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Academic Friends of Israel: Digest vol 6 no 12

By AFI, June 12th 2007
Source: AFI E-mail



The Academic Friends of Israel


P.O. Box 360                                                    Email: mail@academics-for-israel.org

Harrow                                                        Website: www.academics-for-israel.org




12 June 2007


Dear Colleagues


The Academic Friends of Israel along with many other organisations is working to stop the UCU pro- boycott of Israel campaign.  


Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) is asking academics to declare themselves to be Israeli academics for purposes of any academic boycott and to decline to participate in any activity from which Israeli academics are excluded. The Academic Friends of Israel is proud to be associated with this initiative and urges all academics especially those in the UK to click on the link below to sign the petition.


Thousands of university academics worldwide have joined Nobel Laureates Alexi Alexeyevich Abrikosov, Claude Cohen- Tannoudji, David Gross, Avram Hershko, Roald Hoffman, Daniel Kahneman, Eric Kandel, Arthur Kornberg, Roger Kornberg, Leon Lederman, Marshall Nirenberg, David Politzer, Steven Weinberg, Elie Wiesel and Frank Wilczek as well as Alan Dershowitz in endorsing the following solidarity statement with Israeli academics.


We are academics, scholars, researchers and professionals of differing religious and political perspectives. We all agree that singling out Israelis for an academic boycott is wrong. To show our solidarity with our Israeli academics in this matter, we, the undersigned, hereby declare ourselves to be Israeli academics for purposes of any academic boycott. We will regard ourselves as Israeli academics and decline to participate in any activity from which Israeli academics are excluded.


To sign the petition, please do so immediately by clicking here.



If you are not eligible to sign, but know others, who might be, please send this message to others in the academic community

I have split the remainder of this digest into:

1. Latest Boycott news

2. Articles against the boycott

3. Articles supporting the boycott


Ronnie Fraser

Academic Friends of Israel

1.  Latest Boycott news

'The Russell Group universities will uphold academic freedom by standing firm against any boycott that threatens it.' http://www.russellgroup.ac.uk/2007/boycott.html

LSE Director Howard Davies said on 31 May: 'I fully support the view of the Russell Group that a boycott of Israeli academia would be contrary to the values of freedom of speech and freedom of academic inquiry that are essential to universities' missions. http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/pressAndInformationOffice/newsAndEvents/archives/2007/IsraeliBoycott.htm

Israeli Government Anti Boycott Task force


http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=868700&contrassID=1&subContrassID=1 (Article in English)

UK minister Bill Rammell visit to Israel





Stop the Academic Boycott of Israel Petition to UCU – 22,172 Total Signatures


ADL Ad campaign against the boycott: http://www.adl.org/boycott/boycott_ads.asp

Statement by President Lee C. Bollinger of Columbia University  on British University and College Union Boycott

As a citizen, I am profoundly disturbed by the recent vote by Britain's new University and College Union to advance a boycott against Israeli academic institutions. As a university professor and president, I find this idea utterly antithetical to the fundamental values of the academy, where we will not hold intellectual exchange hostage to the political disagreements of the moment. In seeking to quarantine Israeli universities and scholars this vote threatens every university committed to fostering scholarly and cultural exchanges that lead to enlightenment, empathy, and a much-needed international marketplace of ideas.

At Columbia I am proud to say that we embrace Israeli scholars and universities that the UCU is now all too eager to isolate -- as we embrace scholars from many countries regardless of divergent views on their governments' policies. Therefore, if the British UCU is intent on pursuing its deeply misguided policy, then it should add Columbia to its boycott list, for we do not intend to draw distinctions between our mission and that of the universities you are seeking to punish. Boycott us, then, for we gladly stand together with our many colleagues in British, American and Israeli universities against such intellectually shoddy and politically biased attempts to hijack the central mission of higher education.

