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Dear David -
As an aside to the discussion about 'smart' and 'not-so-smart' academic
boycotts (or exercises in political solidarity as opposed to moral
superiority?), I'm afraid I couldn't follow what many of 'us' are supposed
to be doing this week: is it that we are remembering the Warsaw uprising OR
the Intifada, depending on where our political sympathies lie, or are you
trying to equate/connect two separate events - the Wqrsaw uprising AND the
Intifada by-the-by? Or am I revealing my historical ignorance by not having
heard of the Warsaw Intifada? If, as I suspect, you are trying to claim
parallels or connections between the two historical events, and if you are
still in writing mode, I would be interested to learn just what you think
the similarities, differences or direct links between them are.
Regards,
Wolfgang

On 2/8/04 11:51 am, "David Seddon" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> It is bizarre that so many 'liberal' Israeli academics seem to think that
> only Israel is the target of those concerned about international justice and
> peace - it is not. Many of us are also active in campaigns targeted at other
> states and their governments, including those mentioned by Nachman. But just
> as South Africa became a focus of international action because of its
> long-standing apartheid government policies, so Israel has become a focus
> for many because of its long-standing, illegal, brutal and wholly
> ill-conceived policy of continued occupation, settlement and containment of
> the Palestinian territories. It is hard for many of us, aware as we are of
> the terrible suffering and oppression of the Jews (particularly this week as
> we remember the Warsaw Uprising or Intifada), to see you Israeli 'liberal'
> academics so acquiescent and even defensive in the face of a remarkably
> similar effort at a 'final solution'. Shame on you.
>
> David Seddon
>
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: nachman ben-yehuda [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
>> Sent: 29 July 2004 22:23
>> To: Baruch Kimmerling
>> Cc: David Seddon; [log in to unmask]
>> Subject: RE: "Academic Boycotts: Some Reflections on the South
>> African Case"
>>
>>
>> What about boycotting the USA? China for its treatment of
>> Tibet? Sudan for
>> the mass murder that goes on there while we exchange views?
>> Russia for its
>> war on Chechnia? I may continue. But, why Israel?
>> Its a rhetoric question, of course.
>> I thought your response was very good
>> love
>> ...n
>> ===========
>>
>>
>> On Thu, 29 Jul 2004, Baruch Kimmerling wrote:
>>
>>> Dear David:
>>> First of all let see your British folks organizing an
>> association devoted
>>> to boycott British academe and institutions who supported he
>> Anglo-American invasion of Iraq
>>> as  test case. Than we'll can talk how to extended you
>> valuable experience
>>> on the Israeli case.
>>> Cheers, Baruch.
>>>
>>> On Thu, 29 Jul 2004, David Seddon wrote:
>>>
>>>> A very interesting piece - as I read it, Alexander
>> eventually suggests the
>>>> formation of associations of those explicitly opposed to
>> their own state's
>>>> policies, able to invite and oppose the invitation of
>> foreign academics,
>>>> according to democratically reached agreement on the part of the
>>>> associations' members. These associations, one might
>> suggest, could be
>>>> supported by means of selective boycott and support from
>> outside by those
>>>> also opposed to the regime's policies. There is nothing to
>> prevent groups of
>>>> Israeli academics from forming such associations and
>> making their position
>>>> of a range of issues linked to the Israeli government's
>> policies known
>>>> publicly and internationally. Those of us currently
>> involved in the academic
>>>> boycott might well welcome such a development as it would
>> allow a more
>>>> selective 'smart' institutional boycott.
>>>>
>>>> David seddon
>>>>
>>>>> -----Original Message-----
>>>>> From: Newsletter of the European Sociological Association
>>>>> (ESA) [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf
>>>>> Of Baruch Kimmerling
>>>>> Sent: 28 July 2004 22:19
>>>>> To: [log in to unmask]
>>>>> Subject: "Academic Boycotts: Some Reflections on the South
>>>>> African Case"
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> An interesting perspective by one
>>>>> of South Africa's most radical activist intellectuals (located
>>>>> to the far left of
>>>>> the ANC).
>>>>>
>>>>> Perspectives on the Professions
>>>>> Vol. 15, No. 1, Fall 1995
>>>>> "Academic Boycotts: Some Reflections on the South African Case"
>>>>> Neville Alexander, University of Cape Town
>>>>>
>>>>> In the mid-eighties, the academic community in South
>> Africa was rocked
>>>>> by a totally unexpected debate concerning the morality and
>>>>> purpose of an
>>>>> academic boycott of South African universities (and other tertiary
>>>>> educational institutions). The debate began with the
>> "O'Brien Affair".
