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Still no calls for boycott as Turkish academic purge continues

Still no calls for boycott as Turkish academic purge continues

Boycotters of Israeli academia strangely silent.

The purge of Turkish academia has been extensive, as we documented in several posts since the July 15, 2016 failed coup.

That purge met with some letters of criticism from American academic groups, but no calls for boycotts of Turkish academia of the sort that are pushed aggressively against Israel. We noted that hypocrisy previously:

If you thought that Erdogan was done with the purge, you would be wrong. It continued this week, Turkey detains another 15 academics over use of ‘suspected’ mobile app:

Fifteen academics who were claimed to be using ByLock, a smart phone messaging application, were detained on Saturday as part of a witch-hunt targeting the Gülen movement.

Detention warrants issued for 23 faculty members from Turkey’s Ege University. While 15 of them have been so far detained during operations in İzmir, Manisa and Ankara provinces, the remaining eight are still wanted.

Turkish prosecutors claim that ByLock is the top communication tool among members of the Gülen movement, which the government accuses of masterminding a July 15 coup attempt. Critics, however, have blasted the government for detaining thousands simply for using a mobile application.

More than 5,070 academics have been dismissed by the government as part of a witch-hunt targeting the Gülen movement by means of a recent decree issued under the state of emergency declared on July 20.

As for attempts to organize an academic boycott of Turkey, I still cannot find any evidence of it. The dozens of organizations signing a July 21, 2016 Letter of protest appear to have moved on.

There was an August 19, 2016 letter from the Middle East Studies Association (which organized the July 21 letter) which asked John Kerry to raise the issue with Erdogan:

On July 21, MESA was joined by over fifty other academic associations in a statement calling for Turkey’s government to end “moves to dismantle much of the structure of Turkish higher education through purges, restrictions, and assertions of central control.” At that time, Amy Newhall, executive director of MESA, noted that this statement showed unity across disparate academic organizations “coming together around the situation in Turkey because we recognize an existential threat to independent academic freedom across all disciplines.” Since that statement the situation of academics and universities in Turkey has deteriorated, with the numbers of suspensions, investigations and detentions of academics growing at an alarming rate. The existential threat to academic freedom in Turkey has only increased.

We write now to echo our statement of July 21st and reiterate our dismay at the suspensions and investigations of academics, the closure of universities, the blanket restrictions impacting higher education and the cumulative effects of these actions on academic freedom and the autonomy of higher education in Turkey. We respectfully request that you raise these serious concerns during your upcoming visit to the country, particularly in meetings with representatives of the Turkish government, including President Erdoğan and Prime Minister Yıldırım.

A Petition signed by almost 10,000 people doesn’t call for a boycott.

The group at the American Anthropological Association pushing the boycott of Israeli academia are renewing their call for an Israel boycott despite losing a membership vote on the issue last spring. As to a boycott of Turkish academia, not so much.

The American Studies Association, the largest faculty group to endorse the Israel boycott, does not have any programming for its annual meeting in Denver in November on boycotting Turkey. But they do have programming on boycotting Israel, including in the sports field. ASA may not care much about the purge of Turkish academia, but it is concerned with turkey processing plants:

This panel explores the theme of home/not home by focusing on place and the ways in which it is imbued with sociopolitical power and meaning, including labor, migrational flows, nomadic movements, and race. Place speaks to the physical space of home itself, but also the ways in which relationships of power demand that subjects encounter and inhabit space differently. These papers discuss discrete spaces that involve more than home itself, but gesture toward the conditions under which belonging is felt. Panelists consider the shifting rhetoric of place, space, and time, arguing that attention to place is critical in understanding how power moves, settles, and makes legible home/not home. Through these sites, this panel explores power relationships through home/not home, considering labor time in capitalism’s “unhomely economy,” a South Dakota turkey plant and its refugee labor, racial inequality in Ferguson, Missouri, and nomadic drift and the political possibilities of (un)belonging.

Perhaps there is organizing going on below the surface. But that’s not how the Israel boycotts are organized. There are petitions, and annual meeting sessions, and formal resolutions. I’ve yet to find any evidence of that anywhere.

Indeed, few if any of the Israel boycotters express any concern by lack of academic freedom at Palestinian universities as a result of political crackdowns by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.

There also are no calls for a boycott of Palestinian universities, despite a horrible record of suppressing academic fred

… the most serious threats to academic freedom in Gaza and the West Bank come from Palestinian society itself. The BDS movement in the United States has focused its moral outrage on such matters as foreign faculty members being denied entry to teach in the West Bank, though most often they simply face delayed entry by Israeli authorities. Actual denials can easily be appealed to Israeli courts. Are not Palestinian attempts to kill Mohammed Dajani and Abdul Sattar Qassem for their politically incorrect speech more serious? Do not the gangs of student enforcers trained by Hamas to intimidate, harass, and assault dissident faculty members represent a greater threat to academic freedom than any IDF practices? There is little hope for dialogue with those unwilling to answer these questions in the affirmative.

I oppose academic boycotts, so I’m not calling for a boycott of Turkish universities. But I am calling the Israel boycotters liars when they say they are motivated by a supposed lack of academic freedom in Israeli universities or by the way Israel treats Palestinian universities (of which there were none prior to 1967).


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good enough morgan | October 5, 2016 at 11:20 pm

Poultry, we have to conclude, fall within intersectionality. Actual (literally!) repression of academic freedom, not so much.
In fairness, here the MESA is acting like an academic organization, not like the captive of a political movement.

Turkey is going down the same road as Iran… IOW, a theocracy.

I sure that the clown in the white hut approves heartily!

BECAUSE the Academics approve of this kind of totalitarian scum.


What Erdogan has done in Turkey is exactly what obama would have done if it weren’t for our Constitution. We know he has hated the American history of our founding fathers and has never forgiven any of them for being slave owners. He used the agencies of the federal government against the people and he has lied and manipulated the msm like a puppet master. He has brought our military to its lowest and most demoralized level since the Civil war. He has tried to circumvent the Constitution on many occasions and wouldn’t hesitate to abrogate it entirely if he could. That is why there is no outcry from the WH. Hell, he admires and envies Erdogan!

Huh – Erdogan is doing just what Hitler (and Mao) did.

And the “usual suspects” are silent. As usual.

Now we know why Nazi-ism was able to work as long as it did – enough people in polite society hated the “Others” as much as those in power did.