« Woodrow Wilson and the Senate | Main | Judge Reeves on Qualified Immunity (Updated) »

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Leiter on Academic Boycotts

Brian Leiter is a long-time and often sharp critic of "US-funded Israeli crimes." Nonetheless, he opposes the renewed call for an academic boycott, with this cogent explanation:

The scale of the unfolding atrocities in Gaza has given renewed momentum for calls by academics to boycott Israel, including Israeli academia.  I won't do that, but I also won't sign the circulating petition denouncing academic boycotts of Israel:   individuals should retain the right to protest what is happening in Gaza in any lawful ways they choose to do so, including boycotts.  From where I sit, Israeli academia still represents the most reliable opposition to government policy that has brought Israel to this point, and I don't want to be party to a collective punishment of Israeli academia that will have zero impact on the current war criminals in power there (Netanyahu and company already hate academia, just like they hate the courts).

It is hard to understand why he won't sign the "circulating petition" (presumably this one, posted on Prawfs and elsewhere), on the ground that individuals should retain the right to boycott. There is nothing in the statement that remotely contradicts or challenges anybody's right to protest or boycott Israel. Instead, it says:

Regardless of how each of us currently analyzes the situation on the ground and evaluates the actions of the Israeli government and army, we want to make clear that we stand against all forms of boycotts targeting Israeli scholars and Israeli academic institutions.

We strongly believe that international exchange – especially in troubled times like these – is essential for maintaining an open and global academic community.

Of course, Leiter can sign or not sign anything he chooses, but the statement seems to coincide almost precisely with his own recognition that "Israeli academia still represents the most reliable opposition to government policy" and his opposition to "a collective punishment of Israeli academia." 

The statement now has over 5500 signatories, and is open for additional signatures here.

Posted by Steve Lubet on May 21, 2024 at 01:18 PM | Permalink


The comments to this entry are closed.