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The Mass Media

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February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

The proposed academic boycott of Israel might not prove to be the best tactic

The calls to academically boycott Israel have grown louder

In 1948, Israel was established as a state to coexist with what was the former British Mandate assigned territory Palestine.

Hundreds of thousands of Jews across Europe had been devastated and desired to begin new lives in their “Holy Land.”

The United Nations proposed that after the British Mandate was to dissolve there would be two independent states, one Jewish and one Palestinian. The Arab Higher Committee of Palestine and the Arab League rejected the proposal and soon afterwards civil war began. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been raging on ever since. The state is now living in a system which many will describe as akin to apartheid.

Palestinian territories have been confined to two major areas, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Fences and walls have been constructed to separate the territories and the State of Israel.   

Palestinians face discrimination and are denied equality based on the conflict. The treatment of the Palestinians has been considered a violation of human rights. Their cultural events are not to be recognized and students and faculty of academic institutions are placed on surveillance, according to the American Students Association website.

Incidentally, the Palestinian Civil Society has called attention to the fact that the wall built around the Palestinian territories in 2005 is illegal.

With civil rights being systematically taken away by the Israeli government, an academic boycott of the nation’s academic system is being considered.

Not only are Israeli students being taught that the discriminatory policies in place are justified, but the students who are Palestinian are denied academic freedom and are subsequently not a part of the academic dialogue.

Well, the ASA, or American Studies Association, has joined the cause and is trying to gain support.

Their goal is to gather support for the cause in order to  impose upon the academic system to sway the ideology of the Israeli people leading to a change in Israeli policies concerning the Palestinians.

However, by joining in on the boycott and piling on the pressure on Israeli universities, the claim could be made that they are, ironically, imposing upon the academic freedom of the Israelis.

Some may say it is a necessary course of action, but it may backfire. If the boycott movement as a whole gradually tightens its grip on the Israeli academic system leading to other systems controlling their academia, then the academic resolutions created will lead to resentment. Without the involvement of the Israeli universities in the academic discussion, any resulting resolution could be met with discouragement.

If the pressure is placed on their academia so that they are swayed to change their position without imposing on their academic freedom, then the Israeli system can gradually become more accepting of the new ideologies.

A delicate balance of influence on their academic system– working hard not to infringe on their academic freedom– must be found. Without this, a smooth resolution will be hard to come by. The system will remain vulnerable to collapse.

There must be an agreement reached, but it must not be coerced.

I also realize that there are also people against the boycott, claiming that it is antisemitic and completely counter productive and I disagree. I do believe that the crisis within Israel must be resolved, because too many lives have been ruined. Nevertheless, imposing sanctions and forcing their system to change will not work. Israel and its people must be willing participants if there is ever to be an agreement.