UNC professors call for boycott of Israeli academic institutions

Campus Reform Reporter

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  • Two of the professors are from the history department, one from the religion department, and one from the Department of Asian Studies.
  • Over 400 scholars and librarians worldwide have signed a letter calling for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions until the country concedes to their demands.

    Four University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill professors are among the signees to the letter, which was published on a Jadaliyya, a website run by the Arab Studies Institute.

    "It is incumbent on citizens of Israel, and particularly academics who are shaping the minds of educated Israelis into the future, to engage with their government."   

    The letter says that “[w]orld governments and mainstream media do not hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law. We, however, as a community of scholars engaged with the Middle East, have a moral responsibility to do so.”

    The letter demands that Israel “[e]nd its siege of Gaza, its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967, and dismantle the settlements and the walls;” “[r]ecognize the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel and the stateless Negev Bedouins to full equality;” and “[r]espect, protect, and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.”

    The four UNC professors include: Associate Professors of History Sarah Shields and Cemil Aydin; Associate Professor of Religion Juliane Hammer; and Department of Asian Studies Chair Nadia Yaqub.

    “It is incumbent on citizens of Israel, and particularly academics who are shaping the minds of educated Israelis into the future, to engage with their government,” Yaqub told told the Daily Tar Heel.

    She added that she hoped the boycott will pressure Israeli academics to “engage with an ethical question.”

    However, not everyone on campus favors the boycott. Daniel Blau, a junior at UNC, was spent eight weeks in Israel during a summer internship. He says he disagrees with the premise of the Jadaliyya letter.

    “The letter makes it seem as if Israel is blindly attacking Gaza, and completely ignoring the actions of Hamas,” Blau told Campus Reform. “Nowhere in the letter do they make mention of Hamas or any of the thousands of rocket attacks that Israel has received over the past ten weeks. The letter doesn’t treat this even as a conflict, they describe what is going on as an active genocide against a peaceful state.”

    Blau told Campus Reform that there are people on both sides of the conflict that are sick of fighting and just want it to end, but his time in Israel showed him the countries are not setting a precedent for peace.

    “My personal experience included about 12 trips to bomb shelters,” Blau told Campus Reform. “[O]ne time when I was outside and crouched beside a building as I heard the thumping of three rockets landing in the West Bank, just about 15 km from where I was hiding. My phone was constantly filled with Red Alert notifications, and every Israeli I met knew someone who had lost a friend in the conflict.”

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @MaggieLitCRO

    Update: Due to an error in production, Mr. Blau's quote was incorrectly truncated. It has been updated. 





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