Published: June 12, 2007


AJCongress Supports AAUP Statement Opposing Academic Boycotts

June 8, 2007 - The American Jewish Congress today announced its support for the statement by the American Association of University Professors opposing academic boycotts. Issued in response to the recent vote by the British University and College Union to consider imposing a boycott on Israeli academics, the AAUP stated that the decision “to the extent that it is meant to encourage an academic boycott, is contrary to the Association’s position condemning such boycotts.” In a letter to AAUP executive director Ernst Benjamin, AJCongress President Richard S. Gordon said the Jewish rights group was “particularly pleased to see AAUP stand up for its traditional commitment ‘to preserving and advancing the free exchange of ideas among academics irrespective of governmental policies and however unpalatable those policies may be viewed.’”  Gordon said that the AAUP statement “will make an important contribution to the struggle for academic freedom and underscores one of the important aspects of the struggle against boycotts of Israel.”  “We will continue to fight every time Israel gets singled out as a pariah,” Gordon said. The American Jewish Congress is a membership association of Jewish Americans, organized to defend Jewish interests at home and abroad, through public policy advocacy, in the courts, Congress, the executive branch and state and local governments. It also works overseas with others who are similarly engaged.

We should be aware of the following:

University denies tenure to outspoken Holocaust academic; Read the letter to

Mr. Finkelstein here (pdf)
Ed Pilkington in New York, Tuesday June 12, 2007, The Guardian

2. Articles against the boycott

Boycott plan puts our reputation at risk, Tuesday June 12, 2007, The Guardian



A letter to the British academic, Yair Lapid, 12/6/07, YNET



Israeli Boycott, Comments from an Israeli Academic, By Professor Menachem Kellner



British boycott backlash builds By Israel Insider staff  June 8, 2007



Guardian Letters, Tuesday June 12, 2007



Isolation tactics are not the answer: Efforts to undermine Israel's social fabric through campaigns like academic boycotts will succeed no better than military action, writes Jonathan Spyer, Monday June 11, 2007, EducationGuardian.co.uk  http://education.guardian.co.uk/higher/comment/story/0,,2100387,00.html

This will do Palestinians no good: You can't talk about boycotting Israeli academics in the same black and white terms as South African apartheid, says Paul Scham, Monday June 11, 2007, EducationGuardian.co.uk  http://education.guardian.co.uk/higher/comment/story/0,,2100505,00.html

Cary Nelson, president of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), discusses his organization's efforts to prevent the British boycott of Israeli academics from taking effect.


AJCongress : Stop the University and College Union Academic Boycott of Israel! 


Government minister says academic boycott of Israel would boost hardliners, The China Post


UK Education minister slams academic boycott of Israel, EJP


Foreign Ministry: New Israeli task force will confront British academic boycott


British Minister: Academic boycott bid is 'fundamentally wrong'


British minister says academic boycott wrong


To boycott or not - the new Israeli question, Sunday June 10, 2007, The Observer


New Israeli task force will confront British academic boycott


Jews Disagree On How Best to Respond To British Boycott, Ben Harris, JTA Wire Service, JUNE 10, 2007, New York


'We will isolate them', Saturday June 9, 2007, The Guardian


Boycott will destroy British academia, warns US professor Saturday June 9, 2007, The Guardian


Rammell on trip to dampen boycott concerns June 8, 2007, The Guardian


Diana lawyer vows to fight Israeli academic boycott, Donald MacLeod, Thursday June 7, 2007, Guardian


Howard Jacobson: It's time to end the vilification of Israel, The Independent, 8/6/07


Bigoted British Boycott, Alan M. Dershowitz, FrontPageMagazine.com | June 8, 2007



The war against the Jews (2), June 8, 2007, Melanie Phillips


Scholars urge solidarity amid boycott, JP


Retaliation! If we can only find a way


Anti-Semitism, It's Academic, Larry Miller On "Selectively Politically Correct" British Institutions CBS News


Blair decries Israel boycott move, BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/6726727.stm

Education minister seeks to prevent trade boycott, Times


UK minister in Israel to apologise for academic boycott, Submitted by Netherlands IFP on Sat, 2007-06-09 15:31. 


Drop the Boycott, The Times, June 7, 2007


Boris Johnson condemns academic boycott of Israel's universities


London Olympic organizer rejects British academics' effort to boycott Israel, IHT


British union to keep boycott talk alive, JTA Staff http://www.cjnews.com/viewarticle.asp?id=11982

The year of living dangerously, June 5, 2007, The Guardian  http://education.guardian.co.uk/egweekly/story/0,,2094951,00.html

Israel's New Anti-Boycott Task Force, By LAWRENCE DAVIDSON


Dear Brits, Dan Ben-David, JP


British academia warned over boycott of Israel


Articles supporting the boycott

The time is now: Just as I campaigned for boycotts against apartheid in South Africa many years ago, now I shall do so against Israeli apartheid, says Colin Green , Monday June 11, 2007, EducationGuardian.co.uk


