Wednesday, May 04, 2005

AUT and Israel

The boycott of 2 Israeli Universities by the AUT goes a long way to explaining why it was I decided to start this blog. There is such limited debate in Britain on the Israeli side - and even when people 'stick up' for Israel its nearly always with a caveat like "I support the Jewish state but not the government's policies" - which is pretty much saying that in this country to be pro-Israeli is to... accept its right to exist. Not much really, but I suppose its a start.

Thankfully, there is some sanity in the wilderness:

The Association of University Teachers (AUT) has received a flood of protests, accompanied by an increasing number of resignations, following its decision to adopt boycotts against Israeli universities last Friday. The backlash, which may take the form of mass resignations from the union, has seen an outpouring of protests by Jewish and non-Jewish academics across Britain.

John Vail, lecturer in political economy at Newcastle University, wrote in an e-mail to fellow academics: “The boycott is blatantly discriminatory and reeks of double standards.” He added: “Although I have no current research links with Israeli academics, this has made me want to go out and develop some just so as to show my disapproval of this motion. I hope that our local branch will pass a motion that expresses our disagreement with the national policy.”

Fifteen academics from the Board of the London-based Leo Baeck Institute signed a letter expressing “dismay” at the AUT resolutions: “All agree in deploring the proposed boycott of Israeli universities and academics who fail to satisfy a political inquisition. Israeli universities, notably the three targets of the boycott, represent the best ideals of the university as a place of tolerance and the free exchange of views, in which Jews, Muslims and Christians study and work together.”

The letter, which registered alarm at the “double standards and hypocrisy” behind the resolution, asked: “Will the tests and the boycott apply to Israeli Arab academics or only Jews?” The letter’s signatories are based in a variety of British universities, and include the Institute’s chairman Prof. Peter Pulzer, and Dr. David Rechter, both of whom lecture at Oxford University.


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