Friday, February 28, 2014

Academic boycott of Israel *is* aimed at individual scholars

So much for the claim that the academic boycott of Israel is not aimed at individual scholars, but only at Israeli institutions. A web site called DO NOT APPLY!! | donotapplyhebrewu is calling for international scholars not to apply for a position in Communication and Journalism at the Hebrew University. 

The title of the open letter is "Call for International Academics to Show Conscientious Respect for the Academic Boycott of Israel by Declining to Apply to Hebrew University Research and Teaching Positions." The signatories of the letter are a variety of people who are active in the academic boycott campaign. Haim Bresheeth, in Film Studies at SOAS, is the first person signing.

The same website is also calling for individual scholars not to attend an academic conference this summer at Tel Aviv University in Cinema and Television Studies (

There is also a call for international scholars not to attend a conference on Oral History at the Hebrew University this summer - see The boycott call says, among other things, "At a time when the international movement to boycott Israeli academic and cultural institutions is gaining ground in response to Israel’s flagrant and persistent infringement of Palestinian human and political rights, we urge scholars and professionals to reflect upon the implications of taking part in a conference at a complicit institution, and to refrain from such participation."

These three "calls" are unmistakably targeted at individual international scholars (not Israelis) to refrain from cooperating with Israeli academic institutions, thereby possibly damaging their own careers (in the case of not applying for a position at Hebrew University) and international scholarly exchanges in the fields of oral history and cinema studies.

Needless to say, none of the signatories of these calls oppose international scholars going, for example, to conferences in China or from applying for jobs in China - a country which has been occupying Tibet for the last over 50 years, which still has an ongoing system of punitive labor camps, and which is a one-party state. For some reason, it is only Israel which is singled out for an academic boycott, despite the fact that many states are guilty of human rights violations (including the United States). As William Jacobson said on Tuesday night at Ithaca College, even during the height of the Cold War, no one was calling for an academic boycott of the Soviet Union. American academics realized that they could best have an effect upon the Soviet Union by going there and speaking with their counterparts there, rather than refusing to meet with them.

For information on the international oral history conference at Hebrew University, see Note that one of the keynote speakers is Dr. Adel Manna, of the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem, who is speaking on "Oral history as a source for history of the Nakbah: The survival of Palestinians in Israel as a case study." The conference hardly seems to be denying the situation of Palestinians in Israel or the devastating impact upon them of the creation of the state in 1948.

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