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Kemp, M. (2005). On: A boycott by passport [Editorial]. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 86(2):551-553.

(2005). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 86(2):551-553

On: A boycott by passport [Editorial]

Martin Kemp

Dear Sirs,

Gabbard and Williams (2002) ‘condemn recent actions that have denied academic freedom to individuals solely on the basis of their nationality’. This refers to the dismissal of two Israeli board members of two UK publications following calls for an academic boycott of Israel.

Limited space prevents anything but a condensed response, and the following comments substitute for a reasoned analysis of the original editorial.

1.   Boycotts were advocated by freedom-loving institutions to isolate Nazi Germany and they were used to effect against racism in South Africa. Principles are not always an absolute priority; therefore, it is not a high-minded reaffirmation, but a debate to explore the balance of evils that is required.

2.   The editorial disdains partisanship in the Middle East, presuming rather than demonstrating moral equality, which is an effective form of bias. We, the psychoanalytic community, speak from within countries that have a responsibility for developments in Israel/Palestine, though we do not suffer the consequences.

3.   By counterpoising the boycott with a call to research the ‘deep-seated sources of hatred and prejudice’, the editorial implies that the situation has primarily psychic roots. Illustrating how unconscious conflicts become active in interethnic struggles is useful, but ‘psychologising’ that diverts detailed attention from who did what to whom is not.

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