Bioethics Blogs

When It’s Time to Vote, Don’t Boycott Academics – Cut the Purse-strings by Jennifer S. Hirsch

Editor’s note: We received this letter, signed by the authors listed above and by nine anonymous authors, as a reply to our earlier Debate Forum.

After far too long a moratorium on reasoned debate, a terrible dam first cracked, then crumbled. Certainly the current sturm und drang about American academics’ relationship to the ever more disastrous situation in Israel/Palestine is urgent, and long overdue. But just what kind of conversation is taking place – and where will it lead? Where should it lead?

These are urgent questions for us anthropologists. Beginning last Friday, April 15, and until May 31, members of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) face a momentous decision: to vote either for or against an academic boycott of Israel, a state whose policies, actions, and inaction have wrought untold harm on Palestinians’ health, well-being, and dignity. As committed anthropologists – most of us junior and untenured – we approach this vote with trepidation, and rage.

We are enraged by the occupation of Palestinian people and lands, an occupation that is immoral, illegal, and unjust. We know that the devastating impact of decades of Israeli policy, especially on the physical and mental health of Palestinian children, will persist long into the future, whatever the political tides may bring. And we agree that now is the time for strong statements.

Yet strong statements are not enough. It is also time for targeted, collective action.

Some of our colleagues have appealed for “dialogue” in lieu of boycott, but “dialogue,” too, is insufficient. Dialogue is far too little, and far too late.

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.