You are on page 1of 8

About the author ESSaY

Eve
Excluding Israelis: An Intellectual
Garrard
Eve Garrard is senior lecturer in the
Anatomy of the Academic Boycott
Centre for Professional Ethics at Keele By Eve Garrard February 2008
University in the United Kingdom. Prior
to joining Keele, she worked for several
years for the Open University, and has a
strong interest in teaching philosophy
to adult beginning students. Much of
her teaching is now in applied ethics, to
health care (and other) professionals. Her
research interests are in moral theory
(especially theory of motivation); applied
ethics, including bioethics; and also
philosophical issues connected with the
idea of evil. She has published papers on
the nature of evil and of forgiveness, and
has co-edited a book on moral philosophy
and the Holocaust.
She is a signatory of the Euston
Manifesto, and a guest-blogger on
normblog.

About ZWORD

Graffiti near the University of Southampton, England in July 2006


Z Word is an online journal focusing on Photo credit: Seth Frantzman
the contemporary debate over Zionism,
anti-Zionism, anti-Semitism and related
areas. Editorially independent, Z Word On 31 May 2007, the University and College Union (UCU)—the academics’
identifies and challenges anti-Zionist union in the UK—passed a motion at its annual conference instructing its
orthodoxies in mainstream political executive to circulate a call for a boycott of Israeli universities, and to organize
exchange.
a UK-wide tour of branches by Palestinian academics to discuss this. It also
Z Word is supported by the American declared that in the circumstances of ‘the complicity of Israeli academia in
Jewish Committee. To learn more about
Z Word, visit us online at: the occupation … criticism of Israel cannot be construed as antisemitic.’1
Four months later, on 28 September, the Union announced that its legal
www.z-word.com
advisers had warned it that such a boycott would be unlawful, because it would
or contact the editors at:
constitute discrimination. The opinion came from Lord Lester QC, who had
info@z-word.com himself played a significant role in creating Britain’s anti-discrimination legisla-
tion; hence his views about the possibility of the boycott being in breach of that
CREDITS legislation seemed likely to be authoritative. The Union therefore called off the
© Copyright the American Jewish
debate, and for the time being, at any rate, the boycott proposal collapsed.
Committee (AJC). All content In between these two events, throughout an exceptionally gray, wet British
herein, unless otherwise specified, is summer, a very intense and acrimonious debate took place in the universities
owned solely by the AJC and may not and colleges, and in the national press, and on the internet, in particular on some
disseminated in any way without prior
written consent from the AJC. All rights of the political blogs and also on the Union activists’ e-list. The political history
reserved. of the boycott campaign in the UCU, if it ever gets written, will be extremely
interesting, revealing such things as the role played by the what could justify singling it out for boycotting, when other
Socialist Workers Party, whose members and sympathiz- and much worse states (China, Russia, Sudan, North Korea,
ers were disproportionately represented both in the ranks Zimbabwe, Syria, Iran, Libya, Burma …..) are left untroubled
of the boycotters and among local union representatives; by any adverse attentions from the UCU? Singling Israel out
the extent to which those who supported the boycott alone among the nations for punishment can’t be justified,
proposal were reluctant to allow the union membership to so this argument claimed, and hence it is discriminatory;
be balloted on this highly divisive topic; and such passing and furthermore, since Israel is the only Jewish state, and
peculiarities as the unexpected intervention of the British is supported by many Jews in other countries, unjusti-
Medical Journal. However, I do not propose to write that fied discrimination against it is effectively antisemitic.
history here. My aim is rather to present an intellectual With respect to the first argument, about the threat
anatomy of the debate itself, since the arguments on both which a boycott poses to academic freedom, the immediate
sides were so illuminating, and so full of significance response from boycotters was to point out that academic
for wider debates about Zionism and antisemitism. freedom, though important, is not the only important
consideration—sometimes factors take priority, such as
Why boycott? the fight against oppression. Some pro-boycotters also
argued in this context that Palestinians don’t have aca-
There was one main argument in support of the boycott: demic freedom,3 so a boycott of Israel aiming to improve
the claim that Israel oppresses the Palestinians. There is the situation of Palestinian academics and students would
much Palestinian suffering, and, so this argument goes, actually defend academic freedom rather than undermine
Israel is entirely responsible for it. Other arguments favor- it; and in any case, they claimed, Israeli universities mis-
ing a boycott emerged in response to various objections use their academic freedom. 4 (No-one actually said that
to it, but this appeal to Palestinian suffering and Israeli improvement of the conditions of Palestinian academ-
oppression was the bedrock claim, and boycotters returned ics and students was the principal aim of the proposed
to and reiterated it again and again, especially when the boycott, and, indeed, its precise aims never became
weaknesses of their other arguments were demonstrated. clear. In particular, the conditions which would count
Facing this claim were two central objections to as success, and hence would lead to the boycott being
the boycott, deriving from different and independent
moral principles (though as we shall see the two argu-
ments rapidly became intertwined); with a third, more “…[T]he argument also leaves quite
consequences-oriented, set of considerations bringing unexplained why socialists…don’t feel the
up the rear.2 The first of these objections was the claim
that an academic boycott would violate the principle of
same need to declare their purity in the face
academic freedom, a principle which is not only impor- of other regimes”
tant in its own right, being essential to the flourishing of
the academy, but also one which is peculiarly under the
protection of academics. If they don’t respect academic lifted, were never fully spelled out by its supporters.)
freedom, so it was often argued, why should anyone else? This defense of the boycott, in terms of the overriding
The second main argument against the boycott was that importance of fighting oppression, effectively forged a
it would be unjust—it would involve discrimination against tight connection between the concern about academic
Israel. Why is Israel being singled out for hostile treatment, freedom and the concern about unjust selectivity. This
it was asked, when there are so many worse malefactors in was because it immediately raised the following question:
the world today? Very few people in the universities, even if Israel’s misdeeds are important enough to override the
among the most dedicated boycotters, were prepared to say value of academic freedom, then why isn’t the same true
openly that Israel is actually the worst country in the world, of Russia, China, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Syria, Iran, and so
and any such claim couldn’t of course be supported, in the on (and on)? Why is Israel being singled out? Attempts
light of far greater and bloodier oppression elsewhere. So to answer that question, and the pressing home of the

