The recent motion by the U.K.’s largest university union (NAFTHE) recommending a boycott of all Israeli academics who “do not publicly dissociate themselves” from Israeli policies has reignited the debate around this issue (“Over protests, U.K. union endorses boycott of Israeli academics,” E. Marshall, News of the Week, 2 June, p. 1289).

Despite the fact that the NAFTHE decision is only “advisory,” it is likely that many will view it as an inducement to act along the lines of the motion. As an Israeli academic, I find myself wondering just which Israeli policies these anonymous potential boycotters would like me to publicly dissociate myself from? Should I dissociate myself from the policy to encourage joint Palestinian-Israeli science projects, the policy to admit students and faculty to our universities regardless of their race or religion, or the policy to continue withdrawals from occupied territory if the Palestinians will only stop using such territory as launching pads for further attacks on us? Or perhaps the boycotters would like me to dissociate myself from the security barrier that has markedly reduced the number of deaths of Israeli civilians from homicide bombers? If the latter, unfortunately, it seems the boycotters would like to see us choose between death and damnation.

How will the boycotters decide who has and who has not publicly dissociated themselves from Israeli policies? In the absence of a “public dissociation commissar” to categorize myself and my colleagues in Israeli academia into those who are boycottable versus those who are not, I would like to issue the following challenge to those currently quietly supporting this boycott from the safety of their anonymity. I hereby publicly identify myself as an Israeli academic who has not dissociated himself from the Israeli government policies described above, and challenge the boycott supporters to reciprocate by publicly identifying themselves as supporting this boycott. After all, if they want to support a boycott policy that is the antithesis of academic freedom and is reminiscent of the darkest days of Lysenkoism in Soviet academia, at the very least they should have the courage to stand behind their misguided convictions.

Boycott of Israeli Academics Misguided

Science • • TAGS: Education, Humanity, Security

The recent motion by the U.K.’s largest university union (NAFTHE) recommending a boycott of all Israeli academics who “do not publicly dissociate themselves” from Israeli policies has reignited the debate around this issue (“Over protests, U.K. union endorses boycott of Israeli academics,” E. Marshall, News of the Week, 2 June, p. 1289).

Despite the fact that the NAFTHE decision is only “advisory,” it is likely that many will view it as an inducement to act along the lines of the motion. As an Israeli academic, I find myself wondering just which Israeli policies these anonymous potential boycotters would like me to publicly dissociate myself from? Should I dissociate myself from the policy to encourage joint Palestinian-Israeli science projects, the policy to admit students and faculty to our universities regardless of their race or religion, or the policy to continue withdrawals from occupied territory if the Palestinians will only stop using such territory as launching pads for further attacks on us? Or perhaps the boycotters would like me to dissociate myself from the security barrier that has markedly reduced the number of deaths of Israeli civilians from homicide bombers? If the latter, unfortunately, it seems the boycotters would like to see us choose between death and damnation.

How will the boycotters decide who has and who has not publicly dissociated themselves from Israeli policies? In the absence of a “public dissociation commissar” to categorize myself and my colleagues in Israeli academia into those who are boycottable versus those who are not, I would like to issue the following challenge to those currently quietly supporting this boycott from the safety of their anonymity. I hereby publicly identify myself as an Israeli academic who has not dissociated himself from the Israeli government policies described above, and challenge the boycott supporters to reciprocate by publicly identifying themselves as supporting this boycott. After all, if they want to support a boycott policy that is the antithesis of academic freedom and is reminiscent of the darkest days of Lysenkoism in Soviet academia, at the very least they should have the courage to stand behind their misguided convictions.