Facebook share Share on TwitterRSS feed

Innovative Minds © 2014. All Rights Reserved. www.inminds.co.uk

[Boycott - Academic]

Should we consider a boycott of Israeli academic institutions? Yes


Tom Hickey, British Medical Journal
21 July 2007

As the motion's mover, I have been subjected to sustained vilification. Eminent American professors, and supporters of Israel, have threatened to bankrupt and to destroy the careers of any union members who support a boycott.

Tom Hickey, University and Colleges Union

The proposal adopted by the University and Colleges Union congress to discuss whether it should boycott Israeli academic institutions has caused a furore. The House of Lords set aside time for a full debate, and the British government dispatched a minister to reassure its Israeli counterparts. Whole page advertisements rapidly appeared in national newspapers condemning the decision. The great and the good were mobilised. Irrational, one sided, anti-semitic, and counterproductive were some of the accusations levelled against us for deciding to debate.

As the motion's mover, I have been subjected to sustained vilification. Eminent American professors, and supporters of Israel, have threatened to bankrupt and to destroy the careers of any union members who support a boycott. The conflation of a boycott proposal and a proposal to debate the appropriateness of a boycott clearly serves the purpose of those who wish to deflect attention from the substantive issue: the plight of people suffering under occupation.

There is strong evidence of the complicity of Israeli academic institutions [in the occupation]. No Israeli college or university has publicly condemned what is being done in the Occupied Territories in the name of every Israeli citizen. Some Israeli educational institutions have established campuses for settlers on illegally confiscated land; others conduct archaeological digs on land from which Palestinian farmers have been expelled.

So why has the union brought this predictable condemnation down on its head? Delegates decided that we could not ignore what is being done in the Occupied Territories, or the systematic denial of educational opportunities and academic freedom to Palestinian students and scholars. Some BMA members have also expressed concern about the complicity of the Israeli Medical Association in the occupation.[1]

Occupation

The territories, occupied since 1967, have been colonised by Israeli settlements built on illegally confiscated land. The area has been disaggregated and rendered ungovernable by road networks for Israeli use only. Houses are demolished as collective punishments, and there is regular shooting and shelling. Farmers are separated from their land, and the supply of water sharply discriminates between the needs of Palestinians and those of Israeli settlers.

In these circumstances, there can be no normal educational provision. Tutors and students face delays, harassment, and humiliation at checkpoints, visa and travel restrictions, and enormous problems of infrastructural decay and underfunding. Work for most inhabitants is all but non-existent, and 46% of the population is suffering from or vulnerable to food insecurity.[2]

Academic institutions

Academic freedom is not an absolute value taking precedence over all else. The values of human life and dignity are the ultimate objectives, and sometimes these may not be entirely compatible with the principle of untrammelled academic freedom.

In all of this, there is strong evidence of the complicity of Israeli academic institutions.[3] No Israeli college or university has publicly condemned what is being done in the Occupied Territories in the name of every Israeli citizen. Some Israeli educational institutions have established campuses for settlers on illegally confiscated land; others conduct archaeological digs on land from which Palestinian farmers have been expelled.

Some Israeli colleagues have spoken out against the occupation. But these are the heroic few. They risk their professional careers and being ostracised.

Our boycott debate is accused of infringing academic freedom. It does so, and that is to be regretted. The pursuit of scientific and artistic advance without hindrance is indeed crucial for human improvement. But academic freedom is not an absolute value taking precedence over all else. The values of human life and dignity are the ultimate objectives, and sometimes these may not be entirely compatible with the principle of untrammelled academic freedom.

We are also accused, hypocritically, of interfering with free speech. But it is our opponents who are trying to prevent such a debate from taking place.

Unfair to Israel?

Accusing those who criticise Israel of being anti-semites presumes an identity of interests between Israel and all Jewish people, wherever they may be. This is illogical and contrary to the facts. Most people who spoke in favour of the motion at the our congress are Jewish..

We are accused of unfairly singling out Israel—the Jewish state—and hence of being anti-semites. We are asked why we do not propose a boycott of other states whose policies are barbaric and inhuman, such as China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, or Zimbabwe.

But whether a boycott is appropriate in such places depends on the merits of each individual case. In the case of Israel, we are speaking about a society whose dominant self image is one of a bastion of civilisation in a sea of medieval reaction. And we are speaking of a culture, both in Israel and in the long history of the Jewish diaspora, in which education and scholarship are held in high regard. That is why an academic boycott might have a desirable political effect in Israel, an effect that might not be expected elsewhere.

Anti-semitism?

