Marking Holocaust Remembrance Day last week, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
said that “murderous hate against Jews... has not gone away, it has simply been
replaced by murderous hate against the Jewish state.”
truth does not only apply to outright genocidal enemies. Anti-Israel obsession
inexplicably permeates very distant societies, divorced from our
Four days before the most heartbreaking date on our calendar,
Irish teachers presented us with a new expression of unfathomable animus. At its
annual congress in Galway, the Teachers Union of Ireland unanimously approved a
boycott that obliges “all members to cease all cultural and academic
collaboration with Israel, including the exchange of scientists, students and
academic personalities, as well as all cooperation in research
The TUI made unsavory history – it became Europe’s first
academic union to arbitrarily blacklist all Israelis.
questionable precedent was set without a single dissenting voice, a fact which
must raise more than a few eyebrows in all democracies.
Such lack of
independence ought to be rare among supposed freethinkers, especially among
educators whose task should be to foster critical judgment in their young,
But that goal is obstructed by the solid wall of
bias that more than 14,000 TUI members (who teach in secondary and higher
educational institutions) had erected. Those they instruct are unlikely to be
exposed to more than one doctrinaire perspective.
The biggest losers will
be the Irish students whose worldview has just been substantially narrowed by
the very teachers charged with broadening their outlooks.
This is all the
more so considering that Israel is a powerhouse of learning, science and
technology from which ordinary Irish citizens unknowingly benefit daily.
Whatever academic exchange existed pre-boycott was certainly one-sided, having
benefitted the Irish significantly more than it did
Academicians are expected to rise both intellectually and
morally above vested political interests, revere truth, and know history and
learn from it. We expect them to realize that boycotts are an antithesis to a
free exchange of ideas.
Their anti-Israel boycott is every bit as liberal
as Nazi book-burning. It stifles dialogue via an imposed creed of unabashed
discrimination and hostility.
This is where we get back to Netanyahu’s
caution about the new, perhaps more politically correct disguise that
Judeophobia dons these days. We suspect that the TUI’s aim was not to deny
Israelis the benefits of Irish scholarship but to kick-start a process whereby
Israel would be banished from the halls of academe throughout Europe, if not
Our suspicions are bolstered by the union’s choice of
pretext. Its boycott was imposed because the TUI had pronounced Israel an
It may be that the TUI chiefs knew this is a calumny
but intentionally decided to exploit the fraud. It may be that many TUI members
do not realize how much of a calumny this is. It is hard to decide which is the
sadder – brazen fabrication or ignorance. Neither alternative enhances the image
of Irish teachers or bodes well for Irish education.
Israeli society is
one of the most liberal on earth and nothing remotely resembling apartheid would
be countenanced by our autonomous and ultra-interventionist courts. The TUI had
targeted the only Middle Eastern country where genuine academic freedom reigns
rather than indoctrination and dogmatic homogeneity. Indeed, some of the most
vituperative opponents of Israel’s selfpreservation hail from its own
The TUI’s boycott is particularly reminiscent of the UN’s
infamous “Zionism is racism” resolution of 1975.
Both the UN and the UTI
insulted our intelligence and fundamental sense of justice.
disgracefully distorted truth, and delegitimized the struggle for survival of
the world’s most persecuted nations. Both resolutions reflected far worse on
their proponents than on Israel.
The first had to be repealed – not so
much for our sake, as for those who collaborate so avidly and blindly with the
Arab world’s greatest hate-mongers. We hope the TUI’s misguided resolution too
will one day be rescinded with contrition and in shame.