Excluding Israelis: An Intellectual Anatomy of the Academic Boycott 2


question in the face of those attempts, became the princi- Another attempt to specify the factor which allegedly
pal locus of the debate. Very few anti-boycotters claimed justifies singling out Israel for boycott was the claim that it’s
that Israel is faultless; what they said was that it is not an occupying power, and (supposedly) we care more about
alone in this condition, and what they demanded of the occupations than about other human rights abuses—we are
pro-boycotters was that they specify exactly which feature all strongly committed to the Peace of Westphalia5, on this
of Israel is supposed to distinguish it from other faulty account. But, as many people pointed out, there are other
polities and justify singling it out for distinctively hostile occupying powers whose occupations are far worse and
treatment. In response to this demand, the pro-boycotters bloodier than Israel’s, but which haven’t been boycotted
put forward a remarkably wide range of considerations; by the UCU, nor are they likely to be—China is an obvi-
however few, if any, of them survived the forensic atten- ous example. Nor is it obvious that we do care more about
tion which they received from the boycott’s adversaries. occupations than about other kinds of rights-violations,
or that we draw the fine distinctions between different
Worse than all the others? kinds of occupation which is needed to explain the special

One of the commonest and most persistent justifications


given for singling out Israel was the claim that Israel is an “No broadly philosophical discussion of the
apartheid state. Since the original apartheid state, South nature and proper aims of academic boycotts
Africa, was the subject of a successful academic boycott, ever took place, nor was there any principled
there could be no legitimate objection to boycotting Israel.
The anti-boycotters naturally responded to this claim by
investigation of which states, if any, would be
pointing out the many ways in which Israel is radically dif- justified targets”
ferent from apartheid South Africa: the vibrant free press in
Israel, in which the government can be and often is fiercely
criticized; the large numbers of Arab students and staff at condemnation of Israel, rather than other occupying
top Israeli universities; and most importantly, the fact that powers; and even if we do, it isn’t at all clear that we should.
every Israeli citizen, Jew or Arab, has the vote. The oc- Next up came the claim that the reason for focussing
cupation of the Palestinian territories, even if it is entirely on Israel was that a boycott would be more likely to work
wrong, simply isn’t the same as apartheid—and if it were, with Israel, possibly because it’s a democracy, than it
then other occupying powers such as China, Russia, and would with any of the other malefactors whose misdeeds
Turkey would also have to be regarded as apartheid states. are so markedly worse. No serious attempt to back up this
Pro-boycotters commonly responded to these argu- assertion was ever provided, nor was there evidence that
ments by reverting to descriptions of Israeli wrongdoing boycotts of any other states had actually been considered
and Palestinian suffering; here as elsewhere in the debate by the Union. No broadly philosophical discussion of
boycotters regularly failed to address the fact that the the nature and proper aims of academic boycotts ever
singling-out argument is a comparative one—why this took place, nor was there any principled investigation
country?—which can only be answered by a suitable of which states, if any, would be justified targets—those
comparison of this country with others. But the claim that union activists who thought that boycott was an appropri-
Israel is an apartheid state continued to be made, in spite ate activity for academics always had Israel in mind.
of its inaccuracy, throughout the campaign. And it’s easy An interesting variation on the claim about effectiveness
to see why: the rhetorical power of the analogy, its ability came from the original mover of the boycott proposal, Tom
to associate Israel with appalling racism and also with Hickey of Brighton University, who argued that because
ultimate defeat, was too great for boycotters to want to Israeli, and more broadly Jewish, culture is especially
abandon it, even though other regimes are far more similar committed to education and scholarship, an academic
to apartheid South Africa, in terms both of racism and of boycott would be especially effective against the Jewish
the oppression of large numbers of people, than Israel is. state.6 That is, the fact that Israel is committed to some
humane and civilized values was given as a reason for

