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Academic Freedom

Academic Freedom Encompasses the Right to Boycott: Why the AAUP Should Support the Palestinian Call for the Academic Boycott of Israel

In its 2006 report elaborating on its reasons for rejecting academic boycotts, specifically the boycott of Israeli academic institutions, the AAUP wrote, “In view of the Association’s longstanding commitment to the free exchange of ideas, we oppose academic boycotts.” It is not at all clear, however, that opposing the boycott of academic institutions that play central roles in the violation of human rights furthers the free exchange of ideas. I argue here that the AAUP should reassess its blanket opposition to academic boycotts, and that its position should be informed by its own conceptualization of academic freedom and human rights.

Academic Freedom from Below: Toward an Adjunct-Centered Struggle

This essay affirms that today the adjunct reality is the new norm, and that reframing conceptions of academic freedom to reflect this reality is key to any strategy to defend and expand this freedom. What we hope to offer here, however, goes beyond a litany of the fears and restrictions under which adjuncts labor, or an enumeration of the ways increasing reliance on adjuncts undermines the freedoms of the entire academy, for our contrapuntal analysis considers the various important strengths that adjuncts bring to the fight for academic freedom. In a world where contingent faculty now comprise the majority of college and university teachers, effectively defending academic freedom requires that we locate and amplify the strengths specific to this large group.

Academic Boycotts Reconsidered: A Response to the AAUP Journal of Academic Freedom, Volume 4

The limit case is always Nazi Germany. Would I have supported a boycott of German universities during the Nazi period? I cannot of course place myself back in that historical moment—before I was born—and be certain how I would have felt. But I can respond in principle. And I believe my answer at the time should have been “No,” but not, as it happens, because of the AAUP’s policy against academic boycotts. When the Nazis criminalized their institutions of higher education they ceased to be universities. Thus I would argue there was fundamentally nothing “academic” left to boycott.

Why I Continue to Support the AAUP Policy in Opposition to Academic Boycotts: A Response to the AAUP Journal of Academic Freedom, Volume 4

Joan Scott, with whom I worked on the AAUP policy on academic boycotts and co-edited the special issue of Academe, reports that she has changed her mind and now supports an academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions. I respect and largely share her critique of Israeli policy. Nonetheless I continue to support the AAUP recommendations against academic boycotts and, therefore, oppose the current academic boycott proposal as well as any other academic boycotts. My basic arguments are stated in my “Reflections” essay in the original Boycott issue of Academe (SeptOct 2006, pp.

A Response to the AAUP Journal of Academic Freedom, Volume 4

As an American-Israeli academic I feel obliged to add a few words to the current discussion in AAUP's Journal of Academic Freedom on boycotting Israeli academics and academic institutions. Like many of my colleagues here, I do not dispute that there is inequality in the state of Israel. Like many of us (not only in academe) I believe in the right of Palestinians to a state of their own. What divides many of us politically in Israel is not whether we want a Palestinian state alongside Israel, but how that is to be achieved without endangering Israel.

Say It Ain’t So, Joan: A Response to the AAUP Journal of Academic Freedom, Volume 4

This response to a Journal of Academic Freedom article by Joan Scott discusses academic boycotts of Israel in the context of Chinese suppression of academic freedom.

Binding Academic Freedom with Ideological Bonds: A Response to the AAUP Journal of Academic Freedom, Volume 4

Academic freedom should not be bound by any ideological litmus test, nor should academic freedom be abridged because of prejudice, bigotry, and one-sided narrow vision. Yet, that is exactly what a round table of articles in the latest issue of the Journal of Academic Freedom does. With the exception of one article all of the articles, focused on boycotting Israel, are written by proponents of boycotting Israeli academics and institutions of higher learning.

Clear, Simple, and Wrong: A Response to the AAUP Journal of Academic Freedom, Volume 4

The famous American cultural critic, H.L. Mencken, once said that, “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.” I am reminded of this bon mot every time I hear of a BDS campaign that claims to be putting forward a simple answer to the Israel-Palestine problem by proposing a boycott of Israeli goods, divesting in some company or refusing to talk with some Israeli professor. What makes Mencken’s observation apt here is that the Israel Palestinian conflict is virtually the definition of a complex problem. In fact it is a complex problem that is itself part of a very much larger complex problem, or set of problems, that have bedeviled the vast territory of the Middle East for generations if not centuries.

Letter to Ashley Dawson

We write to you in regards to the articles and responses that appeared online in JAF on the topic of the Academic Boycott of Israel. We want to thank JAF for publishing essays that engage the public debate on Israel in the US academy. Volume 4 (2013) of JAF and the controversy that it has produced confirm the importance of these matters to a growing number of professors and students. In an academic environment subject to increasing external financial and political influence that seeks to restrict academic freedom, the JAF articles on the academic boycott of Israel exemplify how “struggles for academic freedom must work in concert with the opposition to state violence, ideological surveillance, and the systematic devastation of everyday life” (Judith Butler, "Israel/Palestine and the Paradoxes of Academic Freedom," Radical Philosophy 135 (Jan/Feb 2006): 17.


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