THE ACADEMIC LEFT AND ITS QUARREL WITH ISRAEL

At its annual congress at the end of May, the University and College Union (UCU) in the UK will urge its 120,000 members to sever academic associations with Israeli institutions, according to reports in the British media.

For several years the UCU has been calling for a boycott of Israeli academics. Shamefully, UCU members voted in May 2011 to disassociate itself from the EU working definition of anti-Semitism. In disgust, four leading Jewish academics in Scotland quit the UCU and the British government called on the Equality and Human Rights Commission to investigate the union.

Tom Hickey, the man who put forward the latest draft motion to dissociate from Israeli universities, recently praised Stephen Hawking for boycotting Israel, saying: “If he can do that then all of us should think of doing it. This isn’t about targeting Israeli scholars but targeting the institutions.”

This is nonsense. Targeting institutions is bad enough. But recent history shows that individual Israelis are routinely boycotted and blocked from speaking in Britain.

Last year, Professor Moty Cristal, was prevented speaking at a conflict resolution event in Manchester on the grounds that he is an Israeli. Professor Cristal was due to address trade union officials and the managers of the Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust but was then told he wasn’t welcome.

The trade union boycott of an individual Israeli is pure discrimination. This is despite the fact that Professor Cristal is a supporter of the two-state solution. All of which suggests that he was prevented from speaking because of his nationality, rather than his politics. What’s worse is the suspicion that his appearance was blocked because he is an Israeli Jew. Presumably, the trade unionists would not have boycotted an Israeli Arab.

More recently, far-left British MP George Galloway walked out of a university debate when he realized a fellow speaker was an Israeli. “I don’t debate with Israelis,” said Galloway. “I don’t recognize Israel and I don’t debate with Israelis.”

These are just two examples – and there are many more – where individual Israelis are boycotted and harangued by the British Left.

The fact is the Left comprises half-witted cultural constructivists who relativize anti-Semitism by pretending it doesn’t exist (hence the UCU vote in May 2011) and fetishize the thuggish ideology of Palestinianism. It’s especially sad that the UCU, which is at vanguard of UK higher education, is setting such a bad example to its students by promoting anti-Semitism.

It’s even more galling when one considers that academia is one of the few spaces where Israelis and Palestinians, and Jews and Arabs in general, could co-operate. David Newman, dean of the faculty of humanities at Ben Gurion University, says that an academic boycott “just destroys one of the very few spaces left where Israelis and Palestinians actually do come together.”

And the Anti-Defamation League has described academic boycotts as an affront to “academic freedom and the promotion of the free exchange of ideas.”

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Meanwhile, the UCU has done nothing to calm fears that anti-Semitism is a disturbing phenomenon on British campuses. A recent survey revealed that Jewish students at Edinburgh University face a “toxic atmosphere” in which they are forced to hide their identity. Many are quitting courses “in despair” following anti-Israel demonstrations. The Scottish Jewish Student Chaplaincy and the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities have said the university is not a safe place to be Jewish.

Then there’s Israel Apartheid Week. This is when campuses in Britain (and around the world) are buzzing with the most appalling anti-Jewish sentiment. As well as the erection of “apartheid” walls, bizarre street theatre and anti-Israel music events, pro-Palestinian activists have been known to harass or even attack Jewish students.

On British campuses, Jewish students are sometimes referred to as “Nazis” or are taunted by activists who praise Hitler and the gas chambers. Last year, a Jewish student, who was filming a man making obscene references to the Holocaust, was punched and bitten by a Muslim activist. When the assailant was acquitted in court, Palestine Solidarity Campaign activists shouted “Zionists always lose.”

As Electronic Intifada boasts, “the failure of pro-Israel activists to detract from our activities in any meaningful way should be seen as a further sign that the debate on UK campuses is now happening very much on our terms.”

It is alarming that some Jewish students feel they can no longer study at a UK university. The complicity of British academics and the cowardice of university leaders and associations like the UCU is largely to blame for this situation.

The situation is not helped when anti-Semitic speakers are invited to attend university events, such as Hezbollah’s Ibrahim Mousawi, and radical cleric Abu Usamah, who has defended Osama bin Laden.

