Middle Eastern Studies Association Defends Israeli Scholar

August 28, 2009

The Middle East Studies Association is weighing in on the case of Neve Gordon, who teaches at Israel's Ben-Gurion University and who has set off a debate in his country over his op-ed in the Los Angeles Times calling for a boycott of Israel. Many Israeli leaders -- including some at his university -- have suggested that he had no right to publish the essay. The association wrote to Ben-Gurion's president, Rivka Carmi, saying: "In refusing to reiterate the university’s obligation to protect Dr. Gordon’s professional and civil freedoms and in failing to clarify that it will not be blackmailed into suspending the freedoms of particular faculty members that some donors do not like, your administration has given a green light to those attacking him and in some cases threatening his physical safety. We hope you will realize the importance of doing everything in your power to end the intimidation against Dr. Gordon by reaffirming his academic right to free expression as guaranteed by the by-laws of your university. In doing this you would be following the exemplary lead of your colleague Zvi Galil, the former president of Tel Aviv University, who in May 2009 rejected popular pressure to expel Omar Barghouti, an M.A. student in philosophy, because of his work with the international Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions movement against the Israeli occupation."

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