By John Friend —
Israel, its partisans embedded within the American political establishment and the organized international Jewish community are frantically devising measures to counteract and combat the growing international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement that calls for isolating Israel financially.
In December, the American Studies Association (ASA), the nation’s oldest and largest association devoted to the study of American culture and history, voted to endorse the BDS movement generally this past December and is seeking to boycott Israeli academic institutions due to human rights abuses and blatant violations of international law by the Zionist regime occupying Palestine.
The ASA’s decision has fueled outrage in certain political and media circles, sparking typical accusations of “anti-Semitism” and leading to a variety of over-the-top measures being formulated by Israel and pro-Israel partisans and organizations in the United States.
Recently, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking to the Conference of Major American Jewish Organizations meeting in Jerusalem, described the founders of the BDS movement as “classical anti-Semites in modern garb,” according to the Jewish Telegraph Agency, an international Jewish wire service.
“They want to see the end of the Jewish state,” Netanyahu hysterically proclaimed. “They’re quite explicit about it.”
In response, Gilad Atzmon, the internationally-renowned dissident Jewish writer and musician, told this newspaper: “Netanyahu waves the anti-Semitism card because such an act pushes many Jews toward growing identification with Israel and Jewishness. It is crucial to understand that the vast majority of Diaspora Jews do identify with the Jewish state, its values, goals and culture. Thus, they interpret any form of criticism leveled against their beloved Israel as an attack on the very essence of their Jewish self.”
The Middle East Monitor, a journal that focuses on Mideast news, recently reported on a secret meeting organized by Netanyahu and top Israeli officials to discuss strategies for combating the BDS movement. These included filing lawsuits “in European and North American courts against [pro-BDS] organizations” and taking “legal action against financial institutions that boycott settlements . . . [and complicit] Israeli companies,” reported the Monitor.
Other strategies discussed included “encouraging anti-boycott legislation in friendly capitals around the world, such as Washington, Ottawa and Canberra” and “activat[ing] the pro-Israel lobby in the U.S.”
As AMERICAN FREE PRESS’s Dave Gahary recently reported, such anti-free speech and anti-academic freedom initiatives have already materialized in the state of New York. In the U.S. Congress, Representatives Peter Roskam (R-IL) and Dan Lipinski (D-IL) introduced the Orwellian Protect Academic Freedom Act earlier this month, which “would block federal funding for American universities engaging in a boycott of Israeli academic institutions or scholars to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not used to fund bigoted attacks against Israel that undermine the fundamental principles of academic freedom,” according to a press release posted on Roskam’s website.
John K. Wilson, writing on the popular “Academe Blog” website, argued that the Protect Academic Freedom Act “is a total attack on academic freedom,” rather than a defense of it. “The proposed legislation would cut off federal funds under the Higher Education Act to all universities unless they violate the First Amendment by cutting off funding to student groups that support a boycott of Israel,” Wilson wrote.
“The BDS movement is gaining strength and is causing increasing concern among the pro-Israel activists like AIPAC,” explained Dr. Kevin MacDonald, a retired professor and editor of The Occidental Quarterly. “There are two types of responses. One, illustrated by Netanyahu’s remarks, is to label the movement as ‘anti-Semitic’ even though it is directed against the behavior of Israel and does not contest the status of diaspora Jews at all. The other response is to attempt to get legislative bodies to enact laws that against BDS.”
Dr. MacDonald went on to state: “These tactics have worked in the past, but I sense an increasing Israel fatigue by voters, as indicated in AIPAC’s defeat on Syria and Iran. They are still quite powerful, however, so it’s too early to see what will happen.”
John Friend is a writer who maintains a blog and hosts “The Realist Report.”