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An 'Internal Boycott' in Israel?

March 16, 2016

The leader of the Israeli Sociological Society said he is implementing a 2011 decision by the group’s general assembly to refrain from academic cooperation with Ariel University, which is located in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank.

“It’s a matter of making the declaration of a moral principle and drawing the line between Israel and the occupied territories, reminding people that there is such a line and while we surely accept the state of Israel as fully legitimate we do not accept as such the occupation of the Palestinian territories, and the denial of basic rights from Palestinians for 50 years or so cannot go on unnoticed by the sociological association,” said Uri Ram, the association's new president.

Ram emphasized that this action is not part of the international boycott, divestment and sanctions movement that targets Israeli universities broadly. “Israeli academia is part of a legitimate system. Not so the so-called academia beyond the Green Line,” he said.

Ram said the association’s board will discuss the issue at its meeting next month. He said there is a need for renewed discussion now that he has brought the issue to the consciousness of members again but that any change to the 2011 policy would need to be put to a vote.

The news of the sociological association’s stance comes at a time when many scholars in Israel are worried about the momentum BDS has gained in international academe. Israel's minister of education, Naftali Bennett, is quoted in a Jerusalem Post article expressing concern about an “internal boycott” by sociologists.

“It is absurd that the fighters for academic freedom are taking the right to discriminate between institutions into their own hands,” Bennett said.

“The Israeli taxpayers fund higher education with some NIS 10 billion [new Israeli shekels, about $2.6 billion] a year and we have no intention of allowing boycotts.”

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Elizabeth Redden

Elizabeth Redden, Senior Reporter, covers general higher education topics, religion and higher education, and international higher education for Inside Higher Ed. She has more than a decade of experience as an education journalist. She holds an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing from Columbia University.

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