Harvard Capitulates to Anti-Semitism

As a Harvard graduate, class of 1974, I am thoroughly disgusted by the Harvard Administration’s cowardly capitulation to the anti-Israel BDS (boycott, divestment, sanction) movement on campus.

As reported recently by the Harvard Crimson (Harvard’s daily student-run newspaper), since April 2014, Harvard University Dining Services (HUDS) stopped purchasing SodaStream machines (do-it-yourself soda and water machines which are owned and manufactured by an Israeli-based company). Since that time HUDS also agreed to remove SodaStream labels from existing water-filtering machines currently installed in the dining halls of many Harvard-Radcliffe residences, or Houses.
This highly unprecedented action, in response to complaints lodged in the Fall of 2013 by two radical pro-Palestinian student groups known as the College Palestine Solidarity Committee and the Harvard Islamic Society, is deplorable and panders to the anti-Semitism of this campus boycott.

Apparently, some members of these Pro-Palestinian student groups experienced “discomfort” when they noticed that the filtered water machines in certain dining halls had SodaStream labels on them. These members also believed that the existence of these SodaStream machines had the potential to offend those affected by the Israel-Palestine conflict.

According to one of the groups’ spokespersons,  these protesters believed that the SodaStream machines could be seen as a “microaggression to Palestinian students and their families and like the University doesn’t care about Palestinian human rights.”

SodaStream is an Israeli company that specializes in do-it-yourself soda and water machines. Sodastream’s main factory is located in the West Bank, in an Israeli settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, which is located in a suburb of Jerusalem.

Interestingly, according to well-respected Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz, the location of this settlement is not a matter of dispute with Mohammad Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority on the West Bank and its former Prime Minister Salm Fayyad.  Both acknowledged directly to Mr. Dershowitz, that in all negotiations about borders and land swaps, this settlement would remain within Israel’s borders. Although the factory is in an area beyond the Armistice lines of 1949, it is not really disputed territory. Nor does it pose any barrier to a two-state solution.SodaStream has claimed that this factory was a “model of integration” employing 500 Palestinians, 450 Arab Israelis and 350 Israeli Jews on the same salaries and with the same social security benefits. Palestinian employees “received salaries four or five times that of the average wage in the territories controlled by Palestinian authorities”.

Assuming six members to a family, SodaStream also argued that this factory was providing income, employment and benefits to support about 6,000 Palestinians and Arab Israelis.

Clearly, both Palestinian and Arab Israeli employees in this factory, earning incomes four or five times greater than that earned by other Palestinians in the West Bank,  did not believe themselves or their families to be victims of “microaggression”.

By the way, these workers would not have even applied to work in this factory without the explicit support of the Palestinian Authority. Clearly, the latter did not believe these workers were subject to human rights violations in this regard.

So what is the real intent and logic behind this opposition? Why are these pro-Palestinian groups engaging in an anti-Israel BDS boycott of SodaStream?

I don’t buy the silly argument that these pro-Palestinian students feel “discomfort” from the existence of SodaStream machines or feel they are the victims of “microagression”.

The real intent of their boycott is to isolate, demonize, and delegitimize Israel – its people, its institutions, its businesses and its products.

In two words – Jew hatred. Otherwise known as a modern and more insidious form of anti-Semitism.

This more modern form of  anti-Semitism was best explained and criticized by Canadian Prime Minister Harper in his memorable, “Fire and Water” speech in the Israeli Knesset, when he stated,

“But, in much of the western world, the old hatred has been translated into more sophisticated language for use in polite society.

People who would never say they hate and blame the Jews for their own failings or the problems of the world, instead declare their hatred of Israel and blame the only Jewish state for the problems of the Middle East.

As once Jewish businesses were boycotted, some civil-society leaders today call for a boycott of Israel. On some campuses, intellectualized arguments against Israeli policies thinly mask the underlying realities, such as the shunning of Israeli academics and the harassment of Jewish students.

Most disgracefully of all, some openly call Israel an apartheid state. Think about that.

Think about the twisted logic and outright malice behind that: a state, based on freedom, democracy and the rule of law, that was founded so Jews can flourish as Jews, and seek shelter from the shadow of the worst racist experiment in history.

That is condemned, and that condemnation is masked in the language of anti-racism.

It is nothing short of sickening.”

Harvard was stained by explicit anti-Semitism in the 1920s and 30s, due to its clearly discriminatory admissions policies against Jewish applicants and students. Harvard’s reputation is now further stained by its capitulation to this more insidious form of anti-Semitism.

Next, these same groups will be “disturbed” by the very presence of Jewish students and faculty on the Harvard campus. Anti-Semitism at Harvard is a cancer that must be eradicated immediately.

Harvard must not tolerate Jew hatred or anti-Semitism on its campus as racism is not tolerated. Hatred of any form is not acceptable at Harvard.  In this case, there is no defense of the freedom of expression or the democratic right to protest.

Any student who engages in anti-Semitic activities at Harvard should be asked to leave.

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