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April 29, 2005

British Intellectuals Protest AUT’s Boycott

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Sue Blackwell of Birmingham University

While author of the motion to boycott Israeli Universities Sue Blackwell called the British Association of University Teacher’s vote to adopt the boycott a “Victory!...to academic intifada,” other British intellectuals are highly critical of the decision.

Melanie Philips quotes several thoughtful responses to the boycott including one by Howard Jacobson from the Evening Standard in which he explains the connection between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.

One thing is clear: in the case of Israel, as in countless instances in Jewish history, an exception has been made of Jews…the vilification of Israel of which the academic boycott is but the latest example rests upon contextlessness, Israel’s every act an unprovoked aggression, at every turn the doer and not the done to, all mention of war waged by the other side expunged. Here too I recognise the age-old strategies of antisemitism… Like the Jews who founded it in their image Israel — alone among nations — stands outside history. But then for Sue Blackwell the argument of history is only circular anyway. It is no defence of Israel that it has had to fight against being driven into the sea, because the sea, in her view, is where it belong.

University of Liverpool mathematics professor Adam Logan rejects the resolution because:

It is connected with a movement that promotes the destruction of a sovereign, independent country; because it is inconsistent with the basic principles of academic freedom; because it is based on statements of fact which are incorrect, strongly contestable, or irrelevant; and because it was adopted by an undemocratic procedure.

The Jerusalem Post reports that fifteen academics from the Board of the London-based Leo Baeck Institute signed a letter denouncing the AUT's decision and noting the organization's hypocrisy and double standard.

Israeli universities, notably the three targets of the boycott, represent the best ideals of the university as a place of tolerance and the free exchange of views, in which Jews, Muslims and Christians study and work together.

Meanwhile, Palestinian Universities continue to preach hatred of Israel. On the day of student council elections, students at Bir Zeit University passed out leaflets glorifying terrorism:

The banner of resistance and jihad—our banner
A banner that rejects humiliation, disrespect and defeatism
The banner of loyalty to the blood of the shahids (martyrs) and the prisoners and to the suffering of the millions
The banner of loyalty to Jerusalem , to the land and to the refugee camps
Being a terrorist is an honor for you

Will Sue Blackwell and the AUT urge a boycott of Palestinian schools promoting terrorism against Israel?

Posted by CameraBlog at April 29, 2005 04:52 PM