Turkey’s “Academic Freedom”

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Dear Colleagues:

A week after the attempted coup in Turkey, we are now witnessing Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s attempt to consolidate power by launching a massive purge of Turkish institutions and now the government has “issued a blanket travel ban on all academics.”

Since 2003 as Turkish expert Soner Cagaptay writes, “Erdogan has built a cult of personality as a kind of authoritarian underdog, portraying himself as a victim who is forced to crack down on those conspiring to undermine his authority.”

Clearly, Erdogan’s “victimhood” absolves him from any wrongdoing.

Given the above, with all the real violations of academic freedom we are now witnessing in Turkey will Western academics that have been so quick to call for boycotts on Israel stand up for Muslim scholars?  Further as our colleague William Jacobson correctly writes, “the Turkish academic purge raises a test for the anti-Israel academic boycotters. Will they devote themselves this coming academic season to an academic boycott of Turkish Universities, in addition to other majority-Muslim nations where minorities are repressed and academic freedom stifled?”

Finally, it was gratifying to see that Atlanta’s mayor Kasim Reed flatly refused a demand by protesters associated with Black Lives Matter to end the local police force’s cooperation and training with Israel. In a press conference Reed stated,

There was a demand that I stop allowing the Atlanta Police Department to train with the Israeli Police Department. I’m not going to do that. I happen to believe that the Israeli Police Department has some of the best counter-terrorism techniques in the world and it benefits our police department from that long-standing relationship.

As always, we welcome your feedback and article submissions.


Asaf Romirowsky, PhD

Turkey’s “Academic Freedom”

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Asaf Romirowsky

Asaf Romirowsky PhD, is the Executive Director of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME). Romirowsky is also a fellow at the Middle East Forum and a Professor ​[Affiliate] at the University​ of Haifa. Trained as a Middle East historian he holds a PhD in Middle East and Mediterranean Studies from King's College London, UK and has published widely on various aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict and American foreign policy in the Middle East, as well as on Israeli and Zionist history.

Romirowsky is co-author of Religion, Politics, and the Origins of Palestine Refugee Relief and a contributor to The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel.

Romirowsky’s publicly-engaged scholarship has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The National Interest, The American Interest , The New Republic, The Times of Israel, Jerusalem Post, Ynet and Tablet among other online and print media outlets

Read all stories by Asaf Romirowsky