People have a right to boycott institutions even when their boycott is deemed unwise or unjustifiable. But in boycotting for human rights we should think hard about what we are trying to accomplish and how best to achieve those ends. Our choice of targets and tactics must be consistent with our commitment to human rights and academic freedom.
Near the city of Mosul in northern Iraq lies the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud, established 879 years before Christ. Last
The ideals of the modern academy too are fragile and vulnerable. We are witnessing their subordination to a political agenda even as supporters of the boycott movement try to mitigate the horror of their proposals by drawing a distinction between shunning Israeli academic institutions and discriminating against individual Israeli scholars.
Younger scholars are both energized by the new forms of knowledge they are discovering and producing, and also more activist and engaged, less complacent in their academic lives. They also see the direct connection their academic subjects have with real life crises.
Many individuals and organizations have strongly opposed academic boycotts of Israel. Some have opposed all academic boycotts. Academic boycotts, they argue, violate the academic freedom of their academic targets. But are academic boycotts always wrong? Consider some recent examples.
Attention continues to fall on Israel-Palestine. The debates and discussions have often been heated and rancorous. But at the MLA this week the prevailing sense is that it is too important an issue not to discuss in the most rational, informed, free-from-fear environment possible.
That some of my fellow academics have chosen to take a stand against the very intellectual exchange that we are committed to by definition as academics, I find hard to understand. It is contradictory to our scholarly code of conduct.