It is the duty of civil society to shoulder the moral responsibility of isolating Israel in the international arena through various forms of boycott and sanctions to compel it to obey international law and respect Palestinian rights.The full article at The Guardian, 26 May, 2009.
It is well documented that Israeli academic institutions are deeply complicit in Israel's colonial and racist policies against the Palestinian people. Not only do Israeli universities and research institutions co-operate closely with the security-military establishment through research and other academic activities, they have never dissociated themselves from the occupation regime, despite the more than four decades of the systematic stifling of Palestinian education.
Israeli universities have never condemned the entrenched and institutionalised system of discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel within the Israeli polity, society and even the academy.
The privileging of academic freedom above more basic human rights conflicts with the very idea of universal human rights, as it assigns far more importance to the academic freedom of a sector of Israeli society than to the fundamental rights of all Palestinians to live in freedom and dignity.
"Constructive engagement" with the Israeli academy is often suggested to us as a more effective mechanism to address the injustice inflicted upon us by Israel. We have tried this method, only to realise that as long as the terms of the relationship between the Israelis and the Palestinians are those of occupier and occupied, and oppressor and oppressed, the engagement process only results in normalising the occupation on the ground and whitewashing Israeli atrocities abroad.
I can give an example from my own personal experience. Once, as I was crossing one of the hundreds of military checkpoints on my way to my university, I was stopped by an Israeli soldier who turned out to be a fellow mathematician at an Israeli university. But our collegiality ended here: he told me that I could cross the checkpoint if I was able to answer a mathematics question correctly! What kind of engagement can be possible here?
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