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More Than 300 Scholars, Librarians Pledge Academic Boycott of Israel

File this in the Friday “surprise” column…

Middle East studies scholars and librarians are calling for a boycott of “Israeli academic institutions” until they “end their complicity in violating Palestinian rights,” according to an open letter posted on the Arab Studies Institute’s Jadaliyya “ezine” Wednesday.

It started with more than 100 signatures, and as of Friday afternoon it had 307 signatures, the site said. The letter says:

Following in the footsteps of the growing number of US academic associations that have endorsed boycott resolutions, we call on our colleagues in Middle East Studies to boycott Israeli academic institutions, and we pledge not to collaborate on projects and events involving Israeli academic institutions, not to teach at or to attend conferences and other events at such institutions, and not to publish in academic journals based in Israel.

Those associations endorsing boycotts, by the way: the Critical Ethnic Studies Association, African Literature Association, Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, Association for Humanist Sociology, Association of Asian American Studies and American Studies Association.

The boycott should continue until Israeli academic institutions call on Israel to:

  1. End its siege of Gaza, its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967, and dismantle the settlements and the walls;
  2. Recognize the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel and the stateless Negev Bedouins to full equality; and
  3. Respect, protect, and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.

The letter calls out Tel Aviv University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Bar Ilan University, Haifa University, Technion and Ben Gurion University for having “publicly declared their unconditional support for the Israeli military,” and says the signatories’ “colleagues in the Israeli academy have been silent, by and large, in the face of such violence and injustice”:

In the past two months alone, Israeli forces have raided Al Quds University in Jerusalem, the Arab American University in Jenin, and Birzeit University near Ramallah. In the current attacks, Israeli aerial bombardment has destroyed the Islamic University of Gaza. More generally, the Israeli state discriminates against Palestinian students in Israeli universities;and it isolates Palestinian academia by, among other tactics, preventing foreign academics from visiting Palestinian institutions in Gaza and the West Bank. We are also alarmed by the long history of confiscations of Palestinian archives and the destruction of libraries and research centers.

Not all of the signatories appear to be in Middle East studies programs. Red Alert Politics notes that “more than 90 can be broadly considered ‘scholars’ at American universities. They include Ph.D. candidates, professors of theater, and others.”

Read the full letter here.

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg Piper served as associate editor of The College Fix from 2014 to 2021.