There’s nothing we here at New Voices like better than a press release email with a shouted subject line: “REP. ACKERMAN ATTACKS OVER 100 NYU PROFESSORS FOR SIGNING DIVESTMENT LETTER.” After catching our breath, we looked into it:
Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) doesn’t care for boycotts:
I strongly condemn the ill-conceived and dangerous effort by some of the professors and staff at NYU to instigate divestment from American and Israeli companies by TIAA-CREF. While they have managed to assemble a pastiche of smears and falsehoods against Israel, they have not actually come up with anything resembling a sound rationale for divestment.
He makes a couple good points in his statement against the NYU chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine. This, for example:
They also fail to mention the importance of diplomacy to achieve peace between Israel and her neighbors. Despite their claimed attachment to international law, they seem entirely oblivious to the clear mandate for peace to be achieved through direct negotiation between the parties as established by relevant UN Security Council resolutions.
But he follows with this bad boy:
Perhaps they would like to see the U.S. government adopt their preferred approach when it comes to the funding of university research? Would they like federal dollars to be ‘divested’ from universities whose research or policy preferences don’t accord with the Administration’s view?
Calling for a boycott is completely different from government censorship, the most obvious difference being who’s doing the boycotting. Citizens choosing how to spend their money is different from the government discriminating in the disbursement of public funds based on political opinions. This is a highly inaccurate analogy.
The U.S. general public remains one of the most uninformed in the world regarding the brutality of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinians. Rep. Ackerman, in his attempt to deface a just and democratic cause, could not have more perfectly exemplified why.
The moral of the story is that Rep. Ackerman is on to something with his criticism of SJP, but he’s couched his points in all kinds of hypocritical attacks and false equivalencies. To top it all off, he ends with this:
It would take a great deal of education to rationalize such utter nonsense. But somehow, I feel sure this bunch at NYU will manage it.
Add completely unnecessary anti-intellectualism to the list of reasons to be skeptical of the accuracy of Rep. Ackerman’s statement.