Wednesday, May 13, 2009

You can't boycott an institution

After the answer period, there was a back-and-forth exchange between the panelists.

Here is something that Clive Seligman said:

“I have no problem with you taking a stand or anyone voluntarily deciding not to deal with Israelis or Israeli institutions or even Jews if they don’t want to. But you’re not taking a stand only for yourself. If your university is successful in imposing a boycott, you’re forcing even those colleagues of yours who disagree with you to take the same stand as you and that’s what I find objectionable. When you talk about a boycott, you’re not talking about a voluntary boycott, you’re banding together to some way use the policies of the university to impose behaviour on academic matters on every single member of the university, students as well as professors.

"And you have, I think, twice made some argument that there’s a difference between boycotting institutions and boycotting individuals.

“You can’t boycott an institution. Individuals work in the institutions. When you prevent a research collaboration, you are preventing a collaboration among individuals in the country that’s doing the boycotting and in the country that’s the victim of the boycott.

“You cannot get out of essentially the moral irresponsibility of saying, ‘There are exceptional times that I alone define and if I am successful in getting my whole university to do this, even those who disagree with me must yield to my definition of exceptional times…’”

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