For many critics of Israeli policies and actions in the occupied territories, the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions movement (BDS) has become both a rallying point and a pressure tactic to help bring about change.
Since its inception, the BDS has gained momentum as a form of protest against Israeli policies and actions in the occupied territories, and understandably so. Boycott has sometimes been a very successful tactic for protest movements in the post-WWII world. The American Civil Rights movement and the South African anti-apartheid movement are just two examples of economic boycotts that had a profound impact and helped achieve positive change. In addition to economic ramifications, boycotts can also have the effect of bringing increased attention and scrutiny to an issue.
To that end, I respect the decision of those who commit to boycotting Israeli businesses that profit from the situation in the occupied territories. Personally, I have no economic connections to Israel but, for example, I would have no problem with my pension plan divesting from Israeli institutions that do business in the occupied territories (I don’t actually know my pension plan’s policy on the matter).
However, I want to address one specific component of the BDS with which I strongly disagree: the wholesale academic boycott of Israeli universities.
The reason for my opposition to the academic boycott is not a sign of support for Israelis policies or actions in the occupied territories. Rather, I am opposed to a wholesale academic boycott of Israeli universities because I am generally opposed to the academic boycott of any school or research institution that retains its own academic freedom and does not directly participate in colonial activities. Allow me to explain. Read more »