Excluding Israelis: An Intellectual Anatomy of the Academic Boycott 3


treating it as a particularly desirable target for boycott. boycotters would turn their hostile attentions elsewhere.
This supposed justification had a peculiarly perverse On this view we should cut more slack to countries which
flavor, seeking to punish Israel for its virtues rather than are unashamedly oppressive and tyrannical, and be harsher
to countries which explicitly endorse liberal values. This
prioritizes, to a remarkable extent, criticism of the vice of
“It was hard not to believe that this was hypocrisy (which Israel must be supposed to possess above
something to do with the adverse effects on all others—itself a claim entirely lacking in support) at the
an academic’s career that refusing to have expense of ignoring the rather more terrible vices of tyr-
anny and mass murder. It may be that those who deploy this
dealings with American academia might justification for singling Israel out for boycott are driven
produce” by an unspoken assumption that we should only judge
polities by the standards which they themselves respect.
But this is itself a peculiarly unattractive view: as a general
its vices, and implying that regimes lacking those virtues principle, it would permanently sink any hope of appealing
would be less appropriate targets for punitive treatment. to human rights in the face of the systematic oppression
Another justification which was sometimes put forward and killing which disfigure so many parts of the planet.
adumbrated a theme that would become steadily more
dominant: the claim that Israel is supported by America, so The narcissism of Not-In-My-Name
fighting Israel is a way of fighting American imperialism.
The underlying assumption here is that fighting American A distinctive version of this line of argument was pro-
imperialism is more important than preserving academic vided by Richard Kuper, the Chair of Jews for Justice
freedom, and more important than refraining from unjust for Palestinians. Kuper explained that Israel’s com-
selectivity—an assumption which, to put it mildly, is itself mitment to Western values justifies singling it out
in need of supporting argument. And more significantly, for punitive treatment, because if we don’t, then we,
this assumption doesn’t explain why it’s Israel which should as Westerners, will be complicit in its misdeeds; it’s
be boycotted, rather than America itself. If America is the important that we should say, ‘No, not in our name’.7
source of what’s objectionable about Israel, why should it (Steven Rose, Secretary of the British Committee for
not be the overt target of the boycott? But the possibility the Universities of Palestine, and a prime mover in the
of boycotting America was never raised, even by people boycott campaign, also expressed some of this concern
whose hostility to it was loudly and frequently voiced. It about complicity8, as did various other boycott sympathiz-
was hard not to believe that this was something to do with ers, such as the architectural critic Charles Jencks.9)
the adverse effects on an academic’s career that refusing But this justification for singling out Israel is really
to have dealings with American academia might produce. focused on the need to purify us, to enable us to keep our
The final argument for singling out Israel which I hands clean—and better still, to show the world that they’re
will mention here is the view that this selectivity is right clean. The unattractive and frivolous narcissism of this ar-
because the Israelis are really like us—they’re ‘one of gument, with its self-absorbed concentration upon our own
us’—so we naturally hold them to Western standards of moral condition, has the effect of putting us and our moral
behavior. Indeed, Israelis are constantly saying that they purity at centre stage, instead of the problems of those who
hold themselves to Western standards, so it’s right that they have to live and act in the terrible dilemmas of the Middle
should be judged accordingly. Leave aside the problem that East. And the argument also leaves quite unexplained why
the history of the West contains many and terrible episodes socialists like Kuper and Rose don’t feel the same need to
where Jews were emphatically not regarded as being ‘one of declare their purity in the face of other regimes, regimes
us’. A more pressing problem is that it does seem to follow which claim adherence to socialist values while engaging
from this putative justification that if Israel dropped its in oppressions far more deadly than that of Israel (North
commitment to Western standards, then there would be Korea is an obvious example, as is China). The argument
much less reason to single it out for further attention, and about complicity implies that socialists are complicit in

