"A grant to the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) to study and issue a statement on academic boycotts from the Ford Foundation has been complemented by an offer from the Rockefeller Foundation to invite eighteen carefully selected experts from around the world to meet at its estate in Bellagio, Italy, from 13 to 17 February 2006."
9 out of 20 of the scholars invited by the AAUP to chat about academic boycotts in an Italian villa are supporters of an academic boycott of Israel.
If AAUP wanted to have a discussion about boycotting Israel, why did it not do so publicly, asking for input from its members?
If AAUP wanted to have a discussion about academic boycotts in general, why did it pick 9 people who fight for a boycott of Israel?
Why no invitations to the experts on human rights abuses and limits to academic freedom in China, in Sudan, in Saudi Arabia, in the United States, in Britain, in Russia, in Ukraine, in Tibet, in Egypt, in Iran, in Zimbabwe, in North Korea...?
No, AAUP decided to sit down with, amongst others, Omar Barghouti, Hilary Rose, Yehudith Harel and Ur Shlonsky.
Engage fully supports academic freedom, freedom of speech and clarity in debate. This does not mean that we think that our own academic trade unions ought to be treating as experts a number of individuals whose project is to present Israel as a uniquely illegitimate and racist state whose academics should be blacklisted by the global academic community.
Those that present Israel, and the Jews that think it has a right to exist, as a unique evil in the world, are playing with fire. They run the risk of licensing and legitimising a discourse that demonizes those that they call "Zionists" - who everyone else calls "people that think Israel has the right to exist". They run the risk of contributing to the creation of an antisemitic movement on our campuses, in our labour movement and in public life.
What follows is a small sample of the kinds of things that the AAUP are likely to be told in the plush surroundings of the Rockefeller villa at Belagio.
Omar Barghouti on academic and cultural links between Israelis and Palestinians:
Some critics of boycott argue that it is still necessary for Palestinian intellectuals and artists to maintain and foster open communication channels with their Israeli counterparts, to debate, to share, to convince, to learn and ultimately to reach a common vision for peace.
I beg to differ. Those who imagine they can wish away the conflict by suggesting some forums for rapprochement, détente, or "dialogue" not conditioned upon common recognition of international law and universal human rights are either clinically delusional or dangerously deceptive.
Israelis who insist on asking the Palestinians to pay a political price in advance in return for their own "noble" recognition of a meagre subset of Palestinian rights are not really seeking justice or a moral end to the conflict. Some shamelessly seek European funds; others do it for prestige or fame; and some even participate in this typical colonial behavior as a form of taming the Palestinian shrew, or inhibiting resistance to oppression. Most Palestinians who accept such humiliating conditions are primarily compelled by a resource-starved environment under occupation. They are as free in their "choice" to participate in such projects as a slave is in "choosing" whether or not to oblige when asked by her master to "make love". Love, however, can only be made between the free. - Open Democracy.
This piece by Omar Barghouti is part of a longer debate on the "Open Democracy" website – see here.
Omar Barghouti: it is not the occupation of the West Bank that is the problem, but the existence of Israel itself:
The most peculiar dimension in the popular and academic Israeli discourses on the creation of the state is substituting the concept of "independence" for colonization and birth for destruction. Even committed "leftists" often grieve over the loss of Israel's "moral superiority" after occupying the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, as if prior to that Israel were as civil, legitimate and law-abiding as Finland! Ironically, while stubbornly rejecting Palestinian refugee rights, Israeli academics have played a central role in the massive campaigns demanding, and often winning, restitution, repatriation and compensation rights for Jewish refugees of the World War II era....
Israeli universities, says Barghouti, are part of the infrastructure of colonization:
...the Military colonization of the West Bank and Gaza Strip since 1967, with all what it entails in land expropriations, house demolitions, indiscriminate killings, and, most ominously, the colonial wall -- declared illegal by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in July of this year -- which serves to facilitate Israel's unremitting land grab and gradual ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Israeli universities -- all government controlled -- have not only been complicit in planning, maintaining and furnishing the justification for various aspects of the occupation, but have also directly participated in acts of colonization. Besides the voluminous record of individual acts of collusion by Israeli academics, the academic institutions themselves have never refrained from committing colonial crimes themselves.
