In the midst of the anxiety over academic boycott threat against Israel, I published an opinion piece that criticized the manner in which Israel's public relations spin diverted attention from the essence (that is, the occupation) to issues of secondary importance (that is, the boycott.)It seems to me they are pleased about that. But the boycott idea is still alive and well. Engage may trumpet that the boycott "has been defeated ideologically, politically, morally and legally" but the question as to why boycott was raised in the first place will continue to be asked and to level the tiresome and false allegation of antisemitism isn't going to cut it. And the reference to the UK's equalities legislation to defend such a hideously racist monstrosity as Israel will continue to rankle until a way is found for people whose profession should be truth to tell the truth and act on the truth that they tell.
Spokespersons for Israeli academia were screaming out that "the boycott is immoral" or that "the boycott is illegal" – as if the occupation is moral and legal. At the time, I wrote that the question of whether the boycott is the appropriate response (I was of two minds on this question) is a secondary issue, and more importantly, the boycott turned attention to the main issue, the occupation, while condemning it and its supporters.
And so, now that the British lecturers' union has decided to call off the boycott for internal legal and procedural reasons, which have nothing to do with the matter at hand, I wish to reemphasize the unfounded nature of the Israeli spin. It's not the calling off of the boycott threat that is important here. Rather, it's the continuation of the occupation that matters.
Regardless of whether there is a boycott or not, there is no room here for the joy expressed by the education minister and top education officials. What are they so happy with? The fact that universities in the territories are unable to function?
Or maybe it is the fact that, on the other hand, we are seeing an Israeli academic institute being increasingly established in the central occupation town of Ariel (while facing weak protest alongside support for its infrastructure and continued existence)? Are they pleased over the fact that universities in Israel can continue to teach, with no interruption, democratic and enlightened traditions as if a few kilometers away a regime of oppression and expulsion has not been in place for 40 years now?
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