Boycott, Academic Freedom, and the Moral Responsibility to Uphold Human Rights

By Omar Barghouti

Just before year end 2012, Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak signed the official document upgrading the colony-college of Ariel, built on occupied Palestinian land, to a university, inviting unprecedented condemnation. Many academics around the world had already joined the widespread silent academic boycott of Israel—that is, the unannounced, yet very effective, shunning of academic visits to and relations with Israeli academic institutions— well before this latest upgrade of Ariel. After the upgrade, what started as a trickle may well develop into a South Africa–style deluge of academic boycotts against Israel.

 Yet the focus on settlement institutions should not ignore or obscure the fact that all Israeli academic and cultural institutions are deeply complicit in maintaining the system of occupation and denial of basic Palestinian rights and are therefore just as worthy of the boycott. Not to recognize this would be to miss the forest for the trees.

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