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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

Academics against Israel and the Jews

Filed under: Anti-Semitism, Israel, Peace Process, World Jewry
Publication: Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism

Introductory Essay

This essay addresses the major aspects of the international attacks on Jews and Israel on campus. It also proposes ways to successfully challenge the harassment from the academic world.

Since early 2002, many attempts to discriminate against Israel, its academic institutions, and its scholars have been undertaken in several Western countries. These include issues such as boycotting Israeli universities and academics calling for divestment of Israeli securities. The campaigns frequently use anti-Semitic motifs and sometimes also involve violent anti-Semitic acts.

Such incidents also occurred more sporadically in earlier decades. To the best of our knowledge, however, they have not been systematically reviewed.

The academic boycott and similar attempts should be seen in the context of the much broader, multiple, ongoing attacks against the Jewish people and Israel. These initiatives are part of a postmodern global war and often directly related to anti-Semitism. This global war is multisourced, fragmented, and often diffuse and discontinuous.

The modern anti-Semitism of the 1930s could be compared to many large, centrally managed factories of a toxin-producing corporation. Its chief executive was Hitler and from its tall chimneys anti-Semitic poison spread in large quantities over a wide area. Postmodern anti-Semitism can be compared to the pollution produced by the millions of cars everywhere. These run on fuel that causes poisonous elements to escape in limited quantities through a large number of exhausts all over the world. Today such poison is spread on many campuses.[1]

1. Boycotts: An Overview

The second Palestinian uprising and Israel’s need to suppress the violence led to many anti-Israeli actions in the Western world, including boycott campaigns. The most publicized were those by academics.

The idea of ostracizing individuals, groups, organizations, or businesses for views held or actions taken goes back millennia. The term boycott, however, was coined more recently. The practice was named after Captain Charles Cunningham Boycott, an English land agent in Ireland. When Boycott refused to reduce rent, the president of the Land League in that area, Charles Stuart Parnell, suggested that people avoid business dealings with him in an effort to force his hand.

The events surrounding this protest elicited much passion and considerable media attention. In November 1880, the London Times popularized the use of the word boycott to refer to this type of activism. By 1897, following Captain Boycott’s death, the word had become part of the English language.[2]

Boycott Subcategories

Boycott activities can be categorized as follows:

Ongoing and Episodic Boycotts

An ongoing boycott entails efforts that continue until the foe is brought to its knees. The targets may be countries such as white-ruled South Africa, white-ruled Rhodesia, and more recently Mugabe-ruled Zimbabwe. Targets may also be companies, institutions, or individuals.

An example of an episodic boycott that involves a single event was when in 1995, Shell was forced to abandon its plans to dispose of the Brent Spar oil platform by sinking it in the Atlantic Ocean. Greenpeace had led a consumer boycott of Shell that was particularly successful in Germany.

Other such boycotts were those in which countries have refused to participate in one of the Olympic Games. Among the better-known cases was the 1980 boycott by the United States and sixty-four other Western countries of the Moscow Olympics to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The Soviet Union and fourteen East European countries boycotted the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984, claiming that the safety of their athletes could not be guaranteed.

Economic and Noneconomic Boycotts

Typical examples of economic boycotts are those applied against investing in or buying products from a certain country such as South Africa or Rhodesia in the past, or Israel today. At the beginning of the Iraq war, a significant number of Americans chose not to purchase French products because of France’s strong opposition to the war. That attitude gradually faded, however.

A distinction can be made between primary, secondary,and tertiary economic boycotts. Until the Oslo agreements, Arab states had applied all these types against Israel. They can be defined as follows:[3]

Primary boycott: Prohibiting Arab states, companies, and individuals from any commercial, financial, or trade relations with Israel.

Secondary boycott:  The blacklisting and boycotting by Arab governments and companies of companies worldwide that invest in Israel.

Tertiary boycott: Extending the boycott to companies doing business with boycotted firms.

The secondary Arab boycott led some foreign companies to divest their Israeli holdings or to forgo investing in the country so as not to endanger their commercial ties with Arab countries. The Arab boycott has been particularly effective regarding investments in oil-related industries.

Global oil companies have avoided investing in Israel. Shell Oil and British Petroleum-joint owners of the Haifa oil refinery when Israel became independent-announced on 24 July 1957 that they were ceasing operations in Israel. Subsequently, Standard Oil, Socony Mobil, and Texaco stopped their dealings in Israel because of the boycott and their heavy reliance on Arab-controlled oil.[4]

In 1953, the Arab Central Boycott Office decided that any aircraft landing in Israel would be prohibited from operating in Arab countries. Although this was not effective, a similar approach proved effective for ships calling at Israeli ports.

A year later, the Saudi Arabian government announced that it would take harsh measures against foreign aircraft passing over its territory to or from Israel. That is still the case in many Arab countries.

The Arab states have also tried to establish a tertiary boycott, though its efficacy is doubtful. Beginning in the 1960s, their Central Boycott Office expanded its target base and threatened to blacklist not only firms that invested in Israel but the suppliers and customers of those companies as well. Several authors consider that the boycott efforts had some success and caused Israel to lose some business partners.[5]

An example of a noneconomic boycott is banning the participation of athletes from a certain country in international competitions. Such boycotts have been applied against countries such as South Africa and Taiwan. Israel has been excluded from various Asian competitions.

Government and Nongovernment Boycotts

Several governments have applied boycotts of other governments. These can be divided into two general categories: unilateral and multilateral. Unilateral boycotts-like those initiated by the United States against Castro’s Cuba in its early days and by the British against Rhodesia-are imposed by only one country. Multilateral boycotts are those in which many countries participate.

The international legal basis for boycotts and economic sanctions can be found in Article 16 of the Covenant of the League of Nations. The Covenant stresses the right of a League member in certain circumstances to cease all economic relations with a country deemed to be in some way “aggressive.”

Most boycott studies have focused on economic rather than social consequences. Boycotts are thus usually defined as “economic sanctions,” with “sanctions” being defined as “penalties inflicted upon one or more states by one or more others, generally to coerce the target nation(s) to comply with certain norms that the boycott initiators deem proper or necessary.”[6]

The most prominent case of a government boycott action was taken by the United States against the South African apartheid government. A report by the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee gave a list of steps to be taken against the South African government and economy including:

  • Discouraging business expansion in South Africa
  • Refusing to protect any business that stayed in South Africa from problems involving the liberation movement
  • Requiring that U.S. firms in South Africa establish fair employment practices
  • Forbidding aircraft from South Africa to land in the United StatesProhibiting the sale of South African goods

The British government declared an official governmental boycott of Rhodesia on 16 November 1965. It included the cessation of all British aid to Rhodesia, the removal of Rhodesia from the sterling area and Commonwealth preference system, and a complete ban on purchasing tobacco and sugar from Rhodesia. When these measures-accompanied by diplomacy-had little impact, the United Nations, on 16 December 1966, acted on articles 39 and 41 of the UN Charter, giving it the right to impose mandatory economic sanctions against a member state.[7]

Nongovernment boycott attempts include those of organizations or bodies to induce academic institutions to sever relations with Israeli universities. Similarly, corporations or retailers may refuse to purchase Israeli goods, and so on.

General and Selective Boycotts

A general boycott encompasses, for instance, all Israelis or all of the country’s academics. A selective boycott could target those Israelis who refuse to condemn their government’s policies.

An example of the latter occurred when in March 2006 a British dance magazine, Dance Europe, refused to publish an article on Israeli choreographer Sally-Anne Friedland. The editor said she would publish the article only if Friedland condemned “the occupation.” She refused and the article was not published.[8]

Declared and Concealed Boycotts

A differentiation should also be made between declared and concealed-or secret-boycotts. A concealed boycott might be considered a de facto boycott that is not declared by its perpetrators. At the time of the Arab boycott, few foreign companies stated explicitly that they were not investing in Israel because they considered their connections with Arab countries more valuable. When approached by Israeli companies, they attributed their refusal to invest, for instance, to the proposed projects not fitting their strategy.

Nowadays, people may refuse to attend a conference in Israel or not conduct business with an Israeli supplier without truthfully revealing why. Although the distinction between open and secret is rarely made, it is important since concealed boycotts are among those most difficult to combat.

Boycotts and Counterboycotts

When boycotts are initiated they frequently elicit calls for counterboycotts. This approach is often mentioned in discussions about how to mitigate a boycott, but it requires much more analysis than those proclaiming a counterboycott usually undertake. How to apply counterboycotts in the academic field is discussed later in this essay.

Previous Boycotts of the Jews

Jews have been at the receiving end of boycotts and similar phenomena throughout much of Jewish history. From Roman times until today, numerous actions of this type have harmed Jews in the economic and social spheres.[9]

Such discriminatory actions were very often effective in subverting the Jewish population and forcing it to fight for its livelihood. In the Middle Ages, Jews in many parts of Europe were excluded from guilds and certain professions such as ironmongers, shoemakers, tailors, barbers, butchers, or rag dealers. Jews were also subject to discriminatory taxes and prohibitions on land ownership, and later they were often forced into ghettos, where commercial involvement with the outside world was barred.

For a long time Jews in the Western world could not become citizens of the countries they lived in. Also there were also often restrictions on the number of Jews allowed to enter universities or certain professions, even after they received those rights in the nineteenth century.[10]

The Pre-Holocaust Period

Jews encountered numerous boycotts during the twentieth century that took many forms. In prewar Poland there was a not very effective campaign to get Christians to buy only from Christian merchants.

The most notorious example of an anti-Jewish boycott was that instituted by the Nazis in 1933. On 1 April, Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels announced that Germans should avoid commerce with any Jewish-owned businesses for one day to try and counteract an American Jewish initiative to oppose Nazi anti-Jewish practices. He warned that if worldwide attacks on the Nazi authorities continued after that day, “the boycott will be resumed…until German Jewry has been annihilated.”[11]

On the designated day, German police and SS troops stood guard over Jewish businesses, attacking many of them. Although the actual boycott only lasted for that one day, it was the starting point for a campaign against Jews that swept across the country in the months and years to come. A week later, all Jewish employees were fired from the German civil service.[12]

The Arab Boycott of Israel

The Arab countries adopted the concept of the anti-Israeli boycott even before the creation of the Jewish state. In December 1945, the newly formed League of Arab States initiated what they hoped would become an economic tool to destroy Zionist ambitions. The boycott was aimed at goods and services being offered by Jews living in Palestine. The league’s call to avoid purchasing such goods came as a formal resolution stating that “Jewish products and manufactured goods shall be considered undesirable to the Arab countries” and encouraging all Arabs “to refuse to deal in, distribute, or consume Zionist products or manufactured goods.”[13]

Although this represented the organization of the boycott attempt against the growth of Zionism, it was not the first time Arab bodies had called for such action. As early as 1922, a boycott of Jewish businesses was proposed at the meeting of the Fifth Arab Congress in Nablus. Similar calls were made by the First Palestine Arab Women’s Congress in October 1929. Anti-Zionist boycotts were instituted throughout the 1930s.

At the Pan-Arab Conference of September 1937 in Bludan, Syria, participants approved a resolution stating that a boycott of the Jews was a “patriotic duty.”[14] The boycott was mostly put on hold until after World War II.  When the State of Israel was established, the Arab boycott was expanded to pursue the broader goal of undermining Israel’s economic strength in any way possible. To that end, in 1949 the Arab League set up the Central Boycott Office in Damascus, whose sole task was to coordinate Arab boycott activity. Since then the Arab boycott has targeted not only Israel but also governments, companies, organizations and individuals with ties to Israel.[15]

Western countries have long imposed various arms embargos on Israel. One of the best-remembered ones was the French embargo after the Six Day War. It led to Israel secretly removing five ships from the Cherbourg harbor in 1969 after France decided not to supply them to the Israeli navy.

Jewish Counterboycotts

At times the Jews have also imposed boycotts on others, but the difference was that they were usually a last-resort effort. These included:

  • Prewar boycotts of Germany. For example, when the Nazis came to power in Germany in January 1933, Jewish leaders in Poland declared a boycott of German goods. A special periodical was published focusing on anti-Nazi protests and the boycott. According to one source, “Jewish merchants in Poland, especially those engaged in foreign trade, suffered serious losses (losing business to non-Jewish competitors) probably exceeding the losses suffered by Germany.”[16]
  • A boycott of Kurt Waldheim when he became Austria’s president.
  • Threats of a boycott of Swiss banks in 1996 by the controllers of U.S. government agencies upon the initiative of the World Jewish Congress.[17] This proved extremely effective. The threats were made only after the Swiss banks had stalled Jewish efforts to obtain greater clarity about dormant accounts for over fifty years.

Current Boycotts of Israel

The current boycotts of Israel can be categorized as follows:

  • Embargos on weapons and strategic materials
  • Various boycott attempts against Israeli academic institutions and scholars (discussed later in this essay)
  • Commercial and investment boycotts such as:
  • § Not buying Israeli products
  • § Not investing in Israel
  • Divesting Israeli securities
  • Boycotting or disturbing performances by Israeli artists or speakers
  • Sports boycotts
  • Other acts of aggression that are nonviolent only in the classic definition of the word, such as blocking Israeli website

2. A Broader Anti-Israeli Framework

The anti-Israeli boycott attempts and nonviolent warfare against the Jewish people and Israel must be seen within the much larger framework of the interrelationships between the Arab world, the West, the Jews, and Israel.

The Battle of the Narratives

In recent decades a battle of narratives has emerged. It was well defined by former Israeli ambassador to the European Union, Harry Kney-Tal, who expressed his concern about a new generation of West European leaders who were raised on the Palestinian Arab view of events:

That narrative, which is reinforced by Israeli or former Israeli researchers, has nearly totally taken over the academic, political and media discussion of the issues…. It is appropriate to the popular worldview in Europe nowadays, which is pacifist and post-modernist, full of guilt toward the former colonies and full of sympathy for oppressed nations demanding self-determination. It also serves electoral interests as well as the traditional interests of Realpolitik, which makes up a large part of E.U. policy.[18]

As long as Israel, the Jews, and their allies fail to grapple with the broader issue, the consequences of the anti-Israeli boycott attempts can at best be mitigated. The classic defensive, rather than proactive, approaches may be both time-consuming and only partly effective.

Contemporary Anti-Semitism and Its Recycling of Motifs

Another aspect of boycott attempts that needs to be analyzed is anti-Semitism, which in the West had been largely latent or subdued since the Holocaust but now manifests itself openly in various segments of Western society, including intellectual elites.[19] Anti-Semites today are much less inhibited about exposing their anti-Semitism than in past decades. This is manifested, among other things, in hate mail Jews receive from senders who give their names and addresses-a phenomenon much more frequent than in the past.

Much of the anti-Semitic critique involves attacks on Israel. Some critics, particularly on the Left, state that they are anti-Zionists and not anti-Semites. Their behavior, however, often testifies to the contrary, indicating that for all practical purposes they are anti-Semites.[20]

This is often clear from their semantics. One British daily noted a statement made by anti-Israeli boycott supporters in 2002 that “groups plan to picket Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s and Co-Op because they sell Jewish-made produce.”[21]

It has become increasingly clear to many observers that anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism share the same major hate motifs. For instance, Lawrence Summers, the Jewish former president of Harvard University, referred to this similarity in his much-publicized “Address at Morning Prayers” in 2002.[22]

France’s education minister Luc Ferry expressed a similar view when he introduced measures against racism and anti-Semitism in French schools in early 2003. The French left-wing daily Libération commented: “Not everybody enjoyed the ministerial declarations. The main labor union of high school teachers, the SNES-FSU, hardly appreciated a statement by Luc Ferry that ‘some of the left-wing teachers who are anti-Israeli increasingly tolerate anti-Semitic statements under the pretext that these are not made by the extreme Right.'”[23]

The EUMC Working Definition of Anti-Semitism

An important step forward in the battle against anti-Semitism was the establishment of a working definition of anti-Semitism. This was achieved by a small group of Jewish NGOs at the request of the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC). This definition is now frequently utilized at international conferences to assess whether texts or speeches are anti-Semitic.

The EUMC working definition reads: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.” The explanation states that: “such manifestations could also target the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity.”

This document refers not only to matters such as calling for or justifying the killing of Jews, dehumanizing and demonizing them, accusing them of imagined wrongdoing, denying the Holocaust, and charging Jews with being like Nazis, but also with denying Jews the right to self-determination and applying double standards by requiring behavior of Israel that is not expected of any other democratic country.[24]

The Demonization of the Jews

In its crudest verbal form, Jews are demonized by being attributed with characteristics of their bitterest enemies. It is now well understood that comparing Israeli actions to those of the Nazis is not an isolated anti-Semitic phenomenon. This motif has been around for decades and does not only originate from Arab sources.

