This open letter by Jeff Sacks, in response to Anthony Apia\’s recent blog on the Commons, appeared in the online journal Jadaliyya: http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/25811/an-open-letter-to-kwame-anthony-appiah-president-o
With all of the talk about academic freedom, what is this “freedom” that we are talking about, if it is not a freedom to live, freely, and free from colonial and settler colonial forms of violence? I would be the last one to affirm the simple freedom of the sort of beings that we are—who among us, after all, is simply free, from our relations to others, from the past, and from more than one past, from language, and, indeed, from the sorts of violence I have just mentioned?—and yet the ongoing conditions of destruction, and of lived Apartheid, compel a response. Is it not time that we communicate to Israeli Jews, and, more broadly, to supporters of Israel and of Zionism, even as I would hardly wish to suggest that these terms fully overlap, and that they are not, themselves, cut through with difference, and differences, that a political and social life based upon the suppression and destruction of Palestinian lives is not acceptable? And does not the boycott of Israeli academic institutions communicate that? Does it not communicate that there is, minimally, for Palestinians, a lived reality of unfreedom, and that one dimension of that unfreedom is a massive disruption of the freedom of academic and intellectual life in Palestine? And do we not, in affirming the boycott, also affirm our refusal of the forms of violence that perpetuate this lived reality? Is it not the case that the boycott is not a threat but a gift—a gift to those Israelis, with whom we are enabled to share the thought that their own political and social lives, and the lives of others, are being shaped by an ideology and a practice, Zionism, that transforms them into colonizers, and that affirms, day after day, the killing of Palestinians? Ought we not, then, assume our own freedom and intervene in this way?