14.1146, Disc: Academic Boycotts; Final Posting

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Sun Apr 20 01:40:37 UTC 2003

LINGUIST List:  Vol-14-1146. Sat Apr 19 2003. ISSN: 1068-4875.

Subject: 14.1146, Disc: Academic Boycotts; Final Posting

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Date:  Sat, 19 Apr 2003 15:46:51 +0200
From:  "Dimitriadis, Alexis" <Alexis.Dimitriadis at let.uu.nl>
Subject:  Individual and institutional academic boycotts

Date:  Sat, 19 Apr 2003 17:45:59 +0100 (BST)
From:  Dr Ghil`ad Zuckermann <gz208 at cam.ac.uk>
Subject:  Academic Boycotts

-------------------------------- Message 1 -------------------------------

Date:  Sat, 19 Apr 2003 15:46:51 +0200
From:  "Dimitriadis, Alexis" <Alexis.Dimitriadis at let.uu.nl>
Subject:  Individual and institutional academic boycotts

Many have already drawn a distinction between boycotts against Israeli
(or what have you) INSTITUTIONS, including academic institutions, and
boycotts against individual academics. It is not inconsistent for one
to support sanctions against institutions, but not against
individuals; Tanya Reinhart's piece "Why Academic Boycott", available
discusses the issues in some detail (see also

In answer to one poster's question: Reinhart reports that the South
African sanctions did extend to individuals.

Thanks to Pauline Jacobson, the text of the proposed LSA resolution
has now been posted to the list. But I do not share her perception
that "It specifically protests the boycotting of individuals solely on
the basis of their religion, ethnicity, or country of origin or
employment."  Another poster has already pointed out that the LSA
resolution is unfortunately unclear on just what it calls for:
Although boycotts of INDIVIDUAL scholars are singled out in the
PREAMBLE, the RESOLVED paragraph is so vague that it can be construed
to oppose all kinds of boycotts, including boycotts of institutions. I
want to add that numerous calls of both types have been circulated for
boycotts against Israel, so the resolution cannot be understood as
referring specifically to one or the other type (besides, it is
indended as a general policy statement). (Persons familiar with the
history and motivations of the resolution are probably the least able
to appreciate its vagueness).

Personally, I believe that protest actions come to the attention of
governments most easily when they are taken at the institutional
level.  Therefore, actions by and against institutions are far more
effective than individual consumer boycotts or refusals of academic
honors (taken by individuals).  This seems to me to skew the
cost/benefit ratio even further in the direction of supporting formal
actions against institutions (including formal policies of
non-cooperation with, say, Israeli Universities or research
organizations), and opposing actions against individuals-- even those
who do in fact support the policy we oppose.

As for the LSA resolution, I wish it could be redrafted to state what
we are being assured it means to say.


Alexis Dimitriadis
alexis.dimitriadis at let.uu.nl

Utrecht Institute of Linguistics OTS
Trans 10
3512 JK Utrecht
The Netherlands

-------------------------------- Message 2 -------------------------------

Date:  Sat, 19 Apr 2003 17:45:59 +0100 (BST)
From:  Dr Ghil`ad Zuckermann <gz208 at cam.ac.uk>
Subject:  Academic Boycotts

To answer briefly Michael Newman's query "Was this [South African]
embargo ever extended to work by South African scholars?",
(Linguist 14.1130) please note the neglected, crucial difference
between the current boycott of Israeli academics and that of South
African academic and cultural institutions during the 1980s and early
1990s. The South African boycott was believed - not only by its
initiators but also by many progressive members of South Africa's
academic community - to be a supportive gesture towards progressive
South Africans, rather than a hostile measure directed against South
Africa at large. As Alon Har'el (pc) has noted, and endorsing Shalom
Lappin's important position, those who initiated the South African
boycott were actively involved in South African affairs, well informed
about the South African struggle for freedom, and, importantly, sought
the cooperation, advice and involvement of the South African academic
community. Thus, in May 1989 the national executive committee of the
African National Congress (ANC) published a paper expressing its
support for the boycott and also added qualifications which, in its
view, were essential to its success. In Section 2.2 of this document
it stated, for example, that "Democratic and anti-racist South African
artists, cultural workers, sportspersons and academics - individually
or collectively - who seek to perform, work or participate in
activities outside South Africa should be permitted to do so without
fear of ostracism or boycott."  Europeans and South Africans regarded
their boycott as part of an on-going dialogue between progressive
black and white South Africans and Europeans rather than as an
internal dialogue within the European left.

In stark contrast, the European scholars (who are "private citizens",
to employ the boycotter Mona Baker's inconsistent terminology) who ban
Israeli scholars (who are, apparently, "public representatives" - as
rightly noted by the boycottee Gideon Toury) indicate by their
behaviour that this is simply an internal European initiative directed
against ALL academics affiliated with Israeli institutions. Thus, Mona
Baker took the liberty of firing (from editorial boards) Professor
Miriam Shlesinger, a former president of Amnesty International Israel.

To conclude, although some might fail to see it, all academic boycotts
are most dangerous but some are even more dangerous than others.

	With very best wishes to all of you - independently of your
	race, religion, country, institution or political party...,

	Ghil`ad Zuckermann
	Churchill College
	University of Cambridge

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