Virtual Talmud

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Earth to British Academics

Earth to British academics: Who are you and who cares what you have to say? My fellow blogger rabbis, Rabbi Waxman and Rabbi Grossman, along with Tom Friedman of the New York Times have already done a good job at pointing out the anti-Semitic undertones of this whole charade. Likewise, kudos should be given to Lee Bollinger of Columbia University who has lined up behind the Israeli Universities. As opposed to past incidents at Columbia where Bollinger was accused of being late in responding to Middle East issues, here he has put himself out in front of the issue and has made a very clear statement in support of academic freedom and Israel. Bollinger has gone so far as to exclaim:

“Therefore, if the British UCU is intent on pursuing its deeply misguided policy, then it should add Columbia to its boycott list, for we do not intend to draw distinctions between our mission and that of the universities you are seeking to punish. Boycott us, then, for we gladly stand together with our many colleagues in British, American and Israeli universities against such intellectually shoddy and politically biased attempts to hijack the central mission of higher education.”

To be honest, however, I am not getting all that worked up about the matter. No, not because I am in any way in favor of the boycott; it’s a disgrace on all British academics. But rather because in taking such a stance, they have only made themselves look foolish. The boycott only gives more food to fodder for those who mock and disdain intellectuals as irrelevant and unimportant. I love the academy and see it as an essential component of civilization and the betterment of society but when you hear pronouncements like this one you begin to understand why the influence of the academy has waned in the last 50 years.
The bottom line is that President George Bush has taken hit after hit by academics around America and yet he has won two elections. Next time you get a red and blue map see how many university areas voted for Bush–not many. The decline in influence excreted by academics is coupled with the disappearance of the responsible public intellectual who recognizes both the value and limitations of ideas in social and political contexts. The shrillness of certain academics has degraded the high moral ground the academy once held.



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Anonymous

posted June 22, 2007 at 11:15 am


While I do not agree with the author’s link to red/blue/Bush and the British boycott of Israeli universities, I wholehearted support the disdain for the British so-called “academics” who continue to blame Israel for the bad behavior of the Palestinians and therefore call for a boycott of Israeli universities. What rubbish to pursue such a biased an obviously anti-Semitic agenda.



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Barbara Bixby

posted June 22, 2007 at 2:00 pm


Hey, I am a Democrat and a supporter of academia and Israel. Don’t try to split us your way with your negativity.



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Dave Chaim

posted June 22, 2007 at 3:12 pm


I am a strong supporter of Israel. As a college professor, I also support the Academia, forming graduate/post graduate minds in the fields of languages. Unfortunately, what these so called British intellectuals did is a short cut to thinking. They think they are speaking like Nobel Laureates. Yet, by their words they are expressing themselves like fools. Are they really academics? I wonder if besides reading subjective texts they have sat down with and interviewed Rabbis, Palestinian students at their University, people in general. . .I believe that is where one can find the balance and draw conclusions. What these British Academics suggested went way beyond low. They have revealed their ignorance and their arrogance through these statements.
It seems to me that the enemies of Israel don’t seem to understand two things: 1. The Jews are the chosen people. and 2. You don’t mess with the chosen people of G-d, because it is going to bite back at you. . .hard.



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Anonymous

posted June 22, 2007 at 5:50 pm


BB, If your post was aimed at me (the first to comment), I am pretty much a bleeding heart liberal Democrat myself with a post graduate degree.
That’s part of why I state “so-called” academics. There is nothing academic about their thinking.



