July 27, 2008

On unicorns and those radical left Israeli academics

Dear colleagues:

As academics and citizens of the State of Israel, whatever our political opinions may be, we see ourselves as having a duty to fight for the academic freedom of our Palestinian colleagues. We call upon the Government of Israel to honour and implement the right of freedom of movement, academic study and instruction in the State of Israel and the territories controlled by it. Academic freedom is not divisible and cannot be selective. The State of Israel and we its citizens are directly responsible for upholding that freedom. (http://academic-access.weebly.com/)
We, past and present members of academic staff of Israeli universities, express great concern regarding the ongoing deterioration of the system of higher education in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. We protest against the policy of our government which is causing restrictions of freedom of movement, study and instruction, and we call upon the government to allow students and lecturers free access to all the campuses in the Territories, and to allow lecturers and students who hold foreign passports to teach and study without being threatened with withdrawal of residence visas. To leave the situation as it is will cause serious harm to freedom of movement, study and instruction – harm to the foundation of academic freedom, to which we are committed.

This mild, lame, tongue-tied petition, which doesn't condemn the occupation, doesn't condemn apartheid, doesn't demand anything beyond the smallest declaration of purely professional solidarity couched in the mildest liberal terms, was sent individually to 9,000 Israeli academics.

9,000 Israeli academics were individually asked by a few of their colleagues to express support for academic freedom in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Nothing more.

407 signed. That is 4.5%.

So where are all the academics who lead the peace movement in Israel? Where is that bastion of progressive thought, that beautiful Israel that is soooo different from the brutal officers and the shameless politicians?

This is Israel's conscience. This is Israel's intellectual genius and liberal heart. This is the Peace Movement. 4.5%.

You could probably get about the same level of support for Palestinian rights in the settlement of Ariel.

Boycott Israel's Academic Institutions!

UPDATE: I left out the text of the petition itself. Added it back.

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