Cutting through the bullshit.

Saturday, 2 June 2007

What a coincidence!

Today’s Forward, carried a piece by Rebecca Spence claiming,

Britain’s largest teachers union voted this week to boycott Israeli academic institutions, setting the stage for a bitter struggle to reverse the decision.

The University and College Union, representing more than 120,000 college-level educators, voted May 30 to pass a controversial resolution calling for a boycott of Israeli academics and universities, as well as a moratorium on European Union funding of Israeli research.

The resolution that UCU Congress carried Wednesday was not 'to boycott Israeli academic institutions'. It instructed the union's executive to circulate the call for a boycott from the Palestinian Committee for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) to branches for discussion.

By why should the facts matter? Anyway, coming to the rescue, was none other than

Alan Dershowitz, Harvard Law School professor and prominent pro-Israel advocate, said that to protest the vote he will attempt to mobilize 1,000 American university professors of diverse backgrounds to join him in declaring themselves honorary Israeli professors.

“I now consider myself an Israeli professor, and I will act as if I am an Israeli professor,” Dershowitz said. “If they boycott Israel,” he added, “they’re boycotting me.”

When we finally do get the boycott off the ground, I hope everybody takes the abominable Dershowiitz at his word. Nobody deserves it more than he does and it will do no harm to exclude him comprehensively from all academic activity.

“The UCU boycott motion is an assault on academic freedom,” said Jeremy Newmark, the chief executive of Britain’s Jewish leadership council. “While the vast majority of academics do not support a boycott, the decision damages the credibility of British academia as a whole.”

As I wrote yesterday, ‘One of the strongest arguments I’ve encountered in support of the boycott is the self serving hypocrisy of those who bleat about infringing academic freedom for Israelis while issuing not so much as a peep against the almost total eradication of academic activity of any kind in Palestine’. Well, the AP’s Aron Heller writes that Israel’s three most important authors and the presidents of four Israeli universities have written to Defense Minister Amir Peretz

"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 which respects and supports the principle of academic freedom and the right to education," the letter states…. they called on Israel to lift its sweeping ban on the travel of Palestinians between the West Bank and Gaza so students could pursue their education.

Authors Amos Oz, A.B. Yehoshua and David Grossman, and the presidents of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Ben-Gurion University, Haifa University and the Technion technology institute, recognising that the true issue is Israel’s image, published their missive

…the same day Israeli academic institutions faced a potential boycott from British academics. Britain's University and College Union was due to discuss a boycott of Israeli universities and prevent European Union research funds from going to Israel because of its policy toward the Palestinians.

What an amazing coincidence!

[Thanks to Moshe Machover for the link to the AP article.]


  1. nice blog, the Green Party over here (and not just those of us in Green Left) has been pushing for a boycott


    Green MEP Dr. Caroline Lucas, a member of the European parliament's cross-party delegation to the occupied territories and co-founder and Co-President of the European Parliament's cross-party Peace Initiatives group has issued a statement in regard of the motion. She said:

    "The time is right to consider a boycott of Israeli universities. The international community must support the Palestinian civil society organisations that are calling on us to act."

  2. I'm delighted you like it, Derek. I'm still trying to figure out the connection, if any, between 'Green Left' and the Australian 'Green Left Weekly'?