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AUT Israel Boycott Resources
Letters to the Guardian from British academics

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Boycotting Israeli academics

Tuesday April 19, 2005
The Guardian


Through continued collaborations in science, technology, health, education, human rights and myriad other fields, the academic community has the ability to build strong bridges of understanding between cultures. Such interactions have already contributed to the reduction of tensions and advancement of cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians by developing joint grassroots projects and academic ventures.

Neither party in this tragic dispute has a monopoly on suffering or injustice. We, as academics, must continue to support the prospects of peace by building bridges through dialogue and mutual understanding with both sides. At a time when Israelis and Palestinians are hopefully entering a new era of reconciliation and trust, a boycott of one side would push back the prospect of peace.

Prof David Abulafia
Cambrdige University
Dr Rachel Airley
John Moores University
Geoffrey Alderman
Dr Eldad Avital
University of London
Dr Dieter Balkenborg
University of Exeter
Les Bash
Dr Jeremy Baum
Imperial College London
Prof John Birds
University of Sheffield
Walter Bodmer
Hertford College
Prof Gabrielle Brenner
Lorna Burns
Barnet College
Prof Brian Burrows
Staffordshire University
David Cesarani
Benjamin Chain
University College London
Dr Naomi Chayen
Imperial College London
Dr Alan Cohen
Cardiff University
Rhonda Cohen
Prof Lloyd Cohen
George Mason University
Prof James Davidson
University of Exeter
Stevie Dee
Stephanie Dee
Harrow FE College
Ruth Deech
Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher education
Dr Estelle Doctor
Prof Dwek
Prof Dave Edgar
City University
Dr Tamara Eisenschitz
City University
Rebecca Eliahoo
Alan Fersht
Cambridge University
Prof Rajmil Fischman
Keele University
Ronnie Fraser
Professor Mark Geller
Susan Greenfield
Prof Ashley Grossman
St Bartholmew Hospital
Dr Rosalind Herman
Prof Catherine Hezser
Trinity College, Dublin
Dr Daniel Hochhauser
Royal Free and University College
David Ish-Horowicz
Professor Ruth Itzhaki
University of Manchester
Dr Shaul Itzhaki
Dr Gordon Jayson
Christie Hopsital
Dr Clive Jones
University of Leeds
Dr Howard Kahn
Heriot-Watt University
Todd Kaplan
University of Exeter
Prof Efraim Karsh
Kings College London
Prof David Katz
Dr Edward Kessler
St Edmund's College
Sascha Khakshouri
Prof Edward Kissin
London Metropolitan University
Rosalind Landy
Cambridge University
Dr Jonathan Lederman
Anthony H Lesser
University of Manchester
Prof Oren Levin-Waldman
Metrolpolitan College, NY
Dr Virgilio Lew
Cambridge University
Dr Naftali Loewenthal
Doctor Louis Lyons
Prof Peter Maitlis
University of Sheffield
John Maloney
University of Exeter
Dr Rory Miller
Kings College
Prof Stephen Miller
City University
Dr Jennifer Mindell
Imperial College London
Claus Moser
Yaakov Naparstek
Hadassah University
Dr Paul Nathan
Dr Martin Navias
Kings College
Prof Stephen, Neidle
University of London
Aubrey Newman
University of Leicester
Pauline Newman
Prof John Parr
University of Glasgow
Prof Mark Peeps
Dr Benny Peiser
John Moores University
Lois Peltz
Prof Michael Pepper
Cambridge University
Daniel Pomeranz Krummel
Cambridge University
Prof Andrew Pomiankowski
Tessa Rajak
University of Reading
Harry Rajak
University of Sussex
Dr Jeremy Rees
Professor Stefan Reif
University of Cambridge
Bryan Reuben
South Bank University
Prof David-Hillel Ruben
University of London
Prof Gordon Rustin
Dr Mike Schachter
Imperial College London
Gail Seal
President JNF
Denise Sheer
Ian K Smith
City University
Dr David Stone
Mike Stratton
Prof Jennifer Temkin
University of Sussex
Myra Waiman
Ruth Waxman
George Weiss
Imperial College London
Prof Keith Wilson
Prof Robert Winston
Imperial College London
Michael Yudkin
Jacqui Zinkin
University of Westminster

We oppose Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and we support the right of the Palestinian people to an independent state alongside Israel. We think, however, that proposals by some members of the Association of University Teachers for a boycott of Israeli academia would be counterproductive.

The campaign for the academic boycott treats all academics as though they were responsible for government policy - which they are not. The latest proposal contains a clause which is intended to get round this problem by excluding from the boycott "conscientious Israeli academics and intellectuals opposed to their state's colonial and racist policies". This would mean that Israeli academics would first have to affirm their "anti-Zionist" credentials before being allowed to function as members of the global academic community.

But there is no agreed definition Zionism. Some people define it as a form of racism. Others understand it as a Jewish national liberation movement. Others consider themselves Zionists if they support the right of Israel not to be conquered.

