For starters, we would like to congratulate our colleagues Cary Nelson and Gabriel Noah Brahm on the publication of their new book, The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel, which I and several other SPME members have contributed to.
The book is a must read for anyone who wishes to truly understand the historical and scholarly background regarding the nature of the BDS movement including where and how it is positioned in the context of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The publication of the book couldn’t be more timely as we are witnessing a significant increase in calls for academic boycotts against Israeli institutions and scholars. The latest, now coming out of several hundred anthropologists from around the world supporting BDS including individuals from Yale, Harvard, NYU and Columbia.
In their posted statement they write, “as a community of scholars who study problems of power, oppression, and cultural hegemony, we have a moral responsibility to speak out and demand accountability from Israel and our own governments…boycott[ing] Israeli academic institutions that are complicit in these violations.”
The above clearly shows why such a book needed to be written.
Further, as our readers will remember from this past summer the British medical journal, Lancet published an essay during Operation Protective Edge entitled, “An Open Letter for the People of Gaza,” the piece which was partisan and defamatory regarding Israel’s war with Hamas garnered over 20, 000 signatures since it was published.
As a result of the piece, Lancet’s editor Dr. Richard Horton visited Israel as guest of Rambam Medical Center. While Horton did not retract the essay he did state after his visit that, “I am proud and humbled to be here… I’ve learned a great deal: Rambam as a model of the partnership between Jews and Arabs; Rambam as a center offering an open hand to the people of Palestine; and Rambam as a place with a unique vision for a peaceful, productive, and diverse future among peoples,”
Clearly, getting a firsthand experience of Israel is very different than buying into falsehoods portrayed in the media.
As always, we welcome your feedback and article submissions.
Asaf Romirowsky, PhD