Not Helpful

…that’s being charitable about CUPE’s call to ban Israeli academics unless they denounce their government. What next? Should we make all American academics denounce the Iraq war? Should we make all Chinese academic denounce the treatment of Tibetans and Uighurs ? Should we make all Brazilian academics denounce the deforestation of the Amazon?

No one is served by ideologically-sanitized professors.


2 responses to “Not Helpful

  1. I think it is pretty important context that the call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions, including an academic boycott, comes not from a bunch of wacky trade unionists in Ontario acting on their own but originates from Palestinian civil society — that is, from the very people living under Israeli occupation. Which doesn’t preclude the importance of debates about tactical efficacy, the appropriate role of academic spaces, free speech, and so on. But such a call places a serious responsibility on those of us in Western countries who are concerned about issues of peace, justice, and freedom.

    How would _you_ respond to the call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions?

  2. I think what’s important is that we do not have some sort of ideological purity test in academia. I want someone as odious as Daniel Pipes even to have a space to speak – partly so that others can then tell him why he’s wrong.

    What’s more, if we demand this of all Israeli academics, does this not blunt the real criticisms of the many Israeli academics who do oppose their government. If it’s official policy, people will say, “whatever, s/he just did that for job security.”

    Let’s let everyone make their own choices freely and authentically, not for fear of job -loss.

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