He’s been writing for a while now and he’s making no progress on the whole brevity thing. Why does Glenn Greenwald use 40,000 words to say what can be said in 5,000? In any case, I’m with him on the criticism of Dershowitz and the collective freakout about Brooklyn College’s political science department co-sponsoring a BDS event. But he really is missing the point, possibly intentionally. This isn’t about criticism of Israel. It is about a campaign to convince people to boycott Israeli products, to prevent any investment in Israeli businesses, to prevent artists and athletes from performing in Israel or competing against Israelis. And it is a movement that wants to convince countries and international organizations to slap sanctions on Israel. In other words, this isn’t merely some academic debate. It is, from the point of view of most Israelis, a national security threat and an economic threat. The reason this seemingly inconsequential event at Brooklyn College is being treated like the Second Intifada is because Israel sees the movement as a real threat.
Yet, Greenwald paints it as nothing more than a reluctance to be criticized. It’s one thing for a political organizer or an academic to make criticisms about Israeli policies, but it’s another to openly advocate a boycott of their products and a sanctions regime.
Maybe Greenwald thinks it makes his case for academic freedom and independence stronger to frame this as a hypocritical reluctance to allow Israel to be criticized on college campuses. I think he fails to get to root of the debate by denying the political nature of the fight. This isn’t Alan Dershowitz trying to crush academic freedom. It’s the Israeli government trying to prevent itself from becoming as toxic as de Klerk’s South Africa.
If you address this dust-up for what it is, it’s both a lot more interesting and a lot more serious.