Saturday, September 11, 2004

The Academic Boycott Strikes Home

I never really imagined that I would write an entry like this. I am, apparently, anothe Israeli victim of the Boycott of Israeli Academicians (at least those on the 'wrong side of the political fence').

About six weeks ago, I contacted a colleague in the US who expertise I required for my forthcoming book, A World Unseen: Categories of Medieval Ashkenazic Culture (Brill: Etudes sur la Judaisme Medievale). The person wrote a very warm response and expressed willingness to consult on certain issues. I wrote back with a few questions and a piece of my own (and a Shanah Tova in tandem). Weeks have gone by with no response. Subsequently, I learned that this person is a radical leftist. Even then, I found it hard to believe that political differences would prevent academic cooperation. Certainly, I have planty of colleagues here in Israel who disagree with my politics, and are uncomfortable with my being a 'settler.' That, however, doesn't prevent our having friendly, professional relations.

In this case, however, itdoesn't appear to hold. A colleague of mine told me that he has no doubt that my gut feeling was correct. Settlers, evidently, don't have a right to be respected as colleagues. (Or, am I a war criminal?)

I find all of this very disconcerting. I go from sad to angry to depressed to indignant to feeling violated.

On the other hand, as Sir Isaiah Berlin once wrote, 'Jews are just like everyone else- only more so.' So, Jewish Anti-Zionists are just like all anti-Zionists, only more so. Perhaps this professor should read more Cynthia Ozick and less Said or Chomsky.


Anonymous said...

This is pitiful. To think that an educated person would behave like this. People should know better than to let their personal opinions gets in their way where academic issues are concerned. One could think that people that behave like this have learned nothing at all about being professional. I work with some hardcore pro-palestine people and we simply don't discuss the issue, because it doesn't concern our relationship as co workers. I realise that there is a difference when you are an Israeli settler, but it even just makes it more ridiculous.
I am sorry to hear this story, and I'm going to post it on my site at :

good luck

Kateland, aka TZH said...

It is more than pitiful. It is an outrage.

sphinx said...

Frankly that's a terrible injustice, and I'm sorry that you have to deal with that.

I would, however, suggest that you retract that bit about Adorno. The article that you link to at mentions in passing the 'anti-germans', a movement of pro-Israeli German communists. Although I have not read "Dialectic of Enlightenment" I understand that it is one of the formative texts for the anti-german critique and contains a lucid critique of anti-semitism itself.

Edward Said, yes. Noam Chomsky yes.

Anonymous said...

It is perhaps in bad taste to leave a comment that is not supportive, but I would fully support the boycott of settlers, whether as academics or elsewhere. I am reminded of a professor I had at university, South African and Jewish, telling me how much she was happy that the South African rugby team had been boycotted by international rugby, leaving hordes of white South Africans without an international platform in a sport they are pretty good at. It's these little things that can get a country to change, just as in South Africa. The Israeli settlers' position in inexcusable and has prolonged the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. You are hurting your own people as well as Palestinians. You should be ashamed.

Anonymous said...

While Dr. Woolf does not need a defender, especially against antagonist people who cloak themselves in the anonymity of the web, I do have a couple of questions about on the anonymous' logic.
Anonymous: I do not share your views in any way, shape, or form. However, as a student, I try to analyze every argument, and understand it, even if I do not agree with it.
Your argument compares the national South African Rugby team, assumingly an all-white team, with individual Israeli Jewish academics. There is the flaw in your reasoning: You are being anti particular individuals because of a political view that they hold. Let us even forget for the moment the sort of "settlement" that Dr. Woolf lives in, because that is irrelevant.
According to you, certain people do not have the right to think, to educate others, and to make advances in their respective fields because they simply hold an opposing political view from you. It is not an issue of withholding national pride, as in the case of South Africa, it is anti-individualistic.
I will not comment on your line "[t]he Israeli settlers' position is inexcusable and has prolonged the Israeli-Palestinian conflict" because I do not wish to partake in political arguments with an illogical person, who is driven by media bits, such as yourself.
However, in conclusion, I see that your "logic" [sic] is complete in your brain. Dr. Woolf should personally be ashamed because of a political and religious decision that he has made. That is tantamount to be stating: "Americans should each be individually ashamed because they have a president like GWB." As the rabbinic dictum states: "Who says that your blood is any redder that anothers." Just as you desire human rights for each individual Palestinian (which is noble), I desire the same sort of human decency for each of your "settlers". There is a difference between the group (and disagreeing with them), and taking the rights of an individual.
Unlike you, I will post my name.
Shana Tova U'Metuka to all. May the New Year bring peace to all.

Ezra Butler