Vanguard: May Day Special Issue

Public sector workers fight for job security Balikatan: US leads ‘allies’ in war preparations When wharfies said no to fascism What’s behind the oil price drop? US military expansion tramples on Australia Organisation is the key Resistance to imperialist free trade grows Anzackery: the commodification of militarism reading Vanguard: May Day Special Issue

Academic boycott of Israel

Inspired by the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, the Palestinian campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) issued a call in 2004 urging academics and cultural workers around the world to boycott ‘all Israeli academic and cultural institutions’ in support of the Palestinian people’s struggle ‘to end Israel‘s occupation, colonization and system of apartheid’ (PACBI 2009). In the years that followed, the movement for an academic boycott of Israel rattled universities around the world. Jonathan Hahn, Executive Editor, Los Angeles Review of Books called it ‘one of the major geopolitical, civil rights issues of our time’ (Hahn 2014). The debate around academic boycott often centres around the concept of ‘academic freedom’ on one side and the ‘ethical’ and ‘moral’ obligations of higher learning institutions on the other. Those opposing the boycott claim it infringes on the basic principle of academic freedom; the free exchange of ideas across national and international divides and the right of scholars to share their views without discrimination based on their national origin or ethnicity (Fish 2013). Advocates for the boycott argue that all freedoms are essentially linked and are therefore not absolute, and as such, the value of academic freedom cannot be seen apart from other human rights such as the right to education, the right to equality, the right to live free of discrimination, freedom of speech, freedom of thought and freedom of political affiliation (Barghouthi 2013). This essay will explore the debate surrounding the academic boycott of Israel, especially the principle of ‘academic freedom' and the perceived roles and responsibilities of academic institutions in relation to controversial ‘moral’ and ‘ethical’ issues.