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May 03, 2005

Wall Street Journal Exposes the Bogus Basis of AUT's Boycott

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Ilan Pappe

A commentary in the Wall Street Journal (May 2/05) by Haifa University's Fania Oz-Salzberger, a self-described peacenik, exposes the bogus basis of AUT's boycott. AUT voted to boycott Haifa University because it maintains the university sent Professor Ilan Pappe "a letter notifying him that he faced trial and possible dismissal from his position" because of his

...efforts to defend a 55 year old graduate student, Teddy Katz, whose Master's thesis was under attack by an Israeli veteran's organization because it documented a massacre of 200 unarmed civilians by the Haganah (the pre-state army of Israel) at a village called Tantura, near Haifa.

This is "patently false" says Oz-Salzberger.

...Mr. Katz's thesis was based almost solely on transcriptions of oral interviews he conducted with elderly Palestinian former residents of Tantura, who allegedly witnessed a massacre of their kin by Jewish soldiers. When veterans of the Israeli army force that attacked Tantura sued Mr. Katz for libel, a district court ruled that the empirical evidence was grossly manipulated in the course of transliterating the tapes. Mr. Katz had put words in the mouths of his interviewees that were never uttered. He agreed to apologize to the veterans, telling the media that radical activists -- including Dr. Pappe -- had led him astray.

On the basis of this ruling, the University of Haifa decided to reverse the impressive "97" grade already awarded to the thesis, and, in a mood of appeasement, asked Mr. Katz to rectify and resubmit his work. It was then sent out to five external examiners, a majority of whom failed it. It is fair to note that all examiners wished to remain anonymous.

Dr. Pappe, Mr. Katz's unofficial mentor, is an anti-Zionist scholar of great political energies who has been calling for a boycott of Haifa, his own university, for several years. He was, indeed, challenged by a colleague to an internal university disciplinary hearing, not for his connection to the Katz affair but for his enduring efforts to sabotage the institution for which he worked. Dr. Pappe's academic freedom was never on the agenda, and the university authorities did not dismiss him. ..

Ms. Oz-Salzberger points out that:

All this seems to have escaped the fact-finding capabilities of our British colleagues. The AUT disregarded not only the methodological nature of the decision to fail Mr. Katz's thesis, but also the meticulous judicial investigation. (In fact, the AUT ought to have called for an international ban on contact with the Israeli judiciary, for having ruled that Mr. Katz had libeled Israeli veterans.) What is worse, the AUT never sent anyone to check out the facts at Haifa, and, I am told, never asked the university for its response. Minimal standards of due process were not met.

Posted by RH at May 3, 2005 12:17 PM