Straughn informed the organizers that the State Department canceled her authorization to fly.
This is governmental BDS, but it also reminds me of how the Obama administration gamed the shutdown by forcing the cancelation of all sorts of events and venues just to make a point. If this story is accurate, then part of the Biden admin’s pressure campaign on Israel involved the cancelation of completely apolitical events.
Astrophysicist and deputy project scientist of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Amber Straughn canceled her scheduled Israel Physical Society conference appearance due to tensions between Israel and the United States.
Straughn told the conference organizers at Bar-Ilan University that the cancelation was due to instructions from the U.S. State Department.
In addition to her appearance at the conference, which was slated for next week, Straughn was also scheduled to give a lecture this week sponsored by the university’s physics department to some 300 students and researchers. She additionally was set to hold a lecture open to the public at Jerusalem’s Bloomfield Science Museum on Friday.
Straughn said at the start of the week that NASA and the State Department might order her to cancel her appearance due to bilateral tensions.
On Tuesday afternoon, a few hours before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced he was pausing his government’s judicial overhaul legislation, Straughn informed the organizers that the State Department had, in fact, canceled her authorization to fly.
That is really ugly, if true.
One issue with this story is that it’s Haaretz, an extreme left publication, one that is a longtime opponent of Israel and its government, and which has credibility issues. Also it seems like a story out of Bar-Ilan University would not be the immediate vector to Haaretz.
But the premise is credible enough. If this were happening, then it would be part of a broader package of similar canceled events. We’ll see if that turns out to be the case. The lack of response by Jewish groups to this entire situation is disgusting and predictable.
A petition has been created challenging the culture of lies about democratic judicial reform that all of this has been based on.
It notes that…
We have different views on these reforms, but many of them parallel existing practice within the United States and all are compatible with democracy. The U.S. Constitution even allows Congress to eliminate most of the federal judiciary, and President Joe Biden himself has considered “packing” the Supreme Court.
There is room for criticism and debate, and good friends can disagree, even on fundamental issues. But the attacks have gone too far. They echo the worst claims of Israel’s enemies in the “Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions” (BDS) movement — an antisemitic effort to isolate Israel, as the White House is now doing.
It is a slander against the Jewish state to claim that its government is mounting a “coup” because its newly-elected legislature is engaged in the democratic process of lawmaking.
With stories like these, we see that the campaign against democratic judicial reform has become BDS.