The accusation of anti-semitism is both absurd and offensive. Accusing those who criticise Israel of being anti-semites presumes an identity of interests between Israel and all Jewish people, wherever they may be. This is illogical and contrary to the facts. Most people who spoke in favour of the motion at the our congress are Jewish, as are the members of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine. The response of Israel's defenders is to say that such people are not proper Jews—that they are "self-hating Jews." Jewishness thus becomes transformed from a cultural or religious identity into an ideological position.

Boycott

If Israeli academic institutions are complicit in the inhuman and dehumanising treatment of the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, doing nothing (or nothing effective), would also make us complicit, if only by default. We cannot turn away and say, "Business as usual."

Tom Hickey, University and Colleges Union

The result of the debate in our union may not be a decision to boycott. If that is the outcome, however, it will not be because most members are unconcerned about the plight of the Palestinians. It would be because an alternative, and equally effective, proposal for their aid and support, and for opposition to the policies of the Israeli state, had emerged.

Moreover, the boycott would be of Israeli academic institutions only. We would not sever links with our Israeli colleagues, which would be counterproductive. Individual and group collaboration and publication on joint projects could continue, as long as such projects were not formally sponsored by Israeli institutions.

The fundamental issue is not a boycott as an end in itself. It is how to raise the current outrages to national and international prominence. Whether an institutional boycott is the most appropriate tactic will remain an open question. What is not, and cannot be, open is whether it is appropriate to debate and discuss the pros and cons of the tactic.

If Israeli academic institutions are complicit in the inhuman and dehumanising treatment of the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, doing nothing (or nothing effective), would also make us complicit, if only by default. We cannot turn away and say, "Business as usual."


Tom Hickey is chair of the University and Colleges Union,
Faculty of Arts and Architecture, University of Brighton, Brighton BN2 1RA
T.Hickey@bton.ac.uk



References


[1]Summerfield D, Green C, Karmi G, Halpin D, Cutting P, et al . Israeli boycotts: gesture politics or a moral imperative? Guardian 2007 Apr 21.
www.guardian.co.uk/israel/comment/0,,2062435,00.html


[2]World Food Programme. Projected 2007 needs for WFP projects and operations. Occupied Palestinian Territory.
www.wfp.org/appeals/projected_needs/documents/2007/ODC.pdf


[3]British Committee for the Universities of Palestine. Why boycott Israeli universities? London: BRICUP, 2007.


Source: http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/335/7611/124


Also Of Interest

Page URL: http://inminds.co.uk/article.php?id=10178
Support Us
If you agree with our work then please support us.

