It was a hallmark of the Enlightenment civilization of the West that warring countries still shared scientific knowledge, and held scholarship above politics. During the Napoleonic Wars the British and French in the South Seas would often set the war aside and help one another’s research ships, providing they proved their scientific credentials.
The community of scholarship was thought to transcend not only national but also religious boundaries, as, one way or another, it had been thought of since the foundation of universities in early medieval times. In 1788, when Catholic priests were banned in England, the astronomer Giuseppe Piazzi, not merely a Catholic priest but a Professor of Dogmatic Theology in Rome, traveled to England to work with fellow astronomer Nevil Maskelyne, a Protestant minister.
George Orwell, writing in World War II, commented on a British newspaper produced in 1810: “There is an article of about 9,000 words on the publication of the French scientific body known as the Societe d’Areueil. The French scientists … are treated with the utmost respect.”
It would, he said, be impossible to discover from this article that there was a war on between the two countries.
However, it seems we have moved on from the values of the enlightenment in Britain, and this is considering a community which Britain is not even at war with: Delegates at the first conference of the new British academics’ body, the University and College Union, voted by 158 to 99 to recommend “a comprehensive and consistent boycott” of all Israeli academic institutions to its branches. (Some will be very east to boycott. They are closed because of constant rocket-fire into them from Gaza.)
The UCU resolution includes proposals to “organize a UK-wide campus tour for Palestinian academics/educational trade unionists.”
That is to say, not only are Israeli academics and universities to suffer systematic and institutionalized discrimination by being excluded from the community of scholars, and not even allowed to be heard, but the representatives of political movements and organizations committed to their destruction are singled out to be granted favoritism. As British writer Melanie Phillips says, this would be childish if it were not villainous, while the British Minister of State for Higher Education, Bill Rammell, has bleated gently that “I profoundly believe this does nothing to promote the Middle East peace process.”
This is only the latest development in a long-term academic attack on Israel and on Israeli academics and researchers in Britain. In July 2003, it was reported that Andrew Wilkie, Nuffield Professor of Pathology and Fellow of Pembroke College, Oxford, had banned a highly qualified Jewish student, Amit Duvshani, from enrolling to work in Wilkie’s laboratory towards a Ph.D. thesis. Wilkie was reported to have told Duvshani in a letter:
“I have a huge problem with the way the Israelis take the high moral ground … and then inflict gross human rights abuses on the Palestinians. I am sure you are perfectly nice at a personal level but no way would I take on somebody who served in the Israeli Army.” (Military service in Israel is for obvious reasons universal and compulsory.)
Wilkie later stated: “I accept that I confused my personal beliefs with those of Oxford University,” a puzzling statement for several reasons including the fact that it was unclear how a university could have personal beliefs.
Two scholars, Dr. Miriam Shlesinger and Professor Gideon Toury, were sacked from an international journal of translation studies by Monica Baker, a professor at the Manchester University Institute of Science and Technology, because they were Israeli. This was reported in the London Times’s “Higher Educational Supplement” but attracted no comment or condemnation in British academic circles until American academics took the matter up.
In 2002 it was reported that the development of life-saving medical treatments in Britain were under threat because of a British boycott of Israeli academics. Baroness Greenfield, a neurologist and director of the Royal Institution, the oldest independent research body in Britain, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, both drew attention to the boycott that was being organized by “left-wing British intellectuals.” It aimed at denying Israeli medical researchers and academics platforms. The point that cancer research was being handicapped to the detriment of all humanity as a political gesture was serious but perhaps not the most crucial thing. The most crucial thing was that some Israelis — or not to be mealy-mouthed about it, some Jews — were being punished and victimized as a group for what other Jews were alleged to have done. It had a highly familiar ring to it for any student of history. The subtext, of course was, in 1943 — and is now — that Jews were and are collectively and racially guilty.
What did the huge and expensive British race-relations industry do about it? Nothing, of course. It was as silent as, apparently, was the Conservative party. The same day that I placed this in my file I received a letter from a retired (non-Jewish) technical college lecturer living in Berwick-on-Tweed who commented on “the vileness of the anti-Semitism sweeping England.”
In fact, even a cursorily assembled collection of incidents shows how far anti-Semitism has advanced in the last few years, to an extent unthinkable a decade or so ago, or before the multiculturalism, race-relations and anti-discrimination industries really hit their strides in enforcing political correctness and the “celebration of diversity.”
On February 15, 2003, nearly one million people marched through the streets of London — probably the biggest-ever political demonstration in Britain — under the slogan “Don’t Attack Iraq — Freedom for Palestine.” The running together of the two slogans showed how anti-Israeli/anti-Jewish forces had effectively hijacked the anti-war movement, and showed also the alliance between the broad left and Islamicism, with the common bond being hatred of Israel as an outpost and symbol of Western civilization.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online