We oppose the proposal that academics should be subjected a political test. Does anybody suggest that US physicists should be excluded from the academic community if they do not repudiate Guantanamo Bay? Does anybody suggest that Muslim mathematicians should be excluded unless they publicly repudiate the attacks of September 11? Such demands would destroy the principles of openness, free speech and community that should define academia. The current proposal to make a distinction between good Israelis and bad Israelis is a tactical move: the boycott campaign really wants a total boycott of Israeli academia. Last year there was a call by the religious right in Israel to boycott Israeli academics who had signed a statement in support of Israeli pilots who were refusing to bomb targets in the occupied territories. A government minister spoke in favour of a ban on the books of these academics. How would we support Israeli academics that come under such attacks, if there is a boycott on links with Israeli academia?

Who should be teaching Israeli students? Do we demand that Israeli academics that are against the occupation should leave Israel and teach somewhere else? Do we demand that Arab students who are studying at Israeli universities should leave, rather than fight for equal rights?

We should be making more links, not fewer, with the Israeli academics who are doing good work and who are resisting the racist culture of the Israeli right. Formally, this question is dealt with by the good Israeli / bad Israeli formulation of the latest proposal, but this would create more problems than it addresses. A boycott would put UK Jewish academics under pressure to declare themselves "anti-Zionist". And what will happen to those who refuse?

Alan Carling
Bradford University (retired)
Alan Johnson
EdgeHill College of Higher Education
Alex Fradera
University College London
Alice Bloch
City University, London
Prof Allison Assiter
University of the West of England
Prof Anne Showstack Sassoon
Birkbeck, Universityof London
Anne Summers
London Metropolitan University
Prof Avrom Sherr
Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London
Ben Gidley
Goldsmiths College, London
Prof Bencie Woll
City University, London
Brad Baxter
Birkbeck College, London
Camila Bassi
Sheffield Hallam University
Carol Jones
Open University in Wales
Caroline Knowles
Goldsmiths College, London
Caroline New
Bath Spa University College
Catherine Dodds
University of Portsmouth
Charles Asher Small
Yale University
Charles Turner
Warwick University
Chris Rumford
Royal Holloway, London
Colin Shindler
SOAS, University of London
Daniel Chernilo
University Alberto Hurtado, Chile
Prof Dave Edgar
City University, London
Prof David Cesarani
Royal Holloway, London
David Hirsh
Goldsmiths College, London
David Lawrence
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
David Seymour
Lancaster University
Prof Donna Robinson Divine
Smith College
Elena Katz
University College London
Emma Clavering
Newcastle University
Esther Dermott
University of Bristol
Farrell Brody
Hocking College (retired)
Federico Caprotti
University of Leicester
Prof Fred Sack
Ohio State University
Gideon Calder
University of Wales, Newport
Gunther Dietz
Universidad de Granada
Prof Ian Gordon
London School of Economics
Helen Beer
University College London
Prof Howard Tumber
City University, London
Jane Liddell-King
Cambridge University
Jayne Kavanagh
University College, London
Jeffrey Boss
Bristol University (retired)
Jeffrey Ketland
University of Edinburgh
Jennifer Bizley
Oxford University
Prof Joe Pearlman
London Metropolitan University
Prof John Solomos
City University, London
John Vail
University of Newcastle
Jon Pike
Open University
Jonathan Derbyshire
Anglia Polytechnic University
Jonathan Tritter
Warwick University
Josh Cohen
Goldsmiths College, London
Keith Kahn-Harris
Open University
Krisztina Robert
Roehampton University
Larch Juckes Maxey
University of Wales, Swansea
Prof Les Back
Goldsmiths College, London
Lily Kahn
University College London
Liza Schuster
Oxford University
Mario Di Paolantonio
Goldsmiths College, London
Mark Levene
University of Southampton
Matthew S Weinert
University of Denver
Max Farrar
Leeds Metropolitan University
Prof Michael Freeman
University College London
Prof Michael Storper
London School of Economics
Mira Vogel
Goldsmiths College, London
Prof Miriam E David
Institute of Education, London
Mohammed Ilyas
Goldsmiths College, London
Monica Greco
Goldsmiths College, London
Naomi Fulop
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Naomi Miller
Institute of Cancer Research, London
Prof Norman Freeman
Bristol University
Paul Filmer
Goldsmiths College, London
Pauline Allen
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Prof Peter Jones
University of Newcastle
Peter Lawson
Open University
Peter Mellor
City University, London
Prof Randall Hansen
Newcastle University
Ray Kiely
SOAS, University of London
Prof Robert Fine
Warwick University
Robert Jones
City University, London
Robin Humphrey
University of Newcastle
Ross M Goodman
University of West Florida
Prof Ruth Levitas
University of Bristol
Saulo B Cwerner
Goldsmiths College, London
Prof Sealy Gilles
Long Island University
Sonja Grussendorf
Goldsmiths College, London
Prof Stephan Feuchtwang
London School of Economics
Prof Stephen Miller
City University, London
Prof Steven Haberman
City University
Tamar Drukker
SOAS, University of London
Tsila Ratner
University College, London
Prof Tudor Parfitt
SOAS, University of London
Yasmeen Narayan
Goldsmiths College, London
Zoe Waxman
Oxford University


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