In Defence of Neve Gordon

Friday 18 September 2009, by Michael Warschawski

In an op-ed piece published in the Los Angeles Times, Dr. Neve Gordon, professor of political science at Ben-Gurion University in Beer Sheva, called for international support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. I have already explained in my blog that the point of this international campaign is to sanction Israel for its occupation policies, colonization and systematic violation of international law and United Nations’ resolutions regarding the conflict in Palestine. Dr. Gordon is part of an activist Israeli group that has decided to support the BDS campaign from within Israeli society. This group, “Boycott from Within,” aims to support the claim that Israel must pay for its crimes, based on the understanding that only an unyielding position from the International community can put pressure on the leaders of the Jewish state to finally abide by international laws.

Abiding by international law is actually in Israel’s interest because the alternative to international law is “law of the strongest” and this, sooner or later, will prove fatal to the Israeli people.

The fact that Israelis participate in the BDS campaign means that there is a will to switch from the law of the jungle to the reign of rights. This is the choice that Gordon has made along with hundreds of other Israeli activists.

This stance was harshly criticized: leaders of the Jewish community in Los Angeles have asked Ben Gurion University to expel Neve Gordon, and threatened to suspend their financial aid to the university and call for a boycott of the institution if this is not carried out.

Mission accomplished for Neve Gordon, who could ask for more: BDS is at work against his university. His message in the L.A. Times has been soundly heard. This being said, it is of primary importance that the academic world mobilizes itself to support and defend Neve Gordon, who is currently threatened in his institution and profession. The issue at stake today involves freedom of expression as well as the right of a citizen to express an opinion on his country’s policy. The L.A. Jewish community may very well keep its money if it means receiving a right of veto on what academics can and cannot express in the media.

For the remainder of us in Israel, we will double our efforts to support the international campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions against our rogue state. The issue at stake is one of “public hygiene” in the realm of international relations. Following in the footsteps of white activists against the Apartheid regime in South Africa, we are saying out loud, “Please boycott our country to transform it into a state of rights.”

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