Irish hypocrisy

If life is becoming unbearable in Gaza, it’s largely because Hamas has turned it into a Taliban-like Islamic mini-state

Islamic Woman521 (photo credit: MOHAMMED SALEM REUTERS)
Islamic Woman521
When the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI), representing 14,000-plus teachers in post-primary education, gathered in early April for its Annual Congress, a banner displayed above the dais in the main hall read, “Education: The Way Forward.” But after its adoption of Motion 241 in support of an academic boycott of Israel, the union took a step backward – way backward.
The resolution, which refers to Israel as “an apartheid state,” calls for “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 programs.” Among the several dozen delegates in attendance, there wasn’t a single dissenter who dared to articulate the case against a boycott. The motion passed unanimously – a remarkable feat for a group ostensibly committed to the “marketplace of ideas.”
But, at least these educators believe in transparency. Thus, Motion 241 doesn’t bother to maintain the fiction of the “institutional boycott.” Rather, this is a boycott of a specific group of academics for reasons that have nothing to do with anything they have taught, written, or said. It singles out scholars and students strictly on the basis of their nationality.
Given the extent to which the motion’s sponsors depict Israel as a pariah, it’s a wonder they didn’t extend the boycott to non- Israeli supporters of the Zionist state. Of course, there’s always next year’s gathering.
Among the reasons cited by TUI leaders for their endorsement of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign is Israel’s “illegal siege of Gaza.” Never mind that an investigation by the UN, which almost never sides with Israel, determined Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza to be both legal and appropriate.
Or that Israel facilitates the delivery of massive amounts of food and medicine to the people of Gaza, despite the fact that the strip is controlled by terrorists sworn to the Jewish state’s destruction.
Perhaps the boycott proponents are too preoccupied with bashing Israel to have noticed that if life is becoming unbearable for the Palestinians, it’s largely because Hamas has turned Gaza into a Taliban-like Islamic mini-state. School girls and female university students, for example, are forced to wear hijabs and full-length robes. Hamas forbids men to swim shirtless at sea and shop owners to place female mannequins in display windows.
Hamas police grab young men with long hair off the streets and shave their heads, arrest women dressed “immodestly” and enforce gender segregation in public places.
Granted, who has time to think about such trivial human rights abuses when those nasty Israelis are boarding Gaza-bound “humanitarian” ships or building new apartments in the Jewish neighborhoods of East Jerusalem? Still, one would expect that Hamas’s edict to ban books deemed “contrary to Islam” would trigger an outcry from a group that presumably values academic freedom and freedom of expression. Not so TUI’s moral arbiters.
According to Jim Roche, a lecturer at the Dublin Institute of Technology and an avid anti-Israel activist, Motion 241 demonstrates “solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle for justice.” If by “justice” Roche and his fellow agitators mean a Palestinian state coexisting in peace with the Jewish state – as opposed to the elimination of the Zionist enterprise altogether – isn’t it curious that they would target academia? After all, aren’t Israeli universities the very places where ideas for peace are forged and taught? This is to say nothing of the absurdity of ostracizing Israeli scholars whose efforts – for instance, in medicine and high-tech – benefit the entire world (Palestinians and their Irish supporters included). Suppose a boycotter were to become seriously ill. It may be nearly impossible to be treated at an Irish hospital without some Israeli medical advance coming to their aid. Surely the boycotters make an exception for saving a life. Or using a cell phone. Or… I have a suggestion for the theme of TUI’s 2014 Annual Congress. Instead of “Education: The Way Forward,” how about “Hypocrisy: Why Let the Facts Get in the Way?” At least it’s more subtle than “TUI: Anti-Semitism Masquerading as Righteous Indignation.” 
Robert Horenstein is Community Relations Director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland, Oregon