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Krauthammer confused about intent of boycott

Charles Krauthammer, in a column criticizing the American Studies Association’s call for a boycott of Israeli universities, pulls out the well-worn and by now quite frayed “anti-Semitic” card.

Krauthammer’s main argument is that others in the neighborhood – presumably, besides Israel – violate human rights. A curious argument, in that it appears to implicitly acknowledge Israel’s bad behavior vis a vis Palestinians. Indeed, he explicitly compares Israel’s alleged mistreatment of Palestinians (by, for example, “denying academic and human rights to Palestinians”) to Syria’s government “dropping ‘barrel bombs’ filled with nails” and Iranian mistreatment of “political, religious and even sexual dissidents.”

Cornell University professor Eric Cheyfitz, in a Dec. 18, 2013, interview in Democracy NOW, made clear that: “Boycotting institutions is … not directed at the academic freedom of individuals, who are free to do their research, teach and travel. The ASA has said in their statement that they welcome Israeli scholars and Palestinian scholars of all persuasions to come to ASA meetings. The ASA has put out nothing about delegitimizing Israel.” He added that the boycott “has to do with protesting the oppression, the Israeli oppression of Palestinians, and the suspension of their academic rights on the West Bank and in Gaza.”

The same can be said of the Boycott-Divest-Sanction campaign. BDS is not intended to delegitimize the state of Israel. If anything, BDS is a call to Jews everywhere to stand for justice, if only by decrying injustice.

Doug Aerie

Buffalo