I have argued elsewhere that pro-Israel groups must put forward a counter-narrative and demonstrate to students that supporting Israel is progressive. Israel has a free press, a healthy trade union movement and several co-operatives. It is a world leader in science and technology. Israeli women are guaranteed gender equality, homosexuals enjoy full civil rights and Israeli Arabs have the vote. These are the very values which are in short supply in the Middle East.

Unfortunately, the UCU and the Left in general no longer champion the progressive values it pretends to espouse because of its unholy alliance with Islamism and Palestinianism, both of which are pernicious anti-Semitic ideologies that are hell-bent on eroding the world’s only Jewish state and undermining Western values.

So when the UCU gathers for its annual congress next Wednesday, I predict that nobody will express concern over the fate of Jewish students in Britain. And it’s totally unrealistic to expect the UCU to say anything positive about the State of Israel. I can only hope that the UCU’s obsession with Palestinianism is a fad that will eventually prove to be as embarrassing as the Left’s defense of Soviet Russia and Maoist China in the 20th century.

HAWKING IS NO SUPERHERO

British cosmologist Stephen Hawking is to be turned into a comic book character for an illustrated series that takes readers “inside his mind.” The writers of Stephen Hawking: Riddles Of Time & Space will apparently provide a glimpse into “the man, the myth and the legend.”

Until recently, I would have been pleased that the famous physicist is to achieve “superhero” status in the world of comic books. But I am still reeling from the news that Hawking recently capitulated to the anti-Semitic boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign by pulling out of a high-profile Israeli conference.

Hawking cancelled his forthcoming appearance at the Facing Tomorrow / Presidential Conference in Jerusalem after coming under intense pressure from Arab academics and professional Israel-hater Noam Chomsky.

The conference – minus Hawking – will bring together thousands of world leaders and intellectuals for discussions on a range of issues. Ironically, Hawking was also due to enter the West Bank/Judea and Samaria to give a lecture, but this too has been cancelled. So as well as disappointing Israelis, he has let down those Arab academics who put science before tribal politics.

The Anti-Defamation League has described Hawking’s decision to withdraw from the conference “ a slap in the face” and an affront to “academic freedom and the promotion of the free exchange of ideas.”

David Newman, dean of the faculty of humanities at Ben Gurion University, pronounced that an academic boycott “just destroys one of the very few spaces left where Israelis and Palestinians actually do come together.” He’s right.

For an intelligent man, this is a particularly stupid and short-sighted decision. I can only assume that Hawking is ignorant of the true nature of the BDS movement and will eventually realize his mistake and recant.  It is sad that a man of Hawking’s intellect is unwilling to see the double standards and anti-Semitic agenda of the BDS campaign.

I say this because no intelligent person can possibly support the BDS movement without compromising his intelligence and his integrity. The boycott-Israel-brigade is the most pernicious, nasty and anti-Semitic movement to emerge since the 1930s. BDS is not about concessions for peace. It is about disseminating disinformation in the hope of bringing about the demise of the world’s only Jewish state.

It is such a silly thing to do. Hawking could have criticized aspects of Israeli policy at the conference. Now, his voice won’t be heard at all.

Hawking’s decision is hypocritical. Why did he visit China in 2006 and Iran in 2007? These are countries with appalling human rights records. But so-called progressives in the West care nothing for the plight of Chinese peasant farmers or oppressed women in Iran.

What is also remarkable about Hawking’s decision is that he is boycotting the most scientifically-advanced country in the world. In 2012, Hawking accepted a $3 million physics award, which was awarded by Yuri Milner, a major investor in Israeli high-tech. Hawking is involved in the discovery of the Higgs-Boson particle, which was found using Israeli-developed particle detectors.

Moreover, Hawking benefits from Israeli technology. He communicates using a mechanical voice system run by the Intel Core i7 Processor developed by the Israeli division of Intel.

Let’s hope Hawking recognizes his appalling hypocrisy and rethinks his decision to boycott the only democracy in the Middle East.

WILLIAM HAGUE’S MISTAKE OVER JEWISH SETTLEMENTS

British Foreign Secretary William Hague has said Israel is losing support internationally because of the building of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria.

“Israel has lost some of its support in Britain and in other European countries over time,” Hague told Sky News. “This is something I’ve often pointed out to Israeli leaders – because of settlement activity, which we condemn.”

He continued: “We strongly disagree with settlements on occupied land [sic]. Israel is a country we work with in many ways but we do disapprove of settlements.”

