Money before morals

We should not be surprised at the success of the BDS campaign, especially at universities receiving generous funding from those who believe Israel has no right to exist.

We are currently in the midst of “Israel Apartheid Week,” the 7th consecutive year that universities throughout the world are promoting the false concept that Israel is an apartheid state. Anyone who has experienced apartheid in South Africa knows only too well that there is absolutely no comparison with the way minorities are treated in this country – which boasts 14 Arab MKs, an Arab Supreme Court justice, Arab doctors and professors – and apartheid South Africa.
What remains clear is that facts have no place on the campuses where “Israel Apartheid Week” – now extending to two weeks – is marked. The question to ask is why the climate of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) has succeeded in penetrating the academic world, thus making life for Jewish students increasingly intolerable? Could it be that money is replacing truth and morality?
The London School of Economics has recently come under fire, with revelations that Libya’s Saif al-Islam Gaddafi – son of Muammar Gaddafi – received a PhD in 2009 and then gave the university a grant of £1.5 million. Only last week LSE’s Center for Middle East Studies received £9 million from the United Arab Emirates. The majority of its board was found to be pushing for a boycott of Israel. Sir Howard Davies, director of LSE, resigned from the governing council when further Gaddafi funding was disclosed. He was also the British government’s economic envoy to Libya.
Trade and commercial interests played a vital role in the so-called compassionate release in 2009 of the Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, responsible for the murder of 270 people. According to a report in The Economist, former prime minister Gordon Brown claimed it was the Scottish administration’s decision to release Megrahi. It appears, however, that Brown’s government had an “underlying desire” to set him free, and advised the Libyans as to how to press the case for his release on the grounds that he had only months to live – he remains alive and well.
Libya is not alone in funding universities worldwide.
Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed has given considerable donations to American universities, including $20 million each to Harvard and Georgetown.
Across the US universities have accepted funds from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states for Middle East studies chairs. Between 1995 and 2008, the UK’s Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, University College London, LSE, Exeter, Dundee and City universities received more than £233.5 million from Muslim rulers and those close to them.
THE DELEGITIMIZATION campaign against Israel, with which our students have to contend, was initiated in 2001 at the Durban I “UN Conference against Racism.”
As one who led the WIZO delegation to this Israeland Jew-bashing event, I question the morality of holding a Durban III this September to coincide with the 10th anniversary of 9/11, when some 3,000 people were murdered. Of the 19 terrorists who hijacked the planes that crashed into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, 15 came from Saudi Arabia.
This is the country whose dominant faith is Wahhabism – an austere and extreme form of Islam that looks at worshipers of other religions as heathens and mortal enemies; a country devoid of churches and synagogues. Wahhabism’s explosive growth began in the 1970s, with the Saudi founding of Wahhabi schools – known as madrassas – from Islamabad to California. It is at such madrassas that the Taliban receive their education.
Looking at these facts, we should not be surprised at the success of the BDS campaign, especially at universities receiving generous funding by those who believe Israel has no right to exist. But the ultimate victim will be the democratic Western countries whose oil and trade interests encourage them to turn a blind eye to the gross racism, human rights abuses – especially against women – and apartheid existing in the Arab and Muslim world.
The writer is cochair of Europeans for Israel, and chairperson of the public relations department of World WIZO.