Monday, December 06, 2021

A Matter of Opinion at NYU

The NYU Review of Law & Social Change, a secondary law journal at NYU, has announced it will be implementing an academic boycott of Israel (it has been condemned by the NYU and NYU law administrations). In doing so, it said two things which should be juxtaposed -- not hard, since they remarkably come in successive paragraphs. First:

[The journal will boycott] Academic activities, projects, or publications “based on the false premise of symmetry/parity between the oppressors and the oppressed or that claim that both colonizers and colonized are equally responsible for the ‘conflict’ . . . .” We find such efforts to be “intellectually dishonest and morally reprehensible forms of normalization” that must be boycotted.

Second:

The academic boycott is an institutional boycott “[a]nchored in precepts of international law and universal human rights,” and “rejects on principle boycotts of individuals based on their identity (such as citizenship, race, gender, or religion) or opinion.” [emphasis added]

So the journal won't boycott a scholar based on his or her "opinions", except insofar as their "opinion" takes the form of proposing ill-defined "symmetry", in which case it "must be boycotted". Roger that.

In fairness, the journal is quoting from the PACBI guidelines here, so its incoherence is not fully its own.

Anyway. Among the calls of the journal is for NYU to shut down its longstanding collaboration with Tel Aviv University, and it says it will refuse to participate in any programs which are "convened or cosponsored" by TAU or other "complicit Israeli institutions" ("complicit", here, is a three-syllable word for "all", albeit with some inchoate amount of room for fudging attached). Query what would happen if NYU Law simply had all of its affiliates (no need to single out Tel Aviv University -- NYU Abu Dhabi, Madrid, and all the rest can play too) provide some pro forma contribution to cosponsor all its events for the year? Could be interesting.

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