Newsletter Archive:.
  Sptember 2013  

AAUP Journal on Academic Freedom Takes on BDS Debate

The main response to the call for papers came in the form of a roundtable concerning the issue of academic boycotts in general, and the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) in particular. AAUP policy currently opposes boycotts because of “the Association’s long-standing commitment to the free exchange of ideas.” …

 The roundtable begins with a contribution from Marjorie Heins, who offers a restatement and defense of the AAUP’s policy on academic boycotts. Heins argues that, when aimed at colleges and universities, boycotts will tend to “deprive these institutions of needed resources and undermine the ability of the scholars who work there to study, teach, and exchange ideas with colleagues.” …

 The next contribution is from Bill V. Mullen, who curates a series of essays on the topic of the Palestinian boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign. … In his contribution, Mullen covers the history of the AAUP’s 2006 decision against academic boycotts and argues that political events since then warrant a reconsideration of this decision… The next contribution is from Omar Barghouti, who argues that the AAUP’s definition of academic freedom implicitly privileges the nation state. In so doing, Barghouti argues, the AAUP ignores the rights of occupied people. Malini Johar Schueller and David Lloyd’s essay [points] to the thorny case of granting rights to people who inhabit a country under occupation. In such conditions, they argue, the AAUP’s tacit policy of letting all sides speak ignores that fact that what they see as a settler colonial state – Israel – cannot be equated with the inhabitants of an occupied land – the Palestinians…Concluding Mullen’s dossier, Sami Hermez and Mayssoun Soukarieh’s article explores the impact of invocations of academic freedom by presidents of American universities in the Middle East… 

 Other contributions follow by Joan W. Scott (highlighted in this newsletter) and Rima Najjar Kapitan, who “argues, a boycott constitutes a form of constitutionally protected speech, even if, paradoxically, it entails some restriction of free speech.” 

Joan Scott : Changing My Mind about the Boycott

 " … in the face of an [Israeli] apartheid that violates both the principles and practices of equality and freedom for all, a principled opposition to boycotts as punitive or unfair … only helps perpetuate the system. The boycott is a strategic way of exposing the … undemocratic behavior of Israeli state institutions."


Hundreds of academics call for boycott of Hebrew University conference in 2014

Hundreds of Palestinian, Israeli and other oral historians and academics from Europe, South Africa and North America are calling on their colleagues to boycott the June 2014 International Conference on Oral History organized at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Amanda Palmer, Please Dont Normalize with Apartheid

 We encourage you to listen to Palestinian voices who ask artists to respect the boycott and to realise that voices from the community of the Israeli oppressors do not represent Palestinians, and indeed often serve to silence and obscure the Palestinian message using deceptive words of 'peace' and 'co-existence'.  


PACBI Editorial

Academic Freedom or Academic Privilege: In defense of the Academic Boycott of Israel

In no way does the BDS movement target individual professors simply because they are Israeli.  Will they be affected by the boycott because a conference in Israel is canceled?  Perhaps. But is this an infringement of their academic freedom or a loss of academic privileges? Even if the former is assumed, the privileging of academic freedom above other, more fundamental, rights flies in the face of the idea of universal human rights. How can the academic freedom of a sector of Israeli society be more important than the basic right to a free and dignified life for all Palestinians, academics included? Is upholding the “academic freedom” – or academic privileges, one should say -- of Israeli academics a loftier aim than upholding the freedom of an entire people being strangled by an illegal occupation? And do Palestinian universities somehow fall outside the purview of the 'universal’ principle of academic freedom? These are just some questions to ask and impacts to think about when we think of the effect of a boycott on Israeli scholars.

It is important not to lose sight of the fact that the Palestinians are using boycotts, divestment and sanctions as a resistance mechanism against Israeli colonialism and apartheid. What is at stake is not the rigor or otherwise of academic arguments in support of privileged academics, rather, the lives and livelihoods of the Palestinian people. Solidarity with this resistance is the responsibility and duty of every conscientious individual around the world.   

  On the Fallacy of ‘Engaging’ with the Israeli Academy

What could possibly be wrong with dialogue, you might ask? Instead, perhaps the appropriate question might be: "is it moral to collaborate with a militarized, racist, colonial state, in order to cleanse its crimes? "



Support BDS: Defend free speech and human rights

Australian Profs. Stuart Rees and Jake Lynch are threatened with a lawsuit by an Israeli law firm for supporting the academic boycott of Israel. Sign this letter to support them and stand for free speech.

Academics across Europe express outrage at Israeli/US pressure on EU

Over 500 academics urge EU not to water down its new guidelines preventing EU funding from being awarded to Israeli projects and entities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.

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