The American Studies Association boycott resolution, academic freedom and the myth of the institutional boycott

Hirsh, David. 2014. The American Studies Association boycott resolution, academic freedom and the myth of the institutional boycott. Inside Higher Ed, p. 1. [Article]

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The ‘institutional boycott’ is likely to function as a political test in a hidden form. It would offer exemption from the boycott to those Israelis who are willing or able to disavow their own institutions or funding bodies.

2. An ‘institutional boycott’, even if it did not in fact impact against individuals, would still be a violation of the principles of academic freedom.

3. In practice, the boycott campaign has been, and is likely to continue to be, a campaign for the exclusion of individual scholars who work in Israel, from the global academic community. There is no general principle proposed for boycotting universities in states which have poor human rights records or which receive US aid or on the basis of any other stated criteria; there is only a boycott campaign against Israeli academia.

4. There are also foreseeable likely impacts within the boycotting institutions, or within institutions in which the boycott campaign is strong, which would be distinct from the impact against Israeli academia. The violations of academic freedom which constitute academic boycott are likely to impact in the boycotting as well as the boycotted institutions:

a. Academics in boycotting institutions, in subjects which specifically relate to Jewish or Israeli topics, would be cut off from the mainstream of their disciplines, for example Jewish Studies, Israel Studies, some theology, some archaeology, some history; and there is a more generic danger that scholars would be cut off from important colleagues in any discipline.

b. People who resist the characterisation of Israel as apartheid or as Nazi or as essentially racist are likely to be characterised by the boycott campaign as apologists for apartheid, Nazism, or racism and treated as such. People who ‘break the boycott’ are likely to be treated as blacklegs or scabs. Social sanctions against opponents of the boycott or ‘strikebreakers’ are likely to impact disproportionately against Jews. It is likely that some Jews will feel themselves to be under particular pressure to state their position on the boycott; it is likely that Jews will be suspected of opposing the boycott if they do not explicitly support it.

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7 January 2014Published

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17 Mar 2014 10:45

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29 Apr 2020 15:58


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