Anti-Zionism and its Action Orientation
Like antisemitism, anti-Zionism too has an action orientation, which is principally the weakening and destruction of the State of Israel. However, this is sometimes generalised to world Jewry. In extreme cases, self-identified anti-Zionists have
18 International Business Times ibtimes.co.uk/what-israeli-apartheid- week-1438167
targeted world Jewry, wreaking carnage in centres and institutions associated with Jewish communities. For instance, on 19 March 2012 a radicalised Muslim youth went on a shooting rampage at a Jewish day school in Toulouse and shot dead a rabbi and three Jewish children, allegedly because “the Jews have killed our brothers and sisters in Palestine”.19 In a much larger-scale and deadlier attack, a suicide bombing left 85 people dead and hundreds others injured at the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina, a Jewish community centre, in Buenos Aires, Argentina on 18 July 1994. The attack targeted the Jewish community centre in particular, most of the victims were Jews and various official enquiries attributed responsibility for the attack to several Hezbollah and Iranian regime officials (Costanza, 2012; Norton, 2007). In short, this was an act of Iranian statesponsored terrorism directed against Jews.
In addition to these examples of overt antisemitic action orientations of selfproclaimed anti-Zionist individuals and organisations, there are various subtler routes to the action orientation of weakening Israel, the most prominent of which is the economic, political and academic boycott of Israel. Furthermore, many United Nations member states have collectively sought to delegitimise the State of Israel in the form of various anti-Zionist resolutions, such as Resolution 3379, as discussed above. At the public level, there have been attacks against synagogues and Jewish centres, Jewish cemetery desecrations, anti-Jewish diatribes on social networking sites and violent, and in some cases, murderous attacks against Jews. Many commentators staunchly oppose the boycott of Israel and regard this as a form of anti-Zionism (Klaff, 2010; Newman, 2008). There are a variety of distinct forms of boycott – economic, political, cultural, academic – which all converge in their attempt to cause a severance of ties with the State of Israel, its people and its institutions. The Arab League imposed an offi economic and political boycott of Israel in the aftermath of the 1948 War, although many Arab countries had already enforced a policy of boycotting Zionist institutions prior to the establishment of the State of Israel. There have been various changes in the Arabs' approach to the boycott of Israel, with the signing of peace treaties between Israel and Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. Today the Arab League's economic boycott is applied and enforced to varying degrees. Passport restrictions are more strictly applied throughout the Arab world and in other Muslim-majority countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and Malaysia. Most countries in the region do not grant entry to Israeli passport holders or to holders of other passports which bear an Israeli entry stamp or
visa. Thus, both economic and political restrictions are in place.
In the West, a number of organisations have advocated an economic boycott of Israeli products. For instance, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions is a global proPalestinian campaign which attempts to exert economic pressure on Israel for it to end its occupation of the West Bank and to grant the Palestinian refugees and their descendants the right to settle in Israel (Barghouti, 2011). Given that the return of
19 Euskal Irrati Telebista/Radio Télévision Basque eitb.com/fr/infos/ societe/detail/854031/fusillades-operation-policiere-toulouse/
the Palestinian refugees would result in a non-Jewish majority, this would deprive Israel of its Jewish character and thereby lead to the demise of the Jewish State. Consequently, the organisation can legitimately be described as an anti-Zionist one with an anti-Zionist goal, namely the destruction of Israel. Other organisations like the Palestine Solidary Campaign have constructed an effective economic boycott campaign which aims to isolate and delegitimise Israel. For instance, members have played an important role in encouraging the British people to endorse disinvestment from companies such as Caterpillar, which are said to assist in the occupation of the West Bank, as well as sponsoring the Boycott Israeli Goods campaign which focuses upon Israeli agricultural products and high-tech exports.
The anti-Zionist boycott has been extended to the academic world. In 2002, as Israel was involved in heavy fi with Palestinian militant organisations in the West Bank, over a hundred British academics, led by Steven and Hilary Rose, published an open letter in The Guardian which called for an EU moratorium on research collaboration of any kind with Israeli universities. In 2005 the Association of University Teachers held a council meeting at which they decided to boycott two Israeli universities and to distribute among the thousands of AUT members proboycott literature. Various incidents followed – Mona Baker, a lecturer at the former University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (now a part of the University of Manchester), dismissed two Israeli academics from the editorial board of an academic journal she edited; in June 2002, Andrew Wilkie, a professor of pathology at Oxford University, rejected an application for a post-doctoral research position that was submitted by a young Israeli scholar on the grounds that that had a “huge problem” with Israel's treatment of the Palestinians.20 In both cases, investigations took place but neither of these incidents was treated as serious cases of discrimination of the basis of nationality – Mona Baker's actions allegedly did not interfere with her teaching, while Andrew Wilke was briefl suspended and required to take equal-opportunity training.
