Omar Barghouti, a Tel Aviv University student who has called for academic boycott of Israeli schools, was the subject of a post on this site yesterday. I commended the TAU president's refusal to expel Barghouti despite pressure to do so. Barghouti is not so thrilled by the response; he feels it will blunt the campaign for boycott. I see these as separate issues. I believe there are many aspects of Israeli society that are emulable, including its discourse. But its treatment of the Palestinian minority (majority!) is ghastly, and so is worthy of boycott and sanction. Here is Omar Barghouti's statement:
As widely expected, TAU has issued an official statement confirming that they "cannot and will not" expel me based on my political views and activism.
The anti-boycott lobby will now jump to use this as a weapon in their increasingly desperate attempts to fend off the growing threat of academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions, arguing that these institutions respect the academic freedom "even" of boycott advocates.
Other than the evident trivialization of academic freedom implied in such a claim (ignoring all the arguments about suppression of real academic freedom in doing academic work on "problematic" topics, as Oren Ben-Dor, Ilan Pappe, Tanya Reinhart and many others have argued), it misses the point completely on why PACBI, BRICUP, USACBI, among many other small academic boycott groups in France, Spain, Belgium, Norway, Australia, South Africa, etc., have called for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. The well documented complicity of Israel's academic institutions in the state's colonial and racist policies remains THE main factor standing behind the boycott call. Whether TAU expels me or not, this compelling factor remains true. Expelling me would have added just a bit more fuel to an already blazing fire!
For one of the earliest refutation of the "academic freedom" argument against the boycott, see: