Thursday, June 14, 2007

Time to take sides ?

I read with interest about the recent UCU vote to boycott Israeli academia and their decision to talk some more. I read with even more interest the poisonous and arrogant response from the US lobby.

My thoughts:

i) Without broad support from within government and the civil service in the UK the boycott is unlikely to prove effective. Those who want to ignore it will do. A more important point; is those who already boycott Israel or undertake legitimate criticism, will at least have someone else to help protect them from the sort of academic bullying that takes place in the US.

ii) This is in no way an anti-semitic gesture. This is about saying in plain language that Israel is wrong. Merely suggesting that they ought to change is no longer sufficient. No more hand wringing and hubris please.

iii) This gesture needs to be put into the context or a request by Israeli academics to allow students in Gaza to study in the West Bank. Despite pleas to the contrary academic freedom is clearly not universal.

iv) I hope this does open a real debate unencumbered by the anti-semite bleat. Time to take sides.

n.b. I have boycotted Israeli goods for some 15 years now. I don’t feel like I have missed out on much so far.

No comments: