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AUT Israel Boycott Resources
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Response to Allegations against Israeli Universities in AUT Motions

1) The basis for boycotting the Hebrew University (motion 57) is that it has confiscated land from the El-Halou family. This is entirely false, and in fact the reverse was true. The El-Halou family, who own land adjacent to that owned by the Hebrew University, had also illegally taken possession of the Hebrew University property. Repeated court proceedings found in favour of the Hebrew University, and the matter was eventually settled by negotiations between both parties. The land that does belong to the El-Halou family has never been under threat, nor are they "trapped" amongst Hebrew University buildings.

2) The basis for boycotting Haifa University (motion 58) is that it is victimizing and threatening to dismiss Dr Ilan Pappé. This claim is also false. Haifa University has repeatedly made it clear that it has made no attempt to expel Dr Pappé, and that his situation is secure. Dr Pappé caused controversy when the scholarly basis for his accusation of Israeli war crimes in 1948 proved to be highly suspect. His subsequent reaction to colleagues who investigated and criticized his work was marked not by any scholarly defence but by threats, misrepresentations, personal abuse, and calls for overseas institutions to boycott the scholars concerned. As a result, one colleague laid a charge of disciplinary action, which the University has not pursued. Nevertheless, Dr Pappé continues to claim he is a victim whilst continuing his threats and vilification. A particularly unpleasant element of Dr Pappé's accusations are directed at Arab academics at Haifa who chose to disagree with him, such as Dr.Ibrahim Girais, who Dr Pappé claimed was brought in to the inquiry on Dr Pappé's claims not because of his scholarship but "because an Arab was needed as a fig leaf". It seems unfortunate, but perhaps not surprising, that those who seek to demonize Israel have chosen to support Dr Pappé.

3) Bar Ilan University is accused of being "directly involved with the occupation of Palestinian territories" (motion 59) because it supervises 3% of the lecture courses at the College of Judea and Samaria in the West Bank, a college which has a student body made up of Israeli Jews, Israeli Arabs and Palestinians. Whatever one's views about the location of the college, this seems a curiously slender thread on which to hang the threat of boycott over Israeli academics. Presumably, similar scrutiny should be applied to the adherence of Palestinian universities to legal requirements under the peace process. In this context, it is instructive to note the control of Palestinian campuses by Hamas and Fatah groups, both of whom are defined as terrorist organizations. Fatah students recently attempted to lynch the president of Al-Azhar University in Gaza because he didn't give Fatah enough seats in the newly-established board of directors (1). In December 2003, Hamas won control of the student council at Bir Zeit University after a debate where the Hamas spokesman challenged the rival Fatah speaker by asking, "Hamas activists in this university killed 135 Zionists. How many did Fatah activists from Bir Zeit kill?" (2). On March 17, Hamas won the student elections in Hebron University. An-Najah university in Nablus, another Hamas-controlled campus, notoriously carried out a reconstruction of the bombing of the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem in August 2001. The campus is identified as providing ideological support for and acting as a recruiting ground and training centre for Hamas and Fatah (3, 4). One waits to see whether any scrutiny, let alone sanction, will be applied to these Palestinian colleges for their close association with organizations internationally defined as terrorists.

Finally, motion 56 calling for AUT members to receive a petition from an umbrella group of Palestinian NGOs (PNGO) describes this body as representative of "Palestinian civil society". PNGO has repeatedly called for boycott of Israel and was significantly involved in the Durban 2001 conference (5) that developed into what is widely regarded as a watershed in the demonization of Israel in the international community (6). However, PNGO went even further beyond any definition of civil society when the member NGOs last year refused to sign a pledge guaranteeing that US aid money would not be used for terrorism, a requirement for funding by the U.S. Agency for International Development (7). As mentioned earlier, PNGO does not represent the wishes of all Palestinian academic bodies, as demonstrated by the Rome declaration of principles (see The Rome Declaration of Principles).

1) Jerusalem Post March 1st 2005

2) Jerusalem Post December 11th 2003

3) http://www.intelligence.org.il/eng/sib/11_04/najah.htm

4) http://www.ict.org.il/articles/articledet.cfm?articleid=445).

5) http://www.ngo-monitor.org/archives/infofile.htm#pngo)

6) http://www.jafi.org.il/agenda/2001/english/wk3-22/6.asp

7) Haaretz 5th January 2004


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