Omar Barghouti on the similarity of Israeli and Nazi policy:
...what seems to escape the mainstream opinion makers is that during the current intifada, the Israeli army has crossed many of its former red lines, committing crimes that are reminiscent in form -- though certainly not in scale -- of Nazi crimes against European Jews...
Omar Barghouti on the Isreli left:
What left? Those in Israel who officially call themselves "the left" -- the Zionist left, more accurately -- easily make the far-right parties in Europe look as moral as Mother Teresa... - on the JFJFP website.
Hilary Rose: "What is self-evident is that a cultural and economic boycott is slowly assembling."
"The exaggerated attention to the "academic freedom" issues raised by the unilateral removal from an editorial board of two Israeli academics by one signatory to the boycott call is like focusing on a potential local mote to avoid the flagrant international beam." - in the Guardian(this piece is jointly written by Hilary Rose and her husband Steven Rose.
Hilary Rose on Israeli academics:
...apart from a handful of brave dissidents, most are either silent or actively complicit in the actions of the Israeli state. There is no equivalent anger to that of British academia's reaction to the illegal Iraq war.
In response to the European moratorium call, launched in 2002, which invited researchers not to collaborate with colleagues at Israeli universities in making research bids, Israeli universities set up a joint committee to resist this.
The Israeli academic community does not see freedom as indivisible — the freedom most noisily defended is only its own. - in Socialist Worker (this piece is also jointly written by Hilary and Steven Rose.
Prof Hilary Rose compares an academic boycott of Israel with the sporting boycott of South Africa during the apartheid era. "Sporting isolation hurt South Africa and ultimately contributed to the end of that regime. I don't think Israel values sport but it does value science and high culture."
- Daily Telegraph.
Academia and academics are not "priviledged children" and they can be and should be the target of boycott just as any other institution and people in the aggressor society. - labournet.
We created a reality in which we imposed so much suffering, humiliation, death and damage on the Palestinians until there came to be enough desperate people who feel that they have nothing to loose and nothing to live for, and therefore they are ready to kill and get killed. These acts are indeed horrifying but it is up to the Palestinians to deal with the moral aspects of their legitimate resisatance to the Occupation. As an Israeli Citizen and the Occupier, I am in no position to condemn them or chastize them. Full Stop. labournet.
... in our collective subconscious we got used to justify whatever evil and suffering we inflict on our OTHER - our Palestinian victims - by the fact that we were once the victims and that we still are. We dared to assume that we can act and speak in the name of the 6 million victims. This reasoning is sick. Furthermore, we are not the victims any more - but the victimizers. - labournet.
The principal and explicit aim of the Zionist program and practice is to increase the number of Jews in Eretz Israel and shrink the number of non-Jews, i.e. the Arabs living there.
The idea of expelling the Palestinians, called "transfer" in Israeli political language, is woven into Zionist discourse from its early beginnings. Recently, however, it has fully entered public debate. - solidarity-us.
In short, the human bombs in the cafes and buses assure ever broader and deeper support for a project of ethnic cleansing. Israeli civil society is authorized and encouraged to use force that becomes justified as a means of self-defense. All the elements are put in place for what Des Forges, in the Rwandan context, called "the genocidal campaign."
Further, continued kamikaze actions and the media coverage they elicit furnish a central element in the struggle to rally world public opinion to the Zionist cause.
Meanwhile,%20by%20calling%20upon" new Jews? form bloc behind Israel, identifying whole Diaspora Jewish state all Jews Zionism, Zionists help strengthen, alongside ?classic? Anti-Semitism which was never totally defeated, a Anti-Semitism, carefully constructed and nourished by the amalgam of Jew Zionist. - solidarity-us.