Academic Criticisms of Israel: 96% Hypocritical

Like any other democracy, Israel’s is imperfect and therefore open to reasonable criticism. There is certainly no a priori reason for suspecting the critics of Israel of unworthy motives. On the other hand, we do know that there are people who, under color of universal human values, criticize Israel because, not to put too fine a point on it, they don’t like Jews. So it is often a bit of a quandary to figure out, in any given circumstance, the preponderant motivation of the critic.

To solve this quandary, if only in the case of a single initiative by a group of Israel critics, we now have the ingenious work of Fred Gottheil, a University of Illinois economist. Gottheil contacted the 675 professor who signed an anti-Israel petition (a statement alleging human rights violations, and all the rest). Without making reference to their petition, he asked each of these signers to endorse a protest against human rights violations in Muslim countries. The result: of the 675 scholars he contacted, only 27 would endorse his proposed protest. So it appears that, at least in this case, fully ninety-six percent of the academic criticism of Israel was hypocritical. Except for a small minority, the signers did not appear to be moved by universsal human values at all. They don’t like Israel, pure and simple.

Gottheil’s project was carried out with sophistication and care, but of course, like any study in the social sciences, it has its limitations and cannot give an absolutely definitive answer to the questions it poses. But the results came back so clear-cut that they certainly constitute very strong evidence for the conclusion: this particular anti-Israel effort was 96% hypocritical.

Click here to read Gottheil’s report.

Read interview with Gottheil

4 thoughts on “Academic Criticisms of Israel: 96% Hypocritical”

  1. Werner,

    you post says it all

    when you have an extreme and left an dright wing that agree you have to ask yourself about where the left is going wrong


  2. Werner, regarding Fred Gottheil’s test: how many Israel supporters — who would sign a petition against human rights abuses in Muslim countries — would sign a document protesting some abusive behaviour by Israel’s government or army?

    My guess is not many. And why?
    Because the specific issue at hand is easily buried in a bigger struggle.

    Israel’s supporters believe that there is a movement afoot to delegitimize Israel. They would be concerned therefore that signing a document about Israel’s abuse of Palestinians would provide aid to Israel’s enemies.

    The same is probably true for supporters of the Palestinians or for those who oppose the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  3. Like all social science research, Gottheil’s cannot give absolutely final answers. Gibson Block speculates that the respondents to Gottheil were well motivated, and that supporters of Israel, under analogous circumstances, would have reacted as these critics of Israel reacted. Well, that’s one possible speculation, but no more. Block could test his thesis by doing the appropriate research. That’s how science grows: one piece of research leads to another. Mere speculation, without research, is of much less help.

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