Today’s Independent carries a brilliant defense by biologist and secretary of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine, Steven Rose, of the University and College Union annual congress resolution ‘to organise a campus tour for Palestinian academic trade unionists to explain why they had called for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel, and to encourage UCU members to consider the moral implications of links with Israeli universities’.
Here are some extracts.
Entirely suppressed in this harrumphing has been any thought about why Palestinian university teachers and their union, as well as all the NGOs in the
Even within Israel itself, some universities sit on illegally expropriated land, Arab student unions are not recognised and there are increasing covert restrictions on Arab-Israelis (20 per cent of the population) entering university at all. No Israeli academic trade union or professional association has expressed solidarity with their Palestinian colleagues a few kilometres away across the wall, though the boycott call may finally encourage them to do so.
…If academic freedom means anything, it must be indivisible. And what are Palestinians to make of the uncensured insistence by senior Israeli academics that their family size constitutes a demographic threat to the Jewish state?
…Why pick on
Further, it is precisely bec
Lurking behind the thinking of even well-meaning opponents of the boycott is that it is in some way anti-Semitic. This ignores the fact that the boycott is of Israeli institutions, not individuals (so it would affect the tiny number of Palestinian academics in Israeli institutions, but not a Jewish Israeli working in the
In relation to this last point, Tony Greenstein has a piece on the Guardian’s ‘Comment is free’ blog inquiring into the question of who gets to speak on behalf of ‘the Jewish Community. The Union of Jewish Students (UJS) at the
including Brian Klug, Sir Geoffrey Bindman and Professors Donald Sassoon and Jacqueline Rose, the UJS sought to prevent the meeting on the grounds that it was "propaganda for a particular viewpoint". When this ploy failed, Simmons sought to "balance" the speakers' panel - something the UJS has never attempted with pro-Zionist speakers.