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January 03, 2017

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Patrick S. O'Donnell

I trust you'll permit other and contrary views and arguments, among which, I recommend the following:

First, check out the material on the BDS page dedicated to the academic component of the boycott here: https://bdsmovement.net/academic-boycott

Then, see CounterPunch (with a couple of good links in the notes): http://www.counterpunch.org/2003/09/17/in-defense-of-the-boycott-of-israeli-academic-institutions/

This short defense in blog of The Chronicle of Higher Education: http://www.chronicle.com/blogs/conversation/2013/12/31/in-defense-of-an-academic-boycott-of-israel/

Finally, a response to Martha Nussbaum's opposition to the academic boycott: http://www.usacbi.org/defending-boycotts/

MLA Members: Vote _for_ the Boycott of Israeli Academics and Scholars

Kevin Jon Heller

Steve is absolutely right that scholars should vote against academic BDS, which -- despite the protestations of its advocates -- targets individuals, not simply academic institutions. Principle 10 of the PACBI guidelines, for example, prohibits writing tenure and promotion letters for Israeli academics. Opposing academic BDS is in no way inconsistent with supporting BDS in its economic and political form. Nor does opposing academic BDS mean tolerating Israel's unremitting persecution of Palestinian scholars, Palestinian students, and left-wing Israeli scholars. We need more academic freedom -- for all scholars, Israeli, Palestinian, and of every other nationality -- not less.

Steve L.

Patrick: Sorry about the delay in posting your comment. It was stuck in the spam filter due to the links.

Of course, contrary views are always welcome here.

I trust you know, as Cary Nelson has pointed out, that, in advance of the meeting, the MLA distributed only a report in support of the boycott resolution, and declined to distribute a statement in opposition.

http://fathomjournal.org/the-bds-disinformation-campaign-in-the-modern-language-association/

Patrick S. O'Donnell

No apology necessary. I can't speak for the MLA, but if mass media and other sources (such as this and most academic blogs, legal and otherwise, that I routinely visit) are reliable in this regard, the (overwhelming) sentiment in most quarters is presumptively against any such boycott, the arguments in favor being less well known and understood as having, it seems to me, the burden of proof (I'm not saying this justifies their action, but it might help make some sense of it).

I should add two posts from Corey Robin several years ago at Crooked Timber that are among the best for addressing the question of “academic freedom,” the first, in response to Michael Kazin’s ill-formed thoughts (my judgment) on the topic, the second, addresses a myriad of issues raised by “academic freedom”:

http://crookedtimber.org/2013/12/13/a-response-to-michael-kazin-on-bds-and-campus-activism/

http://crookedtimber.org/2013/12/26/does-the-asa-boycott-violate-academic-freedom-how/

I might note that this is one of the rare occasions I find ample reason to disagree with Professor (I know him as ‘Kevin’ as well) Heller.

Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance King

Let's see here. That goof in North Korea threatens humanity with ICBMs and these academics are strangely silent. Nobody boycotts North Korea. The Russians invade all over the place, nobody embargos their scholars. Israel builds a few settlements that could easily be deeded over to the Palestianians and everybody goes bananas? Maybe Trump is on to something?

VoteTrump

Moreover, Captain, there are muslims in Isreali academia but none in arab academic institutions, prejudice, no?
I read that the leader of bds was himself educated at Tel Aviv U.

twbb

"Steve is absolutely right that scholars should vote against academic BDS, which -- despite the protestations of its advocates -- targets individuals, not simply academic institutions. Principle 10 of the PACBI guidelines, for example, prohibits writing tenure and promotion letters for Israeli academics"

Principle 10 does not prohibit tenure or promotion for Israeli academics, only tenure or promotion letters that serve Israeli academic institutions. It would not prohibit such a letter for an Israeli academic at an institution in, say, Canada, nor would it prohibit a letter in support of an Israeli academic's application for, say, a fellowship awarded by an international organization, or stop collaboration with Israeli academics on research projects where the funding does not come from the Israeli government or academic institution. It would, however, prohibit such a letter in support of a non-Israeli academic's application for tenure or promotion in an Israeli institution.

There are legitimate arguments both for and against the BDS movement, but reframing it as a direct attack on individuals is not one of them. The clear target is the institution, not the individual.

Steve Diamond

The best explanation of the academic freedom problems created by boycotts can be found at the AAUP website: https://www.aaup.org/report/academic-boycotts

Kevin Jon Heller

Academic BDS is most certainly an attack on individual academics, despite twbb's protestations. Under Principle 10, I cannot supervise or examine the dissertation of any PhD student at an Israeli university, regardless of whether that student is non-Israeli, Israeli, or Palestinian. I cannot write a letter in support of promotion for any lecturer at an Israeli university, regardless of whether that lecturer is non-Israeli, Israeli, or Palestinian. I cannot support the tenure application of any scholar at an Israeli university, regardless of whether that lecturer is non-Israeli, Israeli, or Palestinian.

It is pure sophistry for twbb to argue that, for academic BDS, "the clear target is the institution, not the individual." Tell that to the students and lecturers whose careers are crippled, if not destroyed, by Principle 10.

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