Objections to the MLA Boycott resolution uniformly focus on its supposed abridgement of academic freedom to individual scholars in the US or in Israel without any concern for the educational rights of Palestinians. Purposefully obfuscating the case, critics of the boycott resolution brush past the resolution’s declaration that the boycott is against institutions, not individuals. Anti-boycott arguments claim that all faculty in Israel-Palestine are tied to state institutions because Israeli universities operate under the aegis of the state. However, academic boycott guidelines stipulate clearly that only individual scholars who openly identify themselves as representing the State who are, by dint of that identification, subject to the boycott. In making that identification, those scholars are in fact declaring their support of Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights. The boycott is an act of non-violent resistance to a situation of global injustice.
A major document has been produced that provides vivid accounts of conditions faced by Palestinians: the voices of Palestinians. Rather than focusing on the harms that might befall a Jewish Israeli scholar, this dossier of Palestinian accounts documents the actual, existing, and constantly repeated harms to Palestinian scholars—harms that go far beyond not being able to attend a conference. As one of the contributors reminds us, the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights describes education to be “both a human right in itself and an indispensable means of realizing other human rights.” The Israeli occupation stands in the way of Palestinian rights to education, and it also stands in the way of other fundamental human rights.
Download Palestinian Voices: mla-palestinian-voices
For over six decades, Palestinians have lived under Israel’s destructive military occupation, an occupation that the UN Security Council recently affirmed is a violation of international law. Whether by means of the inhumane checkpoints, the expansion of settlements, banning of equipment, imprisonments, or random clashes, the occupation undermine the fundamental educational efforts of Palestinian teachers, students, and teaching facilities. The MLA academic boycott resolution seeks minimally to affirm the Palestinian right to education
As scholars of the humanities, it certainly behooves us to listen to these Palestinian voices carefully, and to honor their call for solidarity.