BMJ Proposes a Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions

Joining a few other British institutions, the BMJ is pollings its members and others as to whether it would be proper to institute a boycott against Israel. At present, the answer is overwhelmingly NO.

Reasons cited include:

  • Israelis incredible contributions in the field of science, invention, medical research etc.
  • Israel being the only democracy in the Middle East
  • The absurdity of singling out only Israel, and not Sudan, Iran, Iraq, etc. etc. and much more.

With little hope that the organization will actually listen, Setting the Record Straight lists its own readers’ comments in hopes that others will read and remember…hatred and bias have no place in the world of intellect and academia. We challenge BMJ to remember and to examine their own reasons for pushing this boycott.

Should we consider a boycott of Israeli academic institutions?


Israel is foremost in the world in Medical innovation. Arab patients in Israeli hospitals are treated no differently from Israeli patients. In my hospital in Netanya Israel There are Arab doctors and nurses. There is no honest reason for a boycott, only hate.


Most of the best and advanced research comes from the hard work and diligence that Israeli acedemia put out each year. Should we be foolish to ignore these hard working people, it would be the same as a dying man choosing to ignore a lifesaving heart surgery because of the race or creed of the surgeon operating on him. Personally, I am not a jew or an Israeli, but I have high regard for a nation of people who go up against terrorists every day and still find the time to produce the most qualified medical and technological research the world has to offer. They have the most Nobel Prizes then any other peoples of the world. Considering how small the Jewish nation is in comparison to the worlds population. I stand up for them and cheer them on. We should emulate them, not berate them or boycott the very foundations that they create to help us in our daily lives. It is like biting the hand that feeds us. A foolish move.


A boycott is a one sided solution to a two sided issue. If Israel is the only country the approach is being used against then the principle is racist/antisemitic.


Why boycott Israel and not the many countries who are not observing Geneva conventions or are listed by the International Red Cross as not following human rights.


Because a boycott of Israeli academic institutions is just plain wrong. It will be an anti-Semitic action by its nature if not in its intent. You would block those who agree with your political views as well as those who disagree with your views. If you want to boycott, then boycott based on principles. Boycott institutions from countries committing genocide like Sudan and Congo. Boycott institutions from countries that have unequal treatment for men and women – including beatings when women step out of line – like Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the Gaza Strip. Boycott institutions from repressive regimes like Cuba, Russia, Belarus, Libya. Boycott institutions from countries that do not let non-ethnic natives become citizens like…Germany. Do you see how idiotic it is to boycott just Israel while ignoring the others.


To single out Israeli academics among all the parties in the Middle-East conflict is unfair. Israel is the most Western of the countries in the region, and most sensitive to this type of boycott. But the behavior of Syria and Iran, and groups like Hezbollah and Hamas are far worse. The University and Colleges Union has no leverage against other groups and countries in the region- but that is no reason to single out Israeli academics.


I cannot believe that people as highly educated as doctors and medical researchers, from Great Britain no less, could be so ignorant and malevolent as to boycott their Israeli colleagues. I am thoroughly disgusted. M. Grossman, Ph.D. Los Angeles, CA


Israeli academics in general and the medical profession in Israel in particular have always worked to ensure the civil and human rights of Israelis and Palestinians whether Jew or Arab. Much of the news reported from Israel is inaccurate and any decision about a boycott would be based on misinformation and prejudice. If the BMJ were to restrict itself purely to medicine it would do more good for Arabs and Jews because when it comes to the hospital or the clinic all the patients are treated by all the doctors equally. Some of the doctors’ knowledge does come from academic links and journals. Boycotting those links would just harm patients.


I feel the boycott of Iraeli academics and academic institutions will not actually achieve anything. In many respects it appears to be anti-semetic – why pick on Israel when other countries commit far greater crimes against humanity (Zimbabwe, China, North Korea the USA to name a few). One needs to ask how much influence academics have over government. The answer is very little. Thus – a boycott will achieve nothing except to alienate those individuals in Israel who could make a real difference.


Taking sides in a longstanding political and ideologic battle is not academic. It is pure and simple bias, hatred, and yes truly antisemitic (or more specifically anti-Jewish). Singly out Israel, the only real democracy (amid several nations which are fascist dictatorships that abuse their own people-including the palestinian authority and Hamas- deny their people any rights, threaten them with death or dismemberment if they speak anything but the party line, send their women and children to blow themselves up) Israel has done more for science, medicine, technology, the arts, advancing techniques that have saved lives than any other nation given its population size. IN addition, they have consistently tried to broach peace agreements-only to be met with more war, hatred and killing from their Arab and yes, muslim neighbors. Fundamental islam and wahabiism is at the forefront of this hatred and violence-perhaps that would be a better use of their boycott and their time to fight this growing movement in the world (they are the true enemies of a democratic world)


