Irish boycott

Anti-Israel obsession inexplicably permeates very distant societies, divorced from our reality.

Oxford students vote on motion to boycott Israeli goods 370 (photo credit: courtesy)
Oxford students vote on motion to boycott Israeli goods 370
(photo credit: courtesy)
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 has not gone away, it has simply been replaced by murderous hate against the Jewish state.”
This undeniable truth does not only apply to outright genocidal enemies. Anti-Israel obsession inexplicably permeates very distant societies, divorced from our reality.
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 programs.”
The TUI made unsavory history – it became Europe’s first academic union to arbitrarily blacklist all Israelis.
Moreover, this 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, impressionable students.
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 Israelis.
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 further afield.
Our suspicions are bolstered by the union’s choice of pretext. Its boycott was imposed because the TUI had pronounced Israel an “apartheid state.”
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 universities.
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.
Both 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.