Before the ceasefire between Israel and the terrorist organization Hamas, almost 600 scientists and teachers in higher education from the Netherlands have written an open letter to the Dutch government regarding the conflict between Israel and Palestine. The signatories argue that it is dangerous to think that Israel and Palestine are equal. This point was made earlier by the former Hezbollah fighter, nowadays opinion maker in Belgium, Dyab Abou Jahjah. The signatories state that Palestinians are living ‘under military’, ‘dispossessed of their homes’ and living as ‘second class citizens’ in an apartheid system. They refer to ‘this brutality and discrimination’ as the cause for the current violence. Although the Association of Universities of the Netherlands, following my op-ed at Elsevier Weekblad – Podium, spoke out against the open letter, this seemed to have no consequences yet. Therefore, in the current article the primary messages of the letter will be analyzed.
Like Abou Jahjah, these scientist forget to mention that the Hamas Charter from 1988 excludes the option for co-existence with Israel. As Sheikh Yassin, founder of Hamas, explained: Hamas is only willing to agree with a temporary co-existence for pragmatic reasons. According to them, Israel has to be destroyed. In 2006, Hamas has been elected by the Palestinian people. This terrorist organization is not distanced from the people. The Dutch teachers and scientist are also ‘forgetting’ to mention that Hamas fired over 4000 missiles at Israel in 10 days. Should Israel not have had the Iron Dome, nothing would have been left of it.
The signatories do not seem to care about the victims of Islamic regimes, such as the Iranian. The oppressed and murdered non-Muslims, women and homosexuals are apparently not worth their attention. However, Israel – a democratic constitutional state that tries to balance as much as possible between human rights and the security of its inhabitants, during a permanent (threat of) war – is. Israel, which taking major efforts to avoid unnecessary casualties, but which must of course respond to the Palestinian violence. The problem is that Hamas is preparing operations from residential areas and is launching its missiles from these densely populated areas as well. Perhaps even more problematic is that there are Palestinians that are willing to sacrifice the lives of their children for some negative media coverage regarding Israel.
The Dutch academics also do not seem to be concerned about the lives of Israeli children. However, these children have to fear for the long arm of the Iranian regime, that is financing, arming or even coordinating a coalition of terrorist groups, such as Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and even a branch of Al Qaeda. It has been estimated that Hezbollah is in possession of 150,000 Iranian missiles. However, in the open letter there is no mentioning of Hamas or the Palestinian rocket violence.
To the teachers and scientist it is concerning that ‘Palestinian scholars have been subjected to harassment, and academics living abroad are banned from entering Israel’. Therefore, they are calling ‘to boycott Israeli academic institutions’. They are justifying this boycott through the
formal relationships between Israeli universities and the Israeli military, as well as other state institutions that form the architecture of the occupation.
Somewhat comical, they hasten to make an additional sentence, apparently to prevent the accusation of antisemitism, by being able to defend that the letter is aiming against the state of Israel and not against its citizens:
It should be made clear that this position has no effect on collaboration and cooperation with individual Israeli scholars and colleagues.
This reasoning is nonsense, since a boycott against Israeli academic institutions obviously harms individual scientist as well. When those institutes receive lesser international students, can organize lesser conferences and get lesser articles published, the results could be serious. Possible outcomes could be harmed reputations, but also forced redundancies, and therefore more issues in finding a job at non-Israeli institutes.
Although signatory Larissa Schulte Nordholt from Leiden University has approved violence against Israel before, the high number of signatories from that university is somewhat striking. In a responding tweet the rector, Hester Bijl, explicitly disapproved the boycott against Israel.
The academics and teachers show theirselves as forerunners of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, in which academics usually only aim at the academic world. The open letter is actually following a broader approach. The signatories:
call on the Dutch government to take action to achieve a just peace by cutting all economic, political, and military relations with Israel, until such a time as all sections of the Palestinian people are afforded their rights.
It can be concluded that their wish is to break all formal Dutch ties with a democratic constitutional state and ally, in favor of – among other things – defending the rights of terrorist groups such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Noteworthy is that, according to a poll from two months ago, 30% of the Palestinians will vote for Hamas in the upcoming Palestinian parliamentarian elections. Hamas is still a popular movement among Palestinians. Does that also account for the Dutch academics that signed the open letter? Probably not, however, as long as they refuse to openly distance themselves from these terrorist organizations, their boycott is having a disgusting aftertaste.