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Lori

posted June 22, 2007 at 11:35 pm


This is the reason for the boycott and other things that are happening in Britain.
Radical Islam & British Muslims
KAVITA SURI
For years, various European and West Asian countries accused Britain of harbouring terrorism and asked the United Kingdom to deport the “terrorists” wanted by them. For years, various terrorist organisations made Britain their headquarters from where they launched “Jihad” (holy war), “Tehreek” (freedom struggle) and Caliphate movements the world over. And they still continue to do so.
The British capital has been the international headquarters for Islamic groups like Takfir-wal-Hijra, Hizb-ut-Tahrir, The Movement for Islamic Reforms in Arabia, Bahrain Freedom Movement, Algerian Armed Islamic Group… the list is long. While on the surface it’s business as usual, there has been a subtle but significant shift after the London bomb attacks or 7/7.
London has been in focus since July this year when four suicide bombers struck. And are similarities between the 7/7 and 9/11 attacks. The 9/11 investigations led FBI and CIA agents to Pakistan (a major ally of the United States in its “war against terror”) as many of the 19 suicide bombers were of Pakistani origin or had visited that country. Investigations into the 7/7 attacks revealed that three of the four London suicide bombers went to Pakistan last year and visited some madrasas there. The role of two Pakistan-based terrorists groups, Jaish-e-Mohammed (Army of the Prophet) and Lashkar-e-Taiyaba (Army of the Pure), is also being probed in these attacks. Though experts had been warning that a terrorist attack on London was “inevitable”, 7/7 wasn’t the first time that British Muslims were involved in “global jihad”. In fact, there is evidence that they have been taking part in this global jihad since as early as 1990. Though British radical Islam, which has seen a rise in recent years, has links to many other countries, it is the Pakistan linkage that is the most dominant. Islam is one of the fastest growing religions in Britain with the Muslim population at 1.6 million. There are more than 1,000 mosques and 1400 Muslim organisations in the UK. Of these 1.6 million Muslims in Britain, 750,000 are Pakistani, mostly from Mirpur in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir with almost half of the population below 16 years of age. These young Mirpuris are concentrated in and around London, Birmingham, Bradford, Manchester and Glasgow. Bradford, in particular, has a very large number of British/Pakistani/Kashmiri Muslims, and some critics have pointed to the problems emanating from the “ghettos of “‘Bradistan’”. Birmingham, on he other hand, was home to three of the eight Britons jailed in Yemen in 1998 for a terrorist bomb plot. Another 24-year-old Muslim from Birmingham was reportedly killed in a US missile attack on Osama Bin Laden’s Afghanistan base. Interestingly, this is the same city where parties such as Justice for Kashmir and Tehreek-e-Kashmir had won five council seats on the “Kashmir issue” a few years back. In fact, ever since turned violent, the Pakistani-Kashmiri Muslims, the largest ethnic minority in Britain, has been supporting and justifying the terrorist violence in Kashmir along the “freedom fighters” line. Since the early 1990s, British Muslims have also been found in waging jihad in West Asia, Chechnya, Bosnia and, of course, Kashmir.
Omar Sheikh, a British-Muslim born and brought up in Leytonstone area of London, enrolled himself at the London School of Economics but left the UK in pursuit of jihad in 1992. Arrested and jailed in India, he was released along with Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar in exchange for the hostages of the Indian airliner IC-814 hijacked by terrorists who had taken the aircraft to Kandhar in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. Sheikh, who killed journalist Daniel Pearl in Pakistan, is now in a Pakistani prison. He belonged to the first group of British radical Muslims in of early 1990s vintage. Bilal Ahmed, the Birmingham-born suicide bomber who drove his explosive-laden car into the Badamibagh army cantonment in Kashmir in December 2000 killing six Indian soldiers, belonged to the group that followed Omar Sheikh. Ahmed who went to Pakistan in 1994 and joined Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, was born into a Pakistani family in Birmingham and was a “nightclub-going lad” until he became a born-again Muslim at 18 after reportedly seeing the Prophet Mohammed in a dream. Omar Khan Sharif and Asif Hanif, two other British-Muslims who carried out suicide attacks in Tel Aviv in March 2003, were post-9/11 converts to radical Islam. Lord Nazir Ahmed, a British parliamentarian of Pakistani origin (born in Mirpur) believes that there is a growing alienation among Muslim youngsters in Britain. British society does present challenges for young Muslims and it is for the government to address to those challenges, he says.
