Boycotts, Bias and Politics in the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A Response to the AAUP Journal of Academic Freedom, Volume 4

By Gerald M. Steinberg

Academic boycotts are, by their very nature, blunt weapons to be used with extreme caution. When implemented, they silence the open exchange of knowledge, and promote the antithesis of academic freedom. Such extreme measures cannot be justified when casually invoked as part of a cynical political campaign to promote one side in a complex ethno-national or religious dispute.

But this is precisely the nature of the campaign to impose a boycott against Israeli scientists and universities -- the call to cut-off this research community is nothing more than a one-sided political weapon in an ongoing war, while ignoring dozens of other identity conflicts around the world. If a single and consistent moral standard were used to decide on boycotts, then surely the ethical academic community, at least in the democratic West, would begin with a boycott China for its repression and ethnic cleansing in Tibet. If real human rights violations were the standard, and not media-driven political campaigns, morally outraged faculty would be debating responses to the outrageous discrimination against the Roma in many European societies. And there are many more examples -- a truly moral and consistent approach to boycotts would leave the global academic community in tatters, with more holes than fabric.

View the entire article "Boycotts, Bias and Politics in the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A Response to the AAUP Journal of Academic Freedom, Volume 4."

 

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