British Lecturers Union May Boycott Israeli Academics

Israeli academics who refuse to condemn their government’s actions in the Palestinian territories may face a boycott by the Association of University Teachers, Britain’s largest lecturers union, according to the British Guardian newspaper.
The union is expected to debate the proposed boycott at its next meeting, scheduled for April 20. According to the text of the proposal, the boycott excludes “conscientious Israeli academics and intellectuals opposed to their state’s colonial and racist policies.”
The association voted down a similar measure two years ago, but according to Birmingham University lecturer Sue Blackwell, who co-wrote the current proposal, the boycott has gained support with the union. “We are now better organized,” she said. “One of the reasons we didn’t win last time was that there was no clear public call from Palestinians for the boycott. Now we have that, in writing.”
The Guardian report states that many British academics already maintain an unofficial boycott against Israeli academic institutions, refusing offers to work on major Israeli research projects as a protest to Israeli policies in the Palestinian territories.
But according to Hebrew University Professor Nachman Ben-Yehuda, a boycott against Israeli academics would merely serve as another barrier to peace in the region. “To say we won’t talk any more goes against something very, very basic. We solve problems through dialogue,” he said.

46 thoughts on “British Lecturers Union May Boycott Israeli Academics

  1. Im 100 percent against this. unfortunately there are Israeli academics who support such boycotts.
    unfortunately the same thing is happening in a different form vs. MEALAC profs.

  2. I’m sorry, maybe I missed this: what does boycotting professors have to do with ending the occupation? I doubt Ariel Sharon and the settlers are thinking:
    “Oh shit! Our academics are being boycotted! We gotta get outta here pronto!”
    Maybe people should boycott British academics until Britain’s government ends it colonial and racist occupation of Northern Ireland . . .

  3. Well, Asaf, if you are really against it, maybe you should let your voice be heard a little louder. If the British union considering this boycott sees that the Israeli Left, which supports Palestinian rights, is opposed to this, that could sway the vote in two weeks.

  4. you flatter me, but I doubt they’ll care about what I think. As far as I know Baruch Kimmerling, a very well known Israeli academian is against such boycotts and im sure there are more. he stood in opposition to tanya raynhart about this issue, I think.

  5. Britian in a notriuosly anti-semtic country. We can not forget the first contry in Europe we were kicked out of was England. If they boycott israeli acedemics then its there loss (however cliche that sounds). Israel is a country where is largest export is intellegence, technology, and the future. If the british cant see israel beyond the conflict than that their ignorantance. There is a saying dont air your dirty laundy in public. Maybe england shouldnt air its ignorance in public either….they already are more than happily to air their anti-semitism in public!

  6. I feel a little snarky, like tellling them to fix their teeth and learn how to make a decent meal before they make such silly comments.
    But that would be as effective at changing things as their boycott, meaning practically worthless.

  7. I’m not flattering you, Asaf. I’m asking you to do what you believe is right. This isn’t an issue for academics, like, echm, Kimmerling. Its a political issue and involves everyone. I’m not asking you to call the British union and tell them you don’t think they’re doing the right thing. I’m asking you to make your voice heard across your activist channels that this is wrong. Other activists might by infliuenced by this and make their voices heard as well. With a little luck and a lot of effort, this thing could be stopped. It’s not too late. The question is, why aren’t unfair anti-Israel measures worth the time to oppose?

  8. How about opposing the racist policy behind creating a Jew-free state? Doesn’t ANYBODY see anything terribly wrong with that?!!!!!!!!!

  9. I checked out the website of Sue Blackwell ( http://www.sue.be/pal/ ), the person behind this proposed boycott and the previous failed attempt. I was disappointed that it wasn’t more intersting than it was. She seems simply to be a not very bright academic with a chip on her shoulder and a big mouth. This is a very, very dangerous combination.
    The site is mainly a collection of links to other sites with her own commentary. She makes what she probably believes is an attempt to show that she is without prejudice by providing links to ultra right-wing groups who claim to supprt Palestinian causes, and then by saying how very bad they are.
    The quote that seems most indicative of the amount of thought she’s put into the dogma behind her movement: “As a socialist I applaud all those Jews and non-Jews who fought against the Nazis in various ways.”

