Friday, June 08, 2007

The Boycott

I don't endorse everything Martha Nussbaum has to say here, but I strongly agree with her central argument that that academic boycott declared by British scholars against Israel is not appropriate.

I know that I tend to focus in this blog on the abuses of the Israeli occupation regime, but I do recognize that there is a great amount and variety of excellent work being done in Israeli universities, much if not most having nothing whatever to do with conflict with the Palestinians. Trying to subsume all of the Israeli academy under the heading "in service to the occupation," as the boycott essentially does, seems to me kind of bullshit. For those scholars whose work does serve to justify and support the Israeli occupation and settlement project, their work should be (and repeatedly has been, most devastatingly by their fellow Israelis), singled out and refuted. I don't think that boycotting and attempting to silence those scholars, who, by virtue of their being in and of Israel, are in a unique position to produce work on various aspects of Israeli culture and society (which, again, is obviously not reducible to its conflict with the Arabs), will be productive. If anything, Israeli scholars who oppose the occupation should be engaged and supported by those hoping and working toward a just resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

No comments: