Jan 29 2009
For the first time, U.S. professors call for academic and cultural boycott of Israel.
In the wake of Operation Cast Lead, a group of American university professors has for the first time launched a national campaign calling for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel.
While Israeli academics have grown used to such news from Great Britain, where anti-Israel groups several times attempted to establish academic boycotts, the formation of the United States movement marks the first time that a national academic boycott movement has come out of America.
“As educators of conscience, we have been unable to stand by and watch in silence Israel’s indiscriminate assault on the Gaza Strip and its educational institutions,” the U.S. Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel stated in its inaugural press release last Thursday. Speaking in its mission statement of the “censorship and silencing of the Palestine question in U.S. universities, as well as U.S. society at large,” the group follows the usual pattern of such boycotts, calling for “non-violent punitive measures” against Israel, such as the implementation of divestment initiatives, “similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era.”
The campaign was founded by a group of 15 academics, mostly from California, (of course) but is, “currently expanding to create a network that embraces the United States as a whole,” according to David Lloyd, a professor of English at the University of Southern California who responded on behalf of the group to a Haaretz query.
“Within a short weekend since the posting of the press release, more than 80 academics from all over the country have endorsed the action and the numbers continue to grow.”
Asked if the group would accept the endorsement of Hamas supporters, Lloyd said, “We have no a priori policy with regard to the membership or affiliation of supporters of the boycott so long as they are in accord with the main aims stated in the press release.”
Lloyd wrote that to the best of his knowledge, all supporters of the anti-Israel boycott were also opposed to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Asked if logic wouldn’t dictate that he and his colleagues boycott themselves, he responded, “Self-boycott is a difficult concept to realize. But speaking for myself, I would have supported and honored such a boycott had it been proposed by my colleagues overseas.”
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