The Monty Python Boycott

(In a University meeting room, somewhere in the UK.)

Academic 1: Israel is illegally occupying Palestine! The Israeli government are guilty of intolerable human rights violations! They are resisting any feasible settlement! How can we protect the rights of the Palestinian people?

Academic 2: What do people think about an academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions?

Academic 3: One could make a strong argument for such a boycott. It is well known that universities agree with everything their government does – I mean, think of wall to wall support of Tony Blair at British universities! It simply must be that academics at Israeli institutions are supportive of their government`s policies.

Academic 2: Not just that – Israel currently has a right wing coalition, and its ministers frequently make hawkish statements. Isn`t it clear that universities, with their traditional right wing bent, are lapping up every word of the current Israeli administration?

Academic 4: Seeing as we are academics teaching in universities ourselves, we know first hand exactly what student populations are like. Aren`t university students famous for their lack of openness to new ideas, their inability to be inspired by great ideals and their unwillingness to fight for social causes? Why would I want to speak at an institution which is clearly full of people whose raison d`etre for being there is to follow the status quo ? There is no harm in boycotting the universities – it is not as if any new ideas about how to solve a complex conflict would come from universities anyway!

Academic 3: Let us think about the constitution of the Israeli government for a second. As we all know, universities are undeniably just an organ of the government of the country in which they reside. I cannot think of any better set of institutions to boycott to really send a message to the Israeli government than the universities, their direct representatives.

Academic 2: The worst is thing about the Israeli universities is that some of them actually think they are doing something to help solve the conflict! Just based on what I have seen, Tel Aviv University have a program in Mediation and Conflict Resolution, and Jerusalem`s Hebrew University have a center called the Minerva Center for Human Rights. How can I put my name, and the name of my institution, behind such projects and institutions?

Academic 5: It is also worth remembering that universities worldwide are very monolithic, and in Israeli universities, everything they do is directly connected to the Palestinians. Do the Israelis really think that I am going to attend a Conference entitled “Discrete Mathematics: Methods, Challenges and Implications,” with the clear abuse of Palestinian rights that I am advocating? And it is clear as daylight that accepting an invitation from Ben Gurion University`s Mesoscale Molecular Engineering Center will only make the situation worse for the Palestinians!

Academic 2: Well I have to say, the more I hear, the more I am convinced. With all these strong arguments for an academic boycott, I cannot for the life of me work out why no other movement has ever tried them! Why has no one stifled ideas for the sake of rights before?

Academic 1: OK, I am convinced, and I am fully on board. I really think we have thought through every detail of this, and how an academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions will definitely help support Palestinian rights. With utter faith in our watertight plan, I call on all the academics of Britain to participate in the academic boycott of Israeli universities.

About the Author
Aron White, 22, is currently studying and teaching in Yeshivat HaKotel, whilst studying for a degree in Politics and International Relations through LSE.