On the other hand, one of the main reasons for the growth of radical Islam is a growing sense of alienation and helplessness, both real and imagined, among second and third generation British Muslims, points out Dr Suba Chandra, Assistant Director, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, New Delhi, who researched the growth of British radical Islam at the University of Bradford earlier this year. He also believes that the emergence of violent movements in the 1990s in Palestine, Chechnya and Kashmir had a dramatic impact on Muslim society in UK and the spread of simplistic hate literature in Britain only added to making radical Islam acceptable. This hate literature, it has now emerged, was distributed within educational institutions and also through the nearly 800 madrasas in the UK where working class Pakistani and Bangladeshi immigrants sent their children to study.
A British Pakistani-Kashmiri Muslim academician Zafar Khan, who taught socio-ethnic studies at Luton University, believes that the growth of radical Islam is not only a threat for Britain but also for Muslims; not only in terms of its physical effects but also its social, cultural, ideological effects. “Though it is a fringe, it is quite dangerous,” says Khan, adding that anti-Islam forces have gained strength due to incidents such as 7/7. Though he feels such terror acts do not enjoy the support of majority of British Muslims, yet he does seem to concede that there is some support for such action within the British Islamic community.
Thronged by hundreds of devout British Muslims, the Finsbury Park mosque in London built in 1990 to serve the large Muslim population in the area not only became a centre for sermons and speeches by clerics but also became synonymous with radical Islam. By the year 2000, and thanks in part to its association with Abu Hamza al-Masri, the imam of the mosque, it had gained notoriety. The mosque was raided by British police in 2003 and Abu Hamza removed as imam when the Charity Commission expressed concerns about the management of the mosque and its apparent use for political activities.
This was the mosque attended by Richard Reid, the failed shoe-bomber, and Algeria-born British citizens Kamel Rabat Bouralha, Osman Larussi and Yacine Benalia, who were loyal to Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev (responsible for taking hostage and then killing school children in Beslan). Reports indicate that the Regent Park mosque in London and the Stratford Street mosque in Birmingham, too, have been used as recruitment centers for global jihad. But Pakistani-Kashmiri separatists based in London refuse to accept that the mosques have been misused.
“No, I don’t think mosques in Britain have been misused for jihad or recruitment of young Muslims for terrorism,” says Professor Nazir Ahmed Shawl, chairman, Justice Foundation ~ Kashmir Centre. Professor Shawl, who also heads an organisation “fighting for Kashmiri freedom” earlier headed by Dr Ayub Thakur (whose charity organisation Mercy International was accused of sending funds to Kashmiri terrorists), believes that there is no link between British radical Islam and Kashmir. The same sentiment is echoed by Zafar Khan, chief of the diplomatic affairs department of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), UK. “Madrasas and mosques in Britain have not played a role in fermenting jihad whether in Kashmir or globally. They have only been providing religious services to Muslims,” said Khan. He, however, agreed that mosques in Britain could have played a more constructive role in helping their congregations integrate into British society. Political observers such as Graham Walker of Chatham House, though, believe that UK mosques have undoubtedly played a role in promoting extremism.
The British Home Office recently drafted a report on Islamic Radicals in Britain – who they are, to which section of society they belong, from which economic strata they hail, what their education levels are, and why they take part in jihad. The report brought into sharp focus many issues related to extremism and young Muslims in Britain. The report said that terrorist-recruits include immigrants from North Africa and West Asia now naturalised and resident in the UK, and second and third generation British citizens of Pakistani and Kashmiri origin. Radicalised youth, the report said, are either well-educated professionals with degrees and technical qualifications, or under-achievers with few or no qualifications and often a criminal background. Lastly, it noted, British Muslims actively engaged in terrorist activity, whether at home or abroad, are estimated to be not more than one per cent of the total population of British Muslims (approximately 16,000 of the total 1.6 million). So why has this fringe element become the topic of such heated debate? In part, because terrorism experts attribute the growth of British radical Islam to groups like Al Muhajiroon (AM) and Hizb-ut-Tahrir (HuT). Al Muhajiroon was founded in 1996 by Syrian-born Omar Bakri Mohammad who was educated in Cairo and expelled from Saudi Arabia in 1986. He took asylum in the UK, formed the British branch of HuT, split from it in 1996, and then formed the AM. Radical imams such as Abu Hamza and Omar Bakri have played a crucial role in encouraging fundamentalism through their speeches and sermons both inside and outside mosques. AM and HuT are suspected to have close links with other radical groups such as the Supporters of Sharia (SOS) founded by Abu Hamza. Both the HuT and AM believe in jihad and war against non-believers, and want to create a united Islamic Caliphate with no national boundaries governed by Sharia law. Irrespective of the bans imposed on them, both outfits are active in various colleges and universities in the UK and recruit cadre regularly. Indeed, more than 30 colleges and universities in Britain are reported to have active extremist groups. (The Guardian, 16 September 2005).
The 9/11 and 7/7 suicide attacks have been glorified by OBM, AM and Abu Hamza. Omar Bakri Mohammad called the 9/11 attackers the “Magnificent 19” and the 7/7 bombers the “Fantastic Four”. In the past, Omar Bakri has proudly admitted that Omar Khan Sharif and Asif Hanif, the Tel Aviv suicide bombers, were his students. So were the eight arrested in March 2004 in connection with the half-a-ton of ammonium nitrate found in the UK. Bakri, who is prone to bombastic statements, left London for Beirut a few months ago.
The fact that the asylum seekers who were embraced by Britain and lived here for many years (Bakri left UK after two decades) were using their freedoms and liberties to encourage Islamic extremism doesn’t, of course, bother British – non-Islamic – radicals. Lord Eric Avebury, the human rights activist who founded and later headed the British Parliamentary Human Rights Group, believes that 7/7 should be seen as a “recognition of the fact that we haven’t done much to address the problems of Islam-phobia.” Despite the uproar in mainstream British politics and media about the abuse of the country’s asylum policy, Lord Avebury sticks to his radical guns: “When you say we have a liberal asylum policy, I would agree that we have admitted a few people who are not welcome. But that was just an unintended consequence of having a very large system.”
As for the Kashmir connection, AM leader Anjem Choudhry, who believes “it is the duty of Muslims to fight against the oppression of their Muslim brothers in Kashmir, Afghanistan, Chechnya and Palestine and liberate these countries,” is considered close to many in the Pakistani-Kashmiri “movement”. Reports suggest that 900 British Muslims are trained annually in Pakistan by radical groups active in Kashmir like the Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiyaba. MJ Gohel, director of the London-based Asia-Pacific Foundation that monitors terrorism, points out the Pakistan connection – all six of the senior Al-Qaida leaders captured worldwide till today were found to have been living in Pakistan. A top Al-Qaida operative in Pakistan, Osama Nazir, arrested in Faisalabad last year, told investigators that over 300 British Muslims of Pakistani origin had signed up with the Al-Qaida since the 9/11 attacks and received training at JeM and Harkat-ul-Mujahideen camps for suicide missions. Moha-mmed Ghalib, president of the Birmingham-based Tehreek-e-Kashmir, defends Muslims fighting in Kashmir. “Even if there are outsiders in Kashmir, so what? In Bosnia, too, we had outsiders. Once the Kashmir issue is resolved they will all go back.”
For years, now, Indian officials have been demanding that Britain take stronger action to stop recruitment and fundraising aimed at providing a fillip to terrorism in Kashmir. JKLF’s Zafar Khan argues that what is exported from Britain into Kashmir is “not money but activism and support for the freedom struggle.” Anjem Choudhry, on the other hand, said after attempts were made to clamp down on fundraising via legislation: “Do you think the 1,300 mosques around the country will stop collecting money for jihad? If anything, they will be more determined now.”