Excluding Israelis: An Intellectual Anatomy of the Academic Boycott 4


the horrors those regimes have committed unless they reasonably devote her time and money to animal welfare,
loudly and publicly say, ‘No, not in my name’, and demon- even though there are also children in need whom she
strate their sincerity by calling for an academic boycott of could, if she chose, help instead. But if that’s what’s going on
those polities. In the absence of such calls, this supposed in the case of the boycott, if support for it is just a matter of
reason for singling out Israel does not sound convincing. personal choice, then we would expect to see a random dis-
Perhaps the most notable feature of these various tribution of such choices, or at the very least a fair scattering
attempts to provide a reason for singling Israel out for of concern, with some people calling for a boycott of China,
exceptional adverse treatment is that they manifestly others telling us to boycott Syrian universities, or Egyptian
beg the question at issue—they deploy and rely on the ones, or Saudi Arabian ones, or those in Zimbabwe, or
very selectivity which they are supposed to be justifying. North Korea, or Iran, or Burma, or Pakistan, or India, or
The oppression argument; the occupation argument; Russia, or the USA—there are plenty of candidates, after
the claim that academic freedom isn’t always the most all. But we didn’t see anything like this. There was a very
important consideration; the concern about complic- markedly non-random distribution of boycott demands:
ity: all these themselves embody the selectivity which Israel was the only candidate. And in the face of this notable
they purport to be accounting for, since all of them focus lack of randomness, the point about personal choice loses
on aspects of Israel which can be found, often in much grip. It is highly implausible to suppose that that’s what
worse forms, in other countries which remain free from was going on in the well-integrated Union campaign.
The alternative defense of singling-out involved
a slightly richer line of reasoning. The claim here was
that singling-out for punishment isn’t objectionable,
“…[T]here was a very markedly non-random because it’s always legitimate to punish a wrongdoer,
distribution of boycott demands: Israel was whether or not other wrongdoers also get punished. It’s
irrelevant, on this view, whether other countries deserve
the only candidate”
to be boycotted, since all that matters is whether Israel
is actually a wrongdoer. If it is, then it’s right to pun-
ish it, whether or not we punish other wrongdoers.
the UCU’s boycotting attentions. Since these arguments Again there is some intuitive appeal in this argument.
exemplify that selectivity, they can’t adequately explain it. We do think it’s right to punish the murderers whom we
The failure of these attempts to defend the boycott catch and convict, for example, even though there are
by identifying a feature of Israel which it uniquely pos- many others whom we don’t punish since we don’t man-
sesses, and which justifies uniquely punitive treatment, age to convict them. But even if there are times when it’s
led in due course to two interesting attempts to provide right to punish one malefactor independently of what we
a justification, while acknowledging the absence of any do to others, there are also quite obviously times when
such unique feature. These arguments cut through the this would be entirely wrong. Suppose we had a policy of
dialectical knot by simply denying that there’s anything punishing only the women who drink and drive, say, and
wrong with singling-out; hence, they claim, the absence not the men, maybe on the grounds that we can’t catch
of a uniquely bad feature in Israel is no bar to a legitimate and punish all drink-drivers, and women may (perhaps)
exceptionalism in the treatment of the Jewish state. be more susceptible to the deterrent effects of punish-
The first of these arguments denies, as a general mat- ment than men. This would clearly be unjustified, and
ter, that we need to give any reason at all for focussing on indeed it’s inconceivable that anyone would try to justify
one moral issue rather than another. Which cause we take it. There simply is no general principle that says that it’s
up, its adherents say, is a matter of personal decision, and permissible to punish some malefactors but not others.
there’s nothing wrong with sometimes adopting a rather Sometimes this can be justified, but sometimes it can’t—it
less serious cause in preference to a more serious one. has to be decided case by case. And cases where lesser
Now, there is indeed some truth in this. If a person has a rather than greater offenders are selected for punish-
particular concern for animals, for example, then she may ment cry out for further explanation and justification. 

