The Volokh Conspiracy

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An Embarrassing Letter on Current Events from Academic Social and Personality Psychologists


The letter, which as of this writing has over 200 hundred signatories, starts off like this:

Social and Personality Psychologists on Student Protests for Justice in Palestine
We are a group of faculty from various demographic, religious, and ethnic backgrounds who are trained in the methods and practice of social and personality psychology. Although there are no doubt many topics on which we disagree, we are united in this call to listen to, engage with, and protect our students as they protest the mass killings of Palestinian civilians—which the International Court of Justice of the United Nations determined "could amount to genocide."

The words in quotations do not appear in the ICJ's opinion. The closest the Court comes to saying anything like that is to say that "at least some of the acts and omissions alleged by South Africa to have been committed by Israel in Gaza appear to be capable of falling within the provisions of the (Genocide) Convention." The Court, however, made no finding as to whether South Africa's allegations were true, and the Genocide Convention bars actions that are not "genocide," such as incitement to genocide. The only time the words "amount to genocide" without the "could" appear in the opinion is in the court's summary of South Africa's allegations.

It says a lot about the decline of intellectual integrity in academia that so many are willing to sign a statement without due diligence to ensure that what they are signing is accurate, and that whomever drafted the letter either did not bother to check that the letter was accurate, or knew it was inaccurate but did not care.