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Boycott a blessing in disguise

By Ido Hevroni, Israel Opinion, YNet News 01/06/2007
Source: YNet

British academicians just recently decided to call for a boycott of Israeli academia, and already my mailbox has been bombarded by letters of condolences from colleagues abroad and infuriated manifestos from Israeli colleagues, as well as pamphlets urging me to join the protest against the boycott. Well, below are some responses to the plethora of material I received on the subject:

First, I would like to use this platform to send my sincere condolences to mourning Israeli academicians. But no need to worry, my friends - after all, the weather in England is not the best, and they are rather tightfisted when it comes to scholarships. I'm sure you'll do just fine without them.

Secondly, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate some overjoyed far-left Israeli academicians, headed by Professor Moshe Zimmerman, Dr. Ilan Pappe, and their colleagues: Congratulations, dear colleagues, you succeeded big time.

You managed to make the world hate us, you managed to completely twist the truth regarding our difficult battle with Palestinian murderers, and you managed to find a scapegoat for a world that sees fit to ignore the genocide in Darfur, the cutting off of hands in Saudi Arabia, and executions in the Palestinian Authority. Perhaps now you will even get a tempting offer from a leading Islamic college. When we have the opportunity, I'll be glad to meet with you for a talk regarding freedom of speech, its boundaries, and manner of enforcing it.

Thirdly, personally I'm not moved by the by the boycott call. I do not mean to underestimate the value or achievements of British academia, but I don't care about it. When those entrusted with freedom of thought and human research fail to grasp how distorted their ideas are as a result of a mental illness, known as anti-Semitism, there is nothing left to do but feel sorry for them.

Ancient Jewish treasures

And as to the subjects of the boycott, Israeli academicians: I hope that just like the ancient embargo on selling arms to Israel constituted a catalyst for developing unique Israeli inventions, this "intellectual embargo" would stimulate Israeli academia to turn to more independent intellectual avenues that are less about currying favor with Western academic fashions.

I'm not talking about the areas of technological and scientific research, where Israeli academicians are already among the leaders in the field, but rather, the humanities. I hope that the exposure of the foolish motives of British "intellectuals" may turn more Israeli intellectuals to deal with ancient Jewish treasures that, in my view, contain possibilities for intellectual and cultural revival that our society needs today more than ever.

And no, I'm not preaching here for an end to the productive dialogue between Jewish thought and Western thought, or between Jewish thinkers and non-Jewish intellectuals (who are still willing to talk to us,) but rather, for boosting the status of the Jewish tradition within our cultural, legal, and moral discourse, due to a conviction that Judaism contributed much and can still contribute much to shaping the universal spirit of humanity.

Dr. Hevroni researches literature of the Talmudic period and is a fellow at Jerusalem's Shalem Center

Reproduced at Zionism On The Web for educational purposes only, please site the initial source as listed above

Related items:

Press Releases

AFI Digest of March 28th

National Postgraduate Committee (NPC)
National Union of Students (NUS)
Jewish Agency (JAFI)
American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
Statement from The Russell Group on UCU motion on Israeli boycott
Statement from the LSE on UCU's motion in support of an Israel boycott
Columbia University response to boycotts of Israeli universites
Board of Deputies Response to UCU academic Boycotts
American Jewish Congress response to UCU boycott
American Physiological Society Response to the British academic boycott of Israel (includes feedback on this)
National Postgraduate Committee and the Academic Boycotts (14/8/07)
University and College Union (UCU) Press Release, Boycott illegal, 28th Sept 2007
Academic Friends of Israel Press Release, 29 September 2007

News Reports

Union committee to reconsider Israeli academics boycott, The Education Guardian, March 27, 2008
UK group proposes boycott of Israeli academia, Jerusalem Post, March 30, 2008

A slippery slope to totalitarianism, Education Guardian, May 24, 2007
Physicist who refused to lecture in U.K.: I'm not calling for boycott, Haaretz, May 25, 2007
Livni [Israeli FM] meets with British ambassador over U.K. boycotts, Haaretz, May 29, 2007
Memo From London: Should British Academics, or Rock Bands, Boycott Israel? New York Times, May 30, 2007
Lecturers back boycott of Israel, Education Guardian, May 30, 2007
Academics express outrage at Israeli boycott, Education Guardian, May 31, 2007
Divide and Rule, Education Guardian, June 5, 2007
Boycott should outrage academics, Inside Higher Ed, June 5 2007
Ignored by the Brits, Ynet, June 6, 2006
Boycott will destroy British academia, The Guardian, Saturday June 9, 2007
We Will Isolate Them, The Guardian, June 9, 2007 + ZOTW Commentry June 10, 2007
Government to form joint task force to counter U.K. boycotts, Haaretz, June 8, 2007
UK proposes joint academic seminar, Ynet News, June 10, 2007
US Unions condemn boycotts, The Jewish Chronicle, August 17 2007
Boycott a blessing in disguise, YNet News, Opinion, June 1 2007
FM praises British academics for nixing planned boycott of Israel, Haaretz, 30/09/2007
British academics forgo boycott call, Haaretz, 29/09/2007
Lecturers drop Israeli universities boycott call after legal advice, The Guardian, 29/09/2007

Responces, Blogs, Newsletters

UCU Reconsidering Boycott, Little Bulldogs, March 27 2008

UJS Chair's letter to UCU General Secretary
Lancaster University Students' Union Policy in repsonse
Academic Friends of Israel Digest vol 6 no 10 One week on
Academic Friends of Israel Digest vol 6 no 12
Goldhirsh Foundation Response
Responding to the Boycott by Shalom Lappin, at normblog, June 3 2007
Dark Days for the British Academy a letter by Prof Daniel Statman
A letter to UCU from Guy Handelman
SPME Petition against the boycott
Response from prominent British figures and law-makers, in Guardian Letters page, June 12, 2007

Other relevent documents and sources

The 2007 UCU motions
The 2007 document to be sent to branches
An explanation about the Durban Stratagy
Key quotes and summary of responses to the UCU policy
Why a cultural boycott of Israel would be banal, gestural and morally compromised
Relevent section of the Report of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism
More background on anti-Israel boycotts in general

Other sites related to the boycott

UJS's UCU Academic Boycott
BICOM on the UCU Boycotts
Academic Friends of Israel
Jewish Agency page on Addressing the Academic Boycott of Israel at UCU