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This week in power: Academic boycott and Podhoretz stormoff

by Danny Groner

December 18, 2013 | 7:44 pm

A roundup of the most talked about political and global stories in the Jewish world this week:

Boycott blowback
The announcment of a boycott of Israeli academic institutions to protest Israel’s treatment of Palestinians by the American Studies Association had people up in arms this week. "If you are going to start somewhere, wouldn’t it make sense to start at the top of the list of worst human-rights offenders, rather than at the middle?" asked Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine. "Condemning the ASA’s move as an exercise in double standards and an assault on academic freedom, by contrast, doesn’t require challenging Israeli behavior at all. Which, for mainstream American Jewish organizations, may be precisely its appeal," countered Peter Beinart at The Daily Beast.

Podhoretz walks off
During a panel Monday night in Manhattan, columnist John Podhoretz left the stage during the event, charging that he wouldn't sit and take the abuse from the crowd any longer. It's turned into a he said, she said, with the moderator about what led to the uncomfortable development. The episode has also left others to determine whether the episode reflects something else about the conversation about Israel. "As they discuss issues of vital importance to the community, American Jews ought to be vigilant but also realistic, with a sense of how far we have come and how good things have gotten," wrote Marc Tracy at The New Republic. "This means fairly criticizing Israeli government policies, tolerating anti-Zionist groups at campus Hillels, and even withstanding ugly boos at a panel stacked against you."
 

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