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Translation society chief slams dismissal of Israeli staff

By Joseph Algazy,
Ha'aretz Correspondent
16 June 2002

The president of the European Society for Translation Studies, Yves Gambier, recently published a condemnation of the dismissal of two Israeli professors in protest of Israel's military policy.

Gideon Toury, consulting editor of Translation Studies Abstracts, and Miriam Shlesinger, a member of the editorial board of The Translator, were dismissed from the British-based publications as part of a boycott of Israel declared by European and American academics after Israel's military operations in the territories.

In response to the dismissals, several members of the editorial board of The Translator resigned their posts.

Professor Toury is the vice-president of the EST and is considered one of the leading researchers in the world in his field. Professor Shlesinger is a lecturer at the Translation Studies Department at Bar Ilan University and between 1993-94 was head of the Israeli chapter of Amnesty International.

In his letter of condemnation, published in the EST June newsletter, and in a letter sent to the publisher of the publications, Mona Baker, Gambier called the dismissal of the two Israeli professors, "profoundly unjust." He said it would be contrary to the ethics of the EST to "cut off individuals who have chosen to work precisely to overcome attitudes of parochialism, self-isolation and chauvinism."

Gambier wrote that the members of the EST could not remain indifferent to the dismissal of two of its members in the name of an academic boycott that confuses institutions and individuals. He called on those responsible to reconsider the dismissals and noted that Toury and Shlesinger in no way represented the government of Israel.

Also in protest at the dismissals, Professor Robbin Setton of the University of Geneva wrote a letter to the board of The Translator in which he stated, "there are many other examples of violent oppression with racial and cultural contempt. If we were consistent, we would spend all our time boycotting colleagues from many different countries."