A group of 71 British doctors are agitating to expel Israel from the World Medical Association.
Scientists, like our own Stephen Hawking, want to bar their Israeli colleagues from international congresses.
The American Anthropological Association wants to stop any links with Israeli academic institutions.
Covert boycotts on Israeli academics and students are being imposed on US campuses.
Hatred of Israel is evident, and such poison never fails to find an appropriate vessel. For the British doctors the pretext is that Israeli medics torture Palestinian patients – a lie of which Julius Streicher would have been justly proud.
The assumption in the academe seems to be that Israel is worse than any other country, for no other country is subjected to the same treatment. Moreover, Israel’s sins are presumably so great that they fall upon every Israeli, regardless of personal culpability.
For, even if we accept the lie that the Israeli medical profession is one collective Dr Mengele, one can’t think offhand of any heinous crimes Israeli anthropologists may have committed. Even assuming that they conduct experiments on the bones they dig up, this seems morally unobjectionable.
Actually one could put forward a few other countries whose behaviour is more conducive to opprobrium.
Russia springs to mind, what with money laundering being her principal economic activity, murder (including in the streets of London) her chosen way of settling political disputes, lupine aggression against neighbours circumscribing her foreign policy, and nuclear blackmail her method of dealing with the West.
Saudi Arabia is another possibility, what with her blood-curdling jurisprudence, cannibalistic rituals, suppression of every freedom, and sponsorship of global terrorism. Boycotting Saudi scientists may be futile because none exist, but symbolic gestures matter.
And what about China, which deals with political opponents in demonstrably un-Western ways? Though Chinese scientists seem to produce anything of value only after they emigrate, some do stay, and surely China is a worse place than Israel?
In short, there are no rational reasons for harassing Israeli academics, but there must be powerful irrational ones. Anti-Semitism is one such, though it would be simplistic to reduce the entire complexity of the problem just to that.
Following the events of 70-80 years ago, saying ‘down with Jews’ has become unfashionable. However, since the underlying sentiment is extant, these days anti-Semitism often mutates into anti-Zionism.
The stratagem lacks novelty appeal: in the Russia of my youth the slogan ‘Down with Zionism’ routinely appeared in newspapers under the kind of hook-nosed cartoons that could have been copied from Der Stürmer.
However, if we believe Thomas Mann that most intellectual attitudes are latently political, academic anti-Zionism must have not only racial antecedents but also political ones.
The greatest gravitational pull in the academe is known to be exerted by the political left. Though I can’t cite statistics to back up this observation, the anecdotal evidence is strong enough.
The dominant implicit ideology of the left is hatred of the West, though explicitly this sentiment can take various forms. Hard-line communism is one such, and it’s alive on campuses, though these days it’s mostly relegated to the fringes, at least in the Anglophone world.
However, communism has been compromised by its universal record of success in one area only: mass murder. Advocating it in earnest may drive a person into intellectual oblivion (or else to the leadership of the Labour Party).
Other conduits for hating the West are more productive, with the rhetoric of Third World diversity, anti-colonialism and multi-culti sanctimony the most productive of all.
When a Western policeman can be portrayed as violating the rights of a presumably persecuted group, this is grist to the mill of anti-Western indignation. However, when millions are hacked to death in places like Rwanda or Burundi, this is seen as ill-considered but understandable quaintness.
Hence the problem with Israel is that it’s not only too Jewish but too Western as well. Therefore its efforts to defend itself against millions of fanatics have to be castigated, whereas the Muslims’ openly expressed desire to kill every Jew is viewed with sympathy or at least compassionate understanding.
Just to think that not so long ago academics could think logically and dispassionately. These days they just emote, usually in a nasty way.