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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.

Response to Cary Nelson and Ernst Benjamin

The responses by Cary Nelson and Ernst Benjamin to the Journal of Academic Freedom’s recent forum on academic boycott offer little new to the familiar litany of objections to the academic and cultural boycott of Israel [ACBI]. Moreover, neither response shows any signs of having seriously read and considered what the essays in the forum actually propose. When they do even refer to them, their misreadings are so egregious that one would almost prefer to presume malice than to impute obtuseness to a colleague. Most extraordinary is that they proceed as if the matter at stake were Israeli academic freedom, the protection of Israeli rights to debate and criticize, the defense of a largely illusory body of Israeli academics that are supposedly engaged in a vigorous critique of the occupation of Palestine, the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian citizens of Israel along with Bedouins in the South Hebron Hills and the Negev, the ethnically exclusive nature of the State of Israel, etc, etc, etc. It would be wonderful if this flourishing sphere of liberal to left critical thought really existed, but it would still not be the issue on hand.

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

Cary Nelson’s response to essays published in the Journal of Academic Freedom which support the boycott of Israeli universities reproduces the settler-colonial logic contributors to the issue identify as reasons for supporting the boycott in the first place. For example, in response to my argument that “the casual fetishization of academic freedom” is part of a “liberal hegemony that provides ideological cover for brutal acts of intellectual and political terror by Israel,” Nelson writes, “But no one argues that academic freedom covers military action or justifies political terror.”

Editor's Introduction - Volume 1

With this issue we introduce a new online project—The AAUP Journal of Academic Freedom. Scholarship on academic freedom—and on its relation to shared governance, tenure, and collective bargaining--is typically scattered across a wide range of disciplines. People who want to keep up with the field thus face a difficult task. Moreover, there is no one place to track the developing international discussion about academic freedom and its collateral issues.


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