Boycott the boycott

July 26, 2002

The Israeli public security minister ordered the reopening of the east Jerusalem offices of the president of Al-Quds University, Sari Nusseibeh, on July 22. Baruch Kimmerling and Irene Bruegel might thus not feel compelled to reconsider the worth of an academic boycott of Israel (Letters, THES , July 19).

The boycott does not hang on the reversal of an act of repression but on the continuation of Israel's military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. The ending of the occupation and the establishment of a Palestinian state would be a regime change for Israel, whose rule over the occupied territories has been part of its political system since 1967.

Does that mean that a boycott of Israel is as justified as the boycott of South Africa? That boycott was directed not only against a government but against the white minority that chose to maintain its rule over the black majority. But the Jewish-Israeli electorate seems confused, supporting reoccupation of areas that are supposed to be governed by the Palestinian Authority and also agreeing with the establishment of a Palestinian state. Would it not be better to challenge Israel's military repression and encourage the forces in Israeli (and Palestinian) society working towards a just peace, rather than directing moral outrage at academics or the entire Israeli population?

Jon Simons
University of Nottingham

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