I’ve written extensively on why the settlements are legal and why Israel has a moral case for holding on to Judea and Samaria, which is also known as the West Bank. So, in response to Hague’s comments, I’ve reposted a piece called “The Rights of Settlers.”

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In 1920, the San Remo Conference instructed Britain to establish a Jewish national home on territory covering what would become Israel, Jordan and part of the Golan Heights. In early 1921, Britain made a distinction between “Palestine” as a national home for the Jewish people, and Transjordan as a home for the Arabs. Already, the Jews had to accept a territorial compromise in order to appease Arab interests.

The 1922 Mandate of Palestine formalized the creation of a Jewish homeland, as well as Transjordan for the Arabs. The entire League of Nations unanimously declared that “recognition has been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.” The Mandate not only legalized the immigration of Jews to Palestine, it encouraged close settlement of the land. Moreover, the notion of internationalizing or dividing Jerusalem was never part of the Mandate.

Two years after the Second World War, the British handed the Mandate to the UN, which recommended (rather than enforced) the partition of Palestine between Jews and Arabs. The Jews accepted the partition but the Arab states rejected it and declared war on the Jewish homeland, which resulted in the Jordanian annexation of the “West Bank.” At the insistence of the Arabs, the 1949 armistice line was “not to be construed in any sense as a political or territorial boundary.”

In 1967, Israel won control of the West Bank after a war of self-defence. To speak of Israeli occupation implies that Israel fought an aggressive war in order capture the West Bank, which was not the case.

UN Security Council Resolution 242 recommended Israeli withdrawal from territories in return for the right “to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.” At a conference in Khartoum the Arabs refused to negotiate or make peace with Israel. In fact, they refused to recognise Israel at all. (Resolution 242 did not mention the Palestinians, although it did refer to “a just settlement of the refugee problem” in acknowledgment that both sides had their share of refugees.)

It is also worth pointing out that the Fourth Geneva Convention is not applicable to Judea and Samaria because it pertains only to cases of occupation of a sovereign entity. The “West Bank” has never been the legal territory of any sovereign entity. Or to put it in plain English, territories are only “occupied” if they are captured in war from an established and recognized sovereign. Jordan was never an established or recognized sovereign of the West Bank. Therefore, Israel is not an occupier and the “West Bank” is not occupied land.

Technically, Judea and Samaria is unclaimed Mandate land and should therefore be referred to as “disputed” territory. Israel’s capture of the West Bank in 1967 merely restored the territory to its legal status under the Mandate of 1922, which has never been superseded in law, not even by the 1947 partition plan. The settlers are simply enacting the Mandate and they should be allowed to continue with this enterprise.

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The fact that the Palestinians and the Arab states collaborated with Hitler before and during Second World War, and then proceeded to invade Israel on three occasions between 1948 and 1973, seriously undermines any moral claim to establish a state on the “West Bank.” Even today, most Arabs still refuse to recognize Israel’s right to exist. Professor Julius Stone, a leading authority on such matters, has stated that because of the attacks against Israel in 1948, 1967 and 1973, as well as other belligerent acts, Arab states have “flouted their basic obligations as United Nations members.”

There are also moral and cultural reasons why the Jewish settlements are legitimate. Judea and Samaria is historically and religiously Jewish. The territory formed a major part of ancient Israel and is home to several sacred sites, including Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem and the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. It is only recently that Arabs have expressed an interest in Jerusalem. At no time between 634 CE (when Muslims overran “Palestine”) and 1967 did any Muslim entity ever declare Jerusalem as their capital. During the Jordan occupation, not a single foreign Arab leader came to pray in the al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount.

Moreover, non-Jewish powers cannot be trusted to protect either Jews or Jewish sites. During the 1920 Jerusalem riots, an Arab mob ransacked the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, attacking pedestrians and looting shops and homes. On 24th August 1929, 67 Palestinian Jews were massacred in Hebron. Dozens were wounded. Some of the victims were raped, tortured and mutilated. Jewish homes and synagogues, as well as a hospital, were ransacked. During the Jordanian occupation, the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives was desecrated and many synagogues in the Old City were destroyed.