Since the 1980s, several high-level European politicians have made such anti-Semitic declarations.[25] Greek Socialist prime minister Andreas Papandreou compared Israelis to Nazis in a public statement in 1982.[26] So did the Swedish Social Democratic leader Olof Palme shortly before he became prime minister and again a few months later.[27]

One proponent of the current attempts at academic discrimination in Europe is Mona Baker, now at Manchester University. In a press interview she used extreme anti-Semitic language: “Many people in Europe have signed a boycott of Israel. Israel has gone beyond just war crimes. It is horrific what is going on there. Many of us would like to talk about it as some kind of Holocaust which the world will eventually wake up to, much too late, of course, as they did with the last one.”[28]

Another academic at the same institution, Michael Sinnott, professor of paper science, claimed in an email that there was a worldwide Zionist conspiracy:

[Israel’s] atrocities surpass those of Milosevic’s Yugoslavia. Uniformed Israeli troops murder and mutilate Palestinian children, destroy homes and orchards, steal land and water, and do their best to root out Palestinian culture and the Palestinians themselves…. With the recent crop of atrocities the Zionist state is now fully living down to Zionism’s historical and cultural origins as the mirror image of Nazism.[29]

Sinnott apologized after the Daily Telegraph passed the email to the university authorities, stating: “I deeply regret sending it and regret any offense it has caused.”[30] This is a frequent type of apology. The defamer does not retract his views but expresses contrition for making them public.

There have been many other examples of extreme defamation in the new century. The Guardian wrote: “A young British lecturer working at the University of Tel Aviv decided he would like to take a post back home, in the United Kingdom. However, the head of the first university department to which he applied told him, ‘No, we don’t accept any applicants from a Nazi state.'”[31]

In September 2002, Ted Honderich, a Canadian-born philosophy professor at University College London, gave a lecture at the University of Toronto in which he said the Palestinians had a moral right to engage in terror: “To claim a moral right on behalf of the Palestinians to their terrorism is to say that they are right to engage in it, that it is permissible if not obligatory.”[32]

At the end of 2002, the English Department of Harvard University invited Tom Paulin, a poet and academic from Hertford College at Oxford, to lecture at the university under the pretense of guaranteeing free speech. There was much opposition to this because, in an interview with the Egyptian paper Al-Ahram, Paulin was quoted as calling the Israeli settlers “Nazis and racists” for whom he felt “nothing but hatred” and who should be “shot dead.”[33] The department initially canceled Paulin’s invitation but then overturned the cancellation.

Paulin claimed that he had been misrepresented in the Egyptian paper. However, in a poem published in February 2001 in the Observer, Paulin had called the Israeli army the “Zionist SS” which had deliberately shot “little Palestinian boys.”[34]

Two Stereotypes of Jews

The abovementioned narrative is accompanied by a recent Western one in which two stereotypes of Jews come strongly to the fore.

The first one is the “humane” Jew. This Jew reflects on the Holocaust and draws politically correct conclusions from it. Those who posit this stereotype consider that, whatever happens, the Jew’s conclusion should be that Jews must always be humane, progressive, and peace-loving. Without saying so explicitly, they convey that in conflicts Jews are only acceptable as victims. This reflects a perverse mindset: the victim rather than the perpetrator should draw conclusions from the Holocaust. The other stereotype is the “violent” Jew, who becomes the Israeli portrayed as aggressive, a colonialist oppressor, and inhabiting a violent state.

The penetration of European discourse by these narratives has many interrelated aspects and consequences. It enables television and other media-in need of succinct, black-and-white explanations-to depict the Israeli as evil without explicitly stating that this is true of Jews in general. It also enables Western intellectuals to declare themselves anti-Zionists while claiming that they are neither anti-Semites nor racists.

Yet another accompanying phenomenon is the ignoring of anti-Semitism by organizations that claim to support human rights and oppose racism. This emerged, for instance, when the Canadian B’nai Brith reported an unprecedented 60 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents across Canada in 2002. Its chairperson, Rochelle Wilner, stressed that Canada’s multicultural and antiracist organizations had failed to support the Jews in their battle against anti-Semitism.[35]

Jewish Self-Hatred

This double image of the Jew thus leaves a loophole through which some Jews can escape identification with the evil “violent Jew.” To do so they must explicitly denounce acts of the Israeli government and dissociate themselves from it. They must identify with the suffering of the Palestinians and belittle or explain their major crimes, including their decades-long calling for genocide. In effect, these Jews say to the non-Jewish world: “We are among the examples of the Jews you should like. We are the good Jews.”

The most extreme among these claim it is for ethical reasons that they have cut their ties with Israel, initiate actions against it, and support extremist peace claims against Israel such as taking back Palestinian refugees. Jews who take such positions form a disproportionate number of the initiators and supporters of the anti-Israeli boycott and other anti-Israeli actions.

In the 1950s, Gordon Allport discussed various aspects of self-hatred. Among these he cited the “subtle mechanism” whereby the victim agrees with the persecutors and “sees his own group through their eyes.” He noted that a Jew “may hate his historic religion…or he may blame some one class of Jews…or he may hate the Yiddish language. Since he cannot escape his own group, he does in a real sense hate himself-or at least the part of himself that is Jewish.”[36]

New versions of this old motif have now emerged. Among these are Jews and Israelis who hate Israel or see it through the eyes of politically correct members of certain Western elites.

Self-hating Jews have become an important tool in the anti-Israeli campaigns of Western media. Israeli historian Robert Wistrich observes that in Britain “only those Jews who smash Israel appear in the media, and Israel is routinely represented as an ethnic-cleansing rogue state-when not compared to Nazi Germany and South Africa-and at the same time is held to a higher standard than other countries.”[37]

So far there have been many rewards and limited penalties for some of the Jews who attack Israel. They have positioned themselves in society so that they are applauded by part of the non-Jewish environment. As Jews disparaging Israel, they provide an alibi for Israel’s Western enemies.

Current Examples

The new manifestations of Jewish self-hatred have only been minimally researched. Only now is this subject receiving more attention from defenders of Israel. It is important because many gentile assaults use statements by Israeli or Diaspora Jewish defamers to legitimize their denigrations of Israel or the Jews.

Furthermore, a small number of anti-Israeli Jews enable the media to portray a Jewish community divided over key Israeli policies. Among specific aspects of the anti-Israeli writings of some Jews-as compared to non-Jews-are the use of their family’s Holocaust experiences, their references to being Jewish, or an association of some kind with Israel.[38]

Psychiatrist Kenneth Levin says the phenomenon of Jewish self-hatred now finds a parallel among parts of the Israeli cultural elites. He notes: “Segments of populations under chronic siege commonly embrace the indictments of the besiegers, however bigoted and outrageous…. The paradigm on the level of individual psychology is the psychodynamics of abused children, who almost invariably blame themselves for their predicament.”[39]

Edward Alexander and Paul Bogdanor have edited a book of essays on the Jewish derogation of Israel. These discuss mainly, though not exclusively, North American academics such as Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Tony Judt, Daniel Boyarin, and Michael Neuman.[40] Ofira Seliktar has made a detailed analysis of the modus operandi of radical academics in Israel.[41]

A small group called Israel Academia Monitor provides a record of  extreme anti-Israeli statements by Israeli academics. It tries to bring this information to the attention of donors and alumni of the universities in which these academics teach, as well as journalists.[42]

Anti-Israeli Jews include MIT linguistics professor Noam Chomsky, who has viciously attacked Israel from Boston for decades. Jewish author John Docker was one of the anti-Israeli academic boycott initiators in Australia.[43] Jean-Marc Lévy Leblond of the University of Nice, who had also signed the Guardian letter, played an important role in the initial academic boycott campaign in France. In Austria the Jewish political scientist John Bunzl is in the forefront of the verbal attacks on Israel.[44]

Self-hatred and Jewish/Israeli defamation of Israel are important because these factors play a significant role in the boycott actions against Israel. Finding ways to diminish the rewards of the publicity the anti-Israeli activists obtain should be an important strategic target in the battle against boycotts.

Another example of a Jew with anti-Israel views is the South African minister Ronnie Kasrils, a former African National Congress (ANC) guerrilla. He initiated a discussion about a possible boycott of Israel in the South African cabinet.[45] He has also compared Israeli actions to those of Nazis.[46] Kasrils furthermore claimed in spring 2007 that Hamas had abjured violence while Hamas leaders were denying this.[47]

Israeli Aspects

The World Jewish Congress drew attention to the Israeli self-hatred phenomenon in one of its publications, stating:

Certainly, a most disturbing element in the present situation is the fact that certain extreme left-wing Israeli organizations are often operating in concert with the Arabs in such campaigns and even orchestrating them. For several years now, such organizations have been circulating a list of Israeli firms operating in the West Bank, the Gaza District and the Golan Heights, and even the boundaries of east Jerusalem, and have called on Israelis to boycott these firms. Moreover, the same people have sent their list to the offices of the European Union in order to have those firms disqualified as Israeli companies and thus not receive certain benefits.[48]

Tanya Reinhart – who passed away in 2007 – was an Israeli who taught linguistics at Tel Aviv University, and had been actively promoting the academic boycott of Israel. In an open letter to another left-wing academic, Baruch Kimmerling of Hebrew University – who also passed away in 2007 – came out against the boycott, she wrote: “But no matter what you think of the Oslo years, what Israel is doing now exceeds the crimes of South Africa’s white regime. It has started to take the form of systematic ethnic cleansing, which South Africa never attempted.”[49]

Israel as a Paradigm of the West’s Future

What happens to Israel is also a tool for analyzing internal tensions in Western society. Israel and the Jews have to some extent become paradigms for how these tensions may expand. This is not a new concept; the Jews as a “canary in the mine” is a familiar metaphor. When the canary did not feel well, it meant there was something wrong with the air down below. Many current anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli activities are indicative of ills that will affect other parts of Western society at a later stage.

The French authorities long ignored the anti-Semitic attacks there that started in late 2000. They wanted to maintain social peace, not realizing that the widespread Muslim racism that initially aimed at the Jews was concealing its main target: white Frenchmen. The autumn 2005 riots made this abundantly clear.[50]

Josef Joffe, editor of the German weekly Die Zeit, commented on the linkage made by certain circles in Europe and the Arab world between hatred of America and hatred of the Jews:

Images that were in the past directed against the Jews are now aimed at the Americans: the desire to rule the world; the allegation that the Americans, like the Jews in the past, are interested only in money and have no real feeling for culture or social distress. There are also some people who connect the two and maintain that the Jewish desire to rule the world is being realized today, in the best possible way, by means of the “American conquest.”[51]

American political scientist Andrei Markovits has investigated the similarities and differences of European anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism. He points out that many Europeans see America and Jews as paragons of a modernity they dislike and distrust: money-driven, profit-hungry, urban, universalistic, individualistic, mobile, rootless, inauthentic, and thus hostile to established traditions and values. He adds that anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism are the only major icons shared by the European extreme Left and far Right, including neo-Nazis.[52]

The Global War on Israel and the Jews

A further aspect to be studied in more detail concerns the methods used by the most extreme adversaries of the Jewish people and Israel. The multiple ongoing attacks on Israel and the Jews in the new century combine into a system that, as if controlled by an invisible hand, is very similar to a postmodern “total war.” This complex whole is of a radically different nature than the Nazis’ war against the Jews in the previous century.[53]

The attackers comprise disparate groups and individuals who carry out their aggressions in many different ways. The ultimate aim of their “drip, drip” approach is to tear Israel apart limb by limb. It is particularly important to realize this because an array of enemies of Israel await new occasions after each failure of their attacks.

Those trying to dismantle the United States or to change Western society’s democratic system practice somewhat similar methods.

Lessons from Boycotts of Other Countries

Some past boycotts of other countries can be used as case studies to understand what Israel’s enemies wish to achieve. The boycott of white-ruled South Africa is especially relevant as some of the organizations attacking Israel use it as a model.

At the United Nations World Conference against Racism in Durban in 2001, the South African NGO Committee (SANGOCO) promoted a proposal to act against Israel similarly to what was done in the past against white-ruled South Africa. SANGOCO has a close relationship with the PLO.

Shimon T. Samuels, international liaison director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, summarized the eight points that SANGOCO proposed:[54]

The first point: to launch an educational program to create worldwide solidarity against Israel, the last bastion of Apartheid. This word strikes a redolent chord across Africa and is meant to unleash the arsenal of the 1970s and 1980s Anti-Apartheid Movement, including the sanctions, boycotts, and embargoes known as the Sullivan Program.

The second point: to use all legal mechanisms in countries of universal jurisprudence against Israel. This we have seen in attempts to create war crime accusation cases against Sharon in Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and recently also in the United States. Eventually our enemies aim to use the International Criminal Court against Israel.

The third and fourth points of attack were to discredit the Law of Return, the foundation of Zionism and Israel, and to replace it with a Law of Return for all Palestinian refugees in order to create moral equivalence.

The fifth point: to re-institute the Arab boycott out of Damascus combined with a secondary boycott as in the 1970s and 1980s. We are already seeing the certificate of negative origin, once again, being demanded from European companies dealing with Arab countries.

The sixth point: to impose a sports, telecommunications, academic, scientific, and military embargo on Israel. Points seven and eight encapsulate their broad goals: the eventual rupture of all diplomatic relationships with Israel and measures against any state that does not accept ostracism of Israel. All of these eight points were to be carried out in a five-year program.

3. The Academic Boycott

As aforementioned, the previous decades already saw sporadic anti-Semitic incidents at universities that were not systematically recorded. We thus have to limit ourselves to a few examples.

Shouting Down Ambassador Ben Nathan in Germany

In June 1969, left-wing students verbally attacked Asher Ben Nathan, Israel’s first ambassador to Germany. He was shouted down at Frankfurt University by members of the German leftist student group SDS, Palestinians, and Israelis from the leftist Matzpen group.

Two days later, Ben Nathan was unable to finish his lecture at Hamburg University because of numerous interruptions. When the ambassador wanted to lecture in September that year in Berlin, he was told that the climate at both the Free and the Technical universities was such that he should not do so. He then spoke at a meeting organized by the Young Christian Democrats.

Before that meeting, a leftist publication attacked Ben Nathan in a way that the German author Wolfgang Kraushaar interprets as an invitation to make an attempt on the Israeli ambassador’s life. Ben Nathan’s lecture at Munich University in December of that year was also severely disrupted. One poster in the auditorium carried the words: “Only when bombs explode in 50 supermarkets in Israel will there be peace.”[55]

Later years saw further examples of left-wing German extremist actions against Israelis at universities. Internationale Solidarität was an ad hoc group established to prevent the vice-chancellor of the Hebrew University from addressing a meeting at Kiel University. A leaflet distributed by this group concluded with the slogan, “Schlagt die Zionisten tot, macht den Nahen Osten rot (Beat Zionists dead, make the Near East red).”[56]

Holocaust Denial

Holocaust denial in academia has developed in various countries. In France in particular, from the 1970s a central figure in this regard was Robert Faurisson, a former professor at Lyon University. Deborah Lipstadt noted that he “regularly creates facts where none exist and dismisses as false any information inconsistent with his preconceived conclusions.”[57]

In later years several other French scholars engaged in Holocaust denial. In 1985, at Nantes University, Henri Roques presented a PhD thesis containing Holocaust-denial elements. In 1990, Bernard Notin, who taught at Lyon 3 University, published a Holocaust-denying article in an important scientific journal.[58]

In an analysis of anti-Jewish intolerance on Canadian university campuses, Stefan Braun mentioned various incidents at the end of the twentieth century:

In November 1989,Jewish students brought a police investigation against a Muslim Student Association film at the University of Toronto, which depicted Jews as Christ-killers, corrupt financiers, and world conspirators, to “ascertain whether the hate provisions of the Canadian Criminal Code had been violated.” In 1997, Jewish students at the University of Toronto tried to have those responsible for a Palestinian campus display (put up during Arab culture week) equating Zionism with Nazism criminally charged under the Hate Propaganda provisions of the Criminal Code.[59]

Space here is too limited to provide a detailed overview of worldwide developments. A selection of examples from several countries will indicate the range of actions against Israel and Jews on campus. The essays that follow this introduction complement these examples.

The United Kingdom

Elements in the United Kingdom have been in the forefront of anti-Israeli actions on campus. In his chapter in this book, Ronnie Fraser analyzes the reasons for this prominent role. These include, in his view, the fact that academics there are more organized than in the United States or continental Western Europe. Moreover, the labor unions allow the activists, many of them left-wing, to decide policies.

Fraser claims that the role played by British labor unions has been crucial to the success of the pro-Palestinian lobby. He also considers that the boycott has so much support in Britain because Israel is identified with Britain’s colonial past. He concludes that the passivity of UK Jewry contributed to the initial lack of resistance to the boycott campaign.

Two British professors, Steven Rose (who is Jewish) and his wife Hilary, initiated the first major academic boycott campaign against Israel. They claimed that Israeli academics were the only non-European Union scholars eligible for grants from the EU, and that given Israel’s policy toward the Palestinians, these grants should be suspended.[60]

On 6 April 2002, an open letter appeared in The Guardian. It called for a moratorium on all cultural and research links with Israel at European or national levels until the Israeli government abided by UN resolutions and opened “serious peace negotiations with the Palestinians, along the lines proposed in many peace plans including most recently that sponsored by the Saudis and the Arab League.”[61]

Initially the Roses collected about 120 signatories, ninety of them from the UK. By 11 April the number had grown to several hundred, including ten Israeli academics-two from the Hebrew University, three from the University of Haifa, and five from Tel Aviv University.

