Boycott of Israeli Universities Wrong: AAUP
The American Association of University Professors has quite rightly come out against a recent resolution of the British Association of University Teachers (one of two main such organizations in the UK) that an academic boycott should be imposed on the University of Haifa and Bar Ilan University.
Long-time readers know that I oppose boycotting our Israeli colleagues. I don’t think most of the problems with Israeli policies on expropriating Palestinian land or oppressing occupied Palestinian populations are best dealt with by an academic boycott, more especially since it would inevitably be unfair in its actual working. (An exception for “progressive” Israeli faculty members establishes an ideological litmus test, where what “progressive” might be is not even entirely clear.)
Academia is about the free exchange of ideas, and a faith that razor-sharp intellectual critique can cause the truth to win out over time. If that is true, then we need not fear academic speech by anyone, whether they be Israeli, Palestinian, Iranian, or American.
Note that I am equally opposed to the current de facto American government boycott on Muslim critics of US policies who are invited to speak at US universities and have often been denied admission (even Cat Stevens was denied admission!) And, I’d like to point out that pro-Israel groups that want an academic boycott of Palestinian-American scholars such as Joseph Massad and Rashid Khalidi are setting a very dangerous precedent, which is likely to backfire against minority professors, and professors with minority views, in general.