A Student of History

May 30, 2006

British Professors Seek to Cut Ties to Israeli Scholars

Filed under: The Academy,Uncategorized — John Maass @ 1:17 pm

From Inside Higher Education, an article/report that "one of Britain’s two faculty unions on Monday adopted a policy under which its members are urged to avoid contact with Israeli universities or professors unless they demonstrate their opposition to various policies of the Israeli government with regard to Palestinians."  This measure, which may not have any teeth to it aat all as far as enforcement, "has also infuriated many academics in Britain and elsewhere because it effectively sets up a political litmus test for Israeli academics (if they take certain stands, they are OK to deal with), and the idea of subjecting academics to political tests offends standards of academic freedom in Britain, the United States and elsewhere."

Is this just another of many, many examples of the academy's hypocrisy?  As the article points out, some opponents of this move see "it as a serious attack on principles of academic freedom and of international scholarly cooperation." Other academics have stated that “a boycott strikes against free speech and the free exchange of ideas, limiting the ability of academics to contribute to mutual understanding. Academic life is about building bridges, not destroying them; opening minds, not closing them; hearing both sides of an argument, not one alone. Boycotts are a betrayal of these values.”

I'm most wary of the so-called litmus tests on ideas.  These people in favor of the ban I would assume are the same ones who decry the so-called McCarthyism in the US during that Senator's heyday in the 1950s, in which (they say) people were persecuted or blacklisted because of their beliefs. What is the difference here then?

See a related article here from the BBC, and one from the NY Times. An opinion piece from the National Review is here, entitled "Academic Anti-semitism."

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