On June 15th, the Chancellor of UCI, Michael Drake, published a message regarding the recent boycott of the apartheid state by the
Instead of honoring the brave stance that the UCU is taking against a country that openly practices apartheid; he voiced his contempt against their actions.
Below is a response from a UCI Alumnus.
Dear Chancellor Drake,
I am writing in response to your message published June 15th 2007 strongly opposing the recent vote by the British University and College Union (UCU) to propose an academic boycott of Israel. In my opinion, your message was one-sided and misleading.
First, your statement accusing the UCU of attempting to "shun an entire community of scholars based on what appears to be political opposition to the policies of the incumbent government" is a distortion of the truth.
The boycott movement against Israel , including UCU's recent proposal, is not based on a political position, rather it is based purely on moral and ethical grounds.
Contrary to your above quoted statement, the boycott movement is not a reaction to the policies of a particular government, past or incumbent. Rather, the boycott campaign is targeted at those who support and justify an illegal occupation, one which has been going on for decades and which violates international law and universal principles of human rights. This is stated clearly in the Palestinian Civil Society's (PCS) call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) in June 2005, which initiated the recent world-wide campaign of non-violent resistance against illegal Israeli policies and practices.
Furthermore, the academic boycott is not directed at the entire community of Israeli academics, as you mention. The academic boycott is aimed only at those institutions which openly support and justify Israel's illegal occupation and inhumane policies. In its call on June 2005, the PCS extended its hand to Israelis and invited conscientious Israelis to support them, "for the sake of justice and genuine peace".
Second, I do agree that an intellectual and open discussion is essential to arrive at a better understanding of any situation, particularly one that is as charged as the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. However, to establish a meaningful dialogue, there needs to be a minimum level of understanding between all parties; a common grounds or reference to which all parties agree. In the case of the Palestinian/Israeli issue, no meaningful or effective dialogue can occur without all parties agreeing to stand against any group or government (Israeli or Palestinian) which violates international law and universal principles of human rights.
We may differ on how effective an academic boycott may be in terms of ending injustice and supporting the oppressed. However, one who views the current academic boycott movement in support of the basic human rights of Palestinians as oppressive to Israeli scholars clearly does not have a good understanding of the reasons behind the movement or the goals it aims to achieve.