Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Why are all the "Radical" professors in the US against BDS?

Why do all the "hip" and very highly paid "progressive" professors in the US oppose sanctions against Israeli apartheid when they would never have done so regarding South Africa? This is a serious question.  I noticed that other than the weak exception of Judith Butler that all the tenured "radical" professors  in the US with blogs like Claire Potter are militant opponents of BDS and openly spread lies against the PACBI. For instance she claims that it requires boycotts of individual Israeli scholars when it demands no such thing. Like the boycott against South Africa it only boycotts Israeli institutions. Why are these "radicals" so militant in  protecting Israel from the consequences of its policies of colonialism, ethnic cleansing, and apartheid?

10 comments:

datatutashkhia said...

It's hazardous for one's career. And there is no upside.

I find it somewhat similar to the situation of Soviet dissidents: you say publicly something that's plain obvious, and voila: your career is ruined, you become a nightwatchman.

Except, there was an upside for Soviet dissidents: they would become heroes on the other side of the iron curtain; they could manage to emigrate and reap the benefit, tangible benefit, money.

And for an anti-zionist, where's the other side of the curtain - Iran? Gaza? West Bank? Not very lucrative, I'm afraid.

J. Otto Pohl said...

Well lots of dissidents never defected. Sakharov for instance remained in the USSR. But, the other side of the "iron curtain" for supporters of Palestinian rights could be the UAE, Lebanon, Qatar, or even the UK. There is also no problem with being an anti-Zionist in most places in Africa.

datatutashkhia said...

Sakharov, obviously, couldn't leave, but he didn't have to become a nightwatchman either; even in his 'exile' in Gorkiy he lived much better than the average citizen: good apartment, Volga, etc.

Also, his born-again politics were extremely naive, to the point of stupidity. Have you read this: http://www.sakharov-archive.ru/English/Raz_Engl_1.htm

Yeah, but being a hero in UAE and Lebanon is not exactly the same as Paris, New York, and London.

J. Otto Pohl said...

Sakharov was just one example. Mustafa Dzhemilev and most of the other activists in the Crimean Tatar national movement also remained in the USSR. As far as being night watchmen I have one kind of funny story. Tunne Kelam told me that after the Soviet authorities dismissed from his position editing an encyclopedia he was made a night watchman at a chicken kolkhoz. He has been a vegetarian since then.

Being a hero or even just having a good set up in Beirut would be very cool. I don't know about Dubai since I have never been there. But, I would probably choose Beirut over Paris. I might even choose it over New York. London would be a difficult call. Some areas of Edgeware Road are more Arab than some parts of Beirut.

datatutashkhia said...

Being an activist for your own ethnic group (Dzhemilev) is very much different from sticking your neck out (most likely to be cut) against an injustice that doesn't concern you personally.

American academics with Palestinian background (like late Edward Said) do act normal, typically. Some of those with Jewish background (Chomsky, Finkelstein) act normal.

To others, I guess, it's more abstract, less personal, not worth the risk. And it is a huge risk. Makes much more sense to conform, and all kinds of rationalizations, to every taste, are being prepared and handed out.

J. Otto Pohl said...

Fair point, there were a few Russians, Jews, and Ukrainians that took up the cause of the Crimean Tatars, but not a lot. But, US academics have tenure. So they actually can not be fired. As far as not being a personal concern, US taxpayers have a lot more personal responsibility for Israeli apartheid than they did for South African apartheid. American academics even more so given the large amount of institutional collaboration. Yet some of the people who were most in favor of sanctions against the RSA oppose them against Israel.

Unknown said...

Not true. On my campus (UCLA), BDS is supported, in addition to tenured radical me, by several more tenured radical professors (based in the humanities and social sciences, which is likely what you mean - I'm in math). This is also true on other California campuses, at the least - I'd be surprised if it was different in general. Looking at only the handful of internationally very well known academics is neither here nor there.

J. Otto Pohl said...

The "tenured radical" is Claire Potter and she is militantly against BDS. Since you neither give your own name or any other examples I am just going to assume that your claim that there are a lot of leftist American professors is totally without basis. When I went to college in the US in the late 1980s the more leftist a student or professor the more likely he or she was to provide unconditional support for Israel. Only the far right was critical of Israel. I haven't seen anything to suggest the American left has abandoned its worship of Israel.

Unknown said...

I did think my name would be posted since I used google to log in, sorry - no need to assume anything more is behind it (how do I make this comments system display the name?). My name is Christian Haesemeyer (UCLA Math). You can look at the list of USACBI endorsers to find others on our campus - eg Sondra Hale, Gabi Piterberg etc., all leftists. Another longtime leftist supporting BDS is David Lloyd, formerly USC now UC Davis. I could go on, but what's the point - you have your TRUTH and will stick with it I suppose. From your posts on other blogs I thought you were a bit more open minded than that - oh well.

J. Otto Pohl said...

I am perfectly willing to reconsider my position on the basis of empirical evidence, Dr. Haesemeyer. But, your first comment gave none. You did not even identify yourself. You have now listed four people which is considerable progress. The only American leftist professor I know about of any note that has come out in favor of BDS is Judith Butler. But, maybe I just do not know who is "hip" anymore. Your last sentence genuinely puzzles me since nobody has ever agreed with anything I have ever written on any blog. Although there is one MA thesis out of Utrecht that agrees with me on something.