"My support of a boycott should be read as a desperate call forhelp," says Anat Matar, a philosophy lecturer at Tel Aviv University.
As an Israeli academic who supports the boycott of her own
country's academic institutions, she admits that her position is unpopular.
"Most of my colleagues disagree with me: some because they don't share my political views, others because they think that supporting theboycott is pragmatically mistaken."
But she regards the boycott as an important "symbolic act" that,together with similar actions affecting other areas of Israeli life,could effect a change in the country's policies.
"Israel is regarded by its Western allies as an open, liberaldemocracy. It is not," she said. "For more than two thirds of its existence, Israel has been occupying the Palestinian territories and,in recent years, the severity of this occupying regime has been greatly intensified."
Instead of being bad for Israel, she believes boycotts may encourage Israel to change its current direction which, she says, will see it"bring a disaster upon itself and its neighbours".
She adds: "An objection to the academic boycott we often hear is that Israeli academics are liberal and oppose the occupation, hence it would be unjust to boycott them. This is simply not true."