Monday, September 20, 2010

Who Cares That 500 Academics Endorse A Boycott Of Israel?

Academic: marked by a narrow focus on or display of learning especially its trivial aspects

Just how much weight should we give to something like this?
Over 500 academics endorse boycott of Israel

The call was dismissed as having little to no significance and was reflected in the statement from Gerald Steinberg. For Steinberg and others, the power of an academic and cultural boycott would be achieved with a critical mass of 500 endorsers.

The US Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) has reached that critical number. Endorsements by US academics and scholars recently crossed 500, and there are now 150 cultural workers who have also endorsed USACBI!

This is a major victory for the growing academic and cultural boycott of Israel, and for the movement for justice and equality in Israel, as defenders of the status quo in Israel have repeatedly observed that the legitimacy of the state of Israel in the global court of public opinion is threatened by the boycott movement.
Obviously the person who wrote this thought that a lot of weight should be given to this.
But why?

Back in 2007, Kenneth P. Vogel wrote that Professors have a crush on Obama:
Barack Obama appears to be winning the faculty lounge straw poll — his presidential campaign is cultivating academics and pacing the field in collecting cash from them.
If we were supposed to assume back then that this meant that voting for Obama was the smart thing to do, we have long since been disabused of that notion.

Did academics back then  favor Obama and now endorse a boycott of Israel for purely rational reasons?
Maybe academics have a more refined and well developed moral sense?

No--that does not seem to be the reason either.

At least that is the implication of an experiment by Prof. Fred Gottheil:
Prof. Fred Gottheil told Front Page Magazine that he compiled a list of 675 email addresses from 900 signatures on a 2009 petition authored by Dr. David Lloyd, professor of English at the University of Southern California, urging the U.S. to abandon its ally, Israel. Prof. Gottheil discovered that six of the signers, who hailed from more than 150 college campuses, were members of his own faculty.

“Would these same 900 sign onto a statement expressing concern about human rights violations in the Muslim Middle East, such as honor killing, wife beating, female genital mutilation, and violence against gays and lesbians?” he wondered. “I felt it was worth a try.”

The results? “Almost non existent,” he told Front Page editor Jamie Glazov. Only 27 of the 675 “self-described social-justice seeking academics” agreed to sign Gottheil’s Statement of Concern – less than 5 percent of the total who had publicly called for the censure of Israel for human rights violations.

The refusal of women’s studies professors to publicly condemn honor killings, or academic advocates of gay rights to speak out against the treatment of homosexuals in Muslim countries, is just about as hypocritical as it gets. Their loathing (dare we call it hate?) of the UN-created Jewish state is so deep that it “trump[s] their professional interests,” leading them into a “ideologically discriminatory trap of their own making,” Prof. Gottheil added.
So why did these academics condemn Israel but not Muslim rights abuses? I suppose for the same reason that they seemed to have flocked to Obama--because like everyone else around, academics too have their own personal biases.

And if I am not impressed with what a bunch of academics think, you know I'm not going to care about Elvis Costello--who I recall years ago badgering me that he wanted his MTV.

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