in those we fear or hate. The left sniffs the antisemitism on the right and the right sniffs the antisemitism on the left.

The working definition does not seek to see a person’s essence to find out whether they are antisemitic. What it does instead is to help in the recognition of antisemitic actions and ways of thinking. It is concerned with what people do, what they say and what they tolerate; not what they are.

Many in the movement to boycott and to de-legitimize Israel are afraid of the working definition. They say that it defines criticism of Israel as antisemitic. It actually does the opposite. It helps us to make the distinction between what kinds of criticism may be legitimate and what kinds of hostility or demonization may either lead towards, or result from, antisemitism.

Some on the left will continue to say that the working definition is part of a Zionist and Tory conspiracy to smear left wing politics. This itself is an antisemitic claim.

The left needs to understand antisemitism and to come to terms with the history of antisemitism within its own movement. It needs to educate young people to recognize and oppose antisemitism, not to accuse those who do recognize it of being the problem.  The working definition can help us to mobilize against antisemitism. It is not a threat to the left or to those who are for Palestinian freedom, it is a threat to antisemitism.

David Hirsh is a lecturer in sociology at Goldsmiths College, University of London

This piece, by David Hirsh, is from theJC.com

Follow this link for a pre-history of the new definition of antisemitism. 

Follow this link for the UCU’s disavowal of the working definition.  

Follow this link for the live blog of the debate in which UCU decided to disavow the working definition. 

 

David Hirsh Podcast – Academic Engagement Network

David Hirsh did this podcast in New York for the Academic Engagement Network on left antisemitism, opposing BDS, and the rise of the new populist movements, Brexit and Trump.

 

Summer Institute for Curriculum Development in Critical Antisemitism Studies St. John’s College, Oxford, UK

Summer Institute for Curriculum Development
 in Critical Antisemitism Studies
St. John’s College, Oxford, UK
The ISGAP-Oxford Summer Institute is seeking
scholars-in-residence for an intensive two-week workshop-based curriculum development program in interdisciplinary critical contemporary antisemitism studies.
The program, dedicated to the development of antisemitism studies as a recognized academic discipline, will be held at St John’s College, in Oxford, United Kingdom from July 16, 2017 to July 29, 2017.
The program is intended primarily for professors with full-time college or university positions, though exceptional doctoral and post-doctoral students may also be considered.
Under the guidance of leading international academics, scholars-in-residence will be required to develop a course syllabus and curriculum in the interdisciplinary study of critical contemporary antisemitism, to be taught in their home university upon completion for course credit.
Partial or full Fellowships will be awarded to successful applicants.
Application deadline is February 22, 2017.
Please click here to see a video of highlights from previous year’s programs.
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