Excluding Israelis: An Intellectual Anatomy of the Academic Boycott 5


Furthermore, where the only group targeted for to the wounded feelings of the boycotters, and away from
punishment is one for whom there is a history of dis- a consideration of the truth (or otherwise) of the charge.10
criminatory hostility, and where the nature and effect Such consideration as there was generally took the form of
of the punishment would be to further the very ends of saying that criticism of Israel isn’t the same as antisemi-
ostracism and exclusion which that past discrimination tism; this was, however, irrelevant, since no anti-boycotters
ever claimed that it was the same, and in any case a boycott
is not a form of criticism but rather a form of punishment.
“The singular focus on Israel created an Many of the boycotters clearly felt, and said, that the pro-
explanatory gap—why this country? posal couldn’t be antisemitic, since they themselves didn’t
—which could readily be filled by some very hate Jews11. This error—of considering antisemitism as
traditional discriminatory attitudes towards purely a matter of how people feel, rather than of what they
actually do—is one which is now rarely made by academics
Jews”
about other forms of racism, since the idea of indirect or
institutional racism is well-established and well-known in
pursued, then the singling-out of that group for specially the UK. The persistence of this purely psychological
punitive treatment begins to look ethically very dubi- approach to antisemitism itself calls for further
ous indeed. So this attempt to defend the singling-out explanation.
of Israel for hostile attention, by appeal to the supposed That a boycott would in practise discriminate against
principle that it’s always legitimate to punish an of- Jews seems fairly plausible. That the motives of the boycot-
fender regardless of what happens to other offenders, ters were discriminatory was harder to ascertain, and is
also fails to work, since that principle is in fact false. unlikely to have been universally the case, although this
In the absence of an adequate justification for the view of their motivation was to some extent supported by
singling-out of Israel for special hostility, some of those the way in which many boycotters chose to describe events
fighting the boycott proposal became convinced that it in the Middle East. From their accounts of the Palestinian
was antisemitic, in effect and in some cases in intention. plight, few of their listeners would have realized that Israel
They pointed out that singling out an individual or country had been established by the UN, promptly attacked by all its
for special hostility without justification is discrimina- Arab neighbors, subjected to constant terrorist attacks on
tory; and given that Israel is the only Jewish state, and is its civilians, and made the object of genocidal threats by its
supported by many Jews outside its borders, unjustified enemies. Only its wrongdoings were acknowledged—all too
discrimination against it would be discrimination against often the pro-boycott narrative was one in which the com-
Jews—that is, antisemitism. The UCU proposal had plexities of the Middle East were flattened out into a simple
attempted to pre-empt this charge by declaring that in the morality play, in which the Palestinians were cast in the role
current context criticism of Israel cannot be construed of pure and innocent victims, with Israel being presented as
as antisemitic, but since absolutely no supporting argu- the locus of unrelieved malevolence and guilt. Indeed, many
ment was ever provided for this extraordinary claim, and boycotters were ready to compare Israel to the Nazis—for
since obvious counter-examples (for example, from the example, by declaring the situation in Gaza to be like that in
public statements of Hezbullah or Hamas) are so easy to the Warsaw Ghetto. Calamitous though the state of Gaza is,
find, this clause in the boycott proposal tended rather to the differences between the two cases are gross and glaring;
strengthen the charge of antisemitism than to weaken it. and in view of these deep disanalogies, the insistence on
drawing this comparison had a peculiarly repellent qual-
Antisemitism in effect ity, deriving perhaps from its exploitation of the terrible
history of the Nazis and the Jews. It was hard to tell why
The standard response to the charge of antisemitism was some people felt the need to paint the swastika onto the
outrage and offense on the part of the boycotters. This was foreheads of the Jews of Israel in this way, to covertly sug-
understandable, since it’s a serious charge, but the effect of gest that the Nazis have been reincarnated as Israeli Jews
this response was to change the subject under discussion and that Israel is the new Third Reich. Not all boycotters