The Roses obtained some international publicity for their attacks on Israel. In July 2002, The Observer published a sizable article by the Roses that opened:

The carnage in the Middle East continues; today a suicide bomber, tomorrow an Israeli strike on Palestinians with helicopters, missiles, and tanks. The Israelis continue to invade Palestinian towns and expand illegal settlements in the occupied territories. Ariel Sharon refuses to negotiate while “violence” (i.e. Palestinian resistance) continues. Our own government sheds crocodile tears at the loss of life while inviting a prime minister accused of war crimes to lunch and providing his military with F16 spare parts.

The Roses avoided mentioning that the suicide bomber is a Palestinian. The entire paragraph makes no explicit reference to any negative Palestinian action. This well-known technique has been exposed, for instance, by Andrea Levin citing similar cases from the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and Boston Globe. [62]

In their article the Roses compared Israel to South Africa: “The international academic, cultural, and sporting communities had played a major part in isolating South Africa and we have increasingly learned of individuals who thought that cooperating with Israeli institutions was like collaborating with the apartheid regime.”

In December 2002, The Guardian devoted a major article to the boycott. It described the Roses as having “together and separately…been involved in left-wing political causes for decades.” The Roses reported receiving substantial hate mail as well as support, among other things, from people they called “pathologically anti-Jewish.” They went to great lengths to deny that they were Jewish anti-Semites.[63]

Even the Jerusalem Post gave the Roses a substantial write-up without any criticism, where they could make their points and express moral outrage. Again they compared Israel to South Africa.[64]

The Roses’ petition brought about the globalization of the boycott attempts. Academics from several countries signed it within a few days. Condemnations from official sources were much slower. On 23 April 2002, EU commissioner for research Philippe Busquin replied to one of the academics who had signed the open letter asking for the boycott:

As recently said on several occasions by the president of the European Commission, Mr. Romano Prodi, the European Commission is not in favor of a policy of sanctions against the parties to the conflict but rather advocates a continuous dialogue with them which is the best way to bring them back to negotiations. Moreover, the Council of Ministers took the same position on April 18th.[65]

The Committee on Human Rights of Scientists of the New York Academy of Sciences also condemned the proposed moratorium on grants and contracts with Israeli research institutions on 3 May 2002: “The statement, co-sponsored by the Committee of Concerned Scientists, Inc., states that the ‘proposed moratorium/boycott on funding violates the basic principles of scientific freedom and scholarship’ and that science ‘will be undermined for the sake of some political goals.'”[66]

The Baker Case

Following the open letter in The Guardian, a second case emerged in the UK in 2002 that attracted more attention. Mona Baker, an Egyptian-born professor of translation studies at UMIST in Manchester, sacked two Israeli academics from the editorial boards of the journals The Translator and Translation Study Abstract that she and her husband own and edit. The journals are published by their own press, St. Jerome Publishing. Her action firing them for their Israeli identity and views was an example of a selective boycott.

Baker stated that the two Israelis, Dr. Miriam Shlesinger of Bar-Ilan University and Prof. Gideon Toury of Tel Aviv University, could remain on the board if they left Israel and severed all ties with it.[67] This resembles more the classic religious form of anti-Semitism, where a Jew could become a university professor if he converted, than the racial one. One ironic aspect was that Shlesinger had previously served as chair of Amnesty International’s Israel branch.

The dismissal of the two Israeli scholars gradually led to many protests. Stephen Howe of Oxford University, who had signed the original Rose petition, asked for his name to be removed from it and expressed the hope that others would follow suit.[68] Two leading Oxford University scientists, Colin Blakemore and Richard Dawkins, also withdrew their names from the petition.[69] Sidney Greenblatt, a world-renowned Shakespeare scholar at Harvard University, condemned Baker and called her attitude “repellent, dangerous, and morally bankrupt.”

Greenblatt added: “Excluding scholars because of the passports that they carry or because of their skin color, religion, or political party, corrupts the integrity of intellectual work.”[70]

Andrew Marks of Columbia University, editor of the prestigious Journal of Clinical Investigation, sent Baker an email telling her of his Iraqi deputy editor whom he would not think of dismissing because of his nationality, even if they have diametrically opposed political views.[71]

Geoffrey Alderman, academic dean of American InterContinental University-London, wrote in a personal capacity in The Guardian:

Those academics who have led the boycott movement have indeed opened a Pandora’s box. But if they were now to make amends, by calling for a boycott of Mona Baker. . .I should certainly join them, and if I did so I would be acting only to uphold the academic values by which I live. The pursuit of these values depends crucially on personal contact and interaction. I shall continue to maintain contact with academics around the world, irrespective of the societies in which they live and work, and of the political or military environments in which they may find themselves.[72]

Commentator Rod Liddle in The Guardian was less polite, writing: “Mona Baker ‘unappointed’ two Israeli academics from the journal for which she worked. She hopes that, none the less, she can still be friends with them. I hope they punch her on the nose. Her husband, Ken, whined that they had received 15,000 emails in 24 hours, many ‘abusive and obscene.’ Just 15,000 huh? Better keep them coming.”[73]

The British education secretary, Estelle Morris, criticized Baker and said: “I understand that UMIST has very clearly disassociated itself from this action; and [Higher Education Minister] Margaret Hodge and I have made it clear that any discrimination on grounds of nationality, race, or religion is utterly unacceptable.”[74]

As a result of the multiple criticism, UMIST was forced to conduct an inquiry into the matter, which found Baker innocent because her journals were not under the university’s auspices. UMIST vice-chancellor John Garside welcomed the outcome of the inquiry. However, he added that if the journals had been under the university’s jurisdiction, it would have reinstated the Israeli professors. Not surprisingly, the UMIST ruling was seen as a victory for the anti-Israeli forces.[75]

After several months, British prime minister Tony Blair also came out against the boycott at UMIST. In a private meeting on 28 October 2002, he told UK chief rabbi Jonathan Sacks that he would do anything necessary to stop the academic boycott at that university. One of his aides said: “The Prime Minister is appalled by discrimination against academics on the grounds of their race or nationality. He believes that universities must send a clear signal that this will not be tolerated.”[76]

In spring 2002, NATFHE, then one of the two UK university teachers unions, passed a motion at its annual conference asking institutions to sever their links with Israel.[77] The other teachers union, the Association of University Teachers (AUT), also passed a motion critical of Israel. At the time these motions had mainly rhetorical significance.[78] In 2005 and 2006, more intensive boycott campaigns developed in the AUT and NATFHE that Fraser describes in more detail in his chapter.

In 2006 AUT and NAFTHE merged into the University and College Union (UCU). At its first conference on 30 May 2007 in Bournemouth, a motion was passed calling for a debate on a comprehensive and consistent boycott of Israeli academic institutions. Some 158 delegates voted in favor and 99 against.

As a result the battle over the academic boycott of Israel internationalized. This led inter alia to an advertisement in The New York Times in August 2007, signed by about 300 American university and college presidents who stated that they would not work with institutions which were boycotting Israeli academics. The debate surrounding the 2007 UCU resolution and its aftermath are discussed in an essay by this author hereinafter.


A few weeks after the 2002 open letter against Israeli academics in The Guardian, a similar effort began in Australia that secured ninety signatories. The initiators were John Docker, an Australian Jewish author from the Humanities Research Centre of the Australian National University, and a Lebanese Christian anthropology lecturer, Ghassan Hage of Sydney University.[79]

In response, a group of Australian academics wrote an open letter to The Guardian:

Whereas we hold diverse political views with respect to the past and current policies of the Israeli government, and whereas we recognize the right of concerned citizens in Israel and elsewhere to express their opinions freely, we are united in our opposition to the proposed boycott…. The spectacle of a university or scientific body applying a boycott is inconsistent with the pursuit of intellectual freedom through research, debate and discussion. Such a boycott would have an effect opposite to that intended and would constitute an assault on intellectual freedom.[80]

The Australian commented on the Docker-Hage initiative in an editorial:

We expect higher standards and greater objectivity from self-declared members of the intelligentsia who have put their signatures to what is little more than a piece of propaganda…. Academics and intellectuals have a right to express their opinions. But such a boycott transgresses the principles of academic freedom and university autonomy.[81]

The anti-Israeli boycott campaign in Australia did not take off. Several Australian academics, however, make frequent verbal attacks on Israel and Zionism. Ted Lapkin analyzes some of the most virulent cases in his chapter below.

Recent publications indicate that there has been a significant rise in anti-Semitism in its various forms on a number of Australian campuses. The verbal attacks come from the radical Left. There are also cases of physical violence against Jews on campus. One newspaper wrote that: “In Sydney some Jewish students feel so intimidated that they are wearing hats over their kippahs.”[82]

United States

In the United States, several campuses have become hotbeds for anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli activism. Even before the Iraq issue came to the fore, the pro-Palestinian student groups were grabbing attention with protest tactics made famous in the 1960s like demonstrating with body bags and gagged mouths. In the early years of this decade, the Palestinian effort had become-according to Jeffrey Ross, director of Campus and Higher Education Affairs at the Anti-Defamation League-the cause championed by all extreme left-wing groups.

Ross said, “The left has come into an alliance with the Palestinians, but to a certain degree the Palestinians have taken over the left agenda.”[83] ADL national director Abraham Foxman cautioned in an opinion piece that: “Many declared progressive groups, especially those against globalization, are joining with the pro-Palestinian groups. This alliance is active, vocal and frequently given to anti-Semitic actions and rhetoric.”[84] Israel Charny, editor of the Encyclopedia of Genocide, called Berkeley university the capital of the Western world’s anti-Semitism as of 2002.[85]

Violence on Campus

One Jewish student activist on the Berkeley campus summed up the situation from 2000 to 2004 by saying there were many “cases of hate crimes, discrimination, vandalism of Jewish centers, and a great sense of intimidation from showing support for Israel.”[86]

Prof. Laurie Zoloth, then at San Francisco State University-another breeding ground of anti-Semitism-wrote an email about the violent threats there that was widely circulated on the Internet. It mentioned a meeting organized by Hillel after which about fifty remained for afternoon prayers. Thereafter:

Counter demonstrators poured into the plaza, screaming at the Jews to “Get out or we will kill you” and “Hitler did not finish the job.” I turned to the police and to every administrator I could find and asked them to remove the counter demonstrators from the plaza, to maintain the separation of 100 feet that we had been promised. The police told me that they had been told not to arrest anyone…. The police could do nothing more than surround the Jewish students and community members who were now trapped in a corner of the plaza, grouped under the flags of Israel, while an angry, out of control mob, literally chanting for our deaths, surrounded us…. There was no safe way out of the Plaza. We had to be marched back to the Hillel House under armed S.F. police guard, and we had to have a police guard remain outside Hillel.[87]

Simultaneously, students and teachers sought to convince universities to divest their holdings in Israeli securities and in those U.S. companies that supply arms to Israel. Although largely unsuccessful, the effort was perturbing in terms of the following it attracted. As of October 2002, petitions for divestment had been circulated at more than fifty campuses. Within the University of California system, more than seven thousand students and faculty members signed.[88]

Although divestment at universities has not succeeded, it has made some inroads among mainline Protestant churches. One of these is the Presbyterian Church (USA), which initially supported some divestment moves but since has modified its position.[89]

Divestment has been defined as “institutional groups removing financial support to companies in order to encourage a change in corporate behavior and/or policy.”[90] It has become popular among radical college students as a way to attack Israel. Calls for divestment were similarly popular in American universities during the 1980s when their target was South Africa.

The divestment movement was the key focus of the Second National Student Conference of the Palestine Solidarity Movement held at the University of Michigan in October 2002. The conference website suggested that Israel, as opposed to “other oppressive states,” was worthy of being targeted by such a campaign because it “dictates the lives of over three million Palestinians, taxing them, yet denying them citizenship and the right to vote.” The conference organizers also claimed Israel was violating “more United Nations resolutions about human rights and international law than any other state in the world.”[91] Since then similar meetings have been held at other universities.

Condemnation by Presidents

The divestment campaign has inspired much opposition among Jews and non-Jews alike on college campuses across the country. Many university presidents have condemned it. Judith Rodin, then president of the University of Pennsylvania, stated in a letter to the Penn community that:

Because Penn defends freedom of expression as a core academic and societal value, we will not use the power of the University either to stifle political debates or to endorse hostile measures against any country or its citizens. Divestiture is an extreme measure to be adopted rarely, and only under the most unusual circumstances. Certainly, many countries involved in the current Middle East dispute have been aggressors, and calls for divestment against them have been notably absent.[92]

Lee C. Bollinger, president of Columbia University, wrote that he opposed the campaign that demanded Columbia to divest from all companies that produce or sell arms or other military hardware to Israel. “As President of Columbia…I want to state clearly that I will not lend any support to this proposal. The petition alleges human rights abuses and compares Israel to South Africa at the time of apartheid, an analogy I believe is both grotesque and offensive.”[93]

In the debate at Yale University, pro-Israeli students argued in the Yale Daily News that the national divestment movement “has officially condoned terrorism.”[94] Defenders of the divestiture campaign claim that there is nothing anti-Jewish about the movement.

Abraham Foxman replied that this is not the case. In an article titled “Divestment Equals Anti-Semitism,” he stated: “The focus on Israel is ludicrous and clearly the result of a double standard being applied, which raises the possibility that anti-Semitism is the real motive of divestment campaigns.”[95]

In a case study in 2004 Yonit Golub explained from her experience at Johns Hopkins University how pro-Israeli activists can get organized, utilize the media, and maintain relationships with organizations, campus influentials, and the Jewish community.[96]

Several case studies below describe developments at various other American campuses. Rebecca Leibowitz describes how Jewish students at Rutgers University were intimidated by the extreme anti-Israeli sentiment that in 2003 often crossed the line into anti-Semitic activity. She establishes a direct connection between anti-Israeli activities and anti-Semitic ones. Jonathan Jaffit relates how the single-handed action of a Jewish student, Rachel Fish, led Harvard University to suspend its tainted funding from the late Sheikh Zayed, the dictatorial ruler of the United Arab Emirates.

Leila Beckwith analyzes how Muslim student organizations have sponsored virulently anti-Zionist/anti-Semitic events on the campus of the University of California-Irvine. In an another article together with Tammi Rossman-Benjamin and Ilan Benjamin, Beckwith describes faculty efforts to combat anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli bias at the University of California-Santa Cruz.

Attacks Continue

In a 2006 report entitled Campus Antisemitism, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights found, among other things, that: “Anti-Israeli or anti-Zionist propaganda has been disseminated on many campuses that include traditional antisemitic elements, including age-old anti-Jewish stereotypes and defamation.” A second finding was that “antisemitic bigotry is no less morally deplorable when camouflaged as anti-Israelism or anti-Zionism.” It was also found that “substantial evidence suggests that many university departments of Middle East studies provide one-sided, highly polemical academic presentations and some may repress legitimate debate concerning Israel.”[97]

The attacks on Israel at U.S. campuses are ongoing. At the beginning of the academic year 2006-07, the student government at the University of Michigan’s Dearborn campus passed a resolution calling for the university’s Board of Regents to vote to divest from Israel.[98] There was also an appeal for divestment at Wayne State University (WSU). WSU president Irvin D. Reid responded with a statement asserting: “Wayne State opposes divestiture and has no intention of divesting itself of stocks in companies doing business with Israel or any other legitimate state.”

He added: “We encourage our students to use their right to free speech, but accusations, acrimony and demands such as divestiture are counter to the intelligent dialogue and free discourse for which this university stands.”[99]


In the academic and several other areas, Canada has gradually become a problematic country regarding attitudes toward Israel. Stefan Braun, who has published in detail on intolerance at Canadian university campuses, considers that: “The campaign to marginalize the Jewish voice and de-legitimize the historic Jewish identity, across progressive Canadian campuses with large and vocal Muslim voices, is not just a Jewish problem…. To be indifferent to their plight is, ultimately, to put Canadian multiculturalism at risk and Canadian democracy in jeopardy.”[100]

Concordia University in Montreal was for several years considered one of those universities in the Western world where anti-Israeli violence led to outright discrimination. One Jewish professor at Concordia, who prefers to remain anonymous, told this author in 2005 that in the past hardly anybody abroad had heard about his university. When he now said in Jewish circles abroad that he was teaching at Concordia, there was usually name recognition and immediate association with the anti-Semitic incidents there.

A speech scheduled at Concordia for former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on 9 September 2003 had to be canceled after protesters, before the lecture, broke into the building and smashed windows. In a report, Concordia rector Frederick Lowy said: “The level of violence that we saw was unprecedented on this issue in Montreal and contrary to all the advance intelligence.”[101]

At the same university, the campus Hillel was banned by the Concordia Student Union because of claims that Hillel had displayed brochures for a program for foreign volunteers in the Israel Defense Forces at one of its functions. These had been placed there by an activist and not by the organizers. The university criticized the student union, noting that the vote for the ban took place on the last day of classes at midnight with little notice.

