Academic boycotters: Knuckleheads in faculty gowns


Oxford University, where dons may be less than deep


Lord Jonathan Sacks, rabbi and philosopher, heard one Oxford don remark about another: ‘On the surface he’s profound, but deep down he’s superficial.’


Oh to demolish a rival so profoundly! Alas he could not have been one of those overbearing dons that swell the anti-Zionist bubble to the point of bursting. Profound or superficial: dons are seldom if ever active Zionist-hunters. We’re unlikely to bump into them at a gathering of boycott advocates, or hear one on a platform at an Israel Apartheid Week event. We can suppose that calls to ‘Solidarity for Palestine’ and similar slogans leave the average don stone cold. After all, what is there to gain from ostracizing universities and academics only because Israel happens to be a trendy taboo?


Where indeed is the gain? Many must wonder why a few denizens of the ivory tower seem more than willing to subjugate careers to persecuting academia in one barely visible slick of land on a desolate khaki canvas. Ultimately that would be the poser for academic prosecutors to answer. What’s in it for them?


We shall take a look into a few of these persecutors and prosecutors, none of whom can be called profound or superficial. They are uniformly prickly, on the surface and deep down. They bristle at the ‘I’- name, and are bad liars, a pairing as inevitable as bread and butter. To round off Israel-hunting dons, they are mercenary. Like a drunk over his bottle they fondle and ply their grievance over a lick of land that succours the Jewish people, withstanding all the plotting and cursing a don can muster.


And when the scandal of living thriving ‘J-people’ becomes too heavy to bear, a don may break out with a final solution. “Settler Jews ought to be shot like rabbits,” the Oxford don, Tom Paulin, says. Pinned down to what ‘settler’ means to him, Paulin is bound to refer to pretty much any Israeli with the chutzpah to live beyond the confines of Tel Aviv. Such are the limits of the Jewish ghetto that Paulin types will allow to survive.


It is normal for a healthy hatred of one people to be counterbalanced by a healthy love for another. As Hitler loved the Fatherland so we’d expect Israel-hunting dons to love Palestinians. Do they love them? Here’s a question for a scientifically derived answer.


Experiment of magnification


Consider some object - a leaf – through a magnifier. Unfocused, the glass filters weak sunlight around the leaf. Now position the glass so that it concentrates sunlight onto a point no bigger than a pinhead. Hold the pinhead of sun steady over the leaf until it burns hot enough to set the leaf aflame.


Now apply the image to the behaviour of Israel-hunting dons. A dispersed weak focus is the trademark of their interest in Palestinians, wherever that unhappy people live. No heat results. Nothing catches fire. War-torn Syria displaces and murders Palestinians by the thousands. Lebanon stops them from entering. Palestinians within Lebanon are treated as a class of people without rights. Egypt closes tunnels into Gaza, strangling the life out of Palestinians in the strip. Dons get on with their lives.

Next we can reposition the glass onto Palestinians living in the West Bank. Here’s land Jew-settlers ‘occupy’ and others want. The pinpoint focus burns into Paulin types. They catch fire and, in that vulgar phrase, all hell breaks loose.


What does that tell us? The glare of the Israel-hunter is fixed where? Not on Palestinians. Paulin types as good as told us that, by getting on with their lives. It must be the second object under the magnifier that sets their fury ablaze. It must be the ‘I-people’, public code name for Jews. It’s that people, not the Palestinians, making dons burn. The Jews make them catch fire.

Now if someone gets hot over Jews what may we call him? Dons get hot over Jews. Dons therefore hate that people.


They also hate, of all things, academic freedoms. Bemoaning the goings-on within universities and student bodies of Britain, Lord Jonathan Sacks spoke of a “A long, slow, insidious process intended to undermine academic freedom; and it must not be tolerated."


Now, there are faculties and student bodies that not just tolerate the process, they go so far as to actively undermine academic freedom. For a real working model we''ll do no better than go to another continent, to the hamlet of Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape, to the venerable university of Rhodes where faculty and student bodies are up to the full bag of tricks. A team of investigators from the South African Jewish Board wrote it all up.

“They refuse to engage in any public debate, despite multiple approaches to do so. Those calling for debate are smeared as racists, Islamophobes, etc. In the normal course of academic discourse, one may argue for what one believes, but on the issue (of Israel) no other view is permitted".


Professor Barrett: ''Do as I say or shut up'' 


Are these mere allegations or verified facts? A political science don at Rhodes is a model abuser, and to her we should turn. Georgina Barrett lays down the rules.

“There needs to be a dramatic change in the actions of the Israeli state and its external supporters before dialogue can effectively begin.”

 So, until people agree with Barrett’s own claims and doctrines, opinion and speech remain verboten. People may not support Israel – not on any campus platform.

 What is this but rule by skinhead: ‘Do as I say or get clobbered.’ Prickly dons are knuckleheads. Look no further than a proposition to which all adhere: ‘To invent a slogan is to declare real facts.’ How effortlessly dumb is that!


Professor Slezak: Knucklehead conviction that a slogan is the same as a fact


Nevertheless Peter Slezak, a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Sydney, would stake his life on it.

“BDS has been misrepresented by apologists for Israel, despite the fact that it is a rights based movement which is opposed to racism in all its forms – including, explicitly anti-Semitism”.

 It must be true that BDS, the boycott movement is opposed to racism because the movement has declared that it is opposed to racism. If not knucklehead logic what else could that be?


