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Don’t call it feminism
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Don’t call it feminism

Wait, you support Israel’s right to exist and a two-state solution negotiated between the two parties, and you call yourself a feminist? For shame!

That’s the position of the National Women’s Studies Association, the latest scholarly group to back the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement against Israel. Voters representing about 35 percent of the association membership overwhelmingly approved a resolution that not only bans exchanges with Israeli academic institutions, but endorses a full economic, military, and cultural boycott of the State of Israel.

If you’re curious how this became a feminist issue, it has something to do with what Simona Sharoni, one of the cofounders of “Feminists for Justice in/for Palestine,” calls the “interconnectedness of systemic forms of oppression.” Apparently without irony, the Haifa University-trained Sharoni decries Israel as a hotbed for “sexual and gender-based violence” perpetrated against Arabs, without mentioning either the status of Jewish and Arab women in Israeli society or the comparative treatment of women in the Muslim world.

NWSA joins about half a dozen U.S.-based scholarly associations in singling out Israel for systemic boycott, and like its partners in posturing does not seem to quibble with the BDS movement’s essential aim of dismantling Israel in an inevitable push for a “one-state” solution. Whether they know it or not, that makes them partners with fanatics on both sides who oppose a fair division of Israel and Palestine and instead cling to a fantasy in which one side asserts domination over the other. 

Support for BDS also puts these associations in a position of stifling academic freedom by suppressing the free speech of Israeli academics and the free exchange of ideas that could actually promote peaceful coexistence in the region. The preposterousness of the NWSA’s position is contained in a “FAQ” section about what kinds of contacts with Israelis are permissible under the boycott. “A phone conversation with an Israeli academic does not constitute a violation of the boycott,” the NWSA helpfully clarifies. At the point when you are asked to clarify your position on conversations between human beings, you might want to examine your self-proclaimed commitment to “social transformation for a better world.”

“We’re basically redefining feminism and putting solidarity with Palestine into that definition of what it means to be a feminist,” said Sharoni. In fact, the NWSA is redefining feminism as kneejerk solidarity with a movement that rejects Israel’s right to exist. How that is a victory for women is beyond us.

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