14 May 2006

First some facts

This is the first sentence of an article "Let's boycott the universities" by professor Steven Rose of the famous British company of Roses. And I do not mean the flowering shrub of the genus Rosa that makes the British gardeners deservedly famous. Rather a less attractive group of Roses, all of Jewish roots, that made the so-called anti-Zionism their business.

To give a general impression of the article: haven't I known in advance that the learned author is a respected scientist with a impeccable pedigree of studies in the best scientific and educational institutions in the land, I would have guessed that it is a post by one of the usual GUT hang-arounds. The article is pompous on one hand and written as if addressing a kindergarten on the other, and the last thing the author is concerned with are facts.

Here are some facts that Mr. Rose in his sweeping review has forgotten to mention:

Israel has a second government in a row that has declared that separation from the neighbors is its goal. It may do so from less than altruistic reasons, but the bottom line that it is a breakthrough in the institutional thought and should be encouraged by all who want to see an independent Palestinian state.

The Israeli society as a whole recognized the need for separation, for the de-facto end of the occupation, whether it will be a result of negotiations (preferable) or a one-sided move by Israel. So what has changed on the other side of the "apartheid wall"? I would like to be able to say zilch, but the reality is worse than that.

The previous government, lead by no other that the usual scarecrow of the rabid left and the Muslim word Ariel Sharon, declared and carried out the first round of disengagement. The sacred cow of the "we'll never remove a settlement" was butchered, and it was a great start in the right direction. Gaza was let free to start building the foundations of the future state. We all know what Palestinians are doing meanwhile with this opportunity. More than 600 Qassam rockets launched at Israel since disengagement and an elected government whose avowed goal is elimination of the State of Israel. The number of attempts to kill Jews has not dropped, it is just that we are getting better at stopping the suicide bombers.

I can continue, but the above is enough to show how a scientist (and Mr. Rose is purported to be one) can let his prejudice and, frankly, lack of understanding in what is clearly not biology, get him away from reality.

Of course, one could ask the question: why boycott now? Now, of all the times, when Israel is moving in the right direction? Why persist in that folly, knowing perfectly well that each call for boycott alienates another and another Israeli scientist and only strengthens the wall of mutual incomprehension?

But these are difficult questions for that superior scientific mind. It is much easier to deal with sweeping slogans like "the state of Israel is in illegal occupation of Palestinian lands", vague and slanderous statements like "Some practise open discrimination against Arab students, some build on illegally seized Palestinian land, and some have supported peripheral institutions in the illegal settlements." and in general, to make a monkey of himself in public.

Of course, the Roses (all of them, as a matter of fact) have never answered the question of the justification of singling out Israel for that special treatment.

Let's try closer to home, dear professor. Why not boycott the scientists of the country that occupies North Ireland for the last 400 or so years and settled this land with what is clearly an alien group there? As a warm up before going for the bear.

Boycott yourself, Mr. Rose. And I am getting as close as I can to the real advice I would like to offer, having in mind some people who might boycott this post otherwise.

Cross-posted on Yourish.com

P.S. A great article on the subject by Bradley Burston

Update: it is worth mentioning that, as proof of burgeoning boycotting business, the esteemed professor offered a link to this article. Obviously, being too busy, Mr. Rose did not read the article carefully. Otherwise, he would have stopped to think about this passage:

The boycott proved to be the most divisive episode in the AUT's history. In a rushed debate at the union's conference, members voted to boycott Haifa and Bar Illans Universities for supporting the Israeli state and restricting academic freedom. The facts of the cases were disputed and the AUT became the focus of the global media and was severely criticised. The boycott was overturned at an emergency conference a few weeks later.

To translate the vague text above: the "facts of the case" as presented by the proponents of the boycott appeared to be a collection of libelous tripe, and, being faced by a certainty of a humiliation in the (British) court, the said proponents ate quite a large crow.

And re the divisiveness - only at the union emergency conference the real size of the pro-boycott faction became clear. That, speaking about "pathetic groupuscules", professor Rose...