Israeli Academic Criticized for ‘Los Angeles Times’ Op-Ed

by E Wayne Ross on August 24, 2009

Inside Higher Ed: Israeli Academic Criticized for ‘Los Angeles Times’ Op-Ed

An Israeli academic who is prominent in his country’s peace movement is under intense criticism for publishing an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times calling for a boycott of Israel. Neve Gordon, who teaches politics at Ben-Gurion University, writes that Israel has become an apartheid state and that outside pressure is the only way his country will ever allow the creation of a Palestinian state. While many Israelis, particularly in academe, share Gordon’s belief that Israel should not stand in the way of a Palestinian state, there is, not surprisingly, a wide consensus in Israel that boycotts are not appropriate. And in Israel academe, which has been a boycott target for some British and other academics, that opposition to a boycott movement is strong. Haaretz reported that after the article appeared, Israel’s consul-general in Los Angeles wrote to the president of Ben-Gurion, Rivka Carmi, to say he was hearing from donors to the university who were vowing to stop giving. Carmi denounced the essay, as did Israel’s education minister, who called it “repugnant and deplorable,” the newspaper reported. Amid the uproar, Gordon qualified his call for a boycott in a statement to YNet News, saying that he wanted a boycott to be “graded” and “sensitive,” starting with products made by Israeli settlements on the West Bank.