“When It’s Time to Vote, Don’t Boycott Academics – Cut the Purse-strings” raises important questions about the power of economic divestment in the struggle for Palestinian rights. In so doing, however, it presents us with not one, but two false choices. First, it tells us to pursue economic divestment instead of academic boycott. Why is this an either/or, when the two are mutually reinforcing parts of a common struggle? And why assume we are not also advocating economic divestment in other arenas in which we work? Second, it presents the AAA with a meaningless choice between an action that is within its power as an academic association (academic boycott) and one that isn’t (ending US aid to Israel).
At Columbia University, the first act of collective protest against the Israeli government was organized in 2001, a year after the second intifada had begun, and it was a call on the university to divest from U.S. companies that sold military hardware to the Israeli state. A few months ago, a student-led initiative, with faculty support, renewed and broadened that call for economic divestment. Likewise, faculty and students at other universities have taken up the divestment call (for example, faculty at Princeton in 2015). Economic divestment is a central strategy of BDS, and it has had some important successes of late, especially in Europe. In fact, lobbying and directing pressure at Congress is and always has been part of the strategy of the movement for peace and justice in Israel/Palestine.
There have been years of organizing efforts to educate Congress and move it to put economic and political pressure on Israel.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.