Facebook share Share on TwitterRSS feed

Innovative Minds © 2014. All Rights Reserved. www.inminds.co.uk

[Boycott - Academic]

Boycott - The weapon of the weak


Ghada Karmi
5 July 2007

Boycotts are the weapons of the weak in conflicts. Their chief importance lies in their ability to raise public awareness and arouse disapproval. Yet, going by the paranoid reaction to the academic boycott of Israel, it might as well have been a declaration of nuclear war. No peaceable action in recent times has provoked so much anger and hostility as this British-based boycott.

Threats were made against members of the boycott group by pro-Israel organizations.. Photographs of the boycott's "ringleaders", like those of wanted criminals, appeared on the front page of the major British Jewish weekly, The Jewish Chronicle, which also carried a distressed article by Britain's chief rabbi condemning the boycott as an anti-Semitic "witch-hunt".. The Jewish-American lawyer and fierce warrior for Israel Alan Derschowitz has teamed up with his British counterpart, Anthony Julius to take legal action against British supporters of the boycott. While this would not be valid in British law, its aim is clearly to intimidate.

In the wake of the British University and College Union's vote at its annual general meeting on May 30 to initiate a national debate on boycotting Israeli academic institutions, a wave of hysteria engulfed Israel and its friends. Articles appeared, before and after the vote, denouncing the UCU resolution and its initiators, and heated correspondence is still ongoing. Threats were made against members of the boycott group by pro-Israel organizations and individuals, and campaigns were mounted to defeat the boycott. Costly one-page advertisements appeared in The Times and The Guardian carrying scores of eminent signatories opposing the boycott.

Photographs of the boycott's "ringleaders", like those of wanted criminals, appeared on the front page of the major British Jewish weekly, The Jewish Chronicle, which also carried a distressed article by Britain's chief rabbi condemning the boycott as an anti-Semitic "witch-hunt". The Daily Mail's Jewish columnist Melanie Phillips declared "the age of reason" over. The Jewish-American lawyer and fierce warrior for Israel Alan Derschowitz has teamed up with his British counterpart, Anthony Julius to take legal action against British supporters of the boycott. While this would not be valid in British law, its aim is clearly to intimidate.

The fuss has not abated yet and more battles lie ahead this autumn as pressure is put on the UCU to ballot its members individually in the hope they will reject the motion passed by conference.

Two major misconceptions lie at the base of this response, both deliberately fostered. The first misconception is that the boycott is aimed against Israeli academic individuals, and the second, and more important, that it is anti-Semitic.

With regards to the first misconception, the boycott in fact calls for a ban on dealings with Israeli academic institutions, for example, not participating in joint research, conferences or other collaboration with them. In a malicious misrepresentation of this position, opponents claim that the boycott will end the free exchange of ideas with individual Israelis and encourage discrimination against them in British academia. By suppressing "free speech", this would end any hope of change in Israel's policies that academics could have brought about, an erroneous argument that has galvanized opposition in Britain to the boycott.

The second charge of anti-Semitism follows closely on this. The allegation is that the real reason for the boycott is hatred of Jews, a new outbreak of an old gentile affliction. Nothing is more designed to provoke and mislead than this charge, which, its authors know, antagonizes all Jews and many non-Jews.

Academic boycotts are not new to Britain. In 1965, a boycott campaign against apartheid South Africa was initiated by 34 universities in response to a call for solidarity by the African National Congress.

In fact of course, the imputation of anti-Semitism is a red herring, as so often when Israel is criticized, and its aim as always is to deflect criticism. In the case of the British boycott committee, it is particularly inapt, since most of the members are Jewish. The campaign started in 2004 with a letter that two British academics, Hilary and Steven Rose, published in The Guardian calling for a boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions in support of a similar call by Palestinian civil society organizations. These, representing a majority of Palestinian academics and other professionals, had united to form a campaign for boycotting Israel because of its repressive polices against them.

