« Road Map Double Standard — AFP Style | Main | New New York Times Road Map Confusion »

April 25, 2005

Boycott of Israeli Universities

While this piece of news isn't directly related to Mideast news reporting, it's hard to believe that the decision isn't to a large degree a result of hypercritical treatment of Israel in the British media.

From today's Jerusalem Post:

Haifa and Bar-Ilan, universities targeted in a boycott by Britain's biggest university teachers' union, condemned the decision on Monday, calling it shameful and a blow to academic freedom. ...

The [Association of University Teachers] union, which approved the decision at its annual conference on Friday, said the two Israeli universities had undermined Palestinian rights and academic freedom. It said it would soon issue guidance to its members on what the boycott would forbid.

Sally Hunt
General Secretary
Association of University Teachers

Later in the article, a silver lining:

Jewish AUT members have begun to secede from the union, and calls for mass resignations have been issued.

In addition, Al-Quds University in eastern Jerusalem also came out against the academic boycott of Israel.

"We are informed by the principle that we should seek to win Israelis over to our side, not to win against them," said the university, which is headed by Dr. Sari Nusseibeh.

"Therefore...we believe it is in our interest to build bridges, not walls; to reach out to the Israeli academic institutions, not to impose another restriction or dialogue-block on ourselves." ...

Both Israeli universities said they are beacons of diversity in Israel, welcoming students and faculty of all religious, political and ethnic backgrounds. Haifa University, for instance, said 20 percent of its student body are Arab Israelis.

(One wonders if the AUT will boycott these Arab Israelis, too, or only focus on Jews?)

UPDATE: A separate JPost article quotes a University of Haifa statement regarding the boycott:

In lieu of evidence to support the singling out of Israeli academia, the authors of this campaign have chosen to adopt a three-year-old urban legend. We are astounded by the fact that the AUT never requested our response prior to adopting their resolution, and did not allow our position to be presented by members of the AUT who are familiar with the facts.

The case against Israeli academia, in general, and the University of Haifa in particular, is devoid of empirical evidence and violates the principle of due process. Driven by a prior and prejudicial assumption of guilt, the AUT has refused to confuse itself with facts.

Posted by GI at April 25, 2005 08:06 PM