Cascading boycotts

by Henry Farrell on June 2, 2006

Siva Vaidhyanathan “takes inspiration”: from the recent “NAFTHE decision”:,,1785634,00.html to boycott Israeli academics who don’t disassociate themselves from their country’s policies.

bq. Please boycott me. While you are at it, boycott all other American professors. Do not invite us to conferences. Do not publish our work. Do not read our blogs (after this post, of course). We have a lot to answer for. I am an American academic who has not done enough to prevent my government from launching an illegal and counterproductive invasion of a sovereign country. On my watch, my country has also imprisoned thousands of innocent people without charge and without instigating a process for demonstrating their harmlessness. It has engaged in massive surveillance of communication both overseas and domestic without regard for domestic laws or the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. Many of my fellow American academics have failed to prevent our government from doing these and many other bad things. So we deserve to be punished. Clearly, we are craven collaborators.

This is a far better response to the silliness of the motion than Larry Summer’s over-the-top claim that the boycott was “motivated by anti-Semitism”:, which grants the authors of the motion a level of world historical significance than they sorely lack. Their self-importance smacks less of Julius Streicher than the “Skibbereen Eagle”: Steven Poole’s “post”: on the sorry affair is also worth reading.

Update: as this is degenerating into the usual pro/anti Israel fight, I’m not allowing any further comments.



Doormat 06.02.06 at 5:18 pm

I was amused to read, in a tiny article in the newspaper today, that as NAFTHE and the AUT have merged, this boycott is now officially off: it, along will all policies where the two unions disagreed, has been shelved. So it was in operation for a grand two days or something– oddly no-one mentioned this when it was initially voted for. At the very least, presumably most of the people voting would know that it would hence be a massive token gesture…

Not that this stops it being a remarkably stupid idea, of course.


RedWolf 06.02.06 at 5:31 pm

There is no way to explain the huge interest in the Palestinian cause, as oppose to Kurdistan, Chechnya, etc. without extreme discrimination of Israel. NAFTHE, fanatical organization determined to discriminate the way you, Henry, are. In the old books they used to call extreme discrimination against Jews – Anti-Semitism. Unless the term was officially replaced, it still sticks.

Henry, have you paid enough attention to all national conflicts? How much efforts, i.e. blogging have you done for the pure Kurds? Have you supported the French Canadians, etc.

Sunners is not stupid; you are an Anti-Semite, though only when Israel is concern (what a relief).


Omri 06.02.06 at 5:53 pm

Let’s see the wording of the resolution, shall we?

Conference notes the victory of HAMAS in the recent Palestine Authority elections.

Conference condemns the hysterical reporting of the result by most of the British news media and the outrageous bias shown by UK Government statements against the outcome of a democratic process

Now recall, if you will, that the preamble of the founding charter of Hamas cites the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Recall that Hamas regularly cites a piece of Muslim eschatology about Jews hiding behind trees and the trees crying out “there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.” Recall that Hamas’s fighters regularly use the Nazi salute. (Yes, the salute is of American origin, but Hamas’s men are not paying homage to the Bellamy brothers when they use it.) Recall that Hamas’s publications regularly speak in overt praise of Hitler.

Recall that Hamas’s platform calls for restoring the formal inferiority of non-Muslims to Muslims, as specified in their take on Sharia Law.

The proponents of the NATFE resolution are well aware of all this; it is absurd to think otherwise. Their response, is willfull blindness.

It takes willful blindness to call the British government’s treatment of Hamas as “outrageous” when you know Hamas is a racist, antisemitic, and genocide-minded party.

There is a word that fittingly describes people who treat displays of antisemitism with willful blindness. The word is “antisemitic.” The proponents of the NAFTHE resolution have spent considerable time and effort providing the world with evidence of their antisemitism. The jackboot fits and they should wear it. BTW, Henry, to describe them as antisemites does not ascribe them with importance or world historical significance.


Cryptic Ned 06.02.06 at 5:55 pm

There is no way to explain the huge interest in the Palestinian cause, as oppose to Kurdistan, Chechnya, etc. without extreme discrimination of Israel.

Yes there is. Israel is seen as a country one can reason with, unlike Russia and the various countries that contain Kurdistan.

And therefore…the rest of your comment has no basis.


Cryptic Ned 06.02.06 at 5:55 pm

An antisemitic person is one prejudiced against Jews. Not a person who holds Israel’s foreign policy to a high standard.


Omri 06.02.06 at 6:00 pm

Cryptic Ned, let’s clear up one thing. We Israelis cannot be reasoned with. We’re completely and utterly batshit crazy. Got it?


otto 06.02.06 at 6:29 pm

“We’re completely and utterly batshit crazy”

True enough. Israelis have put settler colonies with about 400,000 settlers on the land conquered in 1967. Batshit crazy is one way of putting it. A permanent policy motivated by racist hatred of arabs is another.

It’s just not possible to think that anything NAFTHE is doing is more objectionable than what Israel has done and is doing.


Commenterlein 06.02.06 at 6:39 pm

What Redwolf said.

NAFTHE holds Israeli academics to a different standard than academics from other countries. Which is exactly what Siva Vaidhyanathan’s amusing post is pointing out. If NAFTHE’s action is not motivated by anti-semitism, what’s the reason?


Henry 06.02.06 at 6:42 pm

Redwolf – our policy on offensive accusations is pretty straightforward. I’m barring you permanently from commenting on my posts. Any future comments you make will be deleted as soon as I see them.

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