An Academic Ally in Hamas

Imagine a movement called Movement X. The movement is simple: it is calling for a boycott of a country of alleged oppressors. The movement is constantly gaining traction, mostly promoted by devotees that would do anything for it. Daily, thousands of people, are impacted by its principles, pounded at them by those religiously adhering to the mantras it dictates. Movement X is meant to impact a people, a people who allegedly have no voice to fight their own battle. Now, take those people and imagine that they refuse to follow Movement X. That would be a failure of Movement X, no?

That’s just what is happening with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement against Israel, which calls for a complete economic boycott of anything made in Israel, including its educational resources and medical and scientific inventions. Although it is consistently gaining global traction among those who are not impacted by its results, those directly impacted have refused to comply with the movement’s calls. Examples of this range from the head of Hamas transporting his own granddaughter to Schneider Medical Center, an Israeli hospital in Petah Tikvah, to receive treatment for her illness, to the founder of the BDS movement Omar Barghouti getting his masters in philosophy (ethics) from Tel Aviv University. Granted, it can be said that these figures needed to go to Israel for medical help and education, since the Palestinian territories are unable to provide adequate resources for both. However, this inadequacy cannot be blamed upon Israel. Rather, when Israel gave up the Gaza Strip in 2005 in pursuit of peace with the Palestinians, it gave up its ability to facilitate medical care and education in the strip to the elected governing body, which ironically is Hamas. Apparently, however, eight years is not enough time for them to gain a handle on managing the needs of their people.

Movements have come to stand in as the atheists’ religion. In a time of religious downturn, people have turned to new venues to unite themselves with a cause. That is all well and good when it means the Salvation Army ringing bells on every corner of Manhattan during the holiday season, or when facebook calls for you to donate to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan every time you visit your homepage. But when people are calling for a boycott of a country that is not even being boycotted by those it allegedly oppresses? There is something very very wrong with such a movement. And something even more wrong with promoting only one side of it to impressionable students in the name of academic freedom.

About the Author
Melanie Goldberg is a current student at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. She also serves as the research assistant for Versa: The Israeli Supreme Court English Language Repository, and founded a chapter of The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights on her campus. Most recently, she was one of the recipients of The Jewish Week's "36 under 36" award.