Everyone is passing around this slam-dunk argument from Israeli-American Larry Derfner at +972 saying that the “reaction” against the ASA boycott vote highlights the fact that Israel has enjoyed favored immunity from boycott, forever. It’s titled, “The world’s blatant double standard – in Israel’s favor,” and points out that Israel’s human rights violations have gone completely unpunished forever. Here is the gist:
the powers-that-be in the world have gone after any number of human-rights violating countries – yet still haven’t gotten to Israel and its 46-year military dictatorship over the Palestinians.
If you look at the serious, painful punishments the world metes out to oppressor nations, Israel is not being singled out, it’s being let off the hook.
And here is the brilliant ending, stating that boycott, divestment, sanctions could have ended the occupation long ago if people had gotten behind it.
The occupation is not, by any means, a human rights violation on the scale of Assad’s butchery, or the Congo’s, or Sudan’s, or Zimbabwe’s, for example. But it is a greater one than, for example, Iran’s nuclear program, or Cuba’s communism, or Russia’s killing of Sergei Magnitzky and its anti-gay policy – yet Israel gets off scot-free. The world doesn’t punish this country unfairly – it doesn’t punish this country at all, while America rewards it lavishly.
The ASA boycott, like the rest of the BDS movement’s achievements, are not examples of the world’s double standard against Israel – they’re Quixotic, rearguard actions against the world’s blatant double standard in Israel’s favor. If this country were treated with a minuscule fraction of the severity the West ordinarily visits on human rights violators, the occupation would have ended long ago.
And while we’re on the subject, here is an excellent piece by Kevin Jon Heller at an international law site, Opinio Juris, saying that if NYU really cares so much about academic freedom, per a statement against boycott by President John Sexton, then why is it silent about repression in the Emirates, where it has a school. Lately (as the Nation reported), Sexton justified the arrest of activists, bloggers and a professor by the UAE because they were supposedly a threat to national security. Heller also points out that critics of boycott have had nothing to say about the treatment of Palestinians. “[I] find it distressing that those who criticize the ASA for undermining academic freedom somehow never get around to criticizing Israel for its ongoing repression of Palestinian academics and students.”
Update: This post originally described Opinio Juris as an NYU site and added an aitch to Kevin Jon Heller’s middle name. Thanks to Heller for correcting me.