Friday, September 29, 2006

Jewish News Column

The Irish Academic Boycott Will Lead To Ignorance

Thursday 28th of September 2006

A group of Irish professors has called for an academic boycott of Israel.

A recent letter to the Irish Times, signed by 61 Irish academics, calls for the boycott against Israel’s (and add to that any non-compliant Jew’s) academic work. Simply put it is an act of racism.

Academics, by their very nature, are not too smart. When it comes to narrow-minded, blinkered and bigoted thinking there is nothing like the elitist cloisters of a university. With tenure there is little or no responsibility for thought; engage mouth before brain without consequence. But this insulting call should be vigorously protested against.

This attitude, by academics, of all people, goes against the wisdom attributed to Maimonides who said, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

The writer and futurologist, Alvin Toffler, noted that the power of what he terms “the third wave” or the information age, (the first wave being agrarian society, the second the industrial age) is that unlike the girl sitting in a rice paddy that can only be used and profited by her; in the information age, the same piece of information can be used and profited from over and over by many people simultaneously.

If knowledge liberates, a lack of knowledge – or ignorance – feeds terror and injustice.

If ignorance leads to terror the opposite is also true. Education leads to freedom – it liberates the mind. Instead of adding to and supporting the anti-Semitic lies and libels around the Arab world that foment hate to Israel and Jews, these academics should make a dispassionate search for truth their mission.

Instead of boycotting Israel, these academics would do far better good by addressing the ignorance that feeds terror in the Gaza Strip and West Bank: Textbooks that deny the holocaust; maps denying Israel; brandishing Jews apes and pigs; Jewish control of the world.

One example of the futility of these boycotts was revealed to me by my doctor. An Israeli hematologist, working to cure a genetic disease, prone to those who marry first cousins – Palestinians —needs blood supplies obtained from Holland for his research; that is until he was boycotted by them. The losers: The Palestinians. Daft, isn’t it?

Israel has contributed to the world through invention and the sharing of information in the fields of high technology, medical research, mobile phone technology, the development of the Pentium chip. Compare that with sclerotic Europe and the failure of the Lisbon agenda – that laughable grand scheme to compete with America’s knowledge base.

If anything, Israel should “boycott” Europe. Europe’s lack of innovation, inefficient, corrupt and undemocratic form of government (yes, Israeli politics has its share of corruption too) are going nowhere. The European Union is stuck in the industrial age, if not the failed command and control structure of the Communist system. Economically they are yesterday’s news.

The Airbus A380 superjumbo, both a literal and a figurative white elephant, proves that Europe, with state intervention and the lack of vision due to forced cooperation between disparate states, just won’t fly. It’s time Israel ‘boycotts’ Europe. Not out of some delusional hatred as Europe displays towards Israel, but simply because who wants to hang out with losers? Europe is holding Israel back.

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