The self-proclaimed defenders of academic freedom who want to violate academic freedom in the name of academic freedom seem reluctant to allow other points of view to be heard.
Especially when those views don’t endorse censoring those they disagree with.
As part of its 129th annual convention from Jan. 9-12 in Chicago, the Modern Language Association (MLA) is holding a roundtable discussion titled “Academic Boycotts: A Conversation about Israel and Palestine.”
The discussion—to feature supporters but no opponents of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement—is a possible precursor to an MLA academic boycott of Israel.
Ali told The Chronicle of Higher Education that the roundtable assumes that Israel violates the rights of Palestinians, and that the debate will center on what to do about it.
“If people want to come and debate occupation, I think it will be a waste of their time, because that’s not what the roundtable is about,” Ali said.
It simplifies things when you can skip past the debate stage straight to the “How do we attack Israel?” stage. It’s not a debate. It’s a conversation where everyone agrees.
The MLA session’s speakers will include BDS movement co-founder Omar Barghouti; University of Texas professor Barbara Jane Harlow, who has stated her support for the ASA boycott of Israel, University of Southern California professor of English David Lloyd , a well-known BDS activist; and Wesleyan University professor Richard Ohmann, who signed a 2009 letter that described Israeli treatment of Palestinians as “one of the most massive, ethnocidal atrocities of modern times.” University of Texas professor Samer M. Ali, who publicly defended the ASA boycott, organized the roundtable.
So this is a roundtable by people who support boycotting Israel to discuss their support for boycotting Israel. And it will represent all points of view as long as they involve boycotting Israel.
This is what the anti-Israel idea of academic freedom looks like.
What does the Israeli idea of academic freedom look like? I’ll just give you the first sentence in Omar’s Wikipedia bio.
Omar Barghouti is a founding committee member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) who is currently studying for a masters degree in philosophy at Tel Aviv University, Israel.
Omar, the main figure in the call for an academic boycott of Israel, is not actually academically boycotting Israel. Not unless you can study in Israel while boycotting it.
Maybe he can discuss that while appearing at the MLA’s roundtable on boycotting Israel.