Excluding Israelis: An Intellectual Anatomy of the Academic Boycott 6


shared these views, but few actually disavowed them; objectionable than greater offences by other polities.
and insofar as they endorsed such innuendos they were Whatever the motives of the boycott supporters, the
peddling a new version of a very old stereotype, that Jews symbolism of the boycott was always likely to have the
are secretly planning to kill millions of innocent people. effect of encouraging antisemitism. The singular focus on
Another familiar anti-Jewish motif was discernible in Israel created an explanatory gap—why this country?—
the pro-boycotters’ increasing insistence, especially after which could readily be filled by some very traditional
the collapse of the boycott, that they were the victims of discriminatory attitudes towards Jews; and this was likely
a “well funded” international Zionist lobby that is at- to happen however much the supporters of a boycott
tempting to suppress criticism of Israel12—a claim which claimed that they were only targeting Israelis and not Jews.
both fed on, and gave new life to, a standard antisemitic Any boycott is a call for ostracism, exclusion and punish-
trope. But there was also a different reason for regard- ment. The boycott proposal encouraged antisemitic views
ing the pro-boycott campaign as effectively antisemitic. and attitudes partly because this content—the demand for
Supporters of the boycott made much of its symbolic ostracism and exclusion—mapped so neatly onto tradition-
power, and they were right to do so—a boycott is indeed al antisemitic goals and practices. (And here, perhaps, we
a powerfully symbolic weapon. Supporting a boycott do find some truth in the claim that Israel is being selected
was felt by its proponents to show how much Israeli for boycott because it’s most likely to work with her. Insofar
wrongdoing is rejected, how much solidarity is felt with as the aim of a boycott is to encourage hostility to and
and offered to Palestinian victims. But symbolism is a rejection of its target, then this is indeed most likely to be
complex matter, and often it is not entirely or even largely effective with Israel, since there is already a space in our
under the control of the person deploying the symbols. culture for just that rejection of and hostility towards Jews.)
The arguments for the boycott never succeeded in
showing why Israel should be treated in this discrimina-
“The arguments for the boycott never tory way, and the legal advice that was eventually given
succeeded in showing why Israel should underscored this fact. The whole episode was immensely
be treated in this discriminatory way, and damaging to all concerned: those parts of the left involved
the legal advice that was eventually given in the pro-boycott movement were associated with illegal
discrimination; academics (and others) fighting the boycott
underscored this fact” felt the whiff of antisemitism in the air, and also came to
feel that their union could not be relied on to refrain from
Other symbols, other layers of meaning, were also discriminating against them; and the Union itself was
involved in the boycott proposals. One effect of singling torn apart for months by a savage dispute which drove
out Israel for adverse treatment, particularly by people many people away from union activism and some of them
claiming to act in the name of justice, was to imply that out of the union altogether. In the aftermath, many pro-
its offenses were peculiarly objectionable, peculiarly in boycotters have expressed outrage that (as they see it) their
need of punishment. Why else, after all, was it the only freedom of speech has been curtailed by lawyers, and have
one for which the UCU was considering a boycott? No-one demanded that the Union further investigate the adequacy
needed to say that it’s the most heinous offender to pres- of the legal advice they were given. (The irony of the boycot-
ent it in this light, and indeed supporters of the boycott ters’ demand that academic freedom of speech should be
generally didn’t say this, since it’s so obviously false. But unconstrained by any other considerations has not been
nonetheless, at the symbolic level, the identification was lost on those who fought the boycott proposals.) It would
made. This was part of the mechanics, so to speak, of the be nice to be able to say that what I’ve provided here is the
demonization of Israel, of its construction as the special, anatomy of a failure, but it’s by no means certain that we’ve
intolerable wrongdoer, whose lesser offenses are more heard the last of the boycott project. Watch this space.

