In Response to: ‘Dangerous Business’

Re “Dangerous Business” (On the Campus, Feb. 5): A boycott of Israeli academics might well be premature at this time. But if the European economic and U.N. pressure on Israel has no effect, then such a boycott by universities will become a moral obligation. Why? For the reason that universities exist within society. Universities teach young people. For both these reasons, a university is a moral institution. The PAW account implies that, somehow, academics live in a moral vacuum, to be protected from the ugly facts of reality. Thank goodness that students, also part of academia, have immediately understood otherwise, as their anti-Vietnam protests made clear in the 1960s and ’70s. The justification offered against a boycott is “academic engagement” or freedom of speech, but what it amounts to, on a practical level, is making addressing the Israeli problem a taboo subject. William Bowen *58’s quotation that “the consequences for institutions are just too serious” may reveal a more venal motivation; that is, that Princeton should not become involved because it might offend donors.

L.V. Watrous ’66