The situation at Concordia was so tense that at the end of 2002 the university administration had to impose a three-month moratorium on all Middle East-related events.[102] Consequently, a Montreal judge issued an injunction against a lecture by a left-wing parliamentarian of the New Democratic Party, Svend Robinson, who holds strong pro-Palestinian views.[103]

Ariela Cotler, president of Hillel Montreal, said about Concordia University: “Their only concept of freedom of expression here is when the Society for Palestinian Human Rights is involved, with the support of the Concordia Student Union.”[104]

An advertisement in the Toronto Globe and Mail on 17 December 2002, signed by one hundred people, stated that Canadian Jewish students are so traumatized by campus anti-Semitism that they do not dare to support Israel or even Judaism. This sparked a heated debate about whether the claim was true. Susan Bloch-Nevitte, communications director of Toronto University, admitted there had been incidents there that could be viewed as anti-Semitic.[105]

Alain Goldschläger’s essay below describes the overall anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic actions on Canadian campuses. He notes: “a virulently anti-Israeli discourse incorporating strong anti-Semitic elements has infiltrated the far-Left-leaning world of Canadian academia, beginning to rival the longstanding far-Right fringe. As in Europe, denunciation of Israel has become an acceptable expression of Jew-hatred in Canada.” The case study by Corinne Berzon analyzes developments at Concordia University.


Holocaust denial has been a recurrent issue in France. On 15 November 2001, Education Minister Jack Lang decided to establish a commission to investigate racism and Holocaust denial at Jean-Moulin Lyon 3 University. In his letter appointing the commission, headed by the historian Henry Rousso, Lang referred to fifteen years of problematic cases in this area. The commission’s final report was transmitted in 2004.[106] It concluded that the situation had improved in recent years, but that the university administration still needed to distance itself explicitly from the events that had tainted its image.

Toward the end of 2002, various types of anti-Israeli boycotts were proposed at French universities. Particular publicity was given to the Pierre and Marie Curie campus of Paris 6 University (also known as Jussieu). On 16 December 2002, the school’s board adopted a motion expressing its opposition to the renewal of the association agreement between the European Union and Israel. Twenty-two members voted in favor, four against, six abstained, and one refused to participate in the vote. The vote was held toward the end of the meeting, which took place shortly before the Christmas vacation.[107]

French Universities and Their Vichy Past

The Union of French Jewish Students (UEJF) heard about this only two days later. In reaction, it set itself two targets. The first was to vociferously oppose the boycott and ensure its elimination. The second was to prevent a similar boycott at Paris 7 University, where the board was supposed to vote on the same issue on 7 January 2003.[108]

The UEJF rallied the support of the national student union, the Union Nationale des Etudiants de France (UNEF). An effort was made to mobilize personalities as well as teachers’ unions. One supporter was Jacques-Yves Bobot, member of the municipal council of Paris and board member of Paris 7 University. The UEJF obtained nineteen thousand signatures against the boycott, of which 5,200 were from French and foreign university teachers.[109]

On 6 January 2003, the UEJF organized a demonstration against the boycott motion of Paris 7. Philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy said: “The French university is the only major institution that has not repented its mistakes under the Vichy regime. In this context the boycott [of Israeli universities] by Paris 6 seems even more shameful.”[110] He added that the Israeli universities embody “the heart of the peace [process].”

Education Minister Luc Ferry and the mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, condemned the attitude of Paris 6 University. UNESCO director-general Koichiro Matsuura criticized the attempts by Paris 6 to isolate Israeli academics: “We must do everything possible to preserve the conditions for dialogue between the various scientific and academic communities throughout the world, as this dialogue is sometimes the last link between people divided by war and the first step toward reconciliation.”[111] After the public protests, the university canceled its motion and Paris 7   thereupon ruled a similar motion out of order. It claimed that the university was not entitled to debate political or religious issues.[112]

After Paris 6 changed its attitude, the pro-Israeli forces felt they had had a victory as the boycott had few supporters. Patrick Klugman, then president of the UEJF, said: “With our action we have proved through the university how abject the boycott is. Today it has become politically incorrect to penalize Israeli universities. This damnable process has been condemned. That’s our victory.”[113]

The problems remained, though. Writing in Le Figaro, Klugman observed:

On some university campuses like Nanterre, Villetaneuse and Jussieu, the climate has become very difficult for Jews. In the name of the Palestinian cause, they are castigated as if they were Israeli soldiers! We hear “death to the Jews” during demonstrations which are supposed to defend the Palestinian cause. Last April, our office was the target of a Molotov cocktail. As a condition for condemning this attack, the lecturers demanded that the UEJF declare a principled position against Israel![114]

Jussieu remained one of the problematic places for Jews. On 23 February 2006, at a debate on fighting the “colonization of Palestine” organized by the university, Jewish students were beaten up by pro-Palestinians.


In Belgium, academic attacks on Israel and Jews occurred mainly at the French-speaking Free University of Brussels. In December 2002, several Jewish students put up pro-Israeli posters around the campus with texts such as: “Which was the first state in the Middle East that gave Arab women the right to vote?” and “Terror attacks against civilians are an abomination.”

The next morning the students received an anonymous phone call threatening that their families would be harmed if the posters were not removed. The Jewish students removed the posters, an act they later regretted. A few days later the Belgian Union of Jewish Students (UEJB) staged a public demonstration supporting the right of free speech that was backed by the university’s administration and faculty, as well as Jewish and non-Jewish student groups and Belgian Jewish organizations. The rally attracted more than a thousand participants.[115]

In February 2003, the Federation of Belgian Students attempted to have an anti-Israeli motion passed by the Board of the Free University of Brussels (ULB). Two Jewish faculty members circulated a counterpetition that said, among other things:

While firmly condemning violence, wherever it comes from, in the Middle East conflict, ULB, in line with its philosophical tradition, must affirm that cooperation with all teaching and research institutions is the best means of promoting respect for the fundamental values of the international scientific community: humanism and tolerance. Scientia vincere tenebras [Science will triumph over darkness].

The ULB senate refused to hear the anti-Israeli motion, which was then withdrawn, and adopted a declaration along the lines of the Jewish professors’ proposal.[116]


According to a regional Italian daily, Corriere Del Veneto, in early 2003 seven Italian professors of Ca’ Foscari University in Venice signed a European petition with four hundred signatories that included the statement: “my conscience does not permit me to collaborate with official Israeli institutions, including universities.”[117]

Prof. Francesco Gatti, who at Ca’ Foscari occupies the chair of history of international relations in the Faculty of Language and Oriental Literature, said: “I have signed it because I am an anti-Zionist; certainly not an anti-Semite.”[118] Gatti added that while he hoped his and his Italian colleagues’ actions would serve as a stimulus, he had not received even one email reaction. He concluded that the appeals had much less visibility than those during the 1968 student revolution.

The newspaper pointed out that following the recommendation of the seven professors would entail a diplomatic problem. Venice is also home to Venice International University (VIU), an international consortium with several member faculties including Ca’ Foscari; Instituto Universitario di Architettura di Venezia (IUAV), a major architectural university; and Tel Aviv University (TAU).

The rector of Ca’ Foscari, Maurizio Rispoli, declared that the boycott appeals by the university’s professors were personal and did not reflect the institution’s positions. He added:

The agreements on teaching and scientific collaboration with academic institutions are constantly expanded independent of the political orientation of governments of each state in the conviction that scientific communities must contribute to disseminating knowledge and discoveries while also upholding the values of liberty, tolerance, and respect between people.

The IUAV rector said that the appeals seemed to indicate absolute silliness even if he totally disagreed with Ariel Sharon’s policies. He added that this approach would lead to exactly the opposite of what one would want to achieve: “It is not that all Israeli universities are with Sharon, to the contrary. Our role is to keep a distinction between cultural and political activities.”[119]

A few days after the article appeared in the Venice daily, the leading Italian weekly Panorama published the same story under the title “Winds of Anti-Semitism at Ca’ Foscari.”[120] It mentioned that eleven Italian professors had signed the boycott appeal. Besides Gatti, the paper also interviewed Rodolfo Delmonte, linguistics professor at Ca’ Foscari.

As far as one can judge from the names, none of the boycott signatories were Jewish. This is different from the UK, where the academic boycott was initiated by Jews, and France, where Jews played a major role. It is also surprising, as in Italy Jewish communists and other leftists have often spearheaded actions against Israel.[121] Recent years have seen anti-Israeli acts at several Italian universities.

David Meghnagi, a clinical psychology professor and director of the International Master’s Program on Holocaust Remembrance at Rome 3 University, closely follows anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic activities at Italian universities. He mentions a number of current issues. The first is a passive boycott of Israeli scholars by certain university teachers. They do not come out openly against Israelis, but do not invite them for lectures. To counter this, Meghnagi has organized a group of several hundred Italian academics who see to it that every year a number of Israeli scholars are invited to teach at Italian universities. He notes that in 2005, at the University of Turin, one professor was strongly verbally attacked by extreme leftists because he had invited a representative of the Israel embassy to a meeting.

Meghnagi also mentions that at Pisa University in 2005, a representative of the Israeli embassy could not give a lecture because it was disrupted by extreme-Left students. All this has to be seen, Meghnagi says, in the context of the demonization of Israel by the Italian Left.

He adds:

A severe case also occurred when an eminent professor of the University of Bologna refused to participate in a ceremony in memory of the 1938 expulsion of Jews from Italian universities according to Mussolini’s racial laws against the Jews. He said the ceremony should also deal with the Palestinians. Whatever one’s political views are, it is clear that the racial laws of 1938 concern an eternal Italian guilt toward the Jews. His refusal and that of several others brings us to a gray area of anti-Semitism.

Two hundred academics jointly signed a full-page appeal in the leading Italian daily, Corriere della Sera, where we affirmed the need for collaboration with Israeli colleagues and denounced the intolerance at the universities of Pisa and Turin as well as in France and Britain. Also the Italian Conference of University Rectors and the Italian education minister have condemned the discrimination against Israeli scholars.[122]


Ireland is one of the EU countries where anti-Israeli bias is strongest. Oded Eran, Israeli ambassador to the European Union, observed that: “Sweden and Ireland are probably the countries that most frequently raise their voices against Israel.”[123] Since then, however, in September 2006 the Swedish Social Democratic government that was hostile to Israel was replaced by a Center-Right one.

Rory Miller, an academic who has studied the Irish attitudes toward Israel, remarked: “If one were to throw a sack of flour over the Irish parliament, it is unlikely that anybody pro-Israeli would become white.”[124] He noted that since the boycott campaign started in 2002, only a few Irish professors have signed boycott appeals against Israel.

However, in September 2006 more than sixty Irish academics published a letter in the Irish Times calling for a moratorium on European grants to Israeli academic institutions at both the national and European levels.[125]


In his analysis of Spanish bias against the Jews and Israel, anti-Semitism expert Gustavo Perednik mentions how the country’s leading daily, El Pais, regularly demonizes Zionism and Israel. For example, before the 2003 Israeli elections, a professor at one of the most prestigious Spanish universities, Gema Martín Muñoz, claimed there that Sharon was planning the “final solution of the Palestinian question.”[126]

Perednik tells how he was invited to lecture at the Rovira i Virgili university in Tarragona, Catalonia, where an advanced student candidly asked: “It was explained to me a hundred times but I am still unable to understand it: why does Israel have a right to exist?”

Perednik responded: “Since there are a hundred and ninety-two countries in the world, I wish to congratulate the one hundred and ninety-one that have passed your demanding right-to-exist exam. Don’t you find it strange that there is one lone country, much smaller than Catalonia and attacked by the most atrocious regimes, which you have failed to grant a right to exist?”

He adds that the organized Jewish community in Spain has tried to keep a very low profile and not openly counterattack Judeophobia. Its youth often felt it was too difficult to confront the extremely hostile atmosphere on university campuses because of a lack of backing from the Jewish community at large.[127]

Raphael Bardaji, head of international policy studies at FAES, a Spanish foundation for social research and analysis that is headed by former prime minister José Maria Aznar, says: “A major source of support for the Palestinians is in universities. Over the last twenty years Palestinians have quietly pursued a strategy of planting exchange professors in departments of international relations, and in this way they have created a  constituency.”

Bardaji speaks from his own experience:

In the late 1970s I tried to do my PhD at the Madrid Complutense University. My professor was pro-Palestinian, anti-American, and anti-Israeli. His only concern was promoting the cause of Yasser Arafat. I could not do my thesis with him. The subject I had chosen was NATO and Spain, and he literally told me that “if I wanted to talk about weapons, I should choose to defend Fatah and not the imperialistic Americans.”

Bardaji continues: “The main problems for Israel in Spanish universities are located in the international relations departments. There are only two exceptions: Rey Juan Carlos University in Madrid, which is private and small, and the University of Navarra, which is very conservative and linked to Opus Dei. They are not automatically anti-American.”[128]

4. Reactions to the Academic Boycott

Jewish communities worldwide were ill-prepared for the wave of anti-Semitism over the past few years and the sudden calls to boycott Israel. After the Oslo agreements in 1993, many Jewish leaders had become lax as far as threats of anti-Semitism and attacks on Israel were concerned. As observers noted, an entire generation of Jewish students on campus was unfamiliar with the narrative of Zionism and Israel.

Thus, few knew how to respond effectively to the wave of aggression, even in large Jewish communities such as the American and French ones. It took a long time before Jewish defense organized itself. In France, where the community hesitated for many months to draw public attention to the many violent anti-Semitic incidents throughout the country, the government preferred to close its eyes to the crisis.[129]

Similarly, Diaspora Jewry, the Israeli government, and Israel’s academic world were taken aback by the academic boycott and other discriminatory initiatives. They did not develop a strategic plan to counteract them. Individuals and institutions improvised in various ways without coordinating actions.

One important initiative came from the Hebrew University. It developed a website urging support for academics opposed to the boycott and attracted many signatories from all over the world.[130] By June 2003, fifteen thousand academics had signed the antiboycott petition. Similar initiatives were taken elsewhere including Australia[131] and the United States.[132]

In France, two such petitions were launched. One group was close to Peace Now and obtained mainly Jewish signatures that were also from outside the academic world. Another petition was initiated by Jewish academics who, together with non-Jewish ones-many from leading institutions-published a condemnation of the boycott in the daily Le Monde. The initiators were Shmuel Trigano, Gregory Benichou, Raphael Drai, Georges Elia Sarfati, and Yves Charles Zarka.[133]

Support for Israel

Some prominent scholars declared their personal support for Israel, during the initial boycott campaigns. One was Baroness Susan Greenfield, a British brain researcher and head of the Royal Institution of Great Britain. She announced her intention to lead a delegation of top British scientists to Israel, Jordan, and Egypt in mid-March 2003 in what she called “a positive response to ongoing boycott efforts.”[134]

In November 2002, seventy prominent U.S. professors of medicine, twelve of them from Harvard Medical School, held an international medical conference in Jerusalem to protest the divestment campaign and other anti-Israeli activities on American campuses. Conference chairman Ben Sachs stated that they had specifically come to show support for Israel.[135]

Another initiative against the boycott was the establishment of the International Academic Friends of Israel (IAFI). This organization is headed by Andrew R. Marks, chairman of the Department of Physiology and Cellular Biology at Columbia University.  Besides American scholars, its board members include academics from France, Israel, Italy, and Switzerland. It seeks:

To host and support international scientific meetings in Israel; bring Israeli and global academic and scientific leaders together in other forums; promote worldwide understanding and appreciation of Israeli scientific and academic achievements, and create research fellowships in the U.S. for Israeli and Palestinian students.[136]

Has the Boycott Initiative Failed?

In September 2007, this author made a Google search for the word boycott. Many million references appeared. Among the first fifty, three concerned Israel. They were not specifically aimed at the academic community. One reference targeted President Bush; others aimed at companies such as Sony, Nike, Amazon, Gillette, Microsoft, and so on. These sites are listed according to the frequency of visitors.

In 2003, several Israeli academics and American Jewish leaders told this author that the academic boycott and other discriminatory actions against Israel had failed. They pointed out that not one major academic institution or organization had supported the boycott; no American university had decided to divest Israeli shares and Paris 6 University had had to retract its anti-Israeli motion. Furthermore, many more academics in the world signed petitions against boycotting Israel than petitions for it.

This conclusion already seemed superficial at the time. There already were sufficient indications in 2003 that Israel’s campus enemies-to call them opponents or adversaries would be too mild-were continuing with their plans. In May 2003 in Britain, a motion supporting an academic boycott of Israel received as much as one-third of the votes at a conference of the abovementioned AUT, which had forty-six thousand members.[137]

Its initiator was Sue Blackwell, a very active anti-Israeli lecturer at Birmingham University’s English Department. She said that “AUT support for the boycott, launched last year by the British academics Steven and Hilary Rose would ‘add to the pressure on the country’s economy and dent its international prestige.'”[138]

Those who thought the boycott campaigns would disappear as rapidly as they had arisen made a conceptual mistake. It was wrong to compare the boycott actions against Israel with others such as, for instance, the American boycotts of France at the beginning of the Iraq war. Most American politicians who attacked France did so on the spur of the moment and had no previous record of animosity toward France. The widespread American boycott of France emerged rapidly and disappeared just as quickly.

Some of those who advocate the boycott of Israel, however, are longtime enemies. For them, boycotting Israel is one of many ways of confronting it. If one effort fails they will try another, especially since they do not incur any risks. Israel and the Jews concentrate on defense and hardly ever attack.

Lack of Research

Despite the multitude of academic boycott actions against Israel, neither the Israeli academic world nor the Jewish defense organizations have undertaken detailed research on the major international aspects of this campaign.

Such research is particularly important because new attacks emerge fast. If one lacks strategic understanding of what motivates one’s enemies and how they operate, one remains unnecessarily vulnerable to future onslaughts.

