25 August 2009

Boycotts, Israel, Freedom of Speech ~ Neve Gordon

Last week The Los Angeles Times ran this Op-Ed piece by Israeli Political Scientist and activist Neve Gordon. In the essay Gordon endorses the strategy of boycotting Israel as a way of bringing pressure to bear on he government there. I have argued against the boycott strategy here and here and here. My views have not changed. Gordon also invokes the analogy between Israeli treatment of Palestinians and South African Apartheid. While there are clear similarities, I think the "Apartheid State" rhetoric is one more conversation stopper in a circumstance already hedged in by far too many such thought-crippling slogans.

It turns out ~ unsurprisingly ~ that Gordon is taking considerable heat for his essay. Most directly, according to this story in Ha'aretz, both Israeli Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar and Prof. Rivka Carmi, the President of Ben Gurion University where Gordon teaches, have condemned him. (Ironically, the same story suggests that American Jews are threatening to withhold financial contributions to the University.) I disagree with Gordon on matters of strategy but not on ultimate objectives. That said, I think it is important to speak up in Gordon's defense. This is especially true to the extent that Sa'ar and Carmi go beyond disagreeing with Gordon and begin to threaten his job. On this I agree with the reasons Steve Walt offers here. It is important, in other words, for the integrity of Israeli Universities and it is important for the (endangered) diversity of views in Israeli politics. Should you be inclined to speak out on Gordon's behalf, you can find out how here at The Nation.

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Blogger Hans said...

Heard about this crazy debate, speaking of Israel and freedom of speech?


26 August, 2009 13:53  

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