  10. Asaf: Yes, Kimmerling is against it. Neve Gordon has also spoken out against it. Except for Pappe and Reinhardt, no academic in Israel is for it.

  11. anti-zionism is the new “disliking jews” (just don’t call someone antisemitic…even if it her prejudice is completely irrational)
    From an essay by George Orwell
    “…is that above a certain intellectual level people are ashamed of being antisemitic and are careful to draw a distinction between “antisemitism” and “disliking Jews”. The other is that antisemitism is an irrational thing. The Jews are accused of specific offences (for instance, bad behaviour in food queues) which the person speaking feels strongly about, but it is obvious that these accusations merely rationalise some deep-rooted prejudice. To attempt to counter them with facts and statistics is useless, and may sometimes be worse than useless.”

  12. Asaf, I don’t see how you can disassociate yourself from this type of action. This is precisely the price we all pay for the manner in which the Israeli and Jewish far Left attack Israel regularly. If I were to read your and John Brown’s comments about Israel, I would think that Israel is an evil state, with an evil army, with racist policies and apartheid, and that it should be pressured to stop its egregious policies. Isn’t that precisely what these people are doing? Your comments about how you or Kimmerling are powerless to stop this bulldozer are correct, but you sure as hell helped start the engine. It’s reminiscent of how Michael Lerner was disallowed by ANSWER from participating in their antiwar rally because he is a Zionist.
    You cannot undo the damage directly, but if you have a sense of right and wrong, you would use the same energy to organize and denounce this heinous action by this union (and other, forthcoming boycotts of Israel) as you do to denounce Israel.

  13. T_M is right on the money. This is what persistant anti-Israel activism leads to naturally: irrational hatred against the state and a tragic misreading of the circumstances.

  14. Israel’s own actions bring upon itself these various boycott campaigns, as obnoxious as they are.
    T_M, why do I need to take responsibility for every idiot out there? I never advocated for this boycott, and was strongly opposed to full divestment when it came to be an issue in my college.

  15. This is completely stupid. Neither the RS McNamaras nor the John Birchs of Israeli society (the real enemy) will be affected a bit while the Israeli academy, one of the finest in the world, will suffer. Maybe someone could find a way to screw the massive and totally traitorously happy to sell to terrorists Israeli Arms Industry, third in the world, which really would change things.
    And this can hardly be considered an “inevitable” consequence of recognizing the obvious regarding Israeli government behavior.

  16. ” Israel’s own actions bring upon itself these various boycott campaigns, as obnoxious as they are. ”
    This is what you get for wasting time responding to Asaf/Brown.
    It’s a good thing the Asaf’s of the world control only markers and placards. For if Asaf was a general during ’67, Birthright trips would be visiting Jerusalem….in a country called Jordan.

  17. people like yoram hazony must be scratching their heads wondering how a festering pool of post-zionism like israeli academia ends up getting boycotted.

  18. I’m still scratching my head wondering why those who think that israel is a racist apartheid state are against divestment! Why can’t any of the usual suspects explain why they are against divestment? And Sam you’re wrong…those Israeli academics that agree with the Palestinian’s authoritative version of events will not be boycotted. The English have made that very clear. Don’t worry!