Major elements that require a much more detailed analysis are:

  • What are the main manifestations of the academic boycott and related discrimination issues?
  • Who are the main actors and what, if any, organizations support them?
  • How does the academic boycott relate to the wider issue of anti-Semitism?
  • What actions have been undertaken to counter the boycott?
  • Who are the major actors who have reacted against the boycott and what did they do?
  • How could the Jews and Israel have responded better and how should one organize for the future?

The research presented in this book gives answers to some of these questions. Much more study, however, remains to be done.

The vicious attacks on Israeli academia started more than four years ago and have occurred on campuses in various countries. Yet only two conferences, both at the beginning of 2006, have addressed these attacks. In January, Bar-Ilan University held a two-day conference on academic freedom and the consequences of boycotts. Bar-Ilan is now Israel’s most active university in the antiboycott field. It also operates the International Advisory Board for Academic Freedom.[139] The latter played an important role as well in the fight against the 2007 UCU boycott campaign.

The second conference, held in February, focused on academic anti-Semitism and was organized by the Magenta Foundation in Amsterdam. It adopted a number of recommendations to the OSCE, including the suggestion that this body “prepare standards and guidelines on academic responsibility and the protection of students from harassment, discrimination, and abuse in the academic environment, including anti-Semitism and racism.”

The conference also recommended that the OSCE, “in order to document and monitor the extent of the problem, conduct research into the promotion and tolerance of anti-Semitism in academia.”[140]

The Main Aspects of Anti-Israeli Actions on Campus

The various elements of the anti-Israeli actions in the academic world include:

  • Promoting classic anti-Semitism. The main example in the world is MAUP (the Interregional Academy of Personnel Management) in Kiev. It is one of the primary sources of Ukrainian anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. The chapter by Aryeh Green below provides a more detailed description.
  • Urging academic institutions to sever relations with Israeli academic institutions and academics. These attempts are strongest in Great Britain.
  • Trying to prevent Israeli academics from obtaining grants. This was a major aim of the scholars who published the April 2002 open letter in The Guardian.
  • Convincing academics not to visit Israel.
  • Not inviting Israelis to international conferences or to lecture at universities.
  • Trying to prevent the publication of articles by Israeli scholars. The Guardian wrote about Prof. Oren Yiftachel, a left-wing Israeli academic at Ben-Gurion University who has made extreme anti-Israeli remarks such as “Israel is almost the most segregated society in the world.” He had submitted an article to the left-leaning journal Political Geography that was coauthored with an Arab scholar, Dr. Asad Ghanem of the University of Haifa. Yiftachel had claimed to The Guardian that his article was returned unopened, a note attached explaining that the journal could not accept a submission from Israel.[141] In a subsequent clarification, The Guardian reported that Political Geography‘s editor had asked for revisions and thereafter would have referred the article for review without guarantee that it would be published.[142]
  • Refusing to review work of Israeli scholars. Israeli universities often ask scholars abroad to review the work of Israeli academics in regard to promotion. Prof. Paul Zinger, former head of the Israeli Science Foundation, told the Sunday Telegraph that about seven thousand research papers are sent out each year for review. In 2002, about twenty-five came back from scholars who refused to look at them.[143] At the time, Hebrew University scholars told this author that their university had faced three cases of refusal to do so. One involved a Jewish scholar abroad who wrote an anti-Semitic refusal letter.
  • Not publishing in Israeli publications. In 2006, for instance, Prof. Richard Seaford of Exeter University refused to review a book for the Israeli journal Scripta Classica Israelica.[144]
  • Promoting divestment of Israeli securities or those of American suppliers of weapons to Israel by university foundations. This is a particularly American phenomenon.
  • Expelling Jewish organizations from campus. The one well-known case concerns the Hillel chapter at Concordia University in Montreal.[145]
  • Unofficial (or concealed) boycott. Not all boycott activities are official. Several Israeli academics told this author that some colleagues with whom they had long-term contacts had severed them, with or without explanation. Hebrew University lecturer Aaron Benavot was quoted saying there was anecdotal evidence of this type of boycott:

Two colleagues in the geography department, for example, received a letter from the section editor of an international journal who said he was unable to consider their papers because he was a signatory to the boycott. Another Israeli scholar in London was told by his coordinator that he could “foresee problems” with colleagues in Europe if he joined an EU-funded research team.[146]

  • Hampering the careers of pro-Israeli academics. Only few victims are willing to speak publicly about this.

David Hansel, a tenured neuroscientist who also works five months a year at the Hebrew University besides his position in France, told the Boston Globe in 2003: “In France, I feel people are trying to build momentum for this boycott, criticizing Israel and also identifying colleagues who are Jewish or Israeli.” Hansel, a French citizen, said he has been up for promotion in France for several months but colleagues have told him it has been blocked because of his affiliation with the Hebrew University.[147]

In December 2002, St. Cloud State University in Minnesota agreed to pay nearly $365,000, admitting that department administrators had tried to persuade students not to take courses taught by Jewish professors. The settlement proposal came after a lawsuit by faculty members had claimed that Jewish teachers were paid less than others, denied promotions, and not given full credit for their teaching experience. The president of the university, Ray Saigo, said the university “deeply regretted” any anti-Semitic acts that transpired on campus or in the university community.[148]

  • Refusing to give recommendations to students who want to study in Israel, or alternatively, to give credits for studies there.

There are other, related types of bias. One is to suppress publications about Islamic anti-Semitism, as described in the chapter below about Utrecht University in the Netherlands. Yet another aspect is when political science faculty members purchase mainly anti-Israeli books for university libraries.

Some authors have tried to define the origins of the academic boycott attempts. One of them, Ruth R. Wisse, wrote:

Like many such initiatives since the 1960s, the petition campaign against Israel is promoted by relatively small numbers of faculty with interlocking interests. Its driving force are Arabs, Arabists, and their sympathizers who help prosecute the war against Israel as a way of diverting attention away from Arab regimes. They are joined by Leftists-including Jews-who see in Jewish particularism the chief hindrance to their internationalist faith; by radicals who consider Israel and America to be colonial powers and who promote their reactionary or revolutionary alternatives; and by antiwar enthusiasts who blame Israel for inviting Arab aggression against it.[149]

The Relationship to Anti-Semitism

An important question concerns the anti-Semitic aspects of the academic boycott of Israel. As mentioned earlier, the EUMC criteria for anti-Semitism are helpful in analyzing this problem.

The anti-Semitism on campus must be seen in the context of several earlier-mentioned phenomena in Western society. The first is the major immigration of Arabs and other Muslims to Western countries and the radicalization of significant elements of this community, which is often accompanied by anti-Semitic hate propaganda.

In the academic world many radicals can be found in Middle Eastern and Islamic studies, one of the main disciplines promoting anti-Semitism at universities. Many Arab and Muslim student unions are also major propagators of Jew- and Israel-hatred.

Once again the aggression toward the Jews is only an indicator of more profound problems. In August 2006, Muslim terrorism suspects were arrested in the United Kingdom under suspicion of preparing to blow up airplanes. There were several connections with campus activism.

A second relevant factor is the permeation of the Palestinian narrative into Western society, especially its left-wing elements. A third is the widespread latent anti-Semitism, particularly in Europe, which has been largely ignored for years. Another, related problem is extreme left-wing Jews who have frequently been at the forefront of the attacks on Israel.

The academic boycott cannot be fought effectively in isolation. Countering it must also be part of the general struggle against anti-Zionism and other manifestations of anti-Semitism.

Another important factor is that the academic boycott does not relate only to general phenomena in society. It is also an expression of the specific problems of various Western universities where major antisocietal forces have developed over the decades. The boycott actions against Israel have brought further proof that “tenured radicals” have permeated a number of faculties and campuses, where they try to undermine society rather than objectively pursue knowledge.

Gary Tobin, president of the Institute for Jewish and Community Research (IJCR), observes that:

Anti-Israelism can flourish because the academy is afraid to confront this ideology and those who preach it for fear of going down some slippery slope that will infringe upon academic freedom. But other slippery slopes are just as profoundly damaging to the ideals of the university, including the failure to ensure both high quality and honest scholarship, adhere to principles of truth, preserve civil discourse, and provide freedom from intellectual intimidation. All of these affect academic freedom and define academic responsibility. All are tainted by anti-Semitic and anti-Israel ideology and expression on campus.[150]

A survey by IJCR conducted in spring 2005 found that 63 percent of university faculty say that colleagues “are reluctant to express their true opinions when those opinions contradict dominant views on campus…. Professors are three times as likely to identify as liberal than as conservative. Social science and humanities faculty are five times as likely to identify as liberal than as conservative.”[151]

There are other major failures of academia, also relating to Israel, which bolster the case for limiting academic freedom. In his book Ivory Towers on Sand, Martin Kramer discusses the failure of Middle Eastern studies in America. He calls the departments dealing with this subject “factories of error.” He concludes that they have failed to explain any of the major developments in the Middle East.[152]

When asking which of the anti-Israeli actions on campus are specifically anti-Semitic, assessments should utilize the main contemporary working definition of anti-Semitism. The EUMC definition includes applying double standards to Israel by demanding behavior of it that is not expected of any other country.

The divestment promoters and boycott advocates indeed apply double standards to Israel. They demand behavior of it that is not required of the Palestinians or, for that matter, anybody else.

Those who have signed the divestment petitions against Israel at the American universities, and those who have called for the boycott of Israeli universities elsewhere such as some members of the academic teachers unions in the United Kingdom, fit the EUMC criteria of anti-Semitism.[153] Many Western universities thus employ significant numbers of anti-Semites according to the EUMC definition.

What Has Been Done against the Discriminatory Actions?

Within the framework of researching the academic boycott issue, also required is a more systematic analysis of the actions taken against the boycott. These come under a number of categories:

  • Efforts to assemble a list of signatories against the anti-Israeli measures.
  • Trying to use personal contacts to influence the universities where the enemies of Israel teach.
  • Convincing well-known personalities to condemn these academics. One example is the aforementioned speech by Laurence Summers, the then president of Harvard, who said that:

Where anti-Semitism and views that are profoundly anti-Israeli have traditionally been the primary preserve of poorly educated right-wing populists, profoundly anti-Israel views are increasingly finding support in progressive intellectual communities. Serious and thoughtful people are advocating and taking actions that are anti-Semitic in their effect if not their intent.[154]

Another example is an article titled “I’m Ashamed” in Le Monde attacking the boycott action at Paris 6, published at the beginning of 2003. The author was Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, a French Jewish Nobel Prize winner and former professor at that university. He said, among other things:

I’m ashamed of those colleagues who dare to express abhorrence about other colleagues because of their nationality. I’m ashamed of those colleagues who in the case of a painful conflict, where two people suffer cruelly and daily, choose to demonize one of the two parties rather than trying to bring them closer to each other.[155]

In summer 2003 twenty-four members of the European Council of Ben-Gurion University came out with a statement that the boycott “infringes the fundamental concept of academic freedom and restricts the flow of knowledge, which benefits all mankind.”[156] Among them were two Nobel Prize winners, David Trimble and Aron Klug. This statement mixed principled and utilitarian arguments: “The signatories from Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands note that Ben-Gurion University is at the cutting edge of research in desert studies, drylands agriculture, and water research-areas of critical importance to the Middle East and to much of the developing world.”[157]

  • Encouraging editors of scientific journals to condemn the boycott. The editors of the world’s leading general science magazines, Science[158] and Nature,[159] are examples of those who came out against the boycott. Donald Kennedy, editor in chief of Science, went even beyond this. On the occasion of the conference “Frontiers in Cardiovascular Science” held in Eilat in June 2002, he told the New York Times that he was heartened to hear about this conference in Israel: “the principle is very important. I don’t think academic boycotts do anyone any good.”[160]
  • Organize protest demonstrations.
  • Try to get academics to come to Israel to show their support for the country.
  • In private conversations, some Israeli scholars suggest that more cooperation should be initiated with Palestinian academics. This is hardly an effective approach. There are already a significant number of collaborations that could be mentioned in addition to those already known.

Methodological Analysis of Boycotts

Yet there are many more activities that can be undertaken. The subject of academic boycotts should also be analyzed more methodologically. One would expect human rights-oriented academics to focus their international boycott campaigns on those universities where teachers or student unions call for criminal acts. A rational, scientific approach would be to establish a list of institutions to boycott according to the severity of the criminal incitement on their campuses.

Heading the list should be those universities that employ teachers or admit students who call for genocide or mass murder. Next in line would be those where suicide bombing is encouraged. These would be followed by campuses where murders are promoted. Below these on the list would be universities that teach systematic discrimination and defamation.

Universities are often ranked according to scholarship. A more complete view of the academic world would also rank them according to crime incitement. Many institutions in the Muslim and Arab Middle East would place high on such a list.

Palestinian Examples

Many anti-Israeli boycotters cite Israeli attitudes toward Palestinians as the official reason for their campaigns. Analyzing crime incitement at Palestinian universities sheds light on the true motives of the boycotters.

One example of genocidal incitement by a Palestinian academic is a 2004 statement by Dr. Ahmed Abu Halabiyah, rector of advanced studies at the Islamic University of Gaza. He said:

The Jews are the Jews…. They do not have any moderates or any advocates of peace. They are all liars. They must be butchered and must be killed…. The Jews are like a spring-as long as you step on it with your foot it doesn’t move. But if you lift your foot from the spring, it hurts you and punishes you…. It is forbidden to have mercy in your hearts for the Jews in any place and in any land, make war on them anywhere that you find yourself. Any place that you meet them, kill them.[161]

Halabiyah made this statement on official Palestinian Authority TV as part of a Friday sermon. This genocidal call, then, issued from the governmental, academic, and religious spheres of the Palestinian Authority and its civil society.

A second example comes from Nablus’s Al-Najah University. An exhibition there in September 2001 included a reenactment of a Jerusalem suicide bombing. Associated Press reported:

Wearing a military uniform and a black mask, a Palestinian set off a fake explosion in a replica of the Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem, where a suicide bomber killed himself and 15 other people…. The exhibit at Al-Najah University in Nablus was put on by students who support the militant Islamic movement Hamas, which carried out the Jerusalem attack. Support for Hamas traditionally runs high at the university, which is a hotbed for Palestinian militants and has produced a number of suicide bombers…. In another part of the exhibit, visitors looked through dark windows to see mannequins dressed as suicide bombers. Each had Islam’s holy book, the Quran, in one hand, and an automatic rifle in the other. Real suicide bombers often assume this pose in videos they make before staging attacks.[162]

This university’s student union favors suicide attacks on Israeli civilians. Terrorist organizations have also held rallies on its campus that feature demonstrations of how suicide bombers murder Israelis and blow up Israeli passenger buses.[163]

A third example of a Palestinian university at which major crime incitement has taken place, is Birzeit University near Ramallah. At the end of 2003, elections were held for the student government council. The campaign featured models of exploding Israeli buses. In the debate, the Hamas candidate asked the Fatah candidate: “Hamas activists in this university killed 135 Zionists. How many did Fatah activists from Bir Zeit kill?” Needless to say, the “Zionists” are largely Israeli civilians.[164]

Israeli universities, for their part, score very low as far as incitement to crime is concerned. They do not employ academics or have student unions that promote genocide or murder. The fact that the anti-Israeli boycott campaigners do not boycott the crime-inciting Palestinian universities thus manifests strongly discriminatory behavior. Anti-Semitism among Palestinian Authority academics is discussed in more detail in a chapter by Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook.

Some may rate academic freedom so high as a value that they oppose boycotting even those institutions where the most hideous crimes are encouraged. From this point of view, boycotting Israeli universities or academics is also highly discriminatory. The onus is thus on the boycotters to prove that they are not racists.

Who Has Been Fighting the Boycott?

Another important issue for analysis is who are the major actors fighting the anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish discrimination. It is necessary to distinguish between bodies on and off campus. Jewish student organizations are often leaders of this battle. In France, UEJF has been particularly active; Hillel has been in the forefront on many campuses in the United States and Canada.

One rapidly growing grassroots organization on campus that was founded in 2002 to address the increasing number of anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic incidents in classrooms and on campus is Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME), which by now has become international. It plays a major role in the fight against the 2007 UCU boycott attempts. Its founder and president, Edward S. Beck, discusses its history and activities in a chapter below.

In the UK, the grassroots on-campus group Engage was launched in 2005 by AUT members Jon Pike and David Hirsh to combat the AUT boycott proposals. Well before that another British academic, Ronnie Fraser, had founded the Academic Friends of Israel.

Back in the United States, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation has funded an institutionalized initiative to support Israel’s cause, whose task force is chaired by Mitchell Bard. The Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC) is a network of over twenty-five national organizations, AIPAC and Hillel being the most active, that collaborate to promote education and advocacy regarding Israel on university campuses across the United States.

An off-campus organization such as AIPAC has provided many students with the tools and resources to reposition their university. In July 2006, AIPAC held a four-day leadership training seminar that focused on dealing with the campus in the aftermath of the Lebanon war. Three hundred Jewish and seventeen non-Jewish activists took part. AIPAC says it has trained four hundred non-Jewish activists in its programs “at schools as disparate as the Ivy Leagues, state schools, Christian institutions and traditional black colleges.”[165]

StandWithUs is a grassroots advocacy organization in the United States that was founded in 2001. As part of its activities, it provides support and assistance to pro-Israeli groups in communities and on campus. Its campus activities are described below in a chapter by Roz Rothstein.

