Omar Barghouti is one of the leaders of the campaign for the boycott of Israeli universities. He is a founder of PACBI, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural boycott of Israel. He says that the boycott of Israel is “a justified form of international intervention… [and] an imperative one as well”. He spends his time hectoring anyone who has anything to do with Israeli academia, telling them that they are collaborating with a racist and apartheid regime.
But Barghouti has decided not to boycott Israeli academia himself. He is now enrolled to study for a PhD at Tel Aviv University. What is “imperative” for others is, apparently, not quite so “imperative” for himself.
When an Israeli newspaper asked him for comment he said: “My studies at Tel Aviv University are a personal matter and I have no interest in commenting.”
There is a campaign to persuade Tel Aviv University to expel Barghouti, who wishes the institution nothing but harm, and who routinely libels it around the world.
But the libels are not true. Contrary to the lies of the boycott campaign, Tel Aviv University is a real university and not some kind of ideological or pro-apartheid institution. So of course Tel Aviv University does not discriminate against students on the grounds of ethnicity or on the gounds of political commitment and will not expel Barghouti, no matter how many people are outraged by Barghouti’s hypocrisy.
Tel Aviv University is right to uphold Barghouti’s academic freedom. Perhaps he’ll learn something about what a university is while he has the privilege of studying there.