“Israel Denial: Anti-Zionism, Anti-Semitism, & the Faculty Campaign Against the Jewish State” by Cary Nelson— Academia on BDS

Nelson, Cary. “Israel Denial: Anti-Zionism, Anti-Semitism, & the Faculty Campaign Against the Jewish State”, Indiana University Press, 2019.

Academia on BDS

Amos Lassen

“Israel Denial” is the first book to offer detailed analyses of the work faculty members have published―individually and collectively–in support of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement and it contrasts claims with options for promoting peace. The faculty here have devoted a significant part of their professional lives to delegitimizing the Jewish state. While there are beliefs they hold in common (including their belief that there is nothing good to say about Israel), they also develop unique arguments designed to recruit converts to their cause and do so both as writers and as teachers who pay substantial attention to anti-Zionist pedagogy. We look at the strategies and argumentation of the BDS movement, and on some of its leading proponents. Nelson offers his readers powerful dissections and refutations of many of the BDS’s talking points, as well as some thoughts about moving towards accommodations regarding –if not a solution to―the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

After reading Nelson’s book, no one should be able to take the work of the BDS professors seriously, given their reliance on propagandistic lies. Cary Nelson’s Israel is not the mythic realm of demons fantasized by BDS advocates but an actual place that contains signs of hope.

“The campaign to boycott Israel wants to be seen as a symbolic marker of the true community of the good; it poses as the simple global resistance to the Israeli right.” The book disrupts this dishonest and menacing positioning and articulates opposition to both the BDS and the pro-settler adherent. It embraces a politics of peace and it consistently opposes both anti-Arab racism and antisemitism.

Nelson recognized the need to document the absolute loss of the values upholding academic standards  in which a complicated battle over land has been turned into a morality tale accusing Israel of the very crimes―genocide, ethnic cleansing–historically unleashed against Jews.  “Israel Denial” is dispiriting in shows how deeply politics can intrude on and compromise intellectual projects and demonstrates what can be achieved with traditional scholarly skills and honesty

 Nelson sets out “to take anti-Zionist faculty positions seriously and address them in detail” and he accomplishes that objective and much, much more. This is a wide-ranging and incisive analysis of the academic movement to delegitimize and demonize Israel. Nelson thoroughly exposes and refutes the arguments for boycotting the Jewish state as he explores  ways to actual peace and reconciliation.

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