Speaking Without Fear: Academic Boycott of Israel Gains Steam

by
Abby Zimet

In a move celebrating academic freedom not as a geopolitically-based privilege but as a universal right, the executive council of the American Studies Association voted at its annual meeting to support the Palestinian call for an academic boycott of Israel - a move some see as a key step toward breaking the taboo on boycotting Israel. Speakers at the meeting of the oldest U.S. organization of academics and scholars cited U.S. complicity in the Israeli occupation, the denial of access to "normal scholarly life" for Palestinians through occupation, blockade, school closings as collective punishment and the inability to travel, and the importance of current calls for cultural boycott of Israel, as in apartheid South Africa, as "a test case for our intellectual and moral consistency."

"In the intellectual world, the resort to force is not a position of strength. (The vote) showed the power of reasoned, moral argument (and) there is no going back."

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