In a column published Thursday evening in the NY Daily News, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Charles Krauthammer weighed in on the American Studies Association (ASA) boycott of Israel. Describing the ASA as pulling itself out of "well-deserved obscurity" to make "a name for itself by voting to boycott Israeli universities, accusing them of denying academic and human rights to Palestinians," Krauthammer laid out the hypocritical and anti-Semitic nature of the boycott.
The columnist begins by writing about the freedoms available in Israel, including how they promote diversity at Israeli universities with affirmative action programs for Arab students. Then he speaks frankly about the "neighborhood" in which Israel lives:
Made more so when you consider the state of human rights in Israel’s neighborhood. As we speak, Syria’s government is dropping “barrel bombs” filled with nails, shrapnel and other instruments of terror on its own cities. Where is the ASA boycott of Syria?
And of Iran, which hangs political, religious and even sexual dissidents and has no academic freedom at all? Or Egypt, where Christians are being openly persecuted? Or Turkey, Saudi Arabia or, for that matter, massively repressive China and Russia?
Which makes obvious that the ASA boycott has nothing to do with human rights. It’s an exercise in radical chic, giving marginalized academics a frisson of pretend anti-colonialism, seasoned with a dose of edgy anti-Semitism.
And don’t tell me this is merely about Zionism. The ruse is transparent. Israel is the world’s only Jewish state. To apply to the state of the Jews a double standard that you apply to none other, to judge one people in a way you judge no other, to single out that one people for condemnation and isolation — is to engage in a gross act of discrimination.
And discrimination against Jews has a name. It’s called anti-Semitism.
Krauthammer relates the example of Alan Dershowitz and Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Weinberg who, when a British academic association threatened to boycott Israel, composed an open letter which explained that for the purposes of their boycott they should be considered Israeli and be boycotted also. Thousands of other academics joined with Dershowitz and Weinberg and signed the letter.
He ended his column by calling the boycott what it is: Anti-Semitism.
The persistence of anti-Semitism, that most ancient of poisons, is one of history’s great mysteries. Even the shame of the Holocaust proved no antidote. It provided but a temporary respite. Anti-Semitism is back. Alas, a new generation must learn to confront it.
How? How to answer the thugs, physical and intellectual, who single out Jews for attack? The best way, the most dignified way, is to do like Dershowitz, Weinberg or Kissin. Express your solidarity. Sign the open letter or write your own. Don the yellow star and wear it proudly.