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Fantasy in the academic world about Israel boycotts

Written by Dr. Michael Curtis, AIFL Board  

Reprinted from The Commentator 

Having your cake and eating it is usually seen as a fanciful dream. That dream has now become real and fulfilled by at least one-third of the American Studies Association (ASA) which does not believe that an academic boycott is a violation of academic freedom.

A resolution proposing the ASA "endorses and will honor the call of Palestinian civil society for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions" was originally proposed by a Caucus group of ASA on December 4, 2013 .

It was endorsed unanimously by the National Council, and in an election of December 15, 2013 in which 1252 of the total eligible 3853 voters participated, it was passed by votes of 66% in favor, 30.5% against, with 3.5% abstaining.

The whole episode is not simply a demonstration of the well known inherent bias against the State of Israel held by many of the supporters of the boycott, but also one of glaring hypocrisy, disregard of the stated official objectives of the ASA, improper action on behalf of a foreign group, and violation of United States law.

The bias expressed by the ASA, a body not versed in the complexities of Middle Eastern affairs, stems from the proposal to boycott only one country, Israel. Even the current president of ASA, Curtis Marez, Professor of Ethnic Studies at UC San Diego whose main interest is U.S. Latinos, appeared troubled in explaining his tortuous logic on the issue.

He confessed that many countries, including Israel's neighbors, are generally judged to have human rights records that are worse than or comparable to those of Israel, but "one has to start somewhere." (Emphasis added)

Curiously, the "somewhere" for Professor Marez has to be the only democratic country in the Middle East. Moreover, his dilemma went even further. He explained, without realizing what should be embarrassment in his reference to a foreign agent, that " in countries with oppressive governments, past and present, civil society groups had not asked his association with a boycott, as Palestinian groups have." Does he anticipate other foreign groups asking him for support?

One may indeed ask if it is the intention of ASA, or its leadership, to acquiesce in other future foreign demands of Palestinians or anyone else. Unfortunately for the ASA its members have apparently has not received the latest instructions.


Negotiation With Iran Leads To Threat of War

Bibi: 'If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone.'

Recent reports of the status of negotiations with Iran to resolve the risk of Iran's threat to become a nuclear power have alarming implications.  The U.S. is apparently supporting a deal where existing sanctions on Iran will be relaxed against an Iranian pledge to freeze its progress towards achieving nuclear weapon capability.

Such a deal would leave Iran with the possibility or likelihood of unfreezing the "freeze" at a time of its choosing (or secretly) and resuming on its present path to a bomb.  Experience with Iran teaches that they have broken every promise they made on this subject.

The negotiations must include the assured permanent abandonment of Iran's ambitions to achieve nuclear weapon capability.  Any other direction would be a fool's game.  It would be a certain path to war, either sooner or later.  The Prime Minister of Israel has given fair notice that Israel cannot accept the existence of a nuclear Iran, who has repeatedly threatened to seek the annihilation of the Jewish State.

In his recent speech at the U.N. about Iran's march to nuclear capability, Prime Minister Netanyahu said, "If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone."  It is significant that none of the nations involved in the present negotiations with Iran who have urged a relaxation of sanctions against an Iranian pledge to freeze its nuclear efforts are faced with an existential risk or threat such as confronts Israel.  For each of those nations, a nuclear Iran would simply represent another nuclear power, which would not alter the dangers faced in today's nuclear lineup.  None of the U.S., Germany, China, Russia or Great Britain need fear that a nuclear Iran would launch an unprovoked attack on them.  Such complacency ignores the probable consequences of a transfer by Iran of nuclear weaponry or technology to its terrorist allies.

The U.S. has repeatedly said that it will not permit Iran to obtain an atomic bomb.  But the biggest riddle in the equation is whether the U.S. statements are sufficient to provide Israel with the comfort it requires to withhold a military attack on Iran before it is too late to prevent  its accomplishment of nuclear capability.

So far, the U.S. statements have not caused Iran to reduce its march to a bomb, and it has flagrantly refused to alter its course.  It has treated the U.S. as a paper tiger.  So why should anyone think that the direction of present negotiations offers any chance of success?  In this posture, the negotiations appear to be a path to war.
There is only one way for the U.S. to convince Iran and others it is serious in its statements:  that is, the path it followed recently in Syria.  After it was established that Syria used chemical weapons in the present civil war, the U.S. issued an ultimatum backed with the threat of immediate attack on Syria with a request for Congressional support of the U.S. threat.  Syria backed down and accepted the ultimatum.

If the U.S. followed the same course vis a vis Iran, it is highly likely Iran would follow Syria's path to wisdom and safety.  Without showing the same determination we showed in Syria is there any reason for Iran to alter its course towards disaster?  Our ally Israel deserves to know whether it would have U.S. support if it became involved in hostilities with Iran if it felt compelled to exercise its right to self-protection.

Kenneth Bialkin is a lawyer and is associated with several Jewish organizations.  This article does not reflect the views of any other entity.

Click here for link: http://www.thejewishweek.com/editorial-opinion/opinion/negotiation-iran-leads-threat-war


Statement of the America-Israel Friendship League on the Iranian Situation


For Immediate Release


For further information contact:

Daniella Rilov, Associate Executive Director

America-Israel Friendship League

(212) 213-8630, Ext. 226 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it



December 12, 2013, New York, New York.   The AIFL is concerned that the recently announced agreements between the United States and the P5+1 nations and Iran may increase the risk that Iran will not renounce its objective to acquire nuclear weapons capability.  Although President Obama has publicly promised that the U.S. will prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons there is no assurance that the new policies toward Iran will succeed.  The newly announced policy will relieve Iran from a portion of the worldwide sanctions against Iran which have had a major effect on Iran.

Various texts of the released documents have introduced confusion among serious observers.  Do they expressly or implicitly signal a possibility to permit Iran to possess a nuclear bomb?  How will differences in rights, obligations, or interpretations be resolved?  Are the terms of the agreements consistent with U.S. law or with resolutions of the Security Council of the U.N., or resolutions of the U.S. House of Representatives or the Senate?  Our discussion with experts leave us in doubt.  What happens if, in the course of negotiations, Iran refuses to forswear its so-called right to enrichment of uranium or of an intention to seek nuclear weapons capability?  And, in such a case, if Israel refuses to accept Iran's refusal to so forswear will it decide to preempt and attack Iran?  And, in such a case, what will be the U.S. response?  If the negotiations fail to resolve the issues in six months, will sanctions against Iran expire, recede, or be removed?

Kenneth J. Bialkin, Chairman of AIFL, said: 

"It is out of the concern for these questions that AIFL decided to express our views at this early stage before the contemplated complex process possibly degenerates."

"AIFL is a 501 (c)(3) U.S. tax exempt organization which is secular, non-partisan and non-political where our directors are both Jewish and non-Jewish.  We have a chapter in Israel whose directors are Israelis of political diversity.  The Israeli chapter is a separate, non-profit, non-political entity registered under Israeli law.  The chairman of our Israeli chapter is a former permanent representative of Israel to the United Nations.  Our founding chairman in 1971 was Herbert Tenzer, a longstanding member of the U.S. House of Representatives.  The mission of the AIFL, as its title suggests, is to support the strong friendship of the U.S. and the State of Israel and among their citizens.  In short, we love both countries, the U.S. and Israel, and we help to promote the shared values of both countries, based on the principles of freedom, democracy and liberty which were established by the founding fathers of each country.  Each country had to fight a war to establish its independence at its inception and remains true to the perceptions and dictates of its own Declaration of Independence."

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