Posted Thursday, July 11, 2002

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THE news yesterday was that the Israeli government has invaded and shut down by force of arms the entire Palestinian University in Jerusalem, one of the most moderate and respected instutitons of learning in the Middle East. -- David Irving comments

The Washington Post
Washington, July 10, 2002


UK Scholars Debate Boycott of Israel

By Jill Lawless
Associated Press Writer

David Irving comments:

THE news yesterday (July 10) was that the Israeli government has invaded and shut down by force of arms the entire Palestinian University in Jerusalem, one of the most moderate and respected instutitons of learning in the Middle East. Not a squeak of protest about this invasion of academic freedom from The Washington Post and The Daily Telegraph. Am I missing something?.

LONDON -- Hundreds of European academics have called a boycott of Israeli universities to protest treatment of the Palestinians - a move that has led to the firing of two Israelis from British publications and prompted allegations of discrimination and intellectual censorship.

Boycott supporters insist they're exerting political pressure on the Israeli government. But Miriam Shlesinger says she is a victim of academic discrimination. A lecturer in translation studies at Bar-Ilan University in Tel Aviv, Shlesinger was fired from a journal, The Translator, by an editor who supports the boycott.

"I was appointed as a scholar," Shlesinger said Wednesday. "But I was dismissed as an Israeli."

The online petition calls on academics not to "cooperate with official Israeli institutions, including universities" to protest Israel's "military reoccupation of the Palestinian territories in the West Bank and Gaza Strip" - a reference to Israel's military campaign begun in March in response to attacks by Palestinian suicide bombers.

The petition commits signatories not to travel to Israel for conferences or to "participate as referee in hiring or promotion decisions by Israeli universities," but says they should "continue to collaborate with, and host, Israeli scientific colleagues on an individual basis."

Steven Rose, a professor at Britain's Open University who helped start the campaign, likens it to the cultural and sporting sanctions imposed on apartheid South Africa.

"We are concerned with boycotting or refusing to collaborate with Israeli institutions," Rose told British Broadcasting Corp. radio. "Unfortunately institutions are expressed through individuals ... That means that some of our friends are actually going to suffer for it."

More than 750 academics - most from Europe but including 10 from Israel - have signed the petition or a related one calling for a moratorium on European Union cultural and scientific ties to Israel until Israel "abide(s) by U.N. resolutions and open(s) serious peace negotiations with the Palestinians."

A few useful links to look at and pass on: pictures illustrating Israeli military activities in the Middle East



Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the 1967 Mideast war. Peace negotiations that began with an interim accord in 1993 broke down in January 2001 when the Palestinians did not accept an Israeli proposal of a state in all of Gaza, more than 90 percent of the West Bank and a foothold in Jerusalem.

Ongoing violence has scuttled all peace efforts since then. Israel has imposed tough restrictions on the West Bank to stop suicide attacks on Israeli civilians, but the Palestinians charge that the Israeli measures are collective punishment.

Amnon Rubinstein, a former Israeli Minister of Education and former dean of Tel Aviv University law school, said the boycott was outrageous.

"There are many disputes and many accusations against many other states, and I haven't heard of a petition like this against any other country," he said.

Last month, Shlesinger was asked to step down from the editorial board of The Translator, a semiannual journal, by owner and editor Mona Baker. Baker, a professor at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, signed the Internet petition.

Baker also asked Tel Aviv University professor Gideon Toury to resign from the advisory board of another journal she owns, Translation Studies Abstracts. When Shlesinger and Toury refused, Baker fired them.

"It has nothing to do with our views," Shlesinger told The Associated Press. "We were dismissed because we have the wrong passports."

Baker's husband said she was unwilling to speak to the media Wednesday. Ken Baker - who is managing director of St. Jerome, the journals' publisher - said Toury and Shlesinger were fired not because they are Israeli, but because they work for Israeli universities.

"This is a boycott of Israeli academic institutions, " Baker said. "If an Israeli happened to be working for an American institution, or a British institution, or a Swedish institution, we'd have no problem with that whatsoever."

Baker was quoted by The Guardian newspaper as saying she fired the two academics based on "my interpretation of the boycott statement that I've signed."

Efraim Inbar, a professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University, criticized the boycott, saying: "I think between academics to boycott someone because of their government policies which they have no control over is disgraceful."

Britain's National Union of Students also condemned the boycott.

"To exclude people because of their nationality is abhorrent and nothing short of racism, and should be universally condemned," the union's anti-racism campaigner, Daniel Rose, was quoted as saying by The Guardian.

The boycott also has been condemned by Jewish groups such as the Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and petitions denouncing it have sprouted on the Internet. One, based at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, claims to have received 13,000 signatures, while another, set up in the United States and signed by more than 1,000 academics, calls the boycott an "alarming and non-constructive development."

"The chilling of contacts targets those in Israel who are reaching out to interact with the world community," it says.

That irony is not lost on Shlesinger, a left-winger and former head of Israel's chapter of Amnesty International who opposes current Israeli policies toward the Palestinians.

Israeli Prime Minister "Ariel Sharon is not going to end the occupation because Miriam Shlesinger has been thrown off the board of The Translator," she said. "Even a massive academic boycott is not going to cause the government to change its ways. It doesn't do anything except undermine science."

© 2002 The Associated Press

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All our yesterdays. . .

Daily Express headline, 24 Mar 1933

Daily Express headline, 24 Mar 1933

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