Thomas L. Friedman is the favorite columnist of what I call “reflexive liberal moderates” – people who are generally bright and successful, whose values are essentially conservative, but who cling to the view that the right is distasteful, and the New York Times is infallible. Friedman makes these people feel good – he’ll fill inch upon inch with important observations and crucial insights that you would just as easily find in a column by, say, Mark Steyn or Charles Krauthammer; but when you reach the end, his conclusions always revert to the comfort of Bush-bashing and conservative-hating. It’s either reflexive liberalism in action, or simply the way he’s figured out how to keep his job.
In Friedman’s latest column, however, his anger seems to have gotten the better of him, and he leaves the equivocation at home. Friedman directly calls out left-wing Israel bashers as antisemites, pure-and-simple. The column, “A Boycott Built on Bias”, is behind the NYT’s firewall; however, it appears in full here at Free Democracy:
Two weeks ago I took part in commencement for this year’s doctoral candidates at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The ceremony was held in the amphitheater on Mount Scopus, which faces out onto the Dead Sea and the Mountains of Moab. The setting sun framed the graduate students in a reddish-orange glow against a spectacular biblical backdrop. Before I describe the ceremony, though, I have to note that it coincided with the news that Britain’s University and College Union had called on its members to consider a boycott of Israeli universities, accusing them of being complicit in Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.Anyway, as the Hebrew U. doctoral candidates each had their names called out and rose to receive their diplomas from the university’s leadership, I followed along in the program. The Israeli names rolled by: “Moshe Nahmany, Irit Nowik, Yuval Ofir. But then every so often I heard an Arab name, like Nuha Hijazi or Rifat Azam or Taleb Mokari.Since the program listed everyone’s degrees and advisers, I looked them up. Rifat got his doctorate in law. His thesis was about “International Taxation of Electronic Commerce.” His adviser was “Prof. D. Gliksberg.” Nuha got her doctorate in biochemistry. Her adviser was “Prof. R. Gabizon.” Taleb had an asterisk by his name. So I looked at the bottom of the page. It said: “Summa Cum Laude.” His chemistry thesis was about “Semiconductor-Metal Interfaces,” and his adviser was “Prof. U. Banin.”
These were Israeli Arab doctoral students — many of them women and one of whom accepted her degree wearing a tight veil over her head. Funny — she could receive her degree wearing a veil from the Hebrew University, but could not do so in France, where the veil is banned in public schools. Arab families cheered unabashedly when their sons and daughters received their Hebrew U. Ph.D. diplomas, just like the Jewish parents.
How crazy is this, I thought. Israel’s premier university is giving Ph.D.’s to Arab students, two of whom were from East Jerusalem — i.e. the occupied territories — supervised by Jewish Israeli professors, all while some far-left British academics are calling for a boycott of Israeli universities.
…So to single out Israeli universities alone for a punitive boycott is rank anti-Semitism. Let’s see, Syria is being investigated by the United Nations for murdering Lebanon’s former prime minister, Rafik Hariri. Syrian agents are suspected of killing the finest freedom-loving Lebanese journalists, Gibran Tueni and Samir Kassir. But none of that moves the far left to call for a boycott of Syrian universities. Why? Sudan is engaged in genocide in Darfur. Why no boycott of Sudan? Why?
If the far-left academics driving this boycott actually cared about Palestinians they would call on every British university to accept 20 Palestinian students on full scholarships to help them with what they need most — building the skills to run a modern state and economy. And they would call on every British university to dispatch visiting professors to every Palestinian university to help upgrade their academic offerings. And they would challenge every Israeli university that already offers Ph.D.’s to Israeli Arabs to do even more. And they would challenge every Arab university the same way.
That’s what people who actually care about Palestinians would do. But just singling out Israeli universities for a boycott, in the face of all the other madness in the Middle East — that’s what anti-Semites would do.
Perhaps the Friedman-adoring soggy-left, which includes a vast majority of North American Jews, will finally wake up to the fact that the hard-left is neither moral, honest, or a friend.