Head to head

Should we consider a boycott of Israeli academic institutions? No

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39266.509016.AD (Published 19 July 2007)
Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:125

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  1. Michael Baum, professor emeritus of surgery
  1. University College London, London WC1E 6AU
  1. michael{at}mbaum.freeserve.co.uk

    Tony Blair's appointment as Middle East peace envoy is intended to invigorate the peace process. Tom Hickey thinks boycotting universities might encourage the Israeli government to reach a settlement, but Michael Baum believes collaboration is a more effective way forward

    First of all I should declare a conflict of interest. I am a Jew and a Zionist. However, before anyone issues a Fatwa, let me explain. I consider myself a secular Jew who abhors the fanaticism among West Bank settlers. I support a two state solution. The Palestinians must have self determination; 60 years of statelessness after the British mandate is enough. This position is held by all my Israeli academic friends and colleagues. These academics are the very constituency the boycotters are targeting and are disproportionately represented in the peace camp. How can alienating this group enhance the peace process?

    The Israeli universities and research institutes are no more agents of Israel than Oxford or Cambridge are of the United Kingdom. And they are not responsible for repression of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories—a policy which is universally unpopular. Furthermore, it is nonsense to suggest that you can target the institution without damaging the individual.

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