Anti-boycott petition

This just come to my in-box from a scholar at Tel Aviv University. I agree (broadly) with the argument that an academic boycott is not the way to encourage dialogue, and dialogue is what we most need in the age of extremisms. Boycotts of many products may be effective, for example, a boycott of the Israeli weapons industry might be a very good thing — and might even make the Israel government respond. But boycotts of academic or any other intellectual interchange — "I refuse even to listen to you" sort of boycotts — will not only be utterly ineffective to change Israeli (or anybody's) policy, but will simply hamper much needed communication. 

They are seeking signature from academics, but I am not affiliated to any academic institution, so rather than sign I'm expressing my support here. Follow the link to read the petition, though I think Professor Dreyfus' presentation of the case is especially clear.

May I suggest that you consider signing this petition against academic boycotts, specifically academic boycotts of Israel’s academic institutions, scholars and students. The petition originated in the USA but is intended to be signed by scholars in all

Personally, I oppose much of our present government’s policies with respect to Palestinians and a Palestinian state. So do many of my colleagues. However, I oppose an academic boycott in principle (see Zvi Ziegler’s arguments below) and in practice: A boycott is likely to weaken voices against government policy and strengthen the right wing in Israel. 

Best wishes,

Tommy Dreyfus

Zvi Ziegler is head of the committee gathering signatures. He writes,
Our approach is that academic boycotts are harmful to the progress of mankind , and that science should be pursued without discriminating against people on account of their race, gender, nationality, politics, etc. This approach is identical to the one expressed by several national academies of science, including the USA one.

1 comment:

Dirk van Nouhuys said...

Sounds right to me. I find the actions of the powers that be in Israel towards the Palestinians immoral and self defeating, to put ti mildly, but that is all the more reason for all sides to keep talking. A fine example is the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra (http://www.west-eastern-divan.org/).