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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Boston's Museum of Science hosts Israeli propaganda effort

Noam Chomsky and a number of other noted scientists have issued an open letter to Boston's Museum of Science, condemning it for hosting "Israeli Innovation Weekend" a few days ago. The letter is carried on the excellent blog Mondoweiss (a project of the Nation Institute) and many others. A few quotes:

IIW is far from an innocent educational endeavor. It is part of a propaganda campaign by the State of Israel to present itself as a beacon of progress in a desert of backwardness and deflect attention from its atrocious human rights record and fundamentally discriminatory policies.


Another key paragraph from the letter:

Propaganda efforts such as IIW are key to sustaining the virtually unconditional U.S. support for Israel that only exacerbates the conflict. The U.S. singles out Israel for special treatment, lavishing billions of dollars of aid upon it every year and protecting it from any concerted action in the UN Security Council. This assistance supports a state that systematically privileges Jews from anywhere in the world over the country’s non-Jewish inhabitants and which continues to perpetrate war crimes and other human rights abuses to uphold this fundamental inequality.

The letter is cosigned by a number of well-known researchers, including Nancy Kanwisher from MIT, Robert Trivers from Rutgers, and, importantly, a number of Israeli scientists as well.

I am heartened that we are now entering a phase in the struggle against Israeli apartheid (yes, that's what it is) that approaches the campaign against South African apartheid of the 1980s. Another example, of course, is the support in the University of California, Berkeley student government for university divestment from firms that do business with Israel, which failed to overturn a veto by one vote but nevertheless is an excellent sign of things to come. The old canard that any criticism of Israel is based on anti-semitism is fast losing credibility, especially when Israelis themselves are in the forefront of the struggle against their nation's inhuman policies against the Palestinians. We need to build a movement that exacts the kinds of sanctions from Israel appropriate for any country that routinely violates human rights.

2 comments:

Anne Gilbert said...

I have a feeling, FWIW, that the only way anybody can stop the government of Israel from continuing to do what it's doing to the Palestinians, is to hit the State of Israel in the pocketbook. With the South African divestment campaign, it took a long time for it to get anywhere, and it probably will with this one, too. It will probably take an especially long time for the US government to pay attention, but I have a feeling even they eventually will, if this campaign really gets off the ground.
Anne G

Chandler Davis said...

Well said, Michael. Science flourishes in Israel, and some of our friends among Israeli scientists are actively resisting the government's atrocities. We must do all we can to help them: to help the forces for justice in Palestine, both Palestinian and Israeli. Painting the situation as normal goes in the wrong direction. If a museum says, "Look how science is flourishing in Israel" and stops there, this true statement becomes a lie.
--Chandler Davis