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.
April 25, 2009 at 9:58 am
“Perhaps [Barghouti will] learn something about what a university is while he has the privilege of studying there.” Or perhaps not.
April 25, 2009 at 12:33 pm
….er.. what exactly is the Arabic for “chutzpah”?
April 25, 2009 at 8:12 pm
“My studies at Tel Aviv University are a personal matter and I have no interest in commenting.”
Oh yes. He has a personal matter at the university. They have what he personally requires to do his job. For the rest of the little people else, there is the boycott.
“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.”
Cases like this are where I start regretting my absolutist stance on academic freedom and start reconsidering adding a “reciprocity” clause.
But yes, Tel Aviv is right to protect his academic freedom to study there. And David Hirsh has every right under academic freedom to call him out as a hypocrite. Somehow, I suspect Barghouti will disagree and insist that Hirsh’s criticism is NOT academic freedom but a move to “silence” him by supporting Tel Aviv’s right to not boot him… Go fig.
April 25, 2009 at 9:35 pm
Tel Aviv University is right to uphold Barghouti’s academic freedom. It’s the only tenable position they (or we) can take. The alternative both lays us open to the charge of hypocrisy and seals the legitimacy of the ‘boycott Israel’ movement.
But along with protecting Barghouti’s rights should go a determined effort to make the world see his — and by extension PACBI’s — hypocrisy, by any and all means available. If he doesn’t have the courage of his convictions, it’s not our job and not in our interest to help him hide the fact.
April 26, 2009 at 4:31 am
Barghouti is not alone. There are several professors and others at Israeli universities who actively support a boycott of Israeli academics. Almost all are Jews. Some expatriate Israeli academics also support the boycott, though I imagine they would like themselves to be personally exempted. Otherwise they could find themselves facing the paradoxical conundrum of how to boycott themselves.
Virtually every single argument used against Israel today originated in Israeli academic circles, starting with Magnes/Buber, to Matzpen, and from there to today’s Pappe, Schleim and their friends. It is also an obvious fact that Palestinian national doctrines and consciousness have borrowed heavily from Israeli national culture.
Dialectics are alive and kicking.
April 26, 2009 at 9:57 pm
Does anyone know what this muppet is studying at TAU?
I look forward to the day when Barghouti tries to attend a conference/publish an academic paper in the UK and finds himself boycotted by J Rose et al for collaborating with an Israeli institution (as if…)
April 27, 2009 at 5:04 pm
This account reminds me just a little of a tale of another Barghouti – Marwan, when tried (and convicted) of terrorism by an Israeli court. Marwan told the judge that he was not a terrorist, but a freedom fighter. The judge replied that freedom fighters don’t through bombs at civilians. Marwan’s response boiled down to “let’s not talk about that.”
November 2, 2009 at 2:03 pm
[…] institutions, he himself is studying for his PhD at Tel Aviv University. Although there is a campaign to persuade Tel Aviv University to expel Barghouti for his efforts to do it harm, the University refuses to do so since it does not discriminate […]
December 1, 2009 at 10:55 pm
[…] case for sanctions and boycott’. Perhaps somebody could ask Omar Barghouti to kindly explain about Tel Aviv again, for those of us who still can’t understand how he could demand that we boycott a really good […]
March 20, 2010 at 7:18 pm
Apparently he is studying something along the lines of Ethics… at least that is what I heard…
May 15, 2011 at 5:45 am
[…] still a few weeks before I leave for India, and perhaps – if he has some work to do on his PhD – he will consider coming to the Vineyard for some hummus, where we will be able to discuss this […]
October 29, 2013 at 7:15 pm
[…]  David Hirsh, “Do As I Say, Not As I Do,” Engage, April 25, 2009 at https://engageonline.wordpress.com/2009/04/25/omar-barghouti-do-as-i-say-not-as-i-do/ […]
June 20, 2014 at 3:46 pm
Whether he goes to study there or not that’s not the meat of the issue and doesn’t have the privilege of dominating the discourse .is the state of Israel mistreating other human beings yes or no ?