Trouble brews for Slezak the philosopher when he neglects to drum the proposition into his partners in crime. They have minds of their own, he then discovers. Dubula iJuda! Kill the Jews a BDS mob chanted at patrons of a campus jive in Johannesburg. The artists were Israeli and the promoter a Zionist body – combustible elements bound to bring out Xhosa-chanting boycott hotheads. Dubula iJuda!


 Again Dr Slezak waves, and behold – another slogan turns into real fact.

BDS does not prevent anyone from doing anything, but rather asks people to exercise their discretion…”

If only boycotters and slogan-makers put their minds together occasionally it would make life much simpler for them. But they’re don’t..

A piano recital on campus was invaded because the artist was born in Israel. A boycott mob burst onto the stage and blew football hooligan horns, forcing Yossie Reshef to flee and patrons to go home in shock. Later at a theme park a jamboree to mark Israel Independence Day turned chaotic when boycotters threw stink bombs, clashed with security and contrived a bomb scare. “BDS does not prevent anyone from doing anything…” Dr Slezak, waving a wand, turns slogans into facts.

If Slezak types would only refrain from making up laws as they go along it would also make life easier for them. Alas, life as an Israel boycotter and slammer depends on making up laws on the run. Without made-up laws they would end up with little to say. Invention is deeply embedded in BDS culture. By casually dropping fictional laws like confetti, Slezak endows rights upon Palestinians at will. Equally, and as casually, he withdraws Jewish rights..

Since their expulsion in 1948, Palestinian refugees are denied their "Right of Return" enshrined in international law, while Jews assert their own spurious "Law of Return" which entitles an Australian or American with no connection to the land to dispossess a Palestinian.”

It is all quite shallow, all huffing and bluffing. Palestinians are supported with laws that don’t exist while Jews are attacked by refuting laws that do exist.. How deceitful is that!


Not only is the don a law-maker, he’s a conniving lawmaker. His demands: a) Mask a probable genocidal outcome; (b) Pretend that the ‘West Bank’ is a legal territory to which the Jews, mere colonial usurpers have no claim; and (c) Look to replace a stable, free, economic dynamo of a country with yet another failed or riotous Arab state.


And on top of all, Dr Slezak is a preacher.

 “On the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht it is appropriate to reflect on the lessons we are supposed to have learned from this outburst of organized anti-Semitism and its aftermath.”

 Note, Jews, have to learn lessons from the Holocaust. Perhaps they made Hitler mad enough to murder six million. Perhaps they’re making the Palestinians mad enough to threaten to do the same thing. For prickly dons, lessons are for the Jews to learn. The Nazis and the Palestinians have nothing to learn. Would that be the mark of a profound don or a superficial don?

Or would it be the mark of a knucklehead?


Where you find corruption of mind in the ivory tower, look out for greed and wheeler dealing. Popular causes have a political dynamic. This makes causes prone to high-jacking, and from there on they’re corrodible through and through. Politics corrupts; conscience commands a price; avarice drowns integrity; fortune attends reputation; fame attends both; and the road to fame likes nothing more than a people oppressed, for real or contrived.


Only look at the Palestinians, the world’s favourite cause. Academics sit around the table with many fat beneficiaries. They’re among thousands that have come to so depend on baying for the Palestinians that if peace was ever brokered it would spell the doom of a thriving industry. Try telling dons that Obama’s man Kerry has brokered a deal that absolves the nation they love to hate. Would they accept an Israel that comes up smelling of roses? Income, lime-light, travel, articles, careers and, for the lucky few, celebrity status would be gone with the wind. The Palestinian cause is their meal ticket. Israel the monster is the goose that lays the golden egg.


What exactly would this golden egg be worth to the Israel-hunting don? Value can be attributed to academic benefits, however arcane. There is approbation of peers and faculty heads; freedom from harassment; invitations to lecture abroad, with the accompanying honoraria; visiting lectureships. All of these have value. How much would a don sacrifice for such benefits? As much as his integrity is worth?


Professor Tony Judt, a loud defamer of Israel before he died young, said that he felt compelled to attack Israel because the campus environment was hostile. As a Jewish academic he felt sensitive about having worked on a kibbutz. He felt that he needed to prove his credentials as an Israel-basher.


Kenneth Levin, Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard, writes that identification with peer groups, and a wish to ingratiate themselves by defaming Israel, is a motive for Jewish boycotters particularly, with material gain factored in. Jewish roots command a premium, writes Levin. They bolster the impact and value of a boycott-supporting academic.


So dons ride the money-go-round. They exact a price; their concern for Palestinians doesn''t come free.


Here is another reason for their hot and cold feelings: hot when Israel is the culprit, cold when Israel’s neighbours are. Return on investment is the don’s rule of thumb. The return from attacking Israel is a risk-free, high reward investment. What could a don possibly gain by attacking Lebanon, or Jordan, or Syria for treating Palestinians like dirt? Nothing! EU coffers are locked tight for activism against Muslim-on-Muslim abuse. As for the big moneyed Saudis, they wouldn’t give you the time of day – not if you planned to hold a hundred ‘Lebanon Apartheid Weeks.’


The Israel persecuting prosecuting don might be a knucklehead, but is undeniably a savvy knucklehead. Money talks, far louder than integrity. For many denizens of the ivory tower integrity is worth zilch.