The Guardian letter spearheaded a growing demand for Israel to be called to account for its policies, soon joined by many academics in Europe and beyond. Support was particularly strong in South Africa, which had lived through a similar boycott during the apartheid era, and was especially sympathetic to the boycott's rationale and aims. Since that time, the boycott and divestment campaign against Israel has grown, resulting in the Association of University Teachers' Union voting for a boycott against two Israeli universities at its meeting in 2005. Thanks to a vigorous pro-Israel campaign against it, the decision was overturned within a month. But the issue did not go away, and resulted in the vote for the boycott two years later by the newly formed UCU which had absorbed the AUT.

Academic boycotts are not new to Britain. In 1965, a boycott campaign against apartheid South Africa was initiated by 34 universities in response to a call for solidarity by the African National Congress. After a prolonged British campaign, the boycott was adopted as policy by the AUT in 1988 and remained in place until the end of apartheid.

The academic boycott against Israel is no different. Israel's well-documented repression of Palestinian academic life and victimization of Palestinian teachers and students is a scandal to be denounced by all those who claim to care about academic freedom. Rather than rushing to Israel's defense in a situation so perverse and immoral, all efforts should be directed toward boycotting all Israeli institutions. Only by making Israel a pariah state, as happened with South Africa, will its people understand they cannot trample on another people's rights without penalty.

Published 5/7/2007 © bitterlemons-international.org

Ghada Karmi is author of "Married to Another Man: Israel's Dilemma in Palestine".

Source: http://bitterlemons-international.org/inside.php?id=765


Also Of Interest

Page URL: http://inminds.co.uk/article.php?id=10160
Support Us
If you agree with our work then please support us.

Give one time donation:

Setup monthly donation:
INMINDS Facebook Live Feed
Latest Video's
Latest News..
[all-by date]
[all-by category]
[all-by modify date]
INMINDS Twitter Feed
Boycott Israel Campaign
Featured Video's
You need Flash player 8+ and JavaScript enabled to view this video.
Why boycott Israel on Campus[1:50:05]
12 London universities discuss need for BDS on campuses. Speakers include Rafeef Ziadeh, Ilan Pappe, Karma Nabulsi & Mike Cushman
Love Letters to Gaza[31:08]
A unique theatrical event using personal messages of love, support and hope from people of all ages and all walks of life to the people of Gaza.
John Pilger[7:55]
journalist and documentary maker
Antiwar Mass Assembly 8 Oct 2011
Julian Assange[7:07]
founder of WikiLeaks
Antiwar Mass Assembly 8 Oct 2011
Lauren Booth, Sami Ramadani & Yvonne Ridley[6:28]
Reading the names of the dead
Antiwar Mass Assembly 8 Oct 2011
George Galloway[6:39]
Antiwar Mass Assembly 8 Oct 2011
Jemima Khan[8:42]
Antiwar Mass Assembly 8 Oct 2011
Why Boycott Marks & Spencer 2011?[23:29]
Demo outside M&S Oxford Street(24 Sept 2011)
Sean Clinton[4:59]
Israeli Blood Diamonds Campaign
Al Quds Day rally, Trafalgar Square (31 Aug 2011)
Lauren Booth[5:24]
Al Quds Day rally, Trafalgar Square (31 Aug 2011)
Lauren Booth - Prayer for Gaza[2:46]
Al Quds Day rally, Trafalgar Square (31 Aug 2011)
Benny Morris - Historian or Racist?[34:07]
Activists oppose visit of racist Israeli historian Benny Morris who justifies ethnic cleansing and genocide.
Is Israel applying apartheid?[2:12:56]
Speakers: Yael Kahn, Jody McIntyre and Ghada Karmi (5 May 2011)
Karen Mitchell[48:27]
Partner at Thompsons Solicitors
Life changing visit to Palestine in 2008 (21 Feb 2011)
Ramzy Baroud[1:59:32]
Editor-in-chief of the Palestine Chronicle
"My Father Was A Freedom Fighter - Gaza's Untold Story" (25 Mar 2011)
Women United in the Intifada[2:31:36]
Speakers: Lizzie Cocker, Ewa Jasiewcz, Alaa Kassim, Yvonney Ridley, Isis Amlak, Sukant Chandan, Ramzy Baroud (14 Mar 2011)
George Galloway[1:01:48]
Solidarity with the Middle-East Revolution, support the people - oppose US/UK intervention (SOAS, 11 Mar 2011)
Omar Barghouti[55:08]
BDS Movement co-founder
"Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions" book launch (7 Mar 2011)
Shir Hever[1:49:09]
Alternative Information Centre
The Political Economy of Israel's Occupation, Kings College London (17 Feb 2011)
Why academic boycott of Israel[1:29:37]
Speakers: Mohammed Abuabdou(PSCABI), Mike Cushman(BRICUP), Jodey McIntyre(activist) (8 Feb 2011)
Dashed Hopes - Gaza Blockade[1:23:08]
Mohammed-Ali Abu Najela (Oxfam), Andrea Becker (MAP), Ewa Jasiewicz (Free Gaza Movement) (1 Feb 2011)
Jordan Valley: Apartheid[1:17:12]
Sarah Cobham(Brighton Jordan Valley Solidarity), Chris Osmond (Corporate Watch) (House of Commons, 1 Feb 2011)
Dump Veolia Demo[7:00]
Protesting at settlement supporter Veolia's sponsership of exhibit at the Natural History Museum (23 Oct 2010)
Boycott Israeli Dates [1/2][9:11]
Are you financing Israels brutal occupation this Ramadan?
Boycott Israeli Dates [2/2][9:05]
Are you financing Israels brutal occupation this Ramadan?
Lee Jasper [1/2][10:13]
[4 of 8] Genocide Memorial Day 2010 Session One, 17-1-2010
Lee Jasper [2/2][9:51]
[5 of 8] Genocide Memorial Day 2010 Session One, 17-1-2010
One Oppressor One Bullet[8:11]
Imam Achmad Cassiem, veteran of the armed struggle against apartheid in South Africa, speaks at the StW rally (London, 19 Feb 2005)
Salwa Alenat [1/2][9:56]
KavLaOved (Workers Rights hotline)
[1 of 8] Israel's Occupation - Abuse of Palestinian Workers (LSE 19 Nov 2009)
Salwa Alenat [2/2][8:57]
KavLaOved (Workers Rights hotline)
[2 of 8] Israel's Occupation - Abuse of Palestinian Workers (LSE 19 Nov 2009)
For Anwar [1of2][10:01]
Carmel Agrexco Valentines Action 7 Feb 2009
For Anwar [2of2][9:56]
Carmel Agrexco Valentines Action 7 Feb 2009
big
[all videos (over 200)..]
Special Additions

Featured MP3 Podcast

"This issue of recognition [of Israel] is naive and is childish. You see for the Palestinians its impossible to recognise that what happened to them in 1948 was legitimate, was right. We were dispossessed, the Jews came from Europe to solve their own problem in Europe and to solve the European problem at the expense of the Palestinians. My mother was dispossessed of her home, my father of his land, and millions of Palestinians suffered the same fate. How can it be right? We cannot recognise that as being legitimate."
Palestinian Academic
BBC Hardtalk, Jan 2008 [24min / 11Mb]
[need flash]

[all podcasts..]
Newsletter
To subscribe
enter your email:

COPY VERIFICATION CODEcopy this code —>
Feedback
If you wish to comment on this page:

(all fields optional)



COPY VERIFICATION CODEcopy this code —>
The opinions expressed on this site, unless otherwise stated, are those of the authors.
All logos & trademarks are the property of their respective owners and their use is covered under 'fair use' policy.
Copyright © 1998-2012 Innovative Minds www.inminds.com All Rights Reserved.
The opinions expressed on this site, unless otherwise stated, are those of the authors.
All logos & trademarks are the property of their respective owners and their use is covered under 'fair use' policy.
Copyright © 1998-2012 Innovative Minds www.inminds.com All Rights Reserved.