Because a boycott of Israeli academic institutions is antithetical to the principles of academic freedom and free discourse. To artificially suppress the opinion or viewpoint in an argument, conflict, or academic discussion is to render any resulting conclusion biased, unfair, and inaccurate. To boycott Israel in any way is to not only unduly push a particular political agenda, but to destroy any chance of fair representation in the political arena. The boycott also makes the base assumption that Israeli academics not only unconditionally support the actions of their government, but that they have some affect upon those actions and may play a controlling roll in them. To boycott Israeli academic institutions is to unfairly punish people who have little or nothing to do with the actions that the boycott seeks to protest. It also may cause undue harm to parties completely uninvolved in the Israel-Palestinian conflict. The advances of Israelis in the fields of medicine, computer technology, agriculture, and other peaceful, non-political spheres would be affected by an academic boycott. This may deprive the world of advances in these fields that may improve or even save lives.


yet again,the bmj uses its pages to allow a “debate” over the policies of israel,the only jewish state in the world. the idea of the academic boycott and all other boycotts by trade unions is a chance for those who want to destroy the only democratic country in the middle east. the arabs have failed to destroy it by force;that is still their stated aim and now we have the odious comparison of israel as an apartheid state.
if the boycotters had any any decency they would not use computers with intel chips made in israel,or use drugs developed in israel.
i am concerned that the bmj,a respectable scientific journal,has dumbed itself down to a poll that allows anyone to vote and to vote as often as one wants on a subject that does not deserve the publicity generated.
it would appear that the editor has not learned from the uproar caused by previous anti-israel and anti-jewish articles from derek summerfield et al (quoted yet again by hickey)
Competing interests: i am a jew and a doctor.i am sick of the likes of tom hickey being given a platform for their racist anti-semitic views in a respectable journal


Tom Hickey portrays a Palestinian nation which is subugated and oppressed. He paints an Israeli society where there is intimidation of anyone who dares oppose state policy. He glosses over genocides in Darfur and government policy intended at causing mass death by starvation in Zimbabwe. He places any equivocation of anti-Israelism and anti-semitism as an attempt to international stiffle debate. He uses these as his argument in favour of boycotting the academia of Israel and then tries to create a world in which this boycott would only affect institutions and not individuals.
Tom Hickey is clearly an articulate author who manges to constructively build his arguments into a natural conclusion.
Tom Hickey fails to acknowledge the huge amounts of international aid regularly passed to the Palestinians, more per head than any other UN recipient group. Tom Hickey fails to acknowledge that contributions to this aid was withehld by both the USA and EU for many years because of the abuse of this money to use it towards military objectives rather than the humanitarianism it was intended for.
Tom Hickey tries to portray Israeli society as intimidated against free speach by an authoritarian soviet style leadership where nothing could be further form the truth. Indeed it is this free speech which allows internal objections to government policies to reach the international arena.
It is unequivocal. Israel is a democratic inclusive society which has been subjected to attrition and war and state sponsored terrorism from its neighbouring states since its independence in 1948. Israel is not protected by the comfort zone of seas and friendly like-minded nations from those who are hostile to its existence in the way England or the USA are protected.
Israel is not a perfect nation state. Mistakes are made and, as anywhere, individuals exist who abuse the trust their position expects of them. Israel has an internal infrastructure that allows for decisions and actions of its officials to be challenged and, when found guilty punished.
This is very much unlike the Palestinian militias. Tom Hinkley, when did you last here a report of a suicide bomber being condemned for blowing up the wrong target and creating civilian casualties? or a rocket attack across a border being targetted on appartment blocks and not an army camp?
Israel has to take steps which are fair reasonable and proportionate to defend its democracy and its freedoms just as England is doing in its way now. Tom Hinkley’s arguments are built on castles of sand. That sand will be washed away by those individuals determined on extending their perverted unchallengable interpretations of religion and politics into the worlds which allow Tom Hinkley the freedoms to mix with peoples of other races cultures and thoughts that oppose his own. They will hitch hike onto his stance and debate and, when they acheive their targets ignore without compunction or feeling his protestations at their excesses.
Competing interests: I am a Jew I am a doctor of medicine I am a GP Program Director


have no objection to the BMJ’s pages being used for critical discussion about the merits or otherwise of an academic boycott of Israel. However, I continue to be baffled as to why it is only Israel that receives all this attention. If the criterion is “non-Arab country with worst recent record in relation to the Palestinians”, then Israel is indeed the probable winner. But I would respectfully suggest that you give a proper airing to a number of different possible criteria by which we might fairly and squarely decide who to boycott:
1. Middle Eastern country with worst track record in relation to Palestinians (possibly not Israel).
2. Middle Eastern country that has killed the most Palestinians (not Israel).
3. Middle Eastern country that most disenfranchises people living and working within its borders (not Israel)
4. Middle Eastern country with worst track record in denying rights to Arab women and children (not Israel).
5. States that have killed the most Arabs latterly (we might just have to boycott ourselves and the USA).
6. States that have killed the most foreign nationals latterly(time to look in the mirror again)
7. States that most brazenly abuse human rights (lets see if we have the courage to boycott China now)
So I have no problem with discussing a boycott of Israel. But if we discuss only Israel, then the charge of anti-semitism is both inevitable and also well deserved.


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