Give one time donation:
£

Setup monthly donation:
£
INMINDS Facebook Live Feed
Latest Video's
Latest News..
[all-by date]
[all-by category]
[all-by modify date]
INMINDS Twitter Feed
Boycott Israel Campaign
Featured Video's
You need Flash player 8+ and JavaScript enabled to view this video.
Why boycott Israel on Campus[1:50:05]
12 London universities discuss need for BDS on campuses. Speakers include Rafeef Ziadeh, Ilan Pappe, Karma Nabulsi & Mike Cushman
Love Letters to Gaza[31:08]
A unique theatrical event using personal messages of love, support and hope from people of all ages and all walks of life to the people of Gaza.
John Pilger[7:55]
journalist and documentary maker
Antiwar Mass Assembly 8 Oct 2011
Julian Assange[7:07]
founder of WikiLeaks
Antiwar Mass Assembly 8 Oct 2011
Lauren Booth, Sami Ramadani & Yvonne Ridley[6:28]
Reading the names of the dead
Antiwar Mass Assembly 8 Oct 2011
George Galloway[6:39]
Antiwar Mass Assembly 8 Oct 2011
Jemima Khan[8:42]
Antiwar Mass Assembly 8 Oct 2011
Why Boycott Marks & Spencer 2011?[23:29]
Demo outside M&S Oxford Street(24 Sept 2011)
Sean Clinton[4:59]
Israeli Blood Diamonds Campaign
Al Quds Day rally, Trafalgar Square (31 Aug 2011)
Lauren Booth[5:24]
Al Quds Day rally, Trafalgar Square (31 Aug 2011)
Lauren Booth - Prayer for Gaza[2:46]
Al Quds Day rally, Trafalgar Square (31 Aug 2011)
Benny Morris - Historian or Racist?[34:07]
Activists oppose visit of racist Israeli historian Benny Morris who justifies ethnic cleansing and genocide.
Is Israel applying apartheid?[2:12:56]
Speakers: Yael Kahn, Jody McIntyre and Ghada Karmi (5 May 2011)
Karen Mitchell[48:27]
Partner at Thompsons Solicitors
Life changing visit to Palestine in 2008 (21 Feb 2011)
Ramzy Baroud[1:59:32]
Editor-in-chief of the Palestine Chronicle
"My Father Was A Freedom Fighter - Gaza's Untold Story" (25 Mar 2011)
Women United in the Intifada[2:31:36]
Speakers: Lizzie Cocker, Ewa Jasiewcz, Alaa Kassim, Yvonney Ridley, Isis Amlak, Sukant Chandan, Ramzy Baroud (14 Mar 2011)
George Galloway[1:01:48]
Solidarity with the Middle-East Revolution, support the people - oppose US/UK intervention (SOAS, 11 Mar 2011)
Omar Barghouti[55:08]
BDS Movement co-founder
"Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions" book launch (7 Mar 2011)
Shir Hever[1:49:09]
Alternative Information Centre
The Political Economy of Israel's Occupation, Kings College London (17 Feb 2011)
Why academic boycott of Israel[1:29:37]
Speakers: Mohammed Abuabdou(PSCABI), Mike Cushman(BRICUP), Jodey McIntyre(activist) (8 Feb 2011)
Dashed Hopes - Gaza Blockade[1:23:08]
Mohammed-Ali Abu Najela (Oxfam), Andrea Becker (MAP), Ewa Jasiewicz (Free Gaza Movement) (1 Feb 2011)
Jordan Valley: Apartheid[1:17:12]
Sarah Cobham(Brighton Jordan Valley Solidarity), Chris Osmond (Corporate Watch) (House of Commons, 1 Feb 2011)
Dump Veolia Demo[7:00]
Protesting at settlement supporter Veolia's sponsership of exhibit at the Natural History Museum (23 Oct 2010)
Boycott Israeli Dates [1/2][9:11]
Are you financing Israels brutal occupation this Ramadan?
Boycott Israeli Dates [2/2][9:05]
Are you financing Israels brutal occupation this Ramadan?
Lee Jasper [1/2][10:13]
[4 of 8] Genocide Memorial Day 2010 Session One, 17-1-2010
Lee Jasper [2/2][9:51]
[5 of 8] Genocide Memorial Day 2010 Session One, 17-1-2010
One Oppressor One Bullet[8:11]
Imam Achmad Cassiem, veteran of the armed struggle against apartheid in South Africa, speaks at the StW rally (London, 19 Feb 2005)
Salwa Alenat [1/2][9:56]
KavLaOved (Workers Rights hotline)
[1 of 8] Israel's Occupation - Abuse of Palestinian Workers (LSE 19 Nov 2009)
Salwa Alenat [2/2][8:57]
KavLaOved (Workers Rights hotline)
[2 of 8] Israel's Occupation - Abuse of Palestinian Workers (LSE 19 Nov 2009)
For Anwar [1of2][10:01]
Carmel Agrexco Valentines Action 7 Feb 2009
For Anwar [2of2][9:56]
Carmel Agrexco Valentines Action 7 Feb 2009
big
[all videos (over 200)..]
Special Additions

Featured MP3 Podcast

"You cannot simplify the question of violence.. You look at human history - the American revolution, the civil war, the end of slavery in the United States, the African National Congress, the end of colonialism - by and large these were some combination of popular social uprisings and social movements and non-violent protests AND armed resistance. Now that doesn't mean I'm advocating for any armed action today, I'm not. I'm committed to finding ways of acting and speaking and making people laugh and doing art and disrupting the war machine in other ways, but I think focusing on violence when we have the comfort of being protected by mass of armed violence is not non-violence at all.. if you are pointing to the mass of violence and who's doing the mass of violence in the world today, you have to look to state violence - that's people bombing whole cities from the air.. "
A founder of the Weather Underground, a revolutionary group that waged war against the US government in the 70s in response to the Vietnam War.
Interview, Radio Neatherlands (TSWI) 30 June 2007 [12min / 6Mb]
[need flash]

[all podcasts..]
Newsletter
To subscribe
enter your email:

COPY VERIFICATION CODEcopy this code —>
Feedback
If you wish to comment on this page:

(all fields optional)



COPY VERIFICATION CODEcopy this code —>
The opinions expressed on this site, unless otherwise stated, are those of the authors.
All logos & trademarks are the property of their respective owners and their use is covered under 'fair use' policy.
Copyright © 1998-2012 Innovative Minds www.inminds.com All Rights Reserved.
The opinions expressed on this site, unless otherwise stated, are those of the authors.
All logos & trademarks are the property of their respective owners and their use is covered under 'fair use' policy.
Copyright © 1998-2012 Innovative Minds www.inminds.com All Rights Reserved.