As Israel, with the support of the Trump administration, increases its assaults on Palestinians–expanding settlement construction and an escalation of attacks on Gaza and the West Bank–the case for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) in general, and the academic boycott of Israel in particular has never been more obvious.
Chemi Shalev reported in Haaretz (1/29/2017) that Trump’s anti-immigrant policies and his proposal to build a wall on the US-Mexico border are inspired by Israel and received praise from Netanyahu:
the Israeli prime minister applauded Trump’s decision to set up a wall with Mexico, with the disputable claim, phrased in Trump-style syntax, “I built a wall along Israel’s southern border. It stopped all illegal immigration. Great success. Great idea.” Netanyahu’s intervention on a topic that is in sharp political dispute in the U.S. is questionable enough, but the timing of his decision to identify so strongly with Trump, just after the president issued his executive order on Syrian refugees and Muslim immigrants – a move viewed widely as a declaration of hate against Muslims – is a reckless gamble.
Under these circumstances, liberal academics and Democratic lawmakers in the US reveal their hypocrisy when they criticize Trump and remain silent on Israel’s policies or actively seek to undermine the BDS movement.
Supporting the growing academic boycott movement is the only coherent position that brings together unambiguous opposition to the Trump administration and to Israel. Academic associations, university administrators and other sites of academic political activity (unions, student organizations, etc) that oppose or create obstacles to the boycott of Israeli academic institutions are in effect providing intellectual cover for policies in Israel that are no different from the discriminatory policies proposed by Trump.
Professional associations and university administrators can no longer hide behind positions of ostensible neutrality or impartiality on Israel-Palestine, when they are all rushing make public statements against Trump’s policies. The MLA Statement on the Immigration Ban “strongly denounces the executive order on immigration issued by the Trump administration on 27 January 2017;” by the same political logic the MLA should denounce Israel’s proposed law to ban international BDS activists from entry into Israel and the Palestinian territories. The Times of Israel headline makes the connection between the US immigration ban and Israel anti-BDS legislation clear: “Amid US travel ban, Israel set to bar entry to boycott activist.”