Wednesday, April 27, 2005

I am enjoying the reactions to this decision by an organization of British lecturers to boycott two Israeli universities. The affair has created a lot of interesting reading material, much of it by people as much opposed to Israel’s policies as they are to the decision to boycott Israeli universities. I’m hoping that this is a good sign because it means is that there are still a few of intelligent, learned people in Britain who do not think Israel is an illegitimate state. I’m hoping it means that they really are interested in peace in this country, and not in smashing the Jewish state, unlike the people responsible for promoting the boycott seem to be. Perhaps one or two of the people who voted in favor of the boycott, without bothering to check the facts, are starting to feel like real idiots by now. Well, perhaps not.

Douglas Davis is amusing as always:

Pay attention, British professors. If you support the boycott of Israel proposed by some of your fellow academics -- and if you are to remain intellectually honest -- prepare for a radical lifestyle change. Firstly, unplug your computers. Good. Now switch off your interactive digital television sets. Well done. And now throw away your mobile phones. Excellent.

You see, Professors, these machines are not only the engine of the globalized, capitalist world but they also depend on technologies that have been produced by Israeli academics in the Zionist entity.

Also, I'm afraid you may not use the British Library because it has been computerized by Ex Libris, a Zionist company that was spawned by the odious Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

And if, God forbid, you develop problems of the small intestine, you may not pop the Zionist-invented "video capsule," which passes naturally through your body as it monitors this delicate piece of your anatomy.


Jpost offered some reactions by Haifa University among others:

"In lieu of evidence to support the singling out of Israeli academia, the authors of this campaign have chosen to adopt a three-year-old urban legend," the University of Haifa said in a statement. "We are astounded by the fact that the AUT never requested our response prior to adopting their resolution, and did not allow our position to be presented by members of the AUT who are familiar with the facts.

The case against Israeli academia, in general, and the University of Haifa in particular, is devoid of empirical evidence and violates the principle of due process. Driven by a prior and prejudicial assumption of guilt, the AUT has refused to confuse itself with facts."

And University of Haifa president Aaron Ben-Ze'ev also had something to say:

"I think that a person who calls to boycott his university should join the boycott and resign immediately from the university," Ben-Ze'ev said. "It is difficult to describe a greater moral injury to academic freedom than the behavior of someone who has been bullying his colleagues and calling to boycott them. It is bizarre that he has chosen to attack the very same university that has exercised such a policy of tolerance towards him."

During the past few years, according to members of the university's faculty and administration, the only measure taken against Pappe was a complaint lodged with the internal faculty disciplinary committee, which focused on Pappe's unethical behavior towards his peers and his efforts to disbar them from international forums for contradicting his views. Contrary to Pappe's claim, the university said it had made no attempt to expel him.

There’s more:

"I learned how to write history, including Middle Eastern history, from the British," Prof. Amatzia Baram, a University of Haifa faculty member in the department of Middle Eastern studies, told the Post on Monday. "They have first-class scholars. For them to vote on a matter like this without bothering to invite a single university representative, without checking the facts and listening to both sides before making up their minds – is the worst infringement of intellectual and academic integrity. I find it difficult to express in words the degree of my disappointment." Baram also wondered about The Guardian's decision to publish Pappe's letter, which contains factually false accusations, without checking them in advance.

Baram recalled how, in 2002, he received a letter from a prominent British scholar who turned to him to intervene against Pappe's expulsion from the university.

"I told him that no expulsion had ever been contemplated," Baram said. "Ilan had simply lied to him – nor was there any international campaign in his support, as he claimed there was in his letter to The Guardian."

Prof. Benny Morris, Israel's most prominent "new historian" (a historical movement questioning early Zionist narratives), also told the Post he found Pappe's call to boycott his own university "immoral." "If he doesn't want to be paid by a university subsidized by the state he is hostile to, he should resign and find another place to teach," Morris said.

In a review of Pappe's latest book, which was published in The New Republic last year, Morris pointed to a series of false statements it contained, ranging from basic facts and wrong dates based on careless research, to politically slanted mistakes meant to prove how evil Israelis are.

"It is a totally distorted book, it's badly written history," he said. "His entire campaign is illogical and immoral. He presents himself as a politically persecuted scholar, yet his contribution to Israel's 'new historiography' is pretty marginal."

Thank you to Harry for some of the links.

By the way, I was going to link to what I thought at first was a good editorial in Haaretz on the issue, until I got to the obligatory ‘However’ opening the last paragraph. They just couldn't help it.