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No freedom of expression for Israeli anthropologists?

Is it illegitimate for Israeli academics to believe that Gaza's problems stem from Hamas' jihadist ideology? Should they be threatened with a boycott if they fail to adopt 'the right stance'?

(photo by: Alroyfonseca)

A powerful American conservative organization expressed its discomfort over the liberal and post-Zionist inclinations of an Israeli research institute it has work relations with. It sent a delegation to look into the prevalent views at the institute which had "gone astray," and the members of the small institute panicked. The relationship with the donor organization was important to them – trips, sabbaticals, participation in conferences, publication of articles. Their dependence is complete, and they were afraid of a boycott.

 

So they issued a manifesto clarifying that they support Benjamin Netanyahu's government, are against dangerous concessions to the Palestinians and declare that Jerusalem will never be divided...That never happened. There is no chance it would happen. And if it had happened, we can assume that it would have caused a major shock, including the regular slogans about oppression, dark people, fascists and silencing.


The American Anthropological Association (AAA)...is threatening to join the anti-Israel boycott – and has sent a delegation to look into the situation.

But an opposite thing happened. The American Anthropological Association (AAA), which includes 12,000 members, is threatening to join the anti-Israel boycott – and has sent a delegation to look into the situation. The Israel Anthropological Association (IAA), which includes only 102 members, was concerned about the expected resolution. It may cost its members a heavy price of rejection of articles for publication, cancellation of invitations to conference, etc – which is something no academic can endure.


In order to prevent trouble, the association issued a manifesto calling for an end to the occupation, for the reconstruction of Gaza following last summer's destruction and for a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem.


There is a variety of views among anthropologists in Israel. That's the way it should be.

Let's assume, just assume, that some of the anthropologists in Israel believe that Gaza's problems stem from Hamas' jihadist ideology and from its calls for the annihilation of Jews, or believe that Israel should call for an end to the incitement in the Palestinian Authority and that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' insistence on the right of return is the biggest obstacle to peace.


And let's assume that there are anthropologists who think that focusing on the problem of the Palestinian refugees, while ignoring the expulsion of Jews from Arab countries, aggravates the problem rather than solves it. What then? Are their views illegitimate? Is a certain body supposed to threaten them with a boycott if they fail to adopt "the right stance"?


This article has been republished with permission by www.ynetnews.com. Click here to continue reading.

 

 

Ben-Dror Yemini, Ynet News

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