May 23, 2022

Why Is the West OK With Iran’s Abuse of Academic Institutions?

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by Farhad Rezaei, Senior Research Fellow

Earlier this month, the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) passed a resolution calling for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) of Israeli universities. The organization accused the Israeli institutions of higher learning of “restricting freedom of movement for Palestinians … harassing Palestinian professors, teachers, and students … and maintaining inequality in educational resources between Palestinians and Israelis.”

MESA is the latest in a long line of professional associations, colleges, and student bodies to argue that Israeli academics need to be sanctioned because they “perpetuate the oppression” against the Palestinians.

At the same time, the Western academic community is virtually silent about the pivotal role that Iranian universities have played in helping the theocratic regime in Tehran destabilize the Middle East and the world. The regime has also used academic conferences to lure foreigners for its infamous “hostage diplomacy,” and has made little effort to cover up its extensive relationship with academia.