Those calling for an academic boycott of Israel not only show the depth to which anti-Israel bias is now entrenched in our ivory towers; they show their ignorance about the boycott's major victims: Israel's minorities, its Arab Muslims and Christians.
As a woman, a Muslim and as a physician of Pakistani descent, I can attest personally to the inordinate importance of academic freedom in Britain and the United States. This freedom was extended to me even during the time I was practicing medicine in Saudi Arabia, where – like all women — I was subject to gender apartheid. Because of this experience, I can only see the closing of the academic mind in the form of the 'academic boycott' of Israeli citizens and institutions as the act of invertebrate hypocrites. Boycotting Israel, whether academic or cultural is not an act of moral indignation, but an act of moral turpitude.
Academic freedom builds relationships, tolerance, and opportunity. When I moved to Riyadh 15 years ago, I had no doubts about maintaining my professional relationship with my own Jewish American mentor who had guided me throughout my then early career.
While I lived and worked in a country where as a Muslim I could worship but my mentor and his coreligionists could not, I was given every opportunity to develop in the American academic space because of his intellectual generosity. While I was subject to legislated male supremacy and relegated to being a legal minor, no Western academic suggested boycotting the medical academe hosting me in the Kingdom.
Academic freedom was in fact my only freedom at the time and I was determined to share it. I connected my Saudi colleagues – leading Saudi Muslim academics – with my mentor which led to the publication of jointly-authored papers on patient care in the Arab Gulf, benefiting primarily Muslim patients. This work sowed the seeds for subsequent conferences where both my Saudi Muslim and American Jewish colleagues met and developed their own relationships.
In contrast, boycotting Israeli entities penalizes apolitical individuals, their institutions, their innovations and ultimately, stymies a global market of ideas which benefits humanity. Perhaps it's possible to make a more generous assessment of why the various scholars, writers and entertainers who call for a boycott of 'apartheid Israel' claim to act in the interests of Palestinians: That it's based on simple ignorance. They would certainly be wiser if they had had the same opportunity that I recently enjoyed when I visited Israel to meet Israeli academia, and — critically — examined how such a boycott, whether overt or covert, particularly damages Israeli Arabs, or Palestinian citizens of Israel.
I spoke to Arab Muslim undergraduates at Haifa's Technion University during my visit in May this year. Arab undergraduates (most of whom are Muslim with a smaller Christian representation) lead a program to remove barriers to success of fellow Arab undergraduates there. Professor Daoud Bshouty, Dean of Undergraduate Studies (and both Israel's and Technion's first Christian Arab faculty member) and Sara Katzir, former Israeli Airforce officer and head of the Beatrice Weston Unit for the Advancement of Students, explained the origin of the program, joined by Assistant Professor Youseff Jabareen, an Arab Israeli Muslim graduate, and the Muslim undergraduate Maysoun Hindawi, who related their own experiences as minorities.
Written By: Qanta Ahmed – Haaretzcontinue to source article at standwithus.com