>>>>> Connor Cruise O'Brien, the Irish academic and politician, in
>>>>> South Africa
>>>>> at the invitation of the University of Cape Town,
>> declared that the
>>>>> academic boycott, viewed in isolation, was ineffective
>> ("Mickey Mouse
>>>>> stuff" in his words !) and that a much more comprehensive
>>>>> approach to the
>>>>> isolation of the "racist Pretoria regime" was called for
>>>>> (without shooting
>>>>> oneself in the foot, as it were).
>>>>>
>>>>> Even at the best of times, such a "complex" message would
>> have been
>>>>> difficult to communicate. Given the insurrectionist climate
>>>>> among the black
>>>>> youth of South Africa at the time and the defensiveness of
>>>>> white students
>>>>> and some academics, the messenger and the message were bound to be
>>>>> misunderstood. O'Brien was interpreted as saying that the
>> equivocating
>>>>> university authorities who had invited him were "good guys".
>>>>> The students,
>>>>> convinced that the authorities were all unreconstructed
>>>>> "baddies" in league
>>>>> with the evil empire of the apartheid regime, responded
>> with militant
>>>>> rejection. The university authorities and most of the faculty
>>>>> agonized in the
>>>>> cross fire.
>>>>>
>>>>> Whatever the rights and wrongs of that particular event,
>> the debate
>>>>> expanded until the entire intellectual community of South
>> Africa was
>>>>> involved to one degree or another. We can, I believe, derive
>>>>> some useful
>>>>> observations from these events and their aftermath.
>>>>>
>>>>> The Trajectory of Boycott
>>>>>
>>>>> States usually justify application of economic and diplomatic
>>>>> sanctions as
>>>>> an alternative to settling international disputes by violence.
>>>>> Inevitably, the
>>>>> cultural boycott of the target state follows and the academic
>>>>> boycott is,
>>>>> clearly, a subset of the cultural. This was the trajectory in
>>>>> the South African
>>>>> case. The national liberation organizations saw the isolation
>>>>> of the South
>>>>> African regime as one of an ensemble of strategies which would
>>>>> compel it
>>>>> to move towards the negotiating table. In retrospect, I have
>>>>> no doubt that
>>>>> they were right.
>>>>>
>>>>> It is, therefore, all the more interesting that they seemed
>>>>> not to notice that
>>>>> differences in the terrain of struggle might require different
>>>>> approaches.
>>>>> For example, it was possible to make out a case if merely at
>>>>> the level of
>>>>> propaganda for so-called universal mandatory economic
>> sanctions as a
>>>>> foolproof tactic for strangling the regime into submission.
>>>>> But, even at the
>>>>> time, many publicists in the labor movement pointed out that,
>>>>> because it
>>>>> inevitably increased already severe unemployment, such a
>>>>> "total boycott"
>>>>> would have devastating consequences for the urban and rural
>>>>> poor. A "total
>>>>> boycott" assumed that human beings-working people especially-were
>>>>> willing instruments in a political game played by elites that
>>>>> had absolute
>>>>> control over them.
>>>>>
>>>>> At the time, such control seemed not to exist; events since
>>>>> have, I believe,
>>>>> confirmed that it did not. "Total boycott," though popular as
>>>>> slogan, was in
>>>>> practice completely at variance with the immediate
>> interests of most
>>>>> people. The demand that "the people" be "willing" to accept
>>>>> more suffering
>>>>> for a little while longer (Bishop Tutu) is a textbook example
>>>>> of middle-
>>>>> class presumption and of the remoteness of the "leaders"
>> from their
>>>>> "flock"!
>>>>>
>>>>> Long-term Assessment
>>>>>
>>>>> This observation is important because it suggests a
>> longer-term view,
>>>>> planning the boycott on the assumption of victory. The fatal
>>>>> malaise of the
>>>>> South African economy at present is in no small measure the
>>>>> result of the
>>>>> cumulative distortions occasioned by, among other causes,
>> sanctions
>>>>> against the apartheid state, including the academic boycott.
>>>>> If the purpose
>>>>> of sanctions were purely destructive, any sanction could be
>>>>> justified. The
>>>>> boycott would then be the economic equivalent of modern warfare's
>>>>> saturation bombing. But destruction is hardly ever the stated
>>>>> purpose of
>>>>> those who advocate sanctions. Indeed, choosing sanctions
>> rather than
>>>>> warfare implies a constructive, albeit punitive, approach
>> to relations
>>>>> between nations. The advocates of sanctions are necessarily
>>>>> interested in
>>>>> resuming normal relations either with a reformed, if
>>>>> chastened, regime or
>>>>> with a new regime (the former opposition).
