Two reasons why I will not support the academic boycott this month

This month, a referendum covering a boycott regarding Israeli academic institutions will occur. This has brought up, at least in my head, the question of, &ldquo;What would make an academic boycott a viable solution?&rdquo;</p>

I think we can all agree that any boycott must have a purpose, otherwise it will not provoke any change, and the situation will remain static. This will cause students from each university to be forever star-crossed. 

To give a boycott purpose and allow students to resume study partnerships, a boycott requires an end-goal which, once reached, will render the boycott over. There has been a lack of mention about end goals from Ethical Collab UW, and the incessant boycott of any institution without purpose is not logical. For a boycott of Israeli institutions to be considered viable, there must be an end. 

Of course, goals must be realistic and timely; this inevitably raises a proposal that Ethical Collab UW could offer to lift the boycott based on a certain number of reduced checkpoints or roadblocks, cited as a reason for the boycott.

While the principle stands, suggestion about a boycott-lift based upon a lowering or eradication of the number of obstacles the government abuses is incoherent. The proposal forgets that a university and a nation are not the same thing, and that one cannot be considered responsible for the other. 

A university cannot be considered complicit in creating roadblocks for students and teachers, unless one considers complicity in a tacit refusal to move to the West Bank, which renders every single Israeli university complicit simply by existing. Obviously, this is too unreasonable of an expectation. Israeli universities cannot be held accountable for the actions of a country they reside in.

Perhaps, a more logical proposal would be to alleviate the boycott based upon the presence of scholarships. Scholarships are in the control of universities to a certain extent, and therefore, if true, Israeli institutions could be considered complicit through discriminatory scholastic policies. However, there are almost a dozen Palestinian universities, depending on how they are counted (with Gaza and Jerusalem), so the entire question of having special scholarships for Palestinians in Israel is still questionable.  

Scholarships are based upon need, where people live, and to whom they pay taxes. Asking Israel to offer scholarships to the neighbouring Palestinians to go to their universities is a good idea, and possibly a solution, but it is not a feasible reason to call for a boycott.

We all know that there is truth to both sides of this story, but that does not mean we need to choose who to support more. The referendum does not have an end, nor does it state reasonable demands (or any actually). Voting for or against this resolution only grants legitimacy to a referendum which is vague and pointless. I sincerely hope Ethical Collab UW will keep this in mind.


Joshua Goldschmidt


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1B Arts and Business


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