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Of Boycotts, Harry Potter and Visas

By Ameinu Office

Within the past days, we’ve noticed three news items that are closely related; here are embedded links to these relevant JPost articles:

The university boycotters hedge just a bit by indicating that while urging a break in insitutional ties with Israeli universities, they would “continue to work with our Israeli colleagues in their individual capacities.”  The article also quotes Ronnie Fraser, director of the Academic Friends of Israel, “that the number of signers represents less than a quarter of 1 percent of the 194,245 academics working in the United Kingdom.”

J.K. Rowling (pictured above), the superstar author of the Harry Potter series, defended her opposition to this anti-Israel boycott as one of 150 British cultural figures who signed an open letter in The Guardianespousing the value of cultural engagement over a cultural boycott.  She “never heard of a cultural boycott ending a bloody and prolonged conflict.”  She argued further that although she has “deplored most of Mr. Netanyahu’s actions in office,” a cultural boycott harms ordinary Israelis and not the Netanyahu government.  She is quoted as concluding:

The sharing of art and literature across borders constitutes an immense power for good in this world.  …  At a time when the stigmatisation of religions and ethnicities seems to be on the rise, I believe strongly that cultural dialogue and collaboration is more important than ever before and that cultural boycotts are divisive, discriminatory and counter-productive.

In the meantime, Israel’s current government is “coming to the rescue” by having endorsed legislation, on Oct. 19, to ban boycotters from entering the country — with language that presumably includes liberal Zionists like Peter Beinart and board members of Partners for Progressive Israel who support a boycott targeting only West Bank settlements — by penalizing any “deliberate avoidance of economic, social or academic ties or ties to a person or other body just because of his connection to the State of Israel, its institutions or regions under its control, in order to harm it economically, social or academically.”  This measure as a whole may be regarded by many as an assault on human rights (e.g., the freedom of conscience or free speech), but it’s especially extreme for extending its anti-boycott provision to the support of a limited boycott against “regions under its control,” apparently alluding to the West Bank.

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