Academic Freedom Against Itself: Boycotting Israeli Universities

By: Stanley Fish

October 28, 2013

““The issue” is of course the Israeli treatment of Palestinians, and while it is easy to understand how academics, among others, might find that treatment objectionable and reprehensible (and I take no position on the question here), it is not so easy to understand how moral outrage at a political action can be so quickly translated into an obligation to deny professional courtesies to people whose responsibility for that action is at best attenuated and in many instances non-existent. And it absolutely defies understanding — except by the convoluted and loose arguments rehearsed above — that the concept of academic freedom could be used to defend a policy, the policy of boycott, that so cavalierly throws academic freedom under the bus.”

From: NY Times

Also read Stanley Fish’s responses to his readers’ comments:

“Israel’s moral status is irrelevant to the right question, which is whether academic institutions boycotting other academic institutions can ever be an expression of, rather than an undermining of, academic freedom.”


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