The United States government's restrictions (or "ban") on the admission of travelers from six Muslim-majority countries (which were chosen by former President Obama) -- unless, as President Donald J. Trump has said, there can be vetting -- triggered the anger of the Western academic community. Their distress seems to center around the exclusion from the United States of researchers and scholars from Islamic countries sanctioned by the American administration. Harvard, Yale and Stanford sued the White House. 171 scientific societies and academic organizations protested what they wrongly titled Trump's "Muslim ban". "Among those affected by the Order are academics and students who are unable to participate in conferences and the free communication of ideas", says an appeal signed by 6,000 scientists, academics and researchers around the world.
President Donald Trump signs Executive Order 13780, which places limits on travel to the U.S. from certain countries, and by all refugees who do not possess either a visa or valid travel documents, on March 6, 2017. (Image source: The White House)
What is more "progressive" than a Western academic community struggling to keep the scientific gates open? Sadly, however, many of those who have promoted these appeals have been instrumental in spreading other, racist, appeals to boycott their Israeli colleagues. It is, in the same universities, the "Israel Ban". The discrimination is not directed at scientists from Yemen or Somalia, but only at those with a passport from the Jewish State.
Nadine el Enany, for instance, the first signatory of the appeal against the United States "Muslim ban", is one of the signers of the appeal to boycott her Israeli academic colleagues. The same double standards apply to Sarah Keenan and Bill Bowring, and to Italian professor Paola Bacchetta, who teaches "gender studies" at Berkeley. Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, a professor of literature at SOAS University in London, announced that, to protest Trump's supposed "xenophobia", he will cancel a U.S. tour for his book. What about protesting his own xenophobia? A progressive "conscience" did not prevent Adib-Moghaddam from also signing an appeal to boycott Israeli researchers and professors.
There are dozens of instances of professors -- such as Gareth Dale, PhD Supervisor at Brunel University, and Steven Rose, a British professor who has been signing appeals against Israel since 2002 -- who fight for the rights of Iranian researchers but clearly wish to deprive Israelis of the same rights.
The attorneys-general of 16 states claimed that Trump's ban harms universities. Where were these attorneys-general when U.S. academic groups approved a boycott of Israeli scholars? Missouri State University announced its support for students who might be targeted by Trump's ban. Why has no university launched the same campaign on behalf of targeted Israeli scholars?
Roger Waters, one of the high-profile figures from the art world who attacked Trump's travel ban, last year called on Radiohead to cancel their concert in Israel. The student government of the University of Wisconsin-Madison unanimously passed a resolution to divest from companies in Israel.
The renowned scholar Ruth Wisse noted this paradox in the Wall Street Journal:
"If universities are willing to fight the government's travel ban against students from Muslim-majority countries, why are members of their faculties fighting to prevent exchange with academic counterparts in the Jewish homeland?"
The restrictions the U.S. administration placed on potentially hostile immigrants were intended to prevent terror attacks on Americans and their free, democratic way of life. The goal of the campaign against Israel is to attack the freest and only democracy from Casablanca to Calcutta -- and a place where Muslim students are free; freer, in fact, than in many Arab countries.
When Trump signed his presidential decree, the entire world rose up against the US. But nobody protested the 16 Muslim states, including Yemen, Iran, Iraq and Syria, which have a blanket ban on Israelis entering their countries. Author and historian Martin Kramer noted:
"In fact, six of the seven states featured in Trump's executive order ban entry of Israeli passport-holders: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. (So, too, do another ten Muslim-majority states.) Those same six states also won't admit anyone whose non-Israeli passport includes an Israeli visa."
Where have the liberal professors and researchers been, who now attack Trump's ban, when many Muslim states closed their gates to Israeli Jews?
The great historian Bernard Lewis already noted in 2006:
"Virtually all the Arab governments announced that they would not give visas to Jews of any nationality. This was not furtive—it was public, proclaimed on the visa forms and in the tourist literature. They made it quite clear that people of the Jewish religion, no matter what their citizenship, would not be given visas or be permitted to enter any independent Arab country. Again, not a word of protest from anywhere. One can imagine the outrage if Israel had announced that it would not give visas to Muslims, still more if the United States were to do so".
Wisse notes a further paradox in this shameful double standard: "Not coincidentally, Iran and Syria, two countries singled out by the travel ban, are also dedicated to the destruction of Israel".
The dark secret of the hypocritical academic class seems to be that what they really relish is the idea of Israel's destruction.
Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.