Effects of BDS campaign
Op-ed: Future leaders of US, Britain attend prestigious universities where anti-Israel activity is most virulent
The 9th Annual Israeli Apartheid Week, which kicked off in Europe on February 25th, included the usual celebration of hypocrisy and boycotts. Students at Oxford University declared their support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. Sometimes the beacon of enlightenment, even it is very prestigious, appears dark and oppressive.
Britain is not alone. In prestigious universities throughout the United States the struggle surrounding the calls for BDS is year-round. In the spring of 2010 Berkeley became the first university where the student senate reached a decision to ban companies that do business with Israel. The proposal's initiators, members of the "Students for Justice in Palestine" group (a leader in the incitement against Israel) convinced the school's senate that the move would be good for democracy. The boycott was prevented when Berkeley's president vetoed it, but similar processes have already begun at the University of California, San Diego and Stanford.
The system is the same in every school: Muslim organizations promote the anti-Israel measures, and the blind Left in the West carries them out. The peak usually comes during Apartheid Week. I won't go into the hypocritical rhetoric. Instead, I'll focus on the ramifications. While the academic ivory tower does not dictate foreign policy, it does have a strong influence on the next generation. The future leaders of the US and Britain study at these prestigious universities. The struggle for their awareness is the struggle for diplomatic wiggle room a decade from now.
The lecturers have the most influence. There are not enough supporters of Israel who are willing to pick up the flag. Academic pluralism is non-existent in some of the prestigious universities. There is no one to present the complex situation in the Middle East.
In light of the fact that the Israeli government does not work to improve Israel's image abroad (hasbara), a possible solution is to recruit Israeli lecturers to the cause. There are many Israeli professors who go abroad during their year-long hiatus. They have the familiarity and ability to present the complicated reality in the Middle East. The problem is that not all of them will want to face the outbursts of modern anti-Semitism while on hiatus, while others are not pro-Israel enough.