Academic boycotts on Israel are failing in the US, despite concerted efforts by the BDS movement to isolate the Jewish state.
A new study shows that the movement to boycott Israel academically is simply not working.
The Israel on Campus Coalition released a study last week demonstrating that academic collaborations between Israel and the United States increased by 45 percent from 2006 to 2015.
The rate of academic collaboration between American and Israeli professors has dramatically increased in the last 10 years, despite organized efforts on college campuses and by academic bodies to boycott Israeli academics.
In 2006, there were 3,439 articles in academic journals whose authors included one researcher from an institution in each of the two countries, while in 2015 that number soared to 4,979—an increase of nearly 45 percent.
The highest number of joint US-Israel publications during 2006-2015 was in the field of Medicine, followed by Physics and Astronomy, Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology, Computer Sciences, Mathematics, Engineering, Agriculture and Biological Sciences, Social Sciences, Neuroscience and Material Sciences, according to the study, which was carried out by the Israel on Campus Coalition and the Technion’s Samuel Neaman Institute for National Policy Research.
Many of the collaborations involved faculty at prestigious universities.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) led the way with 1,835 such collaborations over the time period studied; more than 1,000 were with Tel Aviv University alone. Also near the top of the list were the University of California-Berkeley, Columbia and Harvard.
Many schools showed a dramatic increase in joint research with Israeli academics. The University of Washington, Iowa State, MIT, and Boston University increased their joint research rate by more than 300 percent, and the University of Texas at Austin reached 442 percent.
The number of Stanford University-Israel joint publications has increased from 79 in 2006 to 176 in 2014. Since 2008 the number of annual joint publications was relatively constant, with an average of 169 joint Stanford-Israel publications per year. In 2015 the number of joint publications increased to 263, mainly due to an increase in the number of joint publications in the scientific field of Physics and Astronomy.
Positive Progress in the Face of Anti-Israel Activism
This positive trend progressed despite resolutions by several American academic bodies to boycott Israeli academia.
In recent years, the Association for Asian American Studies, the American Studies Association, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association and the National Women’s Studies Association approved boycott measures.
In November 2015, a meeting of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) overwhelmingly endorsed a motion supporting a boycott of Israeli universities.
However, BDS also suffered a series of failures in this realm. Earlier this month, the Association of American Universities (AAU), one of America’s largest and most prestigious academic bodies, reaffirmed its opposition to boycotts on Israel and BDS initiatives.
The president of New York University (NYU) recently assailed the BDS movement, slamming the global initiative in a recent interview as “an affront to academic freedom.”
Speaking to the student newspaper NYU Local on a host of campus issues, Andrew Hamilton said the anti-Israel movement aims to “restrict…the flow of students or faculty from universities anywhere” in engaging with Israeli institutions.”
“[If] we are going to defend what we do in research, in areas of political science, in areas of gun violence, in areas of reproductive health, if we’re going to defend that to our own government, we will certainly defend that when it comes to our engagement with other governments, and so for me that speaks to BDS,” he said.
The BDS movement promotes financial, academic and cultural boycotts against Israel, ostensibly as a nonviolent struggle against the so-called “Israeli occupation.”
Critics say its activities are a modern form of anti-Semitism and that its true objective is to destroy the State of Israel.