In the wake of Operation Cast Lead, a group of American university professors has for the first time launched a national campaign calling for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel.
While Israeli academics have grown used to such news from Great Britain, where anti-Israel groups several times attempted to establish academic boycotts, the formation of the United States movement marks the first time that a national academic boycott movement has come out of America. Israeli professors are not sure yet how big of an impact the one-week-old movement will have, but started discussing the significance of and possible counteractions against the campaign.
â€œAs educators of conscience, we have been unable to stand by and watch in silence Israelâ€™s indiscriminate assault on the Gaza Strip and its educational institutions,â€ the U.S. Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel stated in its inaugural press release last Thursday. Speaking in its mission statement of the â€œcensorship and silencing of the Palestine question in U.S. universities, as well as U.S. society at large,â€ the group follows the usual pattern of such boycotts, calling for â€œnon-violent punitive measuresâ€ against Israel, such as the implementation of divestment initiatives, â€œsimilar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era.â€