Other Jewish defense and other organizations have also played a role. In Canada, B’nai B’rith Canada is among the active groups in the field.

Of a very different nature are the efforts to establish Israel studies at various campuses. This activity is at its beginning, and it will take many years to counterbalance the bias of Middle Eastern studies. Since part of the latter involves propaganda rather than academic inquiry whereas Israel studies aims to foster knowledge, the two have disparate goals.

University lecturers are a third category of defenders. Sometimes, however, they make mistakes in this discourse. Many reactions are apologetic or utilitarian rather than principled. It is asserted that one should not blame Israeli universities because many of their academics collaborate with Palestinians and oppose Israeli policy. This, however true, is irrelevant to the issue at stake, which is the racist attempt at a discriminatory boycott based on nationality or ethnicity.

Sometimes noncampus bodies have come out against the boycott. For instance, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is part of the World Health Organization, stated that it would become concerned if the shunning of work by Israeli academics continued.[166]

Actions by Israeli Academics

Israeli academics have tried to counteract the boycott in various ways. They too have often mixed principled, moral, utilitarian, and apologetic arguments. Basing oneself on academic freedom is a case of a principled argument. In an open protest letter, Israeli scholars Hillel Shuval, Eva Illouz, and Aaron Benavot of the Hebrew University criticized the boycott idea on several grounds:

  • Much of the domestic criticism of current Israeli policy comes from Israeli academic circles (an apologetic argument).
  • A boycott of Israel ignores ongoing attacks against Israeli citizens (a moral argument).
  • A boycott could damage continuing academic cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians (a utilitarian argument).
  • A unilateral boycott of Israeli academics unfairly identifies Israel as the only party responsible for the violent shift in Israeli-Palestinian relations, and such a one-sided perspective is contrary to academic standards of truth-seeking (a principled and moral argument).[167]

As already pointed out, when fighting the academic boycott such a confusion of principled, moral, utilitarian, and apologetic arguments occurs frequently.

Another set of reactions came from universities as institutions. In an earlier-mentioned example, the Hebrew University created a central address to deal with the academic boycott under the auspices of the then dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Nachman Ben-Yehuda. In another case, the Israeli Academy of Sciences and Humanities collected supportive letters from other national academies and international academic organizations.

The Israeli or pro-Israeli academics who initially argued against the boycotters were professionals in their scholarly fields. As advocates of a cause they were largely amateurs, and few stressed principles or accused the accusers.

Top lawyers handle these matters better, and when sued they can more easily handle the costs. In his book The Case for Israel, Alan Dershowitz wrote succinctly: “Any moral person who is aware of the true facts would not sign a petition singling out Israel for divestiture. Those who signed it are either misinformed or malignant. There is no third alternative.”[168]

When he spoke at Columbia University in February 2005, Dershowitz asserted: “This is the most unbalanced university that I have come across when it comes to all sides of the Middle East conflict being presented…. I have never seen a university with as much faculty silence.” Dershowitz announced that if the investigatory committee (see below) published a biased report, he would help organize an independent committee that would include Nobel Prize winners.[169]

Dershowitz was also very active in the fight against the 2007 UCU boycott campaign. He announced that he would sue UK universities and British academics who supported the boycott, using a variety of legislational tactics.[170]

Occasionally an individual, in this particular case unknown, has a brainwave on how to pierce an anti-Israeli or anti-Jewish action with little effort. In July 2006, over a thousand professors signed a petition on American college campuses to condemn Israel’s “aggression against Lebanon and Gaza.” One person signed the petition, which was further circulated, with the name “Mr H. Nasrallah, Joseph Goebbels Chair in Communications, Duke.”[171]

An Indication of the Future

In the boycott debate, the issue of academic freedom has been discussed in various ways. This is only one of the fundamental matters concerning the academic world that the boycott issue touches upon.

The concept of academic objectivity has always been a utopian one. The Western academic world supposedly operates according to certain rules. It officially fosters the utopian image that the best academics get promoted the fastest and the worthiest articles are published in the best journals. However, Allan Bloom, for instance, exposed the political character of many academic decisions in his book The Closing of the American Mind.[172]

As so often, Israel and the Jews are on this matter as well an indicator of a society’s failings. In his chapter below, Martin Kramer asserts that the tragedy of the academy is that it has become home to countless people whose mission is to prove the lie that Zionism is colonialism. He adds that research is undertaken, books written, and lectures delivered to establish an academic falsehood.

In a lengthy article on the academic boycott of Israel, The Guardian referred to a discussion that is indicative of how the boycotters of Israel could have launched a much wider destructive process in the academic world.

The article quoted a correspondence in June 2002 between Prof. Patrick Bateson and Harry Gee. The former, a professor of animal behavior and provost of King’s College, Cambridge, signed the boycott letter initiated by Steven and Hilary Rose. Gee is a senior editor at the leading science magazine Nature. In the correspondence between the two, Gee wrote that he objected as a Jew” to the academic boycott.

He said that while he would not boycott scientific articles submitted to the journal by Bateson and his colleagues, “I would get much less pleasure in reading them…knowing what I do of your attitudes…. “ Gee also stated that in view of this, he would not be inclined to visit Cambridge.[173] (Thereafter it turned out The Guardian had been quoting the correspondence without Gee’s permission.)[174]

This correspondence indicates that the fragile construct of academic objectivity could have been damaged much further if the anti-Israeli boycotters had made more of an impact. If journals start to accept articles according to authors’ political views, academic quality takes a beating. This is not just because academic rules are transgressed but also because of inevitable reactions against the journals by others who, unlike Gee, would have concealed these reactions.

Politicization of Universities

Boycott actions against Israel blatantly break many academic rules. Their supporters explicitly promote the politicization of universities. Several academics have told this author privately that if they can damage the career of a boycotter of Israel they will not hesitate to do so, as people who have introduced racism into academia do not merit equal treatment.

In a debate on CNN, Silvain Capell of New York University asked: “So what are we going to have? Are we going to have that you’re going to boycott Israeli universities, and the next fellow is going to boycott Arab ones…and Hindus will be boycotting Muslims and Muslims Hindus, because of their conflicts?”[175]

If the boycott actions against Israel were to succeed, counteractions would ensue and once these multiplied the present academic system would be harmed. The boycotters thus have become the enemies of the academic community at large.

This became particularly clear when in August 2007 a full-page ad, sponsored by the American Jewish Committee, was published in the New York Times. In it close to three hundred American university and college presidents stated that they would not work with institutions that were boycotting Israeli academics. The ad said: “Boycott Israeli Universities? Boycott Ours, Too.”[176]

Boycotts Inspire Counterboycotts

Tens of thousands of academics worldwide have come out publicly against the boycott of Israel. Only a limited number would publicly have to take discriminatory positions against boycotters and their allies to create a substantial disturbance of academic life. In some fields where the anti-Israeli forces are strong worldwide, such as Middle Eastern studies or linguistics, pro-Israelis might encounter difficulties. This is especially so because in these fields, anti-Israelis are supported by opportunists who want to increase their promotion chances by being fellow travelers. In other areas such as psychoanalysis or medicine, the anti-Israelis would be handicapped.

Unless the boycotted are exceptionally weak, each boycott will provoke a counterboycott. The Israeli academic world with its several Nobel Prize winners and many top scholars is rather strong. From a cycle of boycotts of Israeli academics and counterboycotts, the university world at large can only lose.

Allowing boycotts would further harm the cause of academic freedom at a time when there are already several reasons to limit it. Its abuse by academic ideologues and propagandists is a major argument against the prevailing near-absolute academic freedom. At present, academics can say what they want, it is difficult to fire tenured teachers, and there is no government interference in university affairs.

Yet there are a good many in academia who promote hate, bias, or manifest lies rather than seeking to advance knowledge. Responsibility is a precondition for academic freedom, but there are now many cases where it is lacking.

The academic world has been aiming at self-governance and trying to minimize outside interference. The many distortions in the academic and administrative fields raise doubt as to whether universities are capable of reforming themselves. Boycott campaigns add another strong argument for external intervention in the academic world. As noted, the British 2002 anti-Israeli boycott campaign and French imitations of it led already to many condemnations by politicians. There were similar reactions as well to the various boycott resolutions of the UK academic trade unions.

The UK All-Parliamentary Inquiry into Anti-Semitism

A more detailed political assessment of campus attitudes toward Jews and Israel appeared in September 2006 when the issue of anti-Semitism on British campuses was addressed in the “Report of the All-Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism.” The report mentioned that whereas extreme right-wing propaganda is often suppressed on campuses, left-wing or pro-Palestinian discourse on the Middle East is manipulated in anti-Semitic ways and often not dealt with by the university authorities. As a result, on British campuses “Jewish students can find themselves isolated and unsupported, or in conflict with large groups of their fellow students.”

The report also noted that “a number of university campuses are being used as recruiting grounds by extremist groups which have a history of anti-Semitic rhetoric and behaviour.”

The document concluded that “calls to boycott contact with academics working in Israel are an assault on academic freedom and intellectual exchange. We recommend that lecturers in the new University and College Lecturers Union are given every support to combat such selective boycotts that are anti-Jewish in practice.”

The parliamentarians also criticized the responses of heads of universities-called Vice Chancellors in Britain-as inadequate. The report stated:

We recommend that Vice Chancellors take an active interest in combating acts, speeches, literature and events that cause anxiety or alarm amongst their Jewish students. We recommend that Vice Chancellors set up a working party to make clear that British universities will be free of any expression of racism, and take robust action against anti-Semitism on campus.[177]

Damaging Columbia’s Image

How effective even small outsider groups can be in damaging the image of major academic institutions was demonstrated at Columbia University in a matter concerning discrimination against Jews with pro-Israel views. The administrations reactions were weak at best about the intimidation over several years of pro-Israeli students by teachers in its MEALAC Department.[178]

Finally a small nonacademic grassroots group, the David Project, documented some of the abuses in a film called Columbia Unbecoming. Its revelations generated major negative publicity for Columbia and forced its administration to undertake an internal inquiry. While the investigators did not address several other crucial issues, they admitted that the grievance procedure was faulty. The Columbia affair also frightened other university administrations that somebody might “do a Columbia on them,” as several academics put it to this author.

The David Project has shown that a university’s misdeeds can be effectively exposed by a small outside actor without major financial resources. Because of this precedent, it now suffices at other universities to collect testimonies on a teacher’s misbehavior with a tape recorder. These can then be publicly exposed with an investment of a few dollars.

Another conclusion to be drawn from the success of the David Project’s exposure of Columbia is that if it had been undertaken by a more powerful group, the university would have been in much greater trouble. Other universities should take this into account when failing to act against misbehavior on their campus.

Had the Columbia inquiry not produced at least some minor results, the next step would probably have been outside pressure on major donors to stop supporting the school. This is yet another aspect of how the seemingly closed academic world can be dented by outsiders. In his chapter below, Noah Liben analyzes the Columbia report and concludes that it raises much larger questions than it answers.

5. Case Studies

A few early case studies illustrate that the academic boycott can be fought successfully. In the 7 June 2002 issue of Science-the leading general-interest magazine in the scientific field-an editorial criticized a scholar who published her research results in two medical journals and subsequently refused for political reasons to supply cell lines and other genetic materials from her laboratory to other scholars who wished to pursue this line of research.

The editor, Donald Kennedy, wrote that the consensus is that authors are “obliged to share material…with readers who request [it] unless such transfers are prohibited by laws or regulations, such as those designed to deter bio-terrorism.” The editorial also said the journal would take an active policy against authors who refused to comply. It would first try to persuade them and then, if necessary, impose penalties on future publications.[179]

Kennedy wrote that the scientist, who had refused to supply a clone to an Israeli colleague, had a double rationale. The first was that “the government of Israel had committed a morally repugnant act.” The second was that “this justifies the cancellation of an obligation to the entire scientific community.” Kennedy considered the first issue to be irrelevant because the second “was so unimpressive.” He strongly rejected the view that “one’s personal political convictions trump all other commitments and values.”

Kennedy also condemned the behavior of the two journals that had published the original papers of the scientist who had refused to give the material to the Israeli scientist. He mentioned that the Israeli scientist had contacted the editors of both journals. Kennedy concluded: “One didn’t reply; the other contacted the publisher [of the journals], Ken Plaxton at Elsevier. Plaxton replied: ‘We do not have, nor wish to have, any influence on personal decisions made by contributors to our journals and cannot, I am afraid, in this instance help you further.'” Kennedy wrote: “That, it seems to us, is an inadequate response.”

Science mentioned in passing that the case was particularly ironic because the research group in Israel had collaborated with Palestinian scientists in a project beneficial to the Palestinians. This, though, was not a consideration at all in Kennedy’s judgment.[180]

Science‘s Position against the Boycott

Kennedy’ strong position was important for several reasons:

  • He blamed the behavior of boycotters of Israeli academics, without giving them any ethical credit.
  • He warned potential contributors to Science who might behave similarly that if they persisted, Science would discriminate against their future publications.
  • Science defended a matter of principle and considered the apologetic element of the Israeli scientist’s collaboration with Palestinian scientists as irrelevant.
  • Science disapproved of the behavior of the two journals in which the original article appeared.

The original request for the material was made by Evelyne Zeira, a scientist at the Goldyne Savad Institute of Gene Therapy at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem. She needed it to develop treatments for Palestinian victims of the blood disorder thalassemia.[181]

The scientist who refused the request for the clone was Dr. Ingrid Harbitz of Oslo University. In an email on 22 April 2002, she wrote:

I have received your email requesting the porcine EPO cDNA clone. My department has given away clones several times, however, due to the present situation in the Middle East I will not deliver any material to an Israelitic [sic] university. My institution, as well as most universities in Norway, have recently sent protests against the Israelitic military action on the West bank to the Embassy of Israel in Norway and to the Department of Foreign Affairs. In addition, our main university, the University of Oslo, has protested against the closing of all Palestinean universities that they collaborate with. On this background I find it impossible for me to deliver any material to an Israelitic [sic] university.[182]

When he heard about this, an Israeli scientist at the Hebrew University School of Medicine in Jerusalem wrote to a colleague at the medical faculty of the University of Oslo. The latter asked his permission to write on the matter to the rector of the University of Oslo, Prof. Arild Underdal.

In his letter to the rector the Norwegian scientist wrote, among other things:

Ingrid Harbitz has in this matter made a personal political judgement in a very complicated and sensitive political situation. According to my opinion Norwegian scientists presently and in the future might play an important role in mediating contacts on different levels between the two parties in the conflict. It is therefore unfortunate indeed that a scientist qua a scientist employed by the University of Oslo not only takes a clear stand against one of the parties but also breaks international rules for scientific cooperation. Ingrid Harbitz’ letter might also contribute to damage the reputation in Israel of the University of Oslo. Please remember that many of our Israeli colleagues actively have been involved in the peace process at many levels during the past year. I know for instance that Dr. … who brought this issue to my attention as well as many of his Israeli colleagues during the years actively have worked to promote the health of Palestinian children. For instance Palestinian children have many times been transported to hospitals in Israel for optimal care. I myself have together with Israeli and Palestinian colleagues take [sic] part in the planning of joint Palestinian-Israeli projects with the aim of improving the general health condition for Palestinian children.[183]

The scientist also asserted that the Israeli scientist deserved an apology from Harbitz for her letter refusing the clone.

Harbitz eventually changed her mind and made the clone available to the Israeli scientist. The rector of Oslo University replied to the letter, saying there was no reason to boycott Israeli scientists. Apparently parts of the story were reported in a Norwegian newspaper as well as on a Norwegian website (

Eithan Galun, head of the Goldyne Savad Institute, said there was “something racist and prejudicial in the fact that the Norwegian institute simply applied a blanket standard.”[184] He expressed particular annoyance because the project involved Palestinian children and a colleague in Ramallah.

Analysis of the Harbitz Case

A number of conclusions can be drawn from this case:

  • Because of the many international contacts of Israeli and pro-Israeli Jewish academics, interventions at specific universities or journals can be made on a case-by-case basis.
  • Non-Jewish scholars can also be found to intervene in such matters. The editor of Science is one example; the Norwegian academic who wrote to the rector of Oslo University is another.

Science‘s editorial could have been widely distributed in the academic community by Jewish organizations and much better utilized in the battle against anti-Israeli boycotters.

  • Most important, though, is that this battle must be fought on matters of principle as the editor of Science did, and not by using apologetic arguments. For the issue at stake here, the collaboration of an Israeli scientist with a Palestinian one is irrelevant. The basic issue is that the refusal to supply the clone was in itself is unethical and racist.

Exposing Norway and Its Academics

Had Harbitz not finally sent the material and had there been more such cases, this could have led to counterreactions, far from limited to the perpetrator. To mention just one: sooner or later an Israeli or pro-Israeli organization would have established a list of case studies of boycotts or discriminations against Israeli academics. This would be accompanied by a blacklist of the perpetrators and the universities where these cases had occurred.

Those prepared to act strongly against the boycott of Israel would consult this list. They would no longer invite Norwegian academics to any conferences unless they had publicly condemned Harbitz. Whenever they received requests from a Norwegian academic for reprints of their work or any other assistance, they would inform the counterpart that as long as Oslo University did not fire the offending scientist no help of any kind could be provided to Norwegian academics. Nor could articles by Norwegian academics be published in certain journals. This attitude would be motivated by the lack of outcry by the Norwegian scholars about the discrimination against other academics by one of their colleagues.

