The ivory tower behind the Apartheid Wall
If a boycott of academic institutions is considered unfair, what does one call the methodical destruction of an educational system? If Patry warns about potential "acts of exclusion" against Israeli academics, isn't he concerned that right now, as we speak, all but a handful of Palestinian students are excluded from Israeli institutions and that even within Palestine, the Israelis exclude Palestinian students from their own universities by refusing to issue them the necessary travel permits? Might he see the deportation and nineteen-year exile of his colleague, Birzeit University president Hanna Nasir, as an "act of exclusion"?
My own university principal, Karen Hitchcock, is committed to "defend the freedom of individuals to study, teach and carry out research without fear of harassment, intimidation, or discrimination." Do these "individuals" include Palestinians, one wonders? If so, is she prepared to address the erection of checkpoints outside of universities, such as the one outside of Birzeit that resulted in a 20-40 percent reduction in class attendance in 2001 according to Human Rights Watch? The philosopher and critic Judith Butler argues, "If the exercise of academic freedom ceases or is actively thwarted, that freedom is lost, which is why checkpoints are and should be an issue for anyone who defends a notion of academic freedom."
Margaret Aziza Pappano, Associate Professor of English at Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario
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