  19. Asaf, you need to take responsibility for vocally encouraging and supporting the movements that have led to these divestment and boycott groups. How did this entire academic boycott in England business start? A couple of lefty Jewish professors who felt that Israel is in the wrong and its policies are such that it needs to be stopped. Their logical conclusion? Boycott. They were academics so they went after the sphere they knew best, academia. Who suffers? Well, among the first to suffer were Israeli academics from the Left. Oops, unintended consequences, to be sure, after all these are the “good” Israelis. Well, not really, because a boycott is a boycott and cannot discriminate between a good and bad Israeli.
    This is happening because along with the Palestinians who feel perfectly comfortable attacking every aspect of the democratic state of Israel, simply because it is Israel, there are plenty of Jews out there both from Israel and outside of Israel who provide support, (dis)information, ongoing propaganda against the state, its leadership, its citizenry, its military and its history particularly as it relates to its creation. They pat you on the head and say, “good Jew, this is how Jews should speak ill of other Jews” and proceed to use the very information and support you provided to undermine everything about Israel. You are their “good Jew,” Asaf. You stand there and denounce a military that has acted pretty humanely over a 60 year conflict. You stand there and demonize a country for the very same reasons of self-determination that you believe the Palestinians deserve. You go on the Internet and seek every opportunity you can to undermine the credibility of the state, its institutions, and its motives. You do this, Asaf, with full knowledge of what you do. You do this with the goal of changing the way things are. Now, when you see a natural consequence of your tireless attacks and messages, you say, “It’s not me, I oppose this!”
    Bullshit. You are a principal reason for it. They will turn and say that even in Israel, many Israelis understand the “evil” of Israel and then go about quoting you and others like you. Look at how Avi Shlaim and Benny Morris were taken to be THE historians to read because they come from a Jewish and Israeli background and analyze history in a manner that favors a view sympathetic to Palestinian objectives. See how Morris is denounced now that he has taken a different tack with respect to his views. There are ways to attack the system and ways not to attack the system. You wanted to declare an all out war on the system and then wash your hands of any repercussions. Have the courage to admit that these boycotts are happening because of you and others like you. Oh, and realize that you’re too late. The damage has been done and your voice will be coopted to encourage activities like the boycotts and divestments whether you now oppose these actions or not. Go rent a copy of Discordia, the documentary about Concordia and the riots there when Netanyahu wanted to speak there. There was a young Jewish man among the pro-Palestinians. He, like you, suddenly found himself one day not far enough to the Left or to the anti-Israel side, and was suddenly a pariah among his so-called friends. Needless to say, he was also a pariah among the pro-Israel students. What did he gain? A great deal of personal pain and confusion. What did his actions cause? The shutting down of Israeli and Jewish voices on that campus. He didn’t mean for it to play out as it did, but there is a point when things were out of his hands. You are no different.

  20. T_M lets take a closer look at what you are saying:
    “Asaf. You stand there and denounce a military that has acted pretty humanely over a 60 year conflict.”
    Very well. This is the assumption of your whole argument – I am spreading lies about Israel and therefore because people like me, boycotts are created against Israel. If people like me didnt exist, there wouldn’t be a “reliable” (in the sense that I am Israeli and Jewish) source that legitimizes claims of the real nutties out there. Threfore, I hold responsibility for such boycotts.
    Ah. so what have we come down to? To the same old argument on whether or not my criticism against Israel is justified.
    Thus you are basically calling me to shut up. How about going to mobius and telling him – your photos of house demolitions are perpetuating the evil myths about Israel! – will you blame his pictures (and thus him) for such boycotts, or will you blame the demolishers of the house. I know what I choose. My words have no meaning without the reality behind them. Without that reality, created by the IDF and the Israeli government, my words would not have existed.
    Since your whole argument revolves around the fact that what im saying is bullshit/lies/wrong, there is no real place for discussion. Of course, you have no way to show that I support these boycotts, and thats that.

  21. Asaf you just don’t get it. When the Israeli army goes after a terrorist, kills him as well as six other people, would you accept the excuse that it was all the terrorist’s fault for being a terrorist and hiding in a populated area? You would never accept that. But didn’t the army only enter the area because of the terrorist? And didn’t he choose to be a terrorist? He did, and the army was totally justified in going after him. But what about the collateral damage? The army remains responsible for that.
    And you are responsible for the collateral damage you cause. But lets be honest. You are about as sincere with your “I’m 100 percent against this” as Bush was when he talked about his pain for the fallen in Iraq. The only thing you are “100 percent against” is taking responsibility.

