Andrew Greig (NSW) writes to The Australian re Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies’ refusal to host Israeli academic 30Dec12 December 30, 2012

If Israelis played rugby

Being overseas, I missed the beginning of the attack on the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS) for its refusal to host Israeli academic Dan Avnon in accordance with its support of the boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israeli products, personnel and institutions. The BDS campaign was initiated because of the Israeli government’s obdurate continuation of settlement on Palestinian lands and its repeated violence against Palestinian citizens. Missile launches by Hamas cannot be condoned, but the hugely over-reactive aerial bombardment and other military action on civilians in Gaza have been little short of war crimes.

The accusation that this boycott is anti-semitic misses the point completely. CPACS has no argument against Professor Avnon personally. (We may well at some stage have informal unofficial discussions with him). It is his institution, the Hebrew University, that we are unable to support. That university is part of the Israeli establishment and complicit in such activities as the land grabs from Palestinians.

Despite the protests of the highly resourced and aggressive Israeli government public relations machinery, BDS is beginning to bite. Israelis are very proud of their intellectuals, which is possibly why you are now reading these words. Which brings me to anti-Semitism. A number of Israeli academics do not back the government line and they support BDS. For what it’s worth, I too have some Jewish ancestry. A number of my not-so-distant relatives undoubtedly perished in the gas chambers. In my arrogant Semitic way, I had believed that Jews have a reasonably high level of intelligence and I have been astonished and saddened at the brutal and – in terms of long-term strategy – truly dim-witted policies of the Israeli government. Justice will eventually come to the Palestinians, just as it did to black South Africans and we will ask ourselves why it has taken so long. As far as protest in Australia goes, I think it’s a great pity that Israelis are not skilled in and passionate about Test cricket, or rugby football. BDS would have been on the map here much sooner.

Andrew Greig
Council Member, Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney

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