BBC NEWS | Education | Lecturers call for Israel boycott
Following this ridiculous motion, which is NATFHE’s last significant act before the merger with AUT, I have resigned my membership. It is grotesque to require people to, in effect, declare their non-allegiance to their government before being accepted in the academic community. What’s proposed here is nothing less than institutionalised discrimination based on nationality.
The backlash has, predictably, already begun. One reason that many academics, including me, put forward in opposition to this boycott is that it singles out Israeli academics whilst leaving academics in countries with much more repressive regimes alone – China, Zimbabwe, Sudan come immediately to mind. A letter in yesterday’s Guardian by Sabby Sagall, a leading light in the Socialist Workers Party, puts forward a wonderfully barmy reason for picking out Israel: “Israel is not a “normal” democratic society in which the rulers have had to accept that far-reaching political dissent or class conflict be part of the state’s ideological framework. It is a settler-colonial society with a much greater degree of social cohesion. Therefore the question why Israeli academic institutions should be boycotted and not necessarily those of other societies with poor human rights records is wide of the mark. In most such societies, there are usually many dissident intellectuals who tend to suffer the same repression meted out to ethnic or political minorities. Not in Israel. There, academic institutions are part of the structure of the illegal, colonial occupation. It is right that the boycott should go ahead until Israeli universities decide to support the campaign for an end to the occupation.” Brilliant, Sabby – so presumably you’ll also be supporting a ban on US and British universities until their academics declare their anti-war stance? Australia and Canada too, presumably? How twisted is this logic? We should attack Israeli academics because they’re not repressed?
Get a grip.

CC BY-SA 4.0 NATFHE’s last act by Dr Rob Spence is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.