  22. Your analogy of “collateral damage” is disgusting, and lets leave it at that. I do accept the idea that I need to take responsibility for what I write, but please – do me a favor – according to you, Kant is responsible for Stalin’s acts, because without Kant you wouldn’t have Hegel, and without Hegel you wouldnt have Marx and without Marx you wouldnt have Lenin and then Stalin.
    Im being blamed for some stupid boycott that probably wont pass and is more of a symbolic act. Give me a fucking break. Since I made it clear that I am against this boycott, I have less responsibility for it than Kant had for the crimes of the Soviet Union.
    THis is just another silly and childish method to get me and other critics of Israel to shut up. and that aint gonna happen so instead of trying to do that, deal with my arguments themselves. if you dont like them, respond to them. Thats the way the “war of ideas” work. Stop try delegitimizing anyone who does not think like you.
    And now let me take your own argument, Lincalone TA – isnt it the responsibility of the IDF and Israel for bringing this boycott upon its academics? isnt this just some more “collateral damage” from the human suffering some of its actions have brought upon the palestinian people? I think the link here is much clearer, since my words are only a mediate expression of the acts of the occupation that drive the boycott.

  23. btw – i admit my analogy with kant has flaws (heh.. and i have no intention to compare me to himself, just the idea of responsibility). but the points obvious – how can you hold a man responsible for something he has never called to do? My critic of Israel is not a call for action of any sort, but only of very specific sorts. your same arguments are used against me to claim that my views support terrorism. I DID made call to actions in my short political life, but they were never a call to violence or full divestments, etc.
    -I called for end of palestinian and Israeli violence in public letters,
    -I called for refusal of Israeli youth and my friends in particular
    -I was publicly against the full divestment campaign in my school
    Thats that. get off my back and try facing my arguments, not deligitimizing them.

  24. Asaf can’t even articulate why he is opposed to boycotts, divestment.
    Why do any of you believe he *actually* opposes such practices? He is merely posing.
    He writes:
    “isnt it the responsibility of the IDF and Israel for bringing this boycott upon its academics?”
    The mask fell off there kiddo.

  25. full divestments tend to hurt the wrong people, usually workers. Same is with boycotts. with this specific boycott, there is a call to limit academic freedom by imposing requirements to align with certain political beliefs. I cant support that.

  26. True, Asaf is a faker,
    If he really believes that Israel is terrible … then why wouldn’t he support a boycott? I’m sure he does.
    Asaf wrote: “Your analogy of “collateral damage” is disgusting, and lets leave it at that.”-
    Is that how you answer something – by ignoring it?! Pretty usual for lefties!
    Lincalone is right!
    Asaf blames Israel for “collateral damage” but Asaf himself “is not responsible.” – hypocrite.

  27. I found the comparacant of my writing to attacks of IDF – disgusting. I did not ignore the comment made by Lincalone.
    Joe Schmo writes: “If he really believes that Israel is terribe… then why wouldn’t he support a boycott? I’m sure he does.”
    hehe.. obviously you’re having a lot of problems to see that i dont support the boycott. your comment is an interesting glimpse into your bizzare comprehension of the world – if something doesnt fit into your ideological world view, you’ll jam it in anyway. Just great.
    I’m sorry joe schmo, i dont support the boycott. and seriously – i have nothing to hide – i express my views very publicly and am obviously not ashamed in them even if they’re not that popular sometimes.

  28. “full divestments tend to hurt the wrong people, usually workers. Same is with boycotts. with this specific boycott, there is a call to limit academic freedom by imposing requirements to align with certain political beliefs. I cant support that.”
    OK, good. However you also said:
    “it [is] the responsibility of the IDF and Israel for bringing this boycott upon its academics…”
    Now explain why the IDF and *Israel*, and not the biased and irrational radical antizionists who propose boycott and divestment, are responsible for the call for such measures.

  29. they both hold responsibility. but the fact is – without an occupation you wouldnt have divestment campaigns. the full divestment is misguided in my opinion, but that doesnt mean that its not motivated by the occupation. I dont see the contradiction.

  30. “they both hold responsibility”
    OK, so now, according to you, both sides, the “IDF and Israel” and “the biased and irrational radical antizionists” are (more or less equally?) responsible for the antizionist’s anti-Israel bias and prejudiced methods?
    “without an occupation you wouldnt have divestment campaigns”
    That’s speculation of course, but after disengagement we’ll see. Obviously, without a state of Israel there would be no divestment campaigns. However, I don’t see why looking at the issue this way gives the radical antizionist position any credibility. Without Palestinians there would be no occupation! That logic is ridiculous…
    “I dont see the contradiction.”
    There is no contradiction per se. Only an indication of the sort of lazy moral equivalence-making and inherent anti-Israel bias that is just plain uninformative, obscurant and an obstacle to real debate.

