Some people say that evil hides under superficiality, because even the best of intentions can be demented by it. Maybe they're right. I have no doubt, for example, that the A.S.A's intentions in its decision for an academic boycott on Israel were good. What's bad is that the A.S.A., for some reason, neglected to delve into the problem it was allegedly striving to solve.
Can the A.S.A explain, for example, these two recent and troubling headlines that would stand in the way of any agreement between Israel and the PA, assuming it would ever evolve?
1. It turns out that the Hamas terrorists that were recently released from Israeli jail as a gesture of good will, have not found a new line of work. On the contrary - they're back in business, and making it more difficult for the PLO, which already has no influence in Gaza, to keep its control in the West Bank.
2. Last week, Abbas rejected Kerry's proposal of security measures the PA will have to undertake. Abbas knows it would be a big problem for him to survive politically if he agrees, but he'd rather not deal with inevitable obstacles if he can manage a delay. While that may be a legitimate tactic of negotiation, if Abbas won't do his share in order to seal the deal, who in the A.S.A. will have any answers for the potential turmoil once terror begins to break?
Israel has been pushed to a corner by Obama, Kerry, the EU. That's great, because sometimes stubbornness has to be dealt with that way, and the Netanyahu administration has been stubborn, no doubt about that. But what about the stubbornness and immense problems with the leadership in the PA? How does Abbas intend to make sure an agreement will end the conflict, when he's got no control over Gaza or Hamas and its terror regime there?
What the A.S.A. chose to overlook is that there are no "good guys" and "bad guys" in this story - there's a complex, long lasting tragic situation, which has to be understood first in order to be solved. On the one hand there's the Israeli policy in the occupied territories, which was consolidated in a world that has changed long ago. Israel can't reason this policy anymore or pretend it's ok.
On the other hand, Israel is still surrounded by hostile countries that range from plain hateful to ones whose leaders have actual plans to violently exterminate it. These countries' policy towards the descendents of Palestinian refugees that have been living within them for decades, has only festered a situation that if otherwise handled, would have long ago been resolved.
The sad truth is that if a new year's miracle would occur and Israel would satisfy the A.S.A.'s wishes and completely retreat from the West Bank, it still wouldn't solve the problem. Without dealing with the internal Palestinian challenges, it would only create a new problem, which may turn out to be even more dangerous, more violent, more complex. The object is peace, and it can be achieved by two sides making concessions, not just one.
The A.S.A bought the legitimate PR routine of the Palestinian leadership, which sees only Israel's wrongdoing and refuses to take responsibility for its share of this never ending conflict. It's legitimate for the PA to promote this narrative, but one would expect the sophisticated and knowledgeable people of the academic world not to react in such a superficial way. Judging by the criticism this boycott has received until now, it seems that sticking to this one-sided narrative may be good PR for the Palestinian cause, but obviously not for an organization that is expected to be balanced, objective and reasonable, like the A.S.A.