June 19, 2019

The Vicious Lies of BDS

“Fiercely anti-Zionist students have become a fixture on American college campuses. They depend on professors for their doctrine, and the professors are spreading disinformation, as Cary Nelson, president of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) between 2006 and 2012, shows in his valuable new book, Israel Denial: Anti-Zionism, Anti-Semitism, and the Faculty Campaign Against the Jewish State.

Nelson’s argument is simple: If you want to single out Israel as uniquely worthy of condemnation among the nations of the earth, you have to sign on to a series of lies. BDS’ chief campus influencers, including Judith Butler, Steven Salaita, Saree Makdisi, and Jasbir Puar, traffic in hyperbolic calumnies about the Jewish state that are easy to refute—if, that is, one is interested in facts rather than blatant prejudice.

Yet Nelson shows that major academic presses sympathetic to BDS, like Duke University Press, have printed these false claims without bothering to engage in even the most basic fact-checking. After Nelson’s book, no one should be able to take the work of the BDS professors seriously, given their reliance on propagandistic lies.

We can start with Jasbir Puar, the Rutgers University professor whose book The Right to Maim (published by Duke) won an award from the National Women’s Studies Association, which officially endorses BDS. Puar has said in print that Israel mines organs from “Palestinian bodies” killed in violent conflict, and that this is “well-documented.” But she cites no documentary proof, because what she claims is impossible: Bodies killed by bullets during violent clashes are useless for organ transplants since they are instantly contaminated by bacteria. Only the scientifically illiterate could swallow Puar’s bizarre claim, which is of a piece with her equally counterfactual assertion that Israel is running a campaign to stunt Palestinians’ growth by denying them adequate nutrition. Nelson carefully demolishes this fabrication, for which Puar cites no evidence.”

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