Excluding Israelis: An Intellectual Anatomy of the Academic Boycott 7


1 See Motion 30, http://www.ucu.org.uk/index.cfm?articleid=2555
2 The supposed bad consequences ranged from the predicted ineffectiveness, and even counter-effectiveness, of an academic boycott, to its probable
encouragement of antisemitism. I discuss some aspects of the latter concern below.
3 Philip Marfleet (University of East London): “Israeli academic freedom comes at the cost of the denial of even the most basic freedoms of Palestinian
academics and students.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/05/31/nunis131.xml
4 “The academic freedom of Israel has generated illegal, racist and oppressive behavior by Israeli universities”, Why Boycott Israeli Universities?, British
Committee for the Universities of Palestine, April 2007, p.18.
5 Signed in 1648, the Peace of Westphalia ended the Thirty Years War between rival German principalities and is widely regarded as enshrining the principle
of the sovereign equality of states most famously expressed in Article 2 of the UN Charter of 1948.
6 “In the case of Israel, we are speaking about a society whose dominant self image is one of a bastion of civilization in a sea of medieval reaction. And we are
speaking of a culture, both in Israel and in the long history of the Jewish diaspora, in which education and scholarship are held in high regard. That is why
an academic boycott might have a desirable political effect in Israel, an effect that might not be expected elsewhere.” Tom Hickey, British Medical Journal,
http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/335/7611/124http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/335/7611/124
7 “It is precisely because Israel invites evaluation in terms of Western values that it matters so much to us, for we are complicit if we fail to say ‘No, Not in
Our Name’ (and that, incidentally, is why it matters so much to Jews in the West for whom Israel in effect speaks twice).” Richard Kuper, http://normblog.
typepad.com/normblog/2006/01/reply_to_normbl.html
8 Steven Rose (Professor of Biology, The Open University) http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/steven_rose/2006/05/why_an_academic_boycott_of_
isr.html
9 Charles Jencks, letter to The Independent, cited here: http://www.coursestuff.co.uk/ENVT1010/designers/charles_jencks.html
10 At the time of the first academic boycott attempt in 2005, the AUT—precursor union to the UCU—responded indignantly to concerns about antisemitism
in just this way: “[T]he AUT deplores the witch-hunting of colleagues, including AUT members, who are participating in the academic boycott of Israel.
We recognize that anti-Zionism is not antisemitism, and resolve to give all possible support to members of AUT who are unjustly accused of antisemitism
because of their political opposition to Israeli government policy.” http://www.aut.org.uk/index.cfm?articleid=122 The web-page on which this appeared
is no longer available—it disappeared shortly after the first boycott resolution was overturned. For commentary on it at the time, see: http://normblog.
typepad.com/normblog/2005/05/beyond_the_boyc.html A variant of the indignation response can be seen in David Clark (a previous political advisor to
the Labour government) writing in the Guardian: “those leveling charges of antisemitism against the left …. do it not because they believe it, but because
they know the left takes its anti-racism seriously and is susceptible to this kind of blackmail. There has been enough of this intellectual thuggery on both
sides, and it’s time someone called a stop to it.” http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1724459,00.html
11 Supporting evidence for this claim often took the form of citing the speaker’s Jewish and/or Israeli friends. For a notable example of such citations see
Patrick Bateson (Provost of King’s College Cambridge) writing at an early stage in the boycott movement http://www.monabaker.com/pMachine/more.
php?id=A2745_0_1_0_M. For the claim that the boycott can’t be antisemitic since its supporters include Jews, and also the increasingly common claim that
the charge of antisemitism is simply a device to deflect criticism, see Ghada Karmi (honorary research fellow and assistant lecturer, University of Exeter)
http://www.bitterlemons-international.org/previous.php?opt=1&id=187#765
12 See, for example, Alex Callinicos (Professor of European Studies, King’s College London), writing in Socialist Worker: http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/
art.php?id=13103

Excluding Israelis: An Intellectual Anatomy of the Academic Boycott 8