Genuine question for the UK academics boycotting Israeli academia.

343 UK academics of varying significance and standing have signed an open letter saying that they will not be:

  • accepting invitations to visit Israeli academic institutions;
  • acting as referees in any of their processes;
  • participating in conferences funded, organised or sponsored by them;
  • or otherwise cooperating with them.

This is because they are:

“deeply disturbed by Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land, the intolerable human rights violations that it inflicts on all sections of the Palestinian people, and its apparent determination to resist any feasible settlement”.

They view Israeli universities as “deeply complicit” in all this.

In an effort to persuade the great swathes of people who are otherwise sympathetic to Israel, they published their letter in the Guardian.

It is not entirely clear how the path to resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict leads on from any of this but they clearly think it will all be highly effective in ending “illegal occupation” and “human rights violations”. (Those are direct quotes from the letter not scare quotes by me, before anyone takes offence).

Which raises an interesting question.

From 2001 onwards, the UK participated in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, for six and 13 years respectively. UK Universities were no less linked to the military than their Israeli counterparts throughout this time.

The cumulative total of deaths from Iraq and Afghanistan dwarfs those of the entire Israel-Palestine conflict. Our country was directly involved. There was, to say the least, a deleterious effect on human rights. Iraq was constantly described as illegal and as an occupation — and Afghanistan was as well on occasion. (Both wrongly in my view, for all the other problems with those wars). A “feasible settlement” is still awaited in both nations.

So how many times, dear guardians of British academia’s moral conscience, during those 19 aggregated years of our own recent wars did any one of you call on any of your institutions to be boycotted?

Take your time.

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