The umbrella organisation, the Palestinian Call for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, claimed that “The Israeli academy has contributed, either directly or indirectly, to maintaining, defending or otherwise justifying the military occupation and colonisation of the West Bank and Gaza” (see Fraser, 2005). The University and College Union, which is a merger of the Association of University Teachers and the National Association of Teachers in Higher and Further Education, has repeatedly voted in favour of implementing an academic boycott of Israel and this campaign has received support from prominent scholars, such as Professors Stephen Hawking, Noam Chomsky and Malcolm Levitt. There has been much debate about the appropriateness of an academic boycott with some scholars campaigning for its immediate implementation and others arguing that this would amount to “mixing science and politics” and, thus, contravene university guidelines.
20 The Telegraph telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/ liberia/1434388/Outrage-as-Oxford-bans-student-for-being-Israeli.html
Although the academic boycott has been debated in a number of countries, Britain has largely spearheaded this campaign perhaps due to its own colonial past, a strong left-wing lobby which is supported by the trade unions and, crucially, support from some Jewish organisations such as the Jews for Justice for Palestinians group (Wistrich, 2011). The involvement of Jewish organisations may appear to falsify the allegation of antisemitism (see Chapter 1). The principal issues brought up by the pro-boycott lobbies include the perceived complicity of Israeli academia with Israel's occupation of the West Bank, the perceived lack of opposition to Israel's occupation of the West Bank among Israeli scholars and the legitimacy of the existence of the State of Israel. Newman (2008, p. 47) notes that “[t]he fact that Israeli universities are the centers of strong social and political criticism of the state, that they are the core of liberal discourse and are the seat of much Israeli-Palestinian research cooperation is totally ignored in this argument”. What these events converge in demonstrating is that British university campuses have become an important context for debate and discussion concerning the future of Israel and, in some cases, the legitimacy of the Jewish State itself. The academic boycott, like the economic one, serves only to construct Israel as an apartheid state by treating it in the same way that South Africa was treated during the era of Apartheid. It is implied that, like Apartheid South Africa, Israel should be subjected to disinvestment, boycott and isolation from the international community. There are a number of insightful overviews of the proposed academic boycott in Britain and elsewhere (e.g. Cravatts, 2011; Fraser, 2005; Klaff, 2010; Newman, 2008), which demonstrate unequivocally that the academic boycott of Israel is one of the many actions that are intended to isolate and delegitimise the State of Israel.
Various commentators have pointed to what they have describe as “neoantisemitism” on university campuses in the West (Beckwith, 2011; Cravatts, 2011; Macshane, 2008; Rosenfeld, 2013). In his analysis of campus antisemitism on US university campuses, Cravatts (2011) has argued that left-wing anti-Zionism is both rife and reliant upon antisemitic motifs and representations, which has caused considerable social and psychological tensions in the academic environment. However, anti-Zionist hostility appears to be more prevalent on UK university campuses than on university campuses in the US and on mainland Europe. Indeed, Klaff (2010, p. 87) has described a “proliferation of anti-Zionist expression on UK university campuses since 2002”, that is, the initiation of the debate concerning the academic boycott of Israeli universities. More specifi , Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions and other pro-Palestinian groups have used a number of campaigns on university campuses, which have been deemed as unsettling and offensive by Jewish university students, in particular. This has included: the erection of “apartheid walls” during Israel Apartheid Week, which was intended to crystallise the representation of Israel as a racist, apartheid state; the invitation of political Islamists who refuse to recognise the state of Israel to address university societies (e.g. the Hezbollah representation Ibrahim Mousawi who toured UK campuses in 2008); and the use of explicitly antisemitic myths and motifs, many of which were outlined in Chapter 2, in anti-Zionist speeches (see Klaff, 2010). It appears that the anti-Zionist campus
activity has created a situation where implicit antisemitism is also acquiring a degree of acceptability, which has led to feelings of insecurity, otherisation and, in some cases, fear among Jewish university students. Indeed, there have been reports of harassment and discrimination against Jewish students on campus, who are often assumed to be supportive of Israeli policies. This has led to some scholars calling for anti-Zionism on university to be recognised as a hate crime (Klaff, 2010).
Anti-Zionist representations and their unequivocally destructive action orientation create a context in which Israel can be openly delegitimised and demonised, which may itself constitute a hate crime, but also a context in which those who identify with the Jewish State are openly harassed and otherised. This has raised questions about the extent to which anti-Zionism and antisemitism can be delineated.