My Dear Antagonist Academic

To my dear antagonist academic, to my politicized counterpart in other countries: I am truly sorry to hear that boycotting my academic institution is a source of your pride.

Boycotting, quite hypocritically, universities, academic institutions and research institutions in Israel, some of the most prestigious and leading institutions in the world. What a contradiction to intellectual freedom.

Let me ask you a few genuine questions, since I would like to know what level of knowledge you posses on Israel so that I can explain to you better, suited to your limited perspective on academic freedom, why this kind of decisions to follow the BDS movement are in all and every way counter-productive for the alleged objectives of its founders (please not the word alleged), and is simply a maneuver to dehumanize Israel and its people, including me, by perpetuating the suffering and the non-state status of the Palestinian people, which I find absolutely shameless and outrageous.

1. Have you ever been in Israel?

If yes, then you may have realized that Israel, despite its problems of discrimination (like in any other country in the world), is absolutely the most diverse country in the middle east, Africa and Asia. Where with less than 70 years of life its people are moving towards a full integration of the communities, and we will get there as hard as it will be. You may have realized that despite the political and ideological differences, Israelis manage to put humanity first and work together for a better world, as has been seen many times in Japan, Haiti, Nepal and in African countries for the integration of development technologies, among many others.

If not, then probably you should come before blindly following a “cool trend” for “social justice” (yes, I quote social justice because this is everything BUT social justice). Remember that this is academics, not politics.

2. Do you know any Israeli academic (Jew, Arab, Christian, etc…)?

Again, if yes, you have probably noticed that actually, the Israeli academics are among the majority of the people in the world that actually DO something for the Palestinian people and their self-determination, please feel free to ask any of us. And yes, by doing I mean not seating in front of a virtual network, sharing biased news and “yelling” for social justice. Maybe you want to argue that you are not targeting individual academics, but only the institutions, well I am not sure how it works where you come from, but here in Israel, it is the institutions that pay and support the academics and their initiatives, so you may have a small flaw in your logic.

If not, then I truly suggest you get to know some, you may even be enlightened and who knows, maybe you will come study here!

3. Have you ever read an academic paper from an Israeli institution?

If yes, then maybe you should stop if you do not want to look like a hypocrite for using Israeli theories but not wanting to collaborate in any way with those same theorists. But maybe you will say that academic knowledge is academic for the exact reason that it must be available to everyone who wishes to learn about it, or research about it, or share it for the better of the world. But maybe you do think that it is acceptable to deprive some academics from such standards, as very disturbingly many others do. Well I will tell you that it is a bit worrying and it yields to the logical possibility of double standards, which as an academic, I am sure you do not want your actions and opinions to contradict your values and believes, right?

If not, then I am just thinking that it may be a good idea to dig something up from the academic archives, I am sure you will find it more intellectually fulfilling to discuss, argue, refute, challenge or even (god forbid) agree with some of their theories than to call for a boycott.

4. Have you even thought about the students of these institutions?

Let me explain to you why the core of your argument is logically flawed. Lets get away from the academics themselves and look at the students from these institutions. All the students, including hundreds of Palestinians and thousands of international students, at Tel Aviv University, Technion, Hebrew University, Weizmann Institute, etc… have an impact among their communities and among their friends and family. If these students see themselves affected, as a consequence of increased academic boycott, what do you think their reaction will be to the international community? What do you think their thoughts will be after many have devoted time, effort and passion to curing an extremely difficult situation in this new and small country? Unfortunately for some people this means a shift in ideology and at times, although fewer, this means a right wing shift with negative consequences for the solution of this conflict; and for some others it means harassment, isolation and contempt towards these students, not something justifiable nor deserved in any right mind.

5. Do you understand the consequences of boycotting Israel, let alone its prestigious academic institutions?

The first is to politicize academics, which the implied low standards of this move speak by themselves. I have always thought that Politicians are not good leaders, because they do not lead, the do politics. On the other hand, academics do lead through thought, intellect and reason. You are throwing that advantage under the bus by agreeing to boycott the people that genuinely care about the path of development.
The second is the shift to more extreme right tendencies in the Israeli government as a consequence of the isolation in the world (although it is ironic, because for every organization that wants to boycott Israeli academics, about 20 others want to increase, expand and benefit from the rich and magnificent intellect that Israel has to offer). You give right wing politicians a “valid reason”, with respect to the Israeli disappointment at the world, to take further, more extreme actions to maintain the Status-Quo with the Palestinians, something I am pretty sure you rather not see, as neither do I (hey! we do agree on something after all…too bad it is not on how to fight for academic freedom and collaboration).

Probably I should have said something about how extremely hypocritical and absolutely troubling it is that you (the AAA, ASA, etc…) have chosen to only boycott Israel and not countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iran, etc… But I did not really get into it because I do not want your invalid and not sound counter argument to focus on this. You want to “start somewhere”, then go ahead and start by understanding the influence of Jewish thought and Israeli intellectuals in the world you live in and by studying the projects that are making this world a much better place. I have no doubt that you will be impressed.

Note: this post was originally written (by myself) as an answer to a facebook post in a private group.

About the Author
Daniel is a Spanish Jew, who had many cultural experiences as he grew up in Spain, lived in Baltimore, US and now in Israel. He has an MA degree in mathematics, and an MSc in cryptography. Through his social, leadership and research skills, he has developed a logical, moral and philosophical perspective of life, valuable for any conversation. Get in touch.
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