The academic boycott absentees (correction)

Thomas Lifson
Academia generally takes great pleasure in moral exhibitionism, the conspicuous display of righteous indignation toward the world's supposed malefactors. At this historical moment, the world's academic community faces an important moral choice over the movement to "boycott" Israeli universities, meaning shut out Israeli scholars from the normal avenues of academic interchange: conferences, visiting professorships, and the like.

This movement has no problem with Saudi Arabia's ban on religions other than Islam, no problem with the Mullahs' torture of democracy-seeking activists, or any other of the real evils perpetrated by regimes that are genuine tyrannies. By establishing a separate standard for the judgment one group, while excusing worse behavior on the part of others, the movement is overtly racist.

So how has American academia risen to this moral challenge in its own sphere? Some prominent university presidents currently receive a grade of "incomplete," but that will soon convert into a "F" if no new actions are taken by them.

Michael Rubin, of National Review's The Corner, reports that two prominent university presidents have not joined the protest over the boycott:
Amidst the dozens of university presidents declaring their opposition to the academic boycott of Israeli professors and universities, the absence of Yale president Richard Levin and Duke president Richard Brodhead is curious (Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust sent a separate letter).
Rubin notes that Levin has mainly been a fundraiser, and may have concerns over fund-raising in the Arab world. Brodhead, he also notes, has a history of making statements about issues of public interest, including the issue of rape.

This strikes me as one of those issues where people and institutions categorize themselves. Take all future pronouncements on racism and humanitarianism from these places with appropriate skepticism.

Hat tip: Ed Lasky

Correction: The John in Carolina website has discovered that Brodhead of Duke did indeed condemn the boycott, and has apologized for passing on the erroneous information in the NRO post. We also apologize to President Brodhead for passing on the error.

Update: President Levin of Yale has posted the following statement on the boycott:
I certainly agree with the sentiments expressed in President Bollinger's statement, and I am happy to say so. But I am not comfortable signing group statements or petitions, in this case and as well as hundreds of other similar situations where my participation has been requested.

A boycott of Israel's educational institutions serves no useful purpose. It violates the principle of academic freedom that all universities should practice and defend. We should continue to promote to the fullest extent the opportunity for discussion, collaboration, and exchange with Israeli institutions, as well as with other universities in the Middle East and around the globe.

Academia generally takes great pleasure in moral exhibitionism, the conspicuous display of righteous indignation toward the world's supposed malefactors. At this historical moment, the world's academic community faces an important moral choice over the movement to "boycott" Israeli universities, meaning shut out Israeli scholars from the normal avenues of academic interchange: conferences, visiting professorships, and the like.

This movement has no problem with Saudi Arabia's ban on religions other than Islam, no problem with the Mullahs' torture of democracy-seeking activists, or any other of the real evils perpetrated by regimes that are genuine tyrannies. By establishing a separate standard for the judgment one group, while excusing worse behavior on the part of others, the movement is overtly racist.

So how has American academia risen to this moral challenge in its own sphere? Some prominent university presidents currently receive a grade of "incomplete," but that will soon convert into a "F" if no new actions are taken by them.

Michael Rubin, of National Review's The Corner, reports that two prominent university presidents have not joined the protest over the boycott:
Amidst the dozens of university presidents declaring their opposition to the academic boycott of Israeli professors and universities, the absence of Yale president Richard Levin and Duke president Richard Brodhead is curious (Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust sent a separate letter).
Rubin notes that Levin has mainly been a fundraiser, and may have concerns over fund-raising in the Arab world. Brodhead, he also notes, has a history of making statements about issues of public interest, including the issue of rape.

This strikes me as one of those issues where people and institutions categorize themselves. Take all future pronouncements on racism and humanitarianism from these places with appropriate skepticism.

Hat tip: Ed Lasky

Correction: The John in Carolina website has discovered that Brodhead of Duke did indeed condemn the boycott, and has apologized for passing on the erroneous information in the NRO post. We also apologize to President Brodhead for passing on the error.

Update: President Levin of Yale has posted the following statement on the boycott:
I certainly agree with the sentiments expressed in President Bollinger's statement, and I am happy to say so. But I am not comfortable signing group statements or petitions, in this case and as well as hundreds of other similar situations where my participation has been requested.

A boycott of Israel's educational institutions serves no useful purpose. It violates the principle of academic freedom that all universities should practice and defend. We should continue to promote to the fullest extent the opportunity for discussion, collaboration, and exchange with Israeli institutions, as well as with other universities in the Middle East and around the globe.