>>>>>
>>>>> In South Africa, the debate over the academic boycott was
>>>>> between broadly
>>>>> liberal academics, on the one hand, and radical academics and
>>>>> activists, on
>>>>> the other. The liberals opposed the academic boycott
>>>>> completely, arguing
>>>>> both that it transgressed the principles of academic freedom
>>>>> and university
>>>>> autonomy and that it would shut off essential
>> communication between
>>>>> South African scholars and their international counterparts.
>>>>> South Africa
>>>>> would suffer a catastrophic drop in academic standards and an
>>>>> erosion of
>>>>> its economic and technological capacity. The more radical
>>>>> groups insisted
>>>>> that the academic boycott was correct in principle but that it
>>>>> should not
>>>>> punish the robber and the robbed at the same time. They
>> argued for a
>>>>> selective boycott rather than the simpler but impracticable
>>>>> "total boycott"
>>>>> (the slogan of the students in particular).
>>>>>
>>>>> The practical problem was obvious. Those favoring an
>> academic boycott
>>>>> had no way of monitoring the comings and goings of
>> foreign scholars.
>>>>> They could not prevent racist and even fascist scholars from
>>>>> teaching or
>>>>> doing research at some of the institutions concerned.
>>>>>
>>>>> Debate over the boycott also raised deep questions concerning
>>>>> the morality
>>>>> and political point of only excluding scholars coming
>> from outside the
>>>>> country when the majority of scholars who supported apartheid
>>>>> were South
>>>>> Africans employed by the very institutions that were to
>> carry out the
>>>>> boycott.
>>>>>
>>>>> Consensus
>>>>>
>>>>> Eventually, consensus was attained, at least in the more
>> left-leaning
>>>>> academic community. All anti-apartheid academics and intellectual
>>>>> activists should band together in academic staff associations
>>>>> explicitly
>>>>> opposed to the regime and committed to the eradication of
>> apartheid.
>>>>> These associations would be mandated, as appropriate, to
>> invite foreign
>>>>> scholars to South African universities or to prevent them from
>>>>> coming. The
>>>>> boycott should not be a suicidal weapon cutting off all
>> communication
>>>>> between the progressive academic community in the rest of
>> the world and
>>>>> ourselves living in South Africa.
>>>>>
>>>>> In my view, this understanding came too late. Some of the
>> scholarly
>>>>> backwardness of South Africa today is, I am sure, due to the
>>>>> marooning of
>>>>> much of our scholarship in the 1980s. Take, for example,
>> my own field,
>>>>> education: we were almost completely ignorant of the work that
>>>>> was being
>>>>> done in the 1980s on the question of multilingual pedagogy in such
>>>>> countries as Australia, Belgium, and Canada, not to mention
>>>>> India, Nigeria,
>>>>> Tanzania, and the like. Similar examples from all fields are
>>>>> legion, the
>>>>> direct result of an indiscriminate academic boycott. The
>>>>> boycott was too
>>>>> blunt an instrument for too long.
>>>>>
>>>>> The question of academic freedom was treated as an aspect of the
>>>>> democratic principle of free expression. Many scholars
>> argued that the
>>>>> universities could not luxuriate in the illusion that
>> they were somehow
>>>>> different from the rest of the country's institutions. The
>>>>> response that the
>>>>> academic boycott was a form of self-censorship was
>> countered by the
>>>>> question why the universities had not taken a principled
>> stand against
>>>>> censorship before the O'Brien Affair spotlighted the
>> issue in the mid-
>>>>> 1980s. In short, the self-seeking and elitist nature of the
>>>>> "pure" liberal
>>>>> argument for academic freedom and university autonomy was
>> exposed and,
>>>>> at least for a while, laid to rest.
>>>>>
>>>>> Final Assessment
>>>>>
>>>>> I have no doubt that when a state deliberately and
>>>>> systematically abuses
>>>>> human rights, a case can be made for academic boycott as
>> part of an
>>>>> ensemble of punitive strategies to compel the state to right
>>>>> the situation.
>>>>> But sanctions and boycotts are always two-edged weapons.
>> They should
>>>>> never be instituted without careful consideration of the
>>>>> likely effect on
>>>>> those whom they are supposed to help. Due attention should be
>>>>> given to the
>>>>> probable effects of a successful campaign so that the
>> boycott does not
>>>>> become the proverbial cure worse than the disease.
>>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>
>>>
>>
>> --
>>
>>