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International Politics Blog

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

British boycott Israeli lecturers

LONDON: Britain's largest lecturers' union has voted in favour of a boycott of Israeli lecturers and academic institutions who do not publicly dissociate themselves from Israel's "apartheid policies".

Delegates at the annual conference of the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education in Blackpool narrowly backed the proposal, despite mounting international pressure from those opposed to a boycott, including a petition from more than 5000 academics and a plea from the Israeli Government. The decision was greeted with disappointment and anger by anti-boycott campaigners, but Palestinian groups issued declarations of support.

Presented on the final day of the conference on Monday, the motion criticised "Israeli apartheid policies, including construction of the exclusion wall, and discriminatory educational practices" and invited members to "consider the appropriateness of a boycott of those that do not publicly dissociate themselves from such policies".

After failed efforts to prevent the debate, speakers outlined the many difficulties experienced by Palestinian students and lecturers living under occupation, including the number of Palestinian schools shelled by the Israeli Army.

"The majority of Israeli academics are either complicit or acquiescent in their government's policies in the occupied territories," said Tom Hickey, a philosophy lecturer at the University of Brighton, a member of the union's national executive committee and the proposer of the motion. "Turning a blind eye to what an Israeli colleague thinks about the actions of their government is a culpable blindness."

But the union's general secretary, Paul Mackney, spoke against the motion.

"Most of us are very angry about the occupation of Palestine," he said, "but this isn't the motion and this isn't the way."

A conference delegate, Ronnie Fraser, chairman of Academic Friends of Israel, the primary opponent of the motion on the conference floor, said the vote brought "dishonour and sheer ridicule" upon the union.

The Guardian

Saturday, May 20, 2006

British Professor confirms 'silent' boycott of Israel

By Tamara Traubmann

A British professor has refused a request to write an article for an academic journal funded by Israeli universities, saying that he was taking part in a boycott of Israel.

"Alas, I am unable to accept your kind invitation, for reasons that you may not like. I have, along with many other British academics, signed the academic boycott of Israel, in the face of the brutal and illegal expansionism and the slow-motion ethnic cleansing being practiced by your government," wrote Professor Richard Seaford, from the University of Exeter in England.

Seaford wrote to Bar-Ilan University's Dr. Daniella Dueck, a member of the Scripta Classica Israelica editorial board who had requested that the British academic write a book review for the journal.

Seaford, the head of the Department of Classics and Ancient History at Exeter University, told Haaretz that the academic boycott "is just a small contribution to the long-term raising of international consciousness which represents the only hope for an eventual just peace in the Middle East. In this respect, there is a parallel with the academic boycott of apartheid South Africa."

On May 27-29, the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will debate a proposal in favor of an academic boycott against Israel.

The International Advisory Board for Academic Freedom (IAB), established at Bar-Ilan University to take action against academic boycotts, published a statement yesterday in which it "warns that a silent boycott by British and Israeli academics is already taking place," and called on an anti-boycott network of some 500 academics around the world to oppose it.

In March, the London Jewish Chronicle reported that U.K. magazine Dance Europe refused to publish an article on Sally Ann Freeland, an Israeli choreographer, and her dance company. The magazine conditioned the publication of the article on an explicit declaration by Freeland against the occupation, which she refused to make.

The boycott began in the United States and Europe during the first intifada, and intensified in 2002 after Operation Defensive Shield, during which the IDF occupied West Bank cities.

The boycott movement began in response to a request by Palestinian organizations, such as The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, an umbrella organization for dozens of Palestinian NGOs.

An attempt is made almost annually in the U.K. to formally instate an academic boycott on Israel, through official decisions by lecturers' unions.

The proposal slated to be discussed later this month by NATFHE differs from previous ones. According to the proposal, the current boycott will deal not only with the occupation, but also with discrimination against different populations in Israel, mainly in the field of education.

The proposal encourages academics to "consider the appropriateness of a boycott of those that do not publicly dissociate themselves" from discriminatory and unequal policies.

According to the IAB, "Such boycotts have no place in the academic community. Scholarship and research, and their expression in the open and free exchange of ideas, are among the foundations of civilization, and without them there can be no true advancement of human knowledge."

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Poll: 68% of Jews would refuse to live in same building as an Arab

By Eli Ashkenazi and Jack Khoury, Haaretz Correspondents

Sixty-eight percent of Israeli Jews would refuse to live in the same apartment building as an Israeli Arab, according to the results of an annual poll released Wednesday by the Center for the Struggle Against Racism.

The "Index of Racism Towards Arab Palestinian Citizens of the State of Israel," conducted by Geocartographia, revealed on 26 percent of Jews in Israel would agree to live with Arab neighbors in the same building.

Forty-six percent of Jews would refuse to allow an Arab to visit their home while 50 percent would welcome an Arab visitor. Forty-one percent of Jewish support the segregation of Jews and Arabs in places of recreation and 52 percent of such Jews would oppose such a move.

The inclination toward segregation rises as the income level of the poll respondent drops and also as the level of religious observance rises. Support for segregation between Jews and Arabs is also higher among Jews of Middle Eastern origin as opposed to those of European origin.

"Racism is becoming mainstream. When people talk about transfer or about Arabs as a demographic time-bomb, no one raises their voice against such statements. This is a worrisome phenomenon," Bachar Ouda, director of the Center for the Struggle Against Racism, said on Tuesday. The report covered the year 2005 and the center will, in the future, present monthly and bi-annual polls.

The index, edited by Ouda and attorney Ala Khaider, surveys racially-motivated incidents that took place during 2005 and examines the attitudes of Israeli Jews toward Israeli Arabs.

During the course of 2005, 225 racially-motivated incidents directed at Arab citizens were reported to the center or in the media. The center believes that less than 20 percent of attacks or other incidents are ever reported.

Seventy-fire percent of the reports on racist incidents came from institutional sources such as government ministries, government companies or publicly-elected officials.

The poll further revealed that 63 percent of Jewish Israelis agree with the statement, "Arabs are a security and demographic threat to the state." Thirty-one percent of Jews did not agree. Agreement with the statement was strongest among Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Jews and low-income earners.

Forty percent of Jews believe "the state needs to support the emigration of Arab citizens" and just 52 percent don't agree with the statement.

Thirty-four percent also agreed with the statement that "Arab culture is inferior to Israeli culture." Fifty-seven percent did not agree with the statement.

Half of Israeli Jews express fear or discomfort when hearing people speaking Arabic. Eighteen percent of Jews said they feel hate when hearing Arabic speakers.

Responding to the report, Hadash Chairman MK Mohammed Barakeh said racism against Israeli Arabs "is a direct result of official racist and discriminatory policies" dictated by the government.



** MARCH 2006 **


previous posts
British boycott Israeli lecturers
British Professor confirms 'silent' boycott of Israel
Poll: 68% of Jews would refuse to live in same building as an Arab
"We Don't Speak Arabic Here"
A War of Religions? God forbid!
Beta Testing
Yet another test
test again
this is a test
02/19/2006 - 02/25/2006
03/12/2006 - 03/18/2006
03/19/2006 - 03/25/2006
05/14/2006 - 05/20/2006
05/28/2006 - 06/03/2006

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