BRICUP appeal from Sue Blackwell: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/JustPeaceUK/message/20941

Fine words come cheap, strong action is needed, Lisa Taraki,

The Times Higher Education Supplement, 08 June 2007 

The growing boycott movement has put Israeli academe on the defensive, but more is required, says Lisa Taraki

On the day that UK academics debated motions to boycott Israel the international media reported on a letter addressed to the Israeli defence minister. It had been sent by academics and intellectuals, including the presidents of four Israeli universities, and it called for the lifting of the ban on Gaza students travelling to the West Bank. This move, as well as the recent lobbying tour of UK universities by Israeli academics opposed to the proposed UCU action, and the Israeli foreign minister's intervention with the British government, show that the boycott is already beginning to bite. Far from being ineffective, the action's inexorable expansion into the mainstream is worrying its intended targets. However, the Israeli response is as revealing as it is pathetic.

The intellectual elite's letter notes that "blocking access to higher education for Palestinian students from Gaza who choose to study in the West Bank casts a dark shadow over Israel's image as a state that respects and supports the principle of academic freedom and the right to education". This statement and its timing reveal that far from being motivated by lofty sentiments it has more to do with the public relations campaign to shore up Israel's badly deteriorating international image.

Is this the best they can do? Is it credible that the gravest issue facing higher education for Palestinians today is the inability of students from the Gaza Strip to study at "superior" West Bank universities? Even in the heyday of the "good old" occupation before Oslo, Gaza did not contribute more than a fraction of the West Bank student body. Do the presidents of Israeli universities really intend to convince the world that they are champions of the right to education for Palestinians? Do they hope that this will let them off the hook?

What is the credibility of these "respectable" academics and intellectuals who appeal to a key representative of the repressive occupation machine, a cynical labour boss and politician responsible for much of the death and destruction sown in Palestine and Lebanon since he took office? Instead of making a bold statement against the occupation they ask for the amelioration of some of its more sordid features. This is even further diluted by the suggestion (stated by a member of the organisation that initiated the appeal) that each case be evaluated individually. We all know what "individual evaluation" entails, what its stringent and un-transparent criteria are, and who does the evaluation: the military security establishment itself.

The appeal epitomises what is wrong with the Israeli academy. While throwing a stale crumb our way these academic leaders are silent on the core issue: the deepening of the occupation regime that threatens the lives and futures of all Palestinians, including students and teachers. Not only that, they sidestep the issue of racism and discrimination against Palestinian citizens within the Israeli academy itself.

It continues to be true that the Israeli academy has behaved shamelessly in the matter of stifling of basic freedoms of Palestinians, including the freedom of education. During the past 40 years our universities have been shut down by military order numerous times and for long durations, thousands of our students and teachers have been imprisoned and exiled, and our basic right to free access to our institutions has been violated. Not once have the presidents of Israeli universities, or for that matter any association of Israeli academics, challenged the occupation regime and demanded its dismantlement.

It is ironic that one of the persistent themes in the critique of the academic boycott is the "fact" that the academy has done more than any other sector in Israeli society to campaign for Palestinian rights. This is a hollow claim belied by the fact that only a handful of brave Israeli academics have ever taken a public stand against the occupation.

As an academic at a Palestinian university I remain vindicated in my belief that pressure, and nothing but pressure, will make Israelis, including academics, accede to demands for a radical change in the status quo. This is not about punishment of Israeli academics. Rather, it is based on the assumption that both the vociferous and silent colluders in the academy can be pressured to act to bring about change. The growing boycott movement has put the academy on the defensive, but there are many more miles to be traversed before a truly moral response issues from its spokespersons and rank and file.

Lisa Taraki is a sociologist at Birzeit University in Palestine. 




The Chief Rabbi, Sir Jonathan Sacks


Advisory Board: 

Dr Manfred Gerstenfeld - Chairman of the Board of Fellows, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Henry Grunwald Q.C. - President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews

Amir Lev

John D A Levy - Director of the Academic Study Group on Israel and the Middle East

Andrew R. Marks, M.D. - Columbia University, USA

Dr Robin Stamler

Professor Leslie Wagner CBE

Rt Hon Lord Young of Graffham


The Academic Friends of Israel Ltd is limited by guarantee and registered in England No 5297417.




Reproduced at Zionism On The Web with permission

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