The AUT boycott of the Haifa University and the Bar-Ilan University has been joined by many British Universities.
From Harry’s Place, who is calling on the dissenting members of AUT not to tear their membership cards but act to reverse the decision:
Haifa University is to be boycotted because Ilan Pappe, who is an anti-Zionist academic there, says that he has come under attack from the university which has thereby infringed his academic freedom. The story is long, involved and complex. But Pappe remains in his job, in spite of the fact that his views are extremely unpopular in Israeli society. Let us hope that the university continues to respect his tenure, as it is now doing.
Bar-Ilan University is to be boycotted because it gives legitimacy to the ‘College of Judea and Samaria’, which is a settler college in the West Bank.
The Hebrew University is under threat of boycott because it has built a new dorm block on a disputed piece of land.
It is clear that these stories relating to these three universities are excuses for the boycott rather than reasons – the pro-boycotters actually want to boycott all of Israeli academia and are not actually concerned with these particular incidents.
The AUT decision has aroused tremendous opposition, both in Israel and in England. Members of AUT said opponents of the boycott were not permitted to speak at the discussion, and the decision was taken without requesting the universities’ response. In addition, doubts were raised about the legality of the decision.
Clive Davis has forwarded me one such sign of the opposition by Dr Emanuele Ottolenghi of St Anthony’s College, Oxford, who wrote an open letter to Sally Hunt, the Secretary General of the AUT and bcc’ed to the Guardian, the FT, the NYT and the Jewish Chronicle. From: Emanuele Ottolenghi
Sent: Thursday, April 28, 2005 1:02 PM
Subject: AUT boycott
To: Sally Hunt,
General Secretary, The Association of University Teachers
Dear Sally Hunt,
Regarding the AUT recent decision to boycott Haifa University and Bar Ilan University in Israel, I am shocked to learn that, in addition to a call for boycott, the AUT is ready to offer a waiver to scholars on condition that they publicly state their willingness to conform to the political orthodoxy espoused by the academics who sponsored your motion.
Oaths of political loyalty do not belong to academia. They belong to illiberal minds and repressive regimes.
Based on this, the AUT’s definition of academic freedom is the freedom to agree with its views only. Given the circumstances, I wish to express in no uncertain terms my unconditional and undivided solidarity with both universities and their faculties. I know many people, both at Haifa University and at Bar Ilan University, of different political persuasion and from different walks of life. The diversity of those faculties reflects the authentic spirit of academia. The AUT invitation to boycott them betrays that spirit because it advocates a uniformity of views, under pain of boycott.
In solidarity with my colleagues and as a symbolic gesture to defend the spirit of a free academia, I wish to be added to the boycott blacklist. Please include me. I hope that other colleagues of all political persuasions will join me.
Dr Emanuele Ottolenghi
The Middle East Centre
St Antony’s College
The Foreign Ministry has dissociated itself from the AUT boycott stating:
The fact that the AUT chose to deal with Israel, the only state in the Middle East where there is complete academic freedom for all segments of the population and political streams, is a scandal.