Oren calls on Congress to blacklist boycotters, because they’re ‘bigoted’ against Jews

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Oren, right

Oren, right

More evidence of the incredible impact of the academics’ vote earlier this week to boycott Israel: Michael Oren, the former Israeli ambassador to the U.S., writes at Politico that Congress should take action to make boycott decisions like the one by the American Studies Association illegal–because they’re”bigoted,” i.e., anti-Semitic.

What’s needed is a way to fight back, and Congress can do it.

A successful precedent for that fight already exists in the defeat of the Arab economic boycott of Israel…. In 1977, Congress passed a series of laws making it illegal for U.S. companies to cooperate with any boycott of Israel and imposing stiff penalties on those that did. The boycott, Congress concluded, was not only racist against Israelis but all Jews.

Laws could be passed withholding federal or state funding from any academic program that knowingly blacklisted Israeli scholars or institutions or cooperated with associations that did. While an organization like ASA might prefer punishing Israel to receiving government funds, other academic bodies—including universities—most likely will not. At the very least, lawmakers on the local and national level can go on record expressing their unequivocal opposition to such boycotts.

Then Oren seems to go beyond sanctions against such bodies to legislation against Palestinian solidarity activists who heckle Israeli speakers:

As Israel’s ambassador to the United States and as an historian who believes in free academic exchange, I often spoke before college audiences and welcomed even those questions critical of Israel. But at the University of California at Irvine in February 2010, protesters tried to disrupt my talk and deprive all those present—students and faculty—of the right to discourse. No other visiting lecturer was singled out, only the Israeli. But 11 of those demonstrators were arrested, tried and found guilty of disrupting free speech. Academic boycotts of Israel aim at the same objective and they, too, can be legally stopped.

Max Blumenthal’s take on Oren’s remarks:

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