A recent survey of 513 university scholars who study the Middle East found that more than half of them oppose holding or attending academic conferences and workshops in Israel. Miriam Elman comments:
The survey findings show that the vast majority of these Middle East scholars support holding academic workshops in the UAE (65 percent), Qatar (80 percent), and Turkey (80 percent). The latter result is particularly striking, given the Erdogan government’s unconscionable attacks on higher education and large-scale purges of academics in recent years, which have basically morphed the country’s university system into an arm of the state.
There is no movement among Middle East scholars to boycott Turkey. By contrast, an overwhelming majority of them—91 percent—harbor such an intense hostility toward Israel that they support boycotts targeting it, although a third claim that they oppose boycotting Israeli academic institutions.
It is ironic that Middle East scholars who so strongly favor boycotting Israel also complain bitterly about the silencing of their own speech, even as they work hard to stifle the voices and curtail the academic freedom of Israeli academics. According to the new survey, nearly 60 percent of Middle East scholars report “treading carefully” when speaking out about the region. But when it comes to discussing Israel, it is hard to take this grievance seriously.
There are no professional risks for faculty who passionately advocate against Israel—especially when their senior colleagues are doing so. . . . The reality is that today it is Jewish faculty who increasingly feel a need to self-censor and to hide their attachments to Israel in order to avoid professional costs.