Two separate events debating the American Studies Association’s Israeli boycott were held Feb. 26, separated by one hour and in rooms across the hall from each other. Instead of playing tug-of-war, both sides should begin dialogue and end this academic standstill.
Anti-boycott speaker William Jacobson requested equal time to present his viewpoint during the pro-boycott speaker Eric Cheyfitz’s lecture. When he was offered five minutes instead of equal time, Jacobson declined and approached Ithaca College Hillel to arrange an independent event.
Some boycott supporters have been critical of Jacobson and Hillel for holding a separate event, but they did not openly respond to Jacobson’s argument. Hillel’s international policy holds that the organization cannot work with any groups that support boycotts against Israel, so by hosting Jacobsen’s event, Hillel did all it could to foster dialogue about the boycott.
Both parties must do all they can to join in an open and equal dialogue about the occupation. If the current partisanship continues, argument about the boycott, and by proxy the conflict itself, will continue indefinitely.