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Anonymous

posted June 23, 2007 at 7:12 am


Anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism, theres a fundemental difference. All in all Anti-Zionists are looking for a change for the better in Israeli policy with the Arabs, whereas Anti-Semites hate all Jews and want them exterminated. Anti-Zionists are working for both the benefit of Israel and Palestine.



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Donald

posted June 23, 2007 at 7:58 am


I halfheartedly agree with people who blame both sides for the bad behavior of the other. Only halfheartedly, though, since each side should refrain from committing atrocities no matter what the other side does.
I do disdain people who pretend that only one side is guilty of horrific atrocities. It’s that kind of thinking that encourages further atrocities.



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Scott R.

posted June 23, 2007 at 9:07 am


Anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism…Anti-Zionists are working for both the benefit of Israel and Palestine.
No they aren’t.
Anti-Zionists are looking for the destruction of the Jewish state.
They are looking for either a one-state solution, where Jews will be in the minority (and at the mercy of the Arabs) or a state where the Jewish populace will be expelled – or worse.
Do not be fooled by propaganda. In this day and age, anti-Zionist gentiles are anti-Semitic.



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Dave

posted June 25, 2007 at 5:57 pm


‘Anti-Zionists are working for the benefit of Israel…’? Well let’s see. Anti means against. Zionism is the doctorine that the Jews should have a homeland-state in Zion. How would people who are against Jews having a homeland-state in Zion be for the benefit of Israel?



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Anonymous

posted June 29, 2007 at 6:04 am


“No they aren’t.
Anti-Zionists are looking for the destruction of the Jewish state.”
Nah, thats rubbish sorry. All we are looking for is the placement of an Arab state in the 1967 area, or the right of return to be given to the Arabs so they can assimilate in Israel.



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Dave

posted July 3, 2007 at 7:59 pm


So they can assimilate Israel?



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Susan

posted July 4, 2007 at 8:01 am


This boycott of Isreli academics is really a boycott of Israeli JEWISH academics.
Anti-Zionist are against the existence of the state of Israel. They oppose the idea of a Jewish state in any form.
Most Zionists so support a Palestinian state beside a Jewish state. All the polls of Israelis citizens have shown that Israelis will accept a Palestinian state as long as their security is guaranteed. The Palestinians don’t have a state because they have not convinced the average Israeli that a Palestinian state would not or could not guarantee their security. A Zionist is someone who thinks that Jews should have a state where they can control their own destiny. That is all a Zionist is. Being a Zionist does not make one automatically oppose a Palestinian state beside Israel.
Many anti-Zionists use classic antisemitic sterotypes, and then claim that they are “merely being critical of Israel.” The singling out of Israel for demonisation is antisemitic. Jews used to be a pariah people, but now Israel is a pariah state.



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Susan

posted July 4, 2007 at 8:25 am


The latest Poll from Israel conducted last week of June:
Most Israelis still would support a two-state peace settlement with the Palestinians despite the events of the last two weeks, a poll found.
According to a Peace Index survey released this week by researchers at Tel Aviv University, 70 percent of Israeli Jews want to see a peace deal that would create a Palestinian state, though 55 percent believe it is not achievable at this time.
The findings suggest that Israelis’ preference for a two-state settlement persists despite Hamas’ takeover of the Gaza Strip last month, which prompted a dramatic split with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction. The poll found that 26.5 percent of respondents do not want a two-state solution.
About 67 percent of respondents said Israeli moves to shore up Abbas should be conditioned on his security forces cracking down on terrorism.
The survey, conducted last week, had 580 respondents and a 4.5 percent margin of error.



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Anonymous

posted July 5, 2007 at 10:08 am


so I guess Peace Now, and the Refuseniks are also anti-Semitic?



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Susan

posted July 7, 2007 at 10:52 am


“All we are looking for is the placement of an Arab state in the 1967 area, or the right of return to be given to the Arabs so they can assimilate in Israel.”
They won’t assimilate in Israel. The Palestinian population will overwhelm the Jewish population and Jews will end up second-class citizens in their own state.
You obviously didn’t read or you didn’t understand my post. I will repeat myself. Zionism is simply the belief that Jews should have a state of their own.
I you support the right of a Jewish state to exist, then you are a Zionist. Jews used to be a pariah people, but Israel is now a pariah state.
I am not hysterical or a right-wing fanatic. I can tell the difference between anti-semitism and crticism of Israel.



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Susan

posted July 7, 2007 at 10:54 am


This boycott of Israeli academics will end up being a boycott of Israeli Jewish academics. It singles Israel out as a uniquely evil state. It alos boycotts the most liberal sector of Israeli society which prove that boycotters are not just critical of Israeli governmnt policies.



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