Sunday, June 4
Boycotting Israel's Universities
Israel’s academics have been through this before. NATFHE (National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education), under the influence of the new left, has embarked once again on an Israel-bashing exercise. Only this time they have funneled it into a boycott of Israel’s institutions of higher learning. The grounds for this are so shaky and shallow. The new left once again compares the situation in Israel to that of apartheid South Africa of old by referring to the security fence as the “apartheid wall”. The Union is prepared to rescind the boycott if Israeli Academics actively renounce what the group calls Israel's "apartheid policies" in the territories. How can anybody, let alone academics, renounce Israel’s “apartheid policies” in the territories when such an organized fiction of a new left warped imagination does not exist?
Just over a year ago on 22nd April 2005, the AUT (Association of University Teachers) decided to boycott the University of Haifa and Bar Ilan University because of the “illegal occupation policies” of Israel. This boycott was revoked subsequently. Now NATFHE voted to boycott for a different reason - the so-called parallel between Israel and apartheid South Africa. It seems that these so-called associations of British academics will continue to find a reason to boycott Israel’s universities. The likelihood of this latest boycott being rescinded like the previous boycott is possible in the near future. This will occur when these associations come to their senses.
It is unfortunate that these academic bodies do not even bother to try to understand why Israel has adopted so-called “repressive measures” against the Palestinian population. The Palestinian terrorists with their suicide bombing tactics have not even received any mention by these associations let alone condemnation. It seems that the indifference of these associations is a form of support for terrorism against Israel rather than condemnation of terror.
The Israeli Ambassador in Britain Zvi Heifetz denied that universities in his country practiced discrimination against Palestinians. "Israeli universities are open institutions, where students and teachers are selected on merit, regardless of their religious or ethnic backgrounds. As a means of promoting dialogue and coexistence in the Middle East, an academic boycott of Israel is counter-productive in the extreme,'' he said.
The pro-boycott teachers insisted that Israeli academics must be held accountable for their "silence'' over their Government's "repressive'' actions in the occupied Palestinian territories.”The majority of Israeli academics are either complicit or acquiescent in their Government's policies in the occupied territories,'' said Tom Hickey, a philosophy lecturer who proposed the motion. He said that for Israeli academics to ignore all this amounted to "culpable blindness''.
Is it not “culpable blindness” to ignore Palestinian terror against innocent Israelis? Does Israel not have the right to protect its citizens from terrorist acts? After Britain had suffered the terror on their subways, were there not incidents of arrests and interrogation of suspects involved that also went against so-called “human rights”? No country in its war against terrorism behaved “over humanely” towards terror suspects. What about the U.S troop behaviour in Iraq and the establishment of Guantanamo Prison Camp in Cuba where terror suspects are held without much recourse to a lawyer? Why do British academics close their eyes to that?
There are no initiatives for boycotts against other countries: not against Iran, which is denying the Holocaust and threatening to destroy Israel; not against Sudan, which is committing genocide in Darfur; not against Saudi Arabia, where the Saudi Courts execute people for religious infractions, and not against China, which is carrying out oppression in Tibet and Shenzhen. Nor is the hated United States being boycotted, because this would hurt academics who want to get to Harvard, Yale and Princeton.
As an Israeli, I am opposed to the occupation but am also aware of the fact that it occurred because of aggression by Arab states in their attempt to destroy Israel since its establishment. If there were no Arab attacks on Israel, there would not have been an occupied West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem or the Golan Heights.
The use of the boycott weapon against Israel illustrates total ignorance of Israel and Jewish history as well as the holocaust! The Palestinian leadership under Hamas supports terror and the Israeli reaction to this terror is just as legitimate as Britain’s hunt for terrorists responsible for blowing up subways in London.
The use of the boycott weapon against Israel by British academics is unfair, unjust and illustrates total ignorance of the Palestinian – Israeli Conflict. The use of the comparison of the situation in apartheid South Africa to Israel is frivolous and is far from knowledge of reality.
The Palestinians have created a situation whereby terror against Israel has become a legitimate weapon against the occupation in the eyes of many British academics. The British academics that support boycotting Israel’s Universities, for reasons of expediency, have ignored Palestinian terrorism, thus condoning it.