It would not be long before a further argument would be introduced: the vile anti-Semitism that has profoundly permeated parts of the Norwegian elite. Letters to Norwegian academics could be accompanied by copies of some of the many anti-Semitic cartoons in leading Norwegian papers, which are comparable to classic Nazi ones.[185] The more information became available about the country, the more it would become known that its World War II past is much darker than generally acknowledged. The Norwegian government would soon become aware that not only Norwegian academia but also the country has a problem.

This, though, would only be the beginning of anti-Norwegian activism. Jewish activist organizations could obtain a list of the email addresses of all laboratory colleagues of the offender and start to write to them about their inaction and thus complicity in the boycott. Norway is a particularly good target for two reasons. First, many current and past anti-Semitic attitudes are well represented there. Second, not being a member of the European Union, the country has less defensive capacity than other West European countries.

The Fonagy Case

Prof. Peter Fonagy of University College, London (UCL), was among the Jewish signatories of the initial boycott letter published in The Guardian. An Israeli scientist from the University of Haifa, who knew Fonagy, wrote and asked him to convey the content of his reaction to all the other signatories as he did not have their email addresses.

The Israeli wrote that the petition calling for a moratorium on cultural and research links with Israel was one-sided; in times of war one needed to hear all sides. Silencing academic discourse was a violation of what academics and universities stand for. He also asked Fonagy: “Will you also protest and take concerted action against Palestinian terror deliberately aimed at innocent Israeli civilians?” The letter’s main shortcoming was the moral equivalence it created between Israel and the Palestinians. It was written out of an apologetic mindset.

Shmuel Erlich, president of the Israel Psychoanalytic Society, also wrote to Fonagy. He mentioned that besides writing to him because of their personal ties, he was also writing as president of the Israel Psychoanalytic Society. The letter said: “The petition is totally unbalanced, one-sided, and unfair in its allocation of guilt and responsibility. No such petition was addressed to the Palestinian academia, while innocent Israeli children, men, and women were indiscriminately butchered, and people are afraid to walk the streets or gather.”

Erlich’s letter contains a mix of principled and apologetic elements. The principled ones emphasize the one-sidedness of Fonagy’s approach. The apologetic ones include a statement-which remains to be proved-that the boycott attacks a segment of the community that is for the most part opposed to the government’s policy and has many contacts and cooperations with Palestinians.

One wonders whether the author was implying that the boycott would be justified if most Israeli academics supported the government’s policy, or if they did not wish to collaborate with Palestinians since, according to many opinion polls, most Palestinians support suicide attacks.

Fonagy Retracts

In his response, Fonagy stated that he had been under personal stress and was not thinking clearly when he signed the call for the boycott. He admitted that his signing had been a mistake. Fonagy indeed withdrew his signature from the petition, apologized to his colleagues, and asked their forgiveness.[186]

This exchange of letters had a number of follow-ups. The correspondence between Erlich and Fonagy was, with the agreement of both, posted on the website of the American Psychoanalytic Association and thus came into the public domain.[187] Fonagy also added his name to the list of signatories on the Hebrew University website opposing a European blocking of academic grants to Israel.[188]

What is not publicly known is that before this correspondence took place, an Israeli academic was invited to lecture in memory of a deceased colleague at a major American university, and refused to participate if Fonagy was also going to be invited. This refusal also played a role in the latter’s retraction. Fonagy’s participation in this memorial service also became problematic for the host university, and this was only resolved after Fonagy’s retraction of his support for the boycott.

However critical one may be of the apologetic elements of the Israeli academics’ letters, the clear loser in this case was Fonagy, who admitted his poor judgment in signing the anti-Israeli statement. From an accuser he became the accused.

The Harbitz and Fonagy cases show that argumentation can persuade and pressure scientists who are not hard-core anti-Israeli extremists. This can be done either publicly or privately, or both.

The Wilkie Case

The third and most publicized case concerns Andrew Wilkie, Nuffield Professor of Pathology at the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine,

Oxford University. An Israeli student, Amit Duvshani, contacted him to request a research position in his lab. In an email dated 23 June 2003, Wilkie replied:

Thank you for contacting me, but I don’t think this would work. I have a huge problem with the way that the Israelis take the moral high ground from their appalling treatment in the Holocaust, and then inflict gross human rights abuses on the Palestinians because the Palestinians wish to live in their own country.

I am sure that you are perfectly nice at a personal level, but no way would I take on somebody who had served in the Israeli army. As you may be aware, I am not the only UK scientist with these views but I’m sure you will find another suitable lab if you look around.

Duvshani sent Wilkie’s email to, among others, Nathan Dascal, a professor of medicine at Tel Aviv University who is active in fighting the boycott. After reading it, he sent the information to Andrew Marks at Columbia University, head of the abovementioned International Academic Friends of Israel, whereupon Marks circulated an email to his contacts worldwide seeking another position for Duvshani.[189]

Wilkie Condemned

The story was picked up in the UK through two different channels. A Jewish organization mobilized a number of prominent Jewish academics at Oxford who started pressurizing the university to act against Wilkie. Unrelated to this Ronnie Fraser contacted the Sunday Telegraph on 26 June.[190]

The paper approached Oxford University the next day. The university reacted swiftly. That same evening (Friday)-not a time when university administrations are usually very diligent-it published a press release condemning Wilkie’s conduct and announcing an investigation into the matter. It said:

Our staff may hold strongly felt personal opinions. Freedom of expression is a fundamental tenet of University life, but under no circumstances are we prepared to accept or condone conduct that appears to, or does, discriminate against anyone on grounds of ethnicity or nationality, whether directly or indirectly. This candidate is entitled to submit an application and to have it dealt with fairly according to our normal criteria.

Professor Wilkie has issued a personal apology regarding remarks he made by email to an applicant for a research degree at Oxford. An immediate and thorough investigation of this matter is now being carried out in accordance with the University’s procedures and a report will be presented to the Vice-Chancellor next week.[191]

This press communication was accompanied by a personal apology from Wilkie that said: “I recognise and apologise for any distress caused by my email of 23 June and the wholly inappropriate expression of my personal opinions in that document. I was not speaking on behalf of Oxford University or any of its constituent parts. I entirely accept the University of Oxford’s Equal Opportunities and Race Equality policies.”[192]

Careful reading of Wilkie’s statement indicates that he only apologized for what he wrote, rather than retracting his offensive views. His discriminatory remarks to Duvshani may well have violated the statutory obligations of the Oxford University Equal Opportunities Policy and Code of Practice.[193]

Wilkie Referred to a Disciplinary Panel

On 4 July, Oxford University stated in another press release that it had referred the Wilkie case to the university’s disciplinary panel for academic staff.[194]

The press release said, among other things:

The University of Oxford is appalled that any member of its staff should have responded to an inquiry from a potential graduate student in the terms in which Professor Wilkie emailed Amit Duvshani on 23 June…. While the matter is under consideration by the Board, Professor Wilkie will not be taking part in the selection of any members of staff or students.[195]

On 7 July 2003, the Oxford University Students Union (OUSO) also came out in favor of Duvshani and against Wilkie. Furthermore, Chris Griffin, vice-president (graduates) of OUSO said: “It is right and proper that admission to Oxford University be based solely on academic potential, and never on nationality, ethnicity, or religion. It is unacceptable for a member of academic staff to deter a student from applying by expressing such prejudiced views.”[196]

From Accuser to Accused

Within four days, by the end of June, Wilkie had been turned from a false preacher of ethics accusing Israel into an individual condemned by his university who was under investigation and accused of racial discrimination. The story was subsequently told in the New York Times, English dailies, the Sidney Morning Herald, Israeli papers, and other media throughout the world.

In October 2003, Oxford University suspended Wilkie for two months without pay, the most serious penalty short of dismissal that the institution could impose. He also had to take equal opportunity training.[197]

More by chance than policy, certain elements came together in the Wilkie case: an informal, ad hoc network of Jewish activists mobilized non-Jewish allies. Although in other cases official Israeli representatives and universities as well as Jewish organizations have intervened, in this one the action was entirely private.

Several major conclusions can be drawn from the Wilkie case. Through it, Israel and its allies have stumbled on a paradigm for attacking the boycotters. Its major lesson is: take on the boycotters one by one and expose them as racists who discriminate against people because of their country of origin. As many organizations as possible should take part in the effort. The approach that turned Prof. Wilkie within a few days from accuser to accused can be emulated and refined in similar future cases.

6. Conclusion

Strategically speaking, though not as extreme as terrorists, Israel boycotters and many other anti-Israeli forces are highly pernicious. Regarding policy, what Alan Dershowitz said about terrorists is equally valid for boycotters: “The first and most important macro step is eliminating all possible incentives for terrorism by enforcing the principle that terrorists must never be permitted to benefit from it.”[198]

As of 2002, there were few early warning signs of the academic boycott attempts against Israel and other campus discrimination acts, nor of how rapidly they would develop in various Western countries. This indicates that Israel and Diaspora Jewry need first of all an increased capability to foresee problems or, at least, ways of dealing quickly with emerging unforeseen ones.

More than five years have passed since the open letter initiated by the Roses was published in The Guardian. One can only wonder why academic institutions, the Israeli government, or Jewish defense organizations have subsequently not systematically studied the academic boycott issue, other campus discrimination issues, and how to prepare against their future development.

The problem is complex, and much more research is required. This includes an analysis and improved understanding of the methodology of Israel’s adversaries. It has to be accompanied by the development of case studies of both successful and failed ways to deal with the discriminatory actions. Otherwise, as in the past, those involved in the battle against various attacks on campuses will continue to reinvent slowly what is already known elsewhere.

Research for this essay discovered several cases of academic anti-Israeli discrimination that were unknown to the authorities of the Israeli university to which the academics belonged. Those under attack must pool resources and start monitoring events more efficiently on an ongoing basis.

How to Organize?

It will be difficult to confront the boycott effectively without a central address that follows developments worldwide. A division of roles between the Israeli government, Diaspora organizations, academic institutions, and private activists may yield the best results. Access to a network of experts in various fields including law, psychology, and public relations can make this approach work even better. Furthermore, it is important to stress that principled arguments should be used against the boycott rather than apologetic or utilitarian ones.

The public dissemination of positive case stories of fighting the boycott will help defeat supporters of boycott and other discriminatory actions against Israel. It would be worth involving the Jewish defense organizations in this dissemination process.

It should also be investigated how to involve Israel’s friends-both Jewish and non-Jewish-in taking positive action. This has several aspects. The initiative pioneered by IAFI of organizing international conferences in Israel is only one example of this strategy.[199] Boycott and other discriminatory actions can potentially be turned into more of an opportunity for Israel than a threat. That requires much more thought and effort than have been invested so far.

Israel and Jews should also become more proactive rather than only being on the defensive. The more extreme boycotters should be systematically exposed as racists who discriminate against scholars on the basis of their nationality or ethnicity.

Future Developments

One can only speculate about future developments concerning campus- related discriminatory actions against Israel. A variety of campuses employ hardcore enemies of Israel who will constantly seek new opportunities to discriminate against Israel and pro-Israelis.

If the battle against Israel heats up, actions against boycotters will also have to become more aggressive. One step could be setting up a network of academics who are willing to counteract academic boycotts-for instance, by severing relations with the universities and scholars who have called for a boycott. The statement made by hundreds of American university presidents against the 2007 UCU boycott shows that that may happen.

Another might be establishing a list of self-declared enemies of the Jewish people to enable taking action against them at a future date. The names of some of the most notorious have by now been widely publicized.

Presumably, if discrimination attempts against Israel are confronted more effectively, more boycotters will start to act surreptitiously. For instance, had he been aware of the consequences of his email reply to Duvshani, Wilkie could have ignored the application or lied about the reasons for his refusal. If concealed boycotting increases, more sophisticated modes of response will need to be developed.

Yet another possible development is a dramatic increase in violence against Jews and Israelis on certain campuses. The details of this scenario cannot be foreseen. One possible consequence might be the withdrawal of many from certain campuses where the only remaining Jews will be those with a substantial measure of Jewish self-hatred.

Whatever happens in the Middle East, many of the phenomena described above will be with us for a long time to come. Furthermore, the academic boycott attempts and other discriminatory actions against Israel are likely to be precursors of a long-lasting general reassessment of issues such as free speech, academic freedom, uncontrolled campus extremism including incitement to violence, university autonomy, the politicization of science, and the discrepancy in norms between academia and society at large.

The anti-Israeli boycott and divestment promotion campaigns prove that in many universities, academic freedom is abused as an astute device to protect misbehavior. This is one among many reasons why what happens on campuses should be subject to much more external scrutiny.

For instance, campus monitors should be encouraged. One group, Campus Watch, is a project of the Middle East Forum and critiques Middle East studies in North America. It attempts to address five specific types of problems: analytical failures, mixing politics and scholarship, intolerance of alternative views, apologetics, and the abuse of power over students.

A frequent Pavlovian response from the university world is to call such monitoring McCarthyism. That should be exposed for what it is: an attempt to stifle a normal kind of criticism that exists in all other sectors of civil society. Campus monitors have nothing in common with McCarthyism. The latter took place in a government framework that had the possibility to impose penalties. It is telling that those who claim academic freedom of speech for themselves try with such arguments to limit the freedom of those who comment on their behavior.

The attitude toward Jews and Israel is furthermore a strong indicator of the need for a major reform of the academic world in many areas. Although forces within the academic world can help to achieve this, it will also require substantial pressure from outside sources.

*     *     *


[1] Manfred Gerstenfeld, “The Twenty-First-Century Total War against Israel and the Jews, Part One,” Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism, No. 38, 1 November 2005; “Part Two,” Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism, No. 39, 1 December 2005.


[3] Anti-Defamation League,

[4] Aaron Sarna, Boycott and Blacklist: A History of Arab Economic Warfare against Israel (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1986), 16.

[5] Ibid, 21.

[6] Donald L. Losman, International Economic Sanctions: The Cases of Cuba, Israel and Rhodesia (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1979), 1.

[7] Ibid, 94.

[8] Jonny Paul, “The Emergence of a Silent Academic Boycott of Israel,” EJPress, 28 May 2006.

[9] Sarna, Boycott and Blacklist, xiii.

[10] Ibid.

[11] American Jewish Historical Society,

[12] United States Holocaust Memorial Museum,

[13] Dan S. Chill, The Arab Boycott of Israel: Economic Aggression and World Reaction (New York: Praeger, 1976), 1.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Anti-Defamation League,

[16] Joseph Marcus, Social and Political History of the Jews in Poland, 1919-1939 (Berlin: Mouton, 1981), 425.

[17] Avi Beker, The Plunder of Jewish Property during the Holocaust: Confronting European History (Houndmills: Palgrave, 2001).

[18] Sharon Sadeh, “Dialogue Needed, before We Turn into a Leper State,” Haaretz, 21 August 2002.

[19] Manfred Gerstenfeld, Europe’s Crumbling Myths: The Post-Holocaust Origins of Today’s Anti-Semitism (Jerusalem: JCPA, Yad Vashem, World Jewish Congress, 2003).

[20] Manfred Gerstenfeld, “Anti-Semitic Motifs in Anti-Israelism,” Post-Holocaust and anti-Semitism, No. 2, 1 November 2002.

[21] Institute of the World Jewish Congress, “The Architecture of Bigotry,” Policy Dispatch No. 80, June 2002.

[22] Lawrence H. Summers, “Address at Morning Prayers,”, 17 September 2002.

[23] “Ferry part à la chasse aux ‘sales feujs’ et aux ‘bougnoules’ à l’école,” Libération, 27 February 2003 [French]. See also Marc Perelman, “French Minister Unveils Plan to Fight Antisemitism,” Forward, 7 March 2003.

[24] Michael Whine, “Progress in the Struggle against Anti-Semitism in Europe: The Berlin Declaration and the European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia’s Working Definition of Anti-Semitism,” Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism, No. 41, 1 February 2006.

[25] Manfred Gerstenfeld, “The Deep Roots of Anti-Semitism in European Society,” Jewish Political Studies Review, Vol. 17, Nos. 1-2 (Spring 2005), 3-46.

[26] Daniel Perdurant, “Anti-Semitism in Contemporary Greek Society,” Analysis of Current Trends in Anti-Semitism, No. 7, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1995, 10.

[27] Per Ahlmark, “Palme’s Legacy 15 Years On,” Project Syndicate, February 2001.

[28] Charlotte Edwardes, “Fury as Academics Are Sacked for Being Israeli,” Daily Telegraph, 7 July 2002.

[29] David Harrison, “Professor’s Anti-Israeli Tirade Revives Sacked Academics Row,” Daily Telegraph, 29 September 2002.

[30] Ibid.

[31] Rod Liddle, “Watch Who You Call Nazis,” The Guardian, 17 July 2002.

[32] Jonathan Kay, “Hating Israel Is Part of Campus Culture,” National Post, 25 September 2002.

[33] Oliver Burkeman, “Harvard Overturns Bar on Oxford Poet,” The Guardian, 21 November 2002.

[34] Tom Gross, “Welcome Voice?”, National Review Online, 12 November  2002.

