January 13

Charles Krauthammer’s Jan. 10 op-ed column, “How to fight academic bigotry,” was an excellent example of the yelling and name-calling that pass for political debate in the United States.

Let me be clear: I am an academic and I oppose boycotts of Israel. I do not believe civil debate or human rights are advanced by engaging one another less. But the loud charges of Mr. Krauthammer (and many others) that boycott supporters are bigots and anti-Semites are equally stifling of civil discourse about human rights, Israeli policy and the U.S. role in both topics.

How about we simply make high-quality arguments about why such boycotts are a bad idea and still manage to openly discuss Israeli-Palestinian issues (and the related U.S. role) without name-calling? Wouldn’t that make a nice change?

Stacy D. VanDeveer, Malden, Mass.

Charles Krauthammer asked why human rights organizations focus on Israel’s policies, given the human rights violations in countries such as Syria, North Korea and Iran. The answer is quite simple: While Syria, North Korea and Iran are already being held accountable with harsh international sanctions, the United States undergirds Israel’s human rights abuses with unconditional military aid and diplomatic support.

Mike Coogan, Arlington

The writer is legislative coordinator for the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.