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Policy

Boycotts Work

September 21, 2009 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 87, ISSUE 38

Arguing that several comparisons of Israel with apartheid South Africa represented bigoted logic, Alexander Greer and Zafra Lerman alerted readers that 190 faculty members and student groups at U.S. colleges and universities had endorsed an academic boycott of Israel (C&EN, April 27, page 2).

I'd like to make several points: First, a boycott of apartheid South Africa, which extended to their Olympic team, was criticized at the time because South African universities were bastions of liberal thought. Second, the current boycott of Israeli academic functions has widespread support in Britain and other European countries. And third, the local activists I personally know who are involved in the boycott effort (which extends to suppliers of Israeli military equipment, Motorola, and Caterpillar) are mostly Jewish.

Recently, the Carmel Academic Center, in Haifa, Israel, was the subject of an exposé on Israeli television. The school closed its accountancy concentration just over a week before classes were to begin because only three Jewish students were registered. The rest were Arab. The entrepreneur supporting the for-profit center explained that the school was not publicly funded, and they couldn't allow the perception to develop that it was an Arab one.

David Mendenhall
Tarrytown, N.Y.

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