Thursday, April 28, 2005

Here is the full statement of Haifa University. I gave a few excerpts of this yesterday.

And here, if you are feeling openminded, is an interesting article about the AUT affair. Its author, Stephen Howe, claims to be impartial. I wouldn't know about that because I don't know who he is or what his connection to the affair is, although I suspect he is not nearly as impartial as he claims.

For instance, I fail to see the relevance of the details he gives about the percentage of Arabs and Druze in Israeli universities and among university teaching staff compared to their percentage in the general population to his discussion on the boycott (And if he brings it up, why are only Arabs worthy of a mention in this respect? Why not Ethiopian Jews? Why not women? Why not the descendants of Jews from Arab countries living in development towns in the South of the country? Are they not under-represented in Israeli universities?). He does point out that Haifa University does actually have a more than fair representation of Arabs on its student body, and in some faculties their percentage is even higher than in the general population.

I also fail to see the relevance to the discussion of the mention of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassin Yigal Amir having attended Bar Ilan University, other than as a snide underhanded attack on that university.

Howe supplies intricate details of the Ilan Pappe/Teddy Katz affair which are worth reading, albeit with a very critical eye. Although he doesn't say so, reading between the lines it looks like one of his sources of information is Katz’s MA thesis supervisor, who apparently was not Ilan Pappe after all, but Druze historian Kais Firro.

His description of the highly publicized Teddy Katz libel court case is short and low on detail, and again he links only to a questionable Palestinian information source. He cites the reason for Teddy Katz's signed apology in court for libeling Alexandroni soldiers in his MA thesis (by claiming they had committed a massacre in 1948) being Katz's poor health and the pressure he was apparently under from family and friends. I fail to see the relevance of this, although it is a popular explanation on pro-Palestinian websites. To even things out, he also cites the claim of political pressure as the reason for Katz’s subsequent retraction of the apology, which was not accepted by the court.

I refer again to Haifa University's official statement, this time on the Teddy Katz affair:

After a thorough examination, the committee members concluded that, in fact, the quotes in the written text did not match the taped comments of the interviews and that the text was grossly distorted. Therefore, they disqualified this MA thesis. This decision, it is important to note, matched a court decision given on the same matter.

Howe doesn’t deny any of this but the way he writes it is somehow misleading in my opinion. He plays it down. He takes great care, however, to minutely detail the treatment given to the amended version of the thesis, submitted in 2002, the grading process it received, and the politics of the graders.

Howe’s bottom line is this:

I have read many hundreds of articles, interviews and documents relating to the controversy; I have talked in detail to many of those most closely involved at Haifa; I have even written a little about it myself. Even now, I don’t feel I know for sure what happened – either at Tantura in 1948 or at Haifa University in 2000-2005. How can the members of the Association of University Teachers after just a few minutes’ hasty and apparently one-sided debate, seem so confident that they do know?

Alan Dershowitz puts it best:

It's a good thing Israel has only to make peace with its Palestinian neighbors and not European university professors.