[35] Leslie Scrivener, “Sharp Increase Seen in Anti-Semitic Hate,” Toronto Star, 7 March 2003.

[36] Gordon W. Allport, The Nature of Prejudice (New York: Doubleday, 1958), 147.

[37] Abigail Radoszkowicz, “An Ancient Evil Stirs,” Jerusalem Post Magazine, 17 January 2003.

[38] Manfred Gerstenfeld, “Jews against Israel,” Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism, No. 30, 1 March 2005.

[39] Kenneth Levin, “The Psychology of Populations under Chronic Siege,” Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism, No. 46, 2 July 2006. For an in-depth study, see Kenneth Levin, The Oslo Syndrome (Hanover NH: Smith & Kraus Global, 2005.)

[40] Edward Alexander and Paul Bogdanor, eds., The Jewish Divide over Israel: Accusers and Defenders (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2006).

[41] Ofira Seliktar, “‘Tenured Radicals’ in Israel: From New Zionism to Political Activism,” Israel Affairs, Vol. 11, No. 4 (October 2005), 717-36.


[43] Patrick Lawnham, “Academics Split on Israel Sanctions,” The Australian, 22 May 2002.

[44] See essay by Ruth Contreras in this book.

[45] Brendan Boyle, “Boycott Israel, Says Jewish Minister,” Dawn International, 25 April 2002.

[46] Amir Mizroch, “S. African Jewish Paper Causes Storm,” Jerusalem Post, 22 November 2006.

[47] Amir Mizroch, “SA’s Kasrils: Hamas abjures violence,” Jerusalem Post, 13 May 2007.

[48] Institute of the World Jewish Congress, “The Revival of the Arab Boycott-Round Two,” Policy Dispatch No. 59.

[49] Tanya Reinhart,, 17 May 2002.

[50] Manfred Gerstenfeld, The Autumn 2005 Riots in France: Their Possible Impact on Israel and the Jews (Jerusalem: JCPA, 2006).

[51] Yair Sheleg, “Enemies, a Post-National Story,” Haaretz, 7 March 2003.

[52] Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Andrei S. Markovits, “European Anti-Americanism and Anti-Semitism: Similarities and Differences,” Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism, No. 16, 1 January 2004.

[53] Gerstenfeld, “Twenty-First-Century Total War” (Part One).

[54] Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Shimon T. Samuels, “Anti-Semitism and Jewish Defense at the United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development, 2002, Johannesburg, South Africa,” Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism, No. 6, 2 March 2003.

[55] Wolfgang Kraushaar, Die Bombe im Jüdischen Gemeindehaus (Hamburg: Hamburger Edition HIS), 2005, 86-104. [German]

[56] Gerd Langguth, “Anti-Israel Extremism in West Germany,” in Robert S. Wistrich, ed., The Left against Zion: Communism, Israel and the Middle East (London: Vallentine Mitchell, 1979), 257.

[57] Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Deborah Lipstadt, “Denial of the Holocaust and Immoral Equivalence,” Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism, No. 11, 1 August 2003.

[58] Henry Rousso, Le dossier Lyon III (Paris: Fayard, 2004), 100. [French]

[59] Stefan Braun, “Second-Class Citizens: Jews, Freedom of Speech, and Intolerance on Canadian University Campuses,” Washington and Lee Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice, Vol. 12, No. 2 (Spring 2006), 25-26.

[60], “Protest against Call for European Boycott of Academic and Cultural Ties with Israel,” The Guardian, Original Press Release, 6 April 2002.

[61] Ibid.

[62] Andrea Levin, “Headlines Cover for Palestinian Violence,” Jerusalem Post, 17 March 2003.

[63] Andrew Beckett, “It’s Water on Stone-in the End Stone Wears Out,” The Guardian, 12 December 2002.

[64] Ori Golan, “A Conscientious Objector,” Jerusalem Post Magazine, 17 January 2003.

[65] Press Release, EU Commission, “EU Commissioner for Research Philippe Busquin Replies to Call for Boycott on Scientific and Cultural Relations with Israel,” No. D/0050/02 PR4/02, 25 April 2002.

[66] Press Release, New York Academy of Sciences, “NY Academy of Sciences Committee on Human Rights Opposes Proposed ‘Moratorium’ on Research Grants to Israel,” 3 May 2002.

[67] John D. A. Levy, “The Academic Boycott and Antisemitism,” in Paul Iganski and Barry Kosmin, eds., A New Antisemitism? Debating Judeophobia in 21st-Century Britain (London: Profile Books, 2002), p. 254.

[68] “More Splits over the Academic Boycott of Israel,” The Guardian, 17 July 2002.

[69] Levy, “Academic Boycott and Antisemitism,” 254-55.

[70] Edwardes, “Fury as Academics Are Sacked.”

[71] Eric J. Greenberg, “A Friend for Israeli Academics,” Jewish Week, 25 April 2002.

[72] Geoffrey Alderman, “The Gesture Politics of an Israel Boycott,” The Guardian, 22 July 2002.

[73] Liddle, “Watch Who You Call Nazis.”

[74] Staff and agencies, “Morris Condemns Israeli Sacking,” The Guardian, 11 July 2002.

[75] Polly Curtis, “UMIST Professor Escapes Disciplinary Action,” The Guardian, 30 January 2003.

[76] Francis Elliott and Catherine Milner, “Blair Vows to End Dons’ Boycott of Israeli Scholars,” Daily Telegraph, 17 November 2002.

[77] Ronnie Fraser, “Understanding Trade Union Hostility toward Israel and the Consequences for Anglo Jewry,” in Iganski and Kosmin, A New Antisemitism?  259.

[78] Donald MacLeod, “Israelis under Fire,” The Guardian, 25 June 2002.

[79] Patrick Lawnham, “Academics Split on Israel Sanctions.” and


[81] Editorial, “Academic Boycott like Book Burning,” The Australian, 23 May 2002.

[82] Barney Zwartz and Adam Morton, “An Unholy Alliance,” The Age, 4 September 2006.

[83] Andrew Wallenstein, “Big Matter on Campus,” Hadassah Magazine, August /September 2002, 29.

[84] Abraham H. Foxman, “Jews Target of Hate,” National Law Journal,

[85] Second Herbert Berman symposium, JCPA, Jerusalem, November 2002.

[86] Personal communication, Beata Schneyer.

[87] John Podhoretz, “Hatefest by the Bay,” New York Post, 14 May 2002.

[88] “A Campus War over Israel,” Time, 7 October 2002.

[89] Charles A. Radin, “Presbyterians Reverse Stance on Israeli Divestment: Policy No Longer Singles Out the Jewish State,” Boston Globe, 22 June 2006.

[90] Earth Rights International,

[91] Student Conference on Palestine,

[92] University of Pennsylvania Almanac,

[93] Lee C. Bollinger, Current Communications, President’s Office, 7 November 2002,

[94] Yale Daily News,

[95] Anti-Defamation League,

[96] Yonit Golub, “An Analytic Approach to Campus pro-Israeli Activisim Case Study: Johns Hopkins University,” Jewish Political Studies Review, Vol. 16, Nos. 3-4 (Fall 2004), 205-213.

[97]  United States Commission on Civil Rights, “Campus Anti-Semitism,” briefing report, Washington, DC, July 2006.

[98] Kelly Fraser, “Dearborn Student Gov’t Demands Divestment,” Michigan Daily, 4 October 2006.

[99] “Free Speech OK, but WSU Won’t Divest,” Detroit Free Press, 13 October 2006.

[100] Braun, “Second-Class Citizens,” 48.

[101] Associated Press, “Concordia University Admits It Was Unprepared for Violent Anti-Netanyahu Protest,” Jerusalem Post, 16 January 2003.

[102] Melissa Radler, “Concordia University Hillel Banned by Student Union,” Jerusalem Post, 8 December 2002.

[103] Associated Press, “Judge Grants Injunction against Mideast Talk at Canadian University,” Jerusalem Post, 16 November 2002.

[104] Bram Eisenthal, “Pro-Arab Body at Montreal School Shuts Campus Hillel over Israel Flier,” JTA, 5 December 2002.

[105] Bram Eisenthal, “Canadian Jewish Students Scared? Ad in Newspaper Fuels a New Debate,” JTA, 23 December 2002.

[106] Henry Rousso, Le dossier Lyon III (Paris: Fayard, 2004). [French]

[107] Press Release from Pierre and Marie Curie University.

[108] Benjamin Cohen, “UEJF/Paris VI: les coulisses de la mobilization,” Tohu Bohu, No. 2, 2003 [French].

[109] Ibid.

[110] X. T., “Claude Lanzmann appelle au ‘boycott des boycotteurs,” Le Monde, 6 January 2003. [French]

[111] Associated Press, “UNESCO Criticizes French Isolation of Israeli Academics,” Jerusalem Post, 9 January 2003.

[112] Philip Carmel, “Critics, Rally Force Paris School to Back Off Israel Boycott Threat,” JTA, 9 January 2003.

[113] Cohen, “UEJF/Paris VI.”

[114] Ori Golan, “Same Word, Same Meaning,” Jerusalem Post Magazine, 17 January 2003.

[115] Sharon Sadeh, “Death Threats against Pro-Israel Activists on Brussels Campus,” Haaretz, 21 December 2002.

[116] From a presentation by Laurence Weinbaum at a lecture on 3 April 2002, Herbert Berman series, JCPA.

[117] Sara D’Ascenzo, “Boicottiamo I prof israeliani: sostengono Sharon,” Corriere Del Veneto, 8 February 2003. [Italian]

[118] Ibid.

[119] Ibid.

[120] Silvia Grilli, “Venti di antisemitismo a Ca’ Foscari,” Panorama, 13 February 2003. [Italian]

[121] See Maurizio Molinari, La Sinistra E Gli Ebrei In Italia: 1967-1993 (Milan: Corbaccio, 1995), 93-94. [Italian]

[122] Personal communication, David Meghnagi.

[123] Manfred Gerstenfeld, European-Israeli Relations: Between Confusion and Change? (Jerusalem: JCPA, Konrad Adenauer Foundation, 2006), 97.

[124] Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Rory Miller, “Irish Attitudes toward Israel,” Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism, No. 49, 1 October 2006.

[125] “Academics Call for Ban on Israel,” Irish Times, 16 September 2006.

[126] Gema Martín Muñoz, El País, 27 January 2003.

[127] Gustavo D. Perednik, “Naïve Spanish Judeophobia,” Jewish Political Studies Review, Vol. 15, Nos. 3-4 (Fall 2003), 87-110.

[128] Gerstenfeld, European-Israeli Relations, 134.

[129] The Conseil Representatif des Institutions Juives de France (CRIF) prepared a file on the product boycotts of Israel and how to counteract them. See Mark Knobel, publication of CRIF on website:, “Dossier: Le boycott des produits israéliens,” 13 November 2002. [French]




[133] “L’Université Française sous Influence,” Le Monde, 14 January 2003. [French]

[134] Sue Fishkoff, “UK Scientist to Lead ‘Anti-Boycott’ Mission,” Jerusalem Post, 5 March 2003.

[135] Judy Siegel-Itzkovich, “70 Medical Professors Coming to Protest Divestment,” Jerusalem Post, 18 November 2002.

[136] “What Is IAFI?” International Academic Friends of Israel,

[137] Will Woodward, “Lecturers Reject Call to Boycott Israel,” The Guardian, 10 May 2003.

[138] Ibid.


[140] Report of the First International Conference on Academic Antisemitism, “Antisemitism in Academia: Sources and Solutions,” Magenta Foundation, Amsterdam, 2006, 55.

[141] Beckett, “It’s Water on Stone.”

[142] Corrections and Clarifications column, The Guardian, 19 December 2002.

[143] Douglas Davis, “Fears Voiced that Academic Boycott of Israel Could Endanger Lives,” Jerusalem Post, 15 December 2002.

[144] Paul, “Emergence.”

[145] Eisenthal, “Pro-Arab Body at Montreal School.”

[146] Peter Foster, “Academia Split over Boycott of Israel,” Daily Telegraph, 16 May 2002.

[147] Patrick Healy, “Israeli Academics Hit Back against Boycott,” Boston Globe, 20 February 2003.

[148] Associated Press, “Minnesota University Agrees to Pay Nearly $365,000 to Settle Allegations of Anti-Semitism,” Jerusalem Post, 4 December 2002.

[149] Ruth R. Wisse, “Israel on Campus,” Wall Street Journal, 16 December 2002.

[150] Gary Tobin, Aryeh K. Weinberg, and Jenna Ferer, The Uncivil University (San Francisco: Institute for Jewish and Community Research, 2005), 13.

[151] Press Release, Institute for Jewish and Community Research, “Survey Shows Pervasive ‘Groupthink’ on American Campuses,” 18 October 2006.

[152] Martin Kramer, Ivory Towers on Sand (Washington: Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2001).

[153] Michael Whine, “Cyberhate, Antisemitism, and Counterlegislation,” Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism, No. 47, 1 August 2006.

[154] Summers, “Address.”

[155] Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, “J’ai honte!” Le Monde, 4 January 2003. [French]

[156] Douglas Davis, “2 Nobel Winners Fight anti-Israel Boycott,” Jerusalem Post, 21 July 2002.

[157] Ibid.

[158] Donald Kennedy, “When Science and Politics Don’t Mix,” Science, Vol. 296, 7 June 2002.

[159] Editorial, “Don’t Boycott Israel’s Scientists,” Nature, Vol. 417, May 2002.

[160] Diana Jean Schemo, “Rejecting Boycott, Researchers Gather in Israel,” New York Times, 6 October 2002.

[161] Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook, “Kill a Jew-Go to Heaven: The Perception of the Jew in Palestinian Society,” Jewish Political Studies Review, Vol. 17, Nos. 3-4 (Fall 2005), 127.

[162] Associated Press, “Gruesome Exhibit Marks Anniversary of Uprising,” 24 September 2001.

[163] Ibid.

[164] Mohammed Daraghmeh, “Hamas, Fatah Compete over Killing Israelis in Campaign for Student Council Seats,” Associated Press,, 10 December 2003,

[165] David J. Silverman, “Non-Jewish Pro-Israel Students Steel Selves for a Tough Semester,” JTA, 21 August 2006.

[166] Daniel Foggo and Josie Clarke, “Boycott of Work by Israeli Scientists ‘Could Cost Lives,'” Daily Telegraph, 15 December 2002.

[167] Toby Axelrod, “Academics Lining Up for and Against,” JTA, 9 January 2003.

[168] Alan Dershowitz, The Case for Israel (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2003), 207.

[169] Jacob Gersham, “Dershowitz Says Faculty Members Work to Encourage Islamic Terrorism,” New York Sun, 8 February 2005.

[170] Jon Boone, “Harvard Legal Expert Vows to Sue Lecturers Boycotting Israel,” Financial Times, 2 June 2007.

[171] Jacob Laksin, “Petition for Genocide,”, 28 July 2006.

[172] Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1988).

[173] Beckett, “It’s Water on Stone.”

[174] Corrections and Clarifications column, The Guardian, 15 January 2003.

[175] Q&A with Zain Verjee, transcripts of CNN broadcast, 12 July 2002.

[176], 12 August 2007.

[177] “Report of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism,” Stationery Office Ltd., London, 2006, 38-42.

[178] See essay by Noah Liben in this book.

[179] Donald Kennedy, Science, 7 June 2002.

[180] Ibid.

[181] Andrea Peyser, “Israeli Researchers Hit by Misguided Backlash,” New York Post, 25 April 2003.

[182] Original errors have been maintained.

[183] Andrea Peyser, “Israeli Researchers Hit by Misguided Backlash.”

[184] Tovah Lazaroff, “Far from Academic,” Jerusalem Post, 2 May 2002.

[185] Erez Uriely, “Jew-Hatred in Contemporary Norwegian Caricatures,” Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism, No. 50, 1 November 2006.

[186] For a description of the Fonagy case, see Manfred Gerstenfeld, “The Academic Boycott against Israel,” Jerusalem Political Studies Review, Vol. 15, Nos. 3-4 (Fall 2003), 53-58.

[187] Personal communication, Shmuel Erlich.


[189] Amnon Lord, “Lashon La’akedemia Ha’ivriet,” Makor Rishon, 22 August  2003. [Hebrew]

[190] Ibid.

[191] Press Release, Oxford University, 27 June 2003.

[192] Ibid.


[194] Luke Layfield, “Oxford ‘Appalled’ as Professor Inflames Boycott Row,” The Guardian, 4 July 2003.

[195] Press Release, Oxford University, 4 July 2003.

[196] Oxford University Students Union (OUSO), 7 July 2003.

[197] For a description of the Wilkie case, see Gerstenfeld, “Academic Boycott against Israel,” 58-61.

[198] Alan M. Dershowitz, Why Terrorism Works: Understanding the Threat, Responding to the Challenge (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002), 166.


*     *     *

Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld is Chairman of the Board of Fellows of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He is an international business strategist who has been a consultant to governments, international agencies, and boards of some of the world’s largest corporations. Among the fourteen books he has published are Europe’s Crumbling Myths: The Post-Holocaust Origins of Today’s Anti-Semitism (JCPA, Yad Vashem, WJC, 2003), Academics Against Israel and the Jews (JCPA 2007) and Behind the Humanitarian Mask: The Nordic Countries, Israel and the Jews (JCPA and Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, 2008).