Between 1948 and 1967, there was not a single settlement in Gaza or the “West Bank.” But this did not stop Arab states terrorizing Israel. Nor did the Arab states attempt to establish a Palestinian state. Furthermore, the dismantling of the settlements in Gaza actually destabilized the region because the withdrawal allowed Hamas to take control of the Strip, with devastating consequences.

The Palestinian claim that statehood is an unassailable right should not be taken at face value. Arab hatred of Israel has never been about the settlements or even about land. The primary obstacle is an ideological refusal to recognize the Jewish people’s deep-rooted historic, cultural and legal connections to the land of Israel. Until the Arabs accept that the Jewish people have an inalienable right to Judea and Samaria, there will never be peace.

ISLAMOFASCISM: THE IDEOLOGY OF THE SWORD

The callous disregard for human life displayed on the streets of London last Wednesday is further proof that civilization is being undermined by acts of barbarism committed in the name of Islam.

The hacking to death and decapitation of an off-duty British solider in the UK capital by a pair of deranged Muslim fanatics echoes similarly despicable acts, such as the unspeakable massacre of the Fogel family in Judea and Samaria, the decapitation of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, as well as the countless beheadings and mutilations in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.

Unfortunately, the disturbing phenomenon of decapitation in the name of Allah is justified by the Quran. Sura 47 includes the verse: “When you encounter the unbelievers on the battlefield, strike off their heads until you have crushed them completely.”  Similarly Sura 8:12 reads: “I will cast dread into the hearts of the unbelievers. Strike off their heads, then, and strike off all of their fingertips.” Ibn Ishaq, the 8th-century biographer of the Prophet Muhammad, reports that the Prophet ordered the decapitation of 700 men of the Jewish Banu Qurayza tribe in Medina.

The enactment of the Prophet’s desire to behead Islam’s perceived enemies in the 21st century reveals the extent to which jihadists are prepared to go to terrorize those who do not share their warped views. After all, what is more terrifying that being set upon by crazed men with meat cleavers and knives in the middle of London? But this is exactly what happened to Drummer Lee Rigby on Wednesday afternoon.

The beheadings of captives in Iraq, many of which were captured on video for public dissemination, may be the model of terrorist activity in the years to come. Israel, the US and Britain are excellent at foiling major terrorist attacks, but they are less adept at preventing so-called lone wolf attacks. Beheadings, stabbings and primitive explosives are the weaponry of the low-grade terrorist, who does not require top-down instructions from Al-Qaeda. The internet, which is brimming with jihadist and anti-Semitic material, is all it takes to radicalize a young Muslim or turn a convert into a murderer.

The lack of sophistication in recent attacks does not minimize their horrific impact. In fact,  the fear generated by such atrocities is heightened because such atrocities are so simple to carry out. All it takes is a knife or a petrol bomb. Terrorism in Judea and Samaria, for example, is not a sophisticated affair. Stone throwing, stabbings and shootings are not in the same league as 9/11 or 7/7. But the daily grind of being pelted by rocks as you drive home or the fear of an Arab gang murdering your children are indicative of a world where barbarism is commonplace.

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Islamic terrorism – both sophisticated and primitive – is not rational. When Muslim radicals attempt to justify their beliefs or actions, they inevitably contradict themselves and tie themselves up in knots. For example, justifying terrorism by blaming the actions of Western governments in Iraq and Afghanistan is nonsensical when the vast majority of terrorist activity is committed by Muslims against other Muslims. Islamists have no coherent political agenda other than inspiring dread in which fear is both the means and the end. As Jamie Bartlett of think-tank Demos, recently told the Financial Times: “Those interested in violence these days are amateurish and almost more interested in the violence of the deed than any underlying ideology.”

Islamic violence is a self-perpetuating ideology, whereby terror is used to inspire and maintain a sense of dread. And there is never any end to this violence. Terrorism does not achieve anything other than perpetuating more terror. This is why Western analysts should give up trying to fathom why terrorists kill and maim innocent people. Israel could pull out of Judea and Samaria, and the US and Britain could withdraw every single troop from the Middle East, but there would still be terrorist activity. In fact, terrorists would see Israeli and Western withdrawals as a sign of weakness and be emboldened to commit more atrocities against Muslims and non-Muslims.

What we are dealing with here is a kind of fascism. Admittedly, fascism is an overused word in modern political discourse, but I can think of no better description. The term “Islamofascism” is included in the New Oxford American Dictionary. It is defined as a term “equating some modern Islamic movements with the European fascist movements of the early twentieth century.”

