Monday, February 01, 2016

  • Monday, February 01, 2016
  • Elder of Ziyon
Back in 2007, I coined the term "misoziony":
While the irrational hatred of Israel and Zionism is often a good indicator of a hatred of Jews as well, use of "anti-semitism" is often a distraction from the argument being made, and overuse of that term waters it down over time.
Misoziony , although I'm not sure how it is pronounced, is a word that may solve this problem. Miso- is a prefix, based on the Greek misos, that means "hatred." Misoziony - the hatred of Israel and Zionism - is a fundamentally irrational loathing that is just as disgusting as anti-semitism but without the baggage.
Misozionists like to say, for example, that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is not anti-semitic because he allows a number of Jews to live in relative peace in Iran, as long as they keep in their place. Arguing that this is but a more subtle form of anti-semitism - which it is - takes away from the prime argument that Ahmadinejad singlemindedly wants to see the Israel utterly destroyed. Arab and Islamic anti-semitism is generally more subtle nowadays than their naked misoziony.
Hating Israel in grossly disproportionate ways compared to the behavior of any other nation is a sickness that is closely related to anti-semitism but it is not identical. Misoziony shows itself to be no less reprehensible than pure anti-semitism, because the desire to see the destruction of Israel is as disgusting as any bigotry.
Israel-bashers like to claim that Zionists use the term "anti-semitism" as a club to crush all criticism of Israel. The problem is, of course, that the same crowd uses the claim of Zionist use of anti-semitism as a means to avoid discussing real issues. The word misoziony can neatly solve that problem and can help re-focus the arguments back on their fundamentally untenable bases. Pointing out misoziony can help to sharpen the debate and point out the basic irrationality of the Israel-bashers.
It didn't catch on, of course, but I think it is still useful to describe things like this AP article:
Israeli anthropologist Dan Rabinowitz is a leader in his field, heading a prestigious school of environmental studies at Tel Aviv University, authoring dozens of publications and holding visiting teaching positions over the years at leading North American universities.
But the British-educated Rabinowitz fears that his younger counterparts may not enjoy the same professional opportunities for a very personal reason: They are Israeli. 
As a global boycott movement against Israeli universities gains steam, Israeli professors say they are feeling the pressure from their colleagues overseas. Although the movement ostensibly targets universities, not individuals, Israeli academics say they are often shunned at the personal level. They experience snubs at academic conferences, struggle to get recommendations and can experience difficulty publishing their work in professional journals. 
"This is highly personal and personalized," said Rabinowitz.

Peretz Lavie, president of the Technion, Israel's premier science and technology university, said the effect of such decisions has so far been minimal. 
Nonetheless, Lavie said the boycott movement has become a top concern for Israeli university leaders, particularly as it gains support at the "ground level" from U.S. student unions and academic associations.
"There may be a domino effect," he said. "If we do not deal with it, it will be a major problem."
Lavie is now leading a battle against the boycott. While acknowledging that Israeli government policies are open to criticism, he said that holding universities responsible for them is unfair and asked why countries with abysmal human rights records, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, have been spared.
"We have the feeling that these movements treat Israel differently than any other country in the world," he said.
Ya think?
Rabinowitz counts the November vote by the anthropological association as one of the most painful chapters of his career. He said he personally tried to alter the boycott resolution twice — only to be rejected with little or no debate. He said the rejection by his colleagues was a "defining moment" for him. In a statement, the association confirmed Rabinowitz's account, noting that the meeting was "highly charged." 
Ed Liebow, the association's executive director, said the organization felt "a strong commitment" to take some sort of action. "The one thing we can't do is nothing," he said. The measure goes to the association's more than 10,000 members for a vote this spring. 
Although the American anthropologists have never before proposed a boycott of academic institutions, the association said it commonly takes public stands against governments accused of restricting academic freedom. It recently sent a letter to leaders of Turkey, criticizing them for allegedly curbing scholars there. 
Ilana Feldman, a professor of anthropology at George Washington University and a boycott supporter, said the proposal, if passed, would not impede professors "in any way" from working with Israeli scholars. 
Rabinowitz, however, said it is impossible to distinguish between a person and his institution, which becomes part of one's professional identity. 
Israeli academics say such feelings are increasingly common. 
Rachelle Alterman, a professor emeritus of urban planning at the Technion, said she still has strong working relationships with colleagues around the world, but the pro-boycott camp is a "rising minority" in academia.  
Alterman said she has begun to feel a "coldness" from some colleagues at conferences that was not there in the past. She said some colleagues refuse to attend conferences in Israel, and editors at professional journals tell her it is difficult to find people willing to review papers by Israeli academics. 
"I call it the dark matter. It's there all the time, but elusive, hard to spot," she said. 
In one recent case, a British colleague coolly rejected a request to assist one of her graduate students. 
"I am afraid that as part of the institutional boycott being observed by some academics in relation to Israeli organisations I am unable to help with your request," the British professor wrote in an email.
And then, of course, everyone agrees who is the real evil in Israel:
Rabinowitz said the boycott efforts will backfire by undermining Israeli moderates and playing into the hands of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's hard-line government.
"It is the best present they can give Netanyahu and the radical right in Israel," he said.

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