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Whose Academic Freedom Are We Talking About?

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- Leon Botstein, president of Bard College: "Calls from alumni to take a stand against the boycott had played a role [in Bard College's withdrawal of its institutional membership in the ASA]. ... I recognize that the American Jewish community is disproportionately generous to American higher education. For the president of an institution to express his or her solidarity with Israel is welcomed by a very important part of their support base." 

Response: Dr. Botstein is suggesting that if one wants to know why "the presidents of more than 80 United States colleges have condemned the vote," one should follow the money, and not necessarily the ideal of academic freedom. 

Promoting Anti-Semitism: 

- Lawrence Summers, former president of Harvard University, on the Charlie Rose show 10 December 2013: "I regard them [boycott efforts against Israel] as being anti-Semitic in their effect if not necessarily in their intent." That is because these efforts "single out Israel."  

Response: Dr. Summers can say this only because he and other Zionists take the position that Israel and the Jews are one. This is factually wrong. There are many Jews in the U.S. (and elsewhere) who do not identify with Israel and, in fact, a good number who publicly oppose Israeli behavior and the notion of a Jewish state. As to the singling out of Israel, it is certainly warranted given the influence Zionist supporters exercise over U.S. politicians and foreign policies and the resulting inordinate amount of aid and assistance given to Israel. 

Part III -- Conclusion  

A lot more has been written about the ASA position, and below I list a small number of articles in support of the academic boycott position by thoughtful Americans...

Henry Siegman, former director of the National Jewish Congress, "There is no bigotry in the boycott."  

M. J. Rosenberg, former longtime aide to various congressmen and senators, "Propaganda vs. History."  

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Joan W. Scott, scholar at the Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton, N.J., "Changing My Mind about the Boycott."  

Eric Cheyfitz, professor at Cornell University, "Why I Support the Academic Boycott of Israel."  

Sydney Levy, director of advocacy for Jewish Voices for Peace, "Academic Freedom."

If the academic freedom of Palestinians were not being destroyed as part of an overall policy of ethnic cleansing and apartheid, there would be no need for an institutionally centered academic boycott of Israel. As it is, however, the Zionists in their relentless drive to create a Jewish-only state in historic Palestine have created the conditions for resistance, and the boycott in its many forms is part of that effort. It is not going to go away.  

Israel's future is one of increasing isolation. The Zionists recognize this possibility and that is why they are kicking and screaming. They even want to outlaw aspects of the boycott effort. It might be easier if they joined the 21st century by giving up their racist ambitions. However, ideologues rarely give up their ideologies willingly, so we will all have to do this the hard way.

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Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign
Policy Inc.: Privatizing America's National Interest
; America's
Palestine: Popular and Offical Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli
; and Islamic Fundamentalism. His academic work is focused on the history of American foreign relations with the Middle East. He also teaches courses in the history of science and modern European intellectual history.

His blog To The Point Analyses now has its own Facebook page. Along with the analyses, the Facebook page will also have reviews, pictures, and other analogous material.

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