Like Nazism, Islamofascism is a movement in which violence is glorified for its own sake. The similarities between Islamofascism, and the fascism of the 1930s and 1940s are not hard to miss. Hostility to modernity, a nostalgia for a lost golden age and fixation on real and/or imagined humiliations are common to both movements.  Both share a paranoid fear of “the Jews,”  both repress free expression, both desire the humiliation and destruction of the capitalist West, and both claim to have implacable enemies that must be eliminated. Like the Nazis, al-Qaeda  is anti-American, anti-capitalist, anti-democratic and xenophobic. Like the Reich Ministry of Propaganda, the Palestinian Authority is skilled in the art of disinformation, historical revisionism and spreading anti-Semitism.

Both fascism and radical Islam are populist ideologies.  Both are expressions of perpetual outrage. There is the same tendency to submerge logic in favor an irrational and overheated emotionalism.  There are also common motifs. Hezbollah and Fatah use the straight arm Nazi salute at their gatherings. Instead of chanting “Heil Hitler” or “Sieg Heil” the mesmerized followers of radical Muslim clerics shout “Allah Akbar” over and over again.

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It is not a popular thing to say in politically-correct Britain but Islamists are at war with just about everyone. They are at war with the West, with Israel, with other Muslims. It is a war that has been going on for a long time. It is a war that Israel has been fighting for decades and will no doubt go on fighting for another sixty years.

So instead of criticizing Israel, the Western political elite should be thankful that at least one country in the Middle East has the guts to stand up to Islamic terrorism. Britain, Europe and the US would do well to learn from Israel’s incomparable capacity to defeat terrorist plots and eliminate terrorist leaders. The West can also learn from Israel’s mistakes, such as its withdrawal from Gaza which allowed Hamas to take over. Similarly, Britain and America’s eagerness to pull out of Afghanistan will leave a political vacuum in which the Taliban takes complete control and the country will once again become a training ground for jihadists.

Moreover, Britain and other countries in the West need to toughen up their stance on the domestic front. There have been several occasions where attacks have been committed by homegrown terrorists who were already known to the intelligence services. MI5 was criticized after the 7/7 bombings because some of the perpetrators had been under surveillance.  And it has come to light that Michael Adebolajo, one of the men who murdered Drummer Lee Rigby, was known to the intelligence services. Adebolajo had attended meetings of a now-banned Islamist group and sold extremist literature in London. It is reported that he tried to travel to Somalia to fight alongside the Al Shabaab insurgents but had been turned back and his passport removed by the police.

Britain is at war, both at home and abroad. One thing the UK government could do is revive the Communications Data Bill, which would allow the monitoring of internet use. Defense experts say last Wednesday’s terrorist attack could potentially have been avoided if the police and security services had greater powers to monitor internet communications. As things stand, police can identify the location and time of a phone call or a text message. But they cannot do the same for Skype, email or instant messaging.

A database containing people’s internet usage may help the security services to determine whether terrorists – or potential terrorists – have links to other radical groups. But the British government may have to go further and make some public displays of Islam illegal. For some years, Muslim fanatics in Britain have called for the beheading of soldiers and anyone else who “insults” Islam. Due to free speech laws, the UK establishment has done little to counter such hateful rhetoric.  But things have to change. Islamic protests against British troops ought to carry a prison sentence. Mosques which are known to harbor dangerous radicals should be closed down by the police. Preachers who spread anti-Semitism and incite violence should be arrested, tried and imprisoned (or deported).

In the end, we have to get tough with those who wish to destroy our culture, our values, our way of life. Jonathan Evans, former head of MI5, says there are thousands of people in the UK who “pose a direct threat to national security and public safety.” Nobody should have to live in fear of political Islam. British soldiers should be free to walk down the street without fear of being attacked by knife-wielding maniacs shouting “Allah Akbar.”

Journalists should be free to report without being abducted and beheaded. Civilians should be allowed to attend sporting events like the Boston Marathon without being blown to bits. The British Home Secretary should be allowed to deport radical cleric Abu Qatada without EU interference.

The madness must stop – but politicians, the judicial system and the intelligence services in Britain and elsewhere will have to make some tough decisions in order for this to happen. In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Drummer Lee Rigby.