Commentary: Is Academic Freedom a Casualty of the Gaza War?

Cary Nelson
Inside Higher Ed

Excerpt: On May 21, the day after a ceasefire was announced in the latest war between Gaza and Israel, a coalition of women’s and gender studies departments and programs made it clear that, for their part, the war of words, at least, will not stop. More than 100 such academic programs signed a statement condemning Israel’s “indiscriminate bombing” of Gaza, thereby endorsing the accusation that Israel’s conduct constitutes a war crime.

This national effort to organize an entire academic discipline -- its teaching, research, policies and administration -- around anti-Zionism represents a new and dangerous phase in the politicization of the academy. The individual faculty members in these departments have academic freedom. But for departments to officially adopt one position in such a debate is another matter. Once a department and its chief administrator sign on to a set of political positions, the academic freedom of those who disagree is compromised.