Dark days for the British academy
By Professor Daniel Statman, June 4, 2007
Source: First posted to the web at NormBlog
Reproduced at Zionism On The Web with permission
Dear [name removed]
I hope this mail finds you well. It's been a while since we last met.
As you surely recall, in the past I used to come regularly to the meetings of BSET, which I always felt were among the highest-quality conferences in ethics worldwide. For the last two years, I haven't been able to attend the meetings, but I did plan to do so this year and I sent the registration forms to Bristol two weeks ago. But after learning about the UCU resolution to promote an academic boycott of Israel, I have changed my mind. In the present circumstances, I don't think I'll feel comfortable at an academic institution or conference in the UK. I don't feel like sitting down to dinner with people some of whom may have voted to boycott me and my colleagues. Nor do I feel like having dinner with people who, though against the boycott, nevertheless believe the offensive and absurd claim that Israel is an "apartheid state," which makes all Israelis, academics in particular, morally polluted. And maybe, above all, I'd rather avoid the heightened self-consciousness which I fear will be inevitable in the circumstances. (Which of these folks voted to boycott me? Was that a friendly smile or the opposite? Is he being nice to me in spite of my being Israeli, because of, or regardless of? Was that political comment a provocation or just innocent small talk? And so on and so forth.)
I'm sure that you personally are against the boycott, and I trust that the same is true for a fair number of BSET members. But not for all of them, I suppose. The UCU decision has created a poisoned and hostile atmosphere for Israeli Jews in the UK - except for those who have confessed the crimes ascribed to them by UCU and have committed themselves to acting by UCU's guidelines. I try very hard to resist historical comparisons with past acts of discrimination and persecution against Jews (and other groups), but such comparisons almost force themselves upon us.
These are dark days for the British academy. What is urgently called for is determined action against the boycott by those lecturers who understand how unjust, one-sided, and harmful it is. I hope the moral and political resources for such action exist and that such action will indeed be taken as soon as possible and prove successful.
As ever, sincerely yours,
Reproduced at Zionism On The Web for educational purposes only, please site the initial source as listed above