  31. Uh, Asaf, for somebody who expressed opinions so strongly, you sure ran away from mine mighty quickly.
    Please reread my post carefully and note that it does not boil down to telling you that your criticism is justified. It isn’t justified, but you have a right to make it. Your words about the “reality” created by the IDF and Israel rarely seem to take into account the “reality” created by the Palestinians. They rarely seem to address the basic humaneness of the Israeli military.
    My argument revolves around the presentation of ideas in an honest, fair and equitable manner. Nobody here is encouraging anybody to misrepresent anything or to lie. If Moby wants to put up pix of home demolitions, fine. Just make sure your commentary explains why they happen. The other day he posted some bullshit about Jews lynching of Christians as if this is some historical fact. His source was another blog, covering a book that was getting its information from another book that was relying upon the testimony of a Christian cleric from about 1500 years ago. Puhleeeeze.
    Stop running away from what you do. You want to have your cake and eat it. You want to go public and tell the world that Israel and the IDF suck. To make your point, you focus on the negative and do not provide balance. Then, when people listen to you and react accordingly by talking about boycotts, divestments, single state solutions, etc., you say that your remarks which were intended to influence the public at large in the first place, have nothing to do with any actions the public might take.
    You can try to avoid addressing my points because they undermine what you’ve been doing for a while now, but that won’t change the facts. Sorry.

  32. What am I running away from again? You are claiming that I gotta show two sides of the story (thats what you mean by balance, no?) while I claim that each person can tell one one side of the story. You tell yours, I tell mine. We fight it out. We’re all wrong to a certain degree, thats sure. But to say that I am unbalanced is a very roundabout way to say that I think differently from you about this conflict.
    i am amazed that you think i need to take responsibility for an act taking place somewhere else in the world by a bunch of academics who dont give a shit about me or you.

  33. -Best of Asaf’s Bullshit from this thread-
    First I’d like to say:
    “isnt it the responsibility of the IDF and Israel for bringing this boycott upon its academics?”
    Yet since you mention it:
    “they both [European antizionists and Israel] hold responsibility”
    “i am amazed that you think i need to take responsibility for an act taking place somewhere else in the world”
    “We’re all wrong to a certain degree, thats sure.”
    “You tell yours, I tell mine.”
    *Asaf, your perspective, as always, is truly illuminating.

  34. Actually my previous post should have ended with:
    “What am I running away from again?”

  35. Asaf, for somebody who takes an active role in voicing your opinions about the conflict, Israel and the IDF, you are also mighty fast at absolving yourself from having any impact on the people who might be listening. Since you have no impact at all, I guess it would make no difference if you stopped expressing your one sided opinion, right? So please stop, nobody will mind and it will have a negligible impact on the universe.

  36. of course I take responsibility for the things I write – and i stand behind most of the things i write (taking into consideration that once in a while my opinions change). I write them to influence people, that goes unmentioned. but thats a looong way from me taking responsibility for every action every person with similar opinions to mine takes, especially if I publicly present my positions on the matter.
    regarding those quotes of mine, just read what i wrote. no need to make anyone shortcuts. its very obvious what i stand for and what i dont. thats why i posted that I was against this boycott.

  37. Sure it’s clear ‘where’ you stand. You keep telling us. Less clear is ‘why’ you are against the boycott considering your other postions, and this was always themore interesting question. My point, which is quite clear by now, is that your current position is a hollow pose. That is, you are a bullshitter in the epistemological sense; you seem to have no interest in finding or discussing the truth. My “Best Of” your bullshit list is actually a very useful shortcut for someone intertested in understanding the quality of your bullshit.

  38. so its obvious what kind of idea you have of me. its a streotype and therefore when you’re faced with contradictions you deny them. is that how you develop your political ideas? you have a preconceived idea and when its contradicted you just deny that reality? thats telling more about you than about me.
    may you please explain to me how me being against the boycott contradicts ANY of my other positions (of which you know so well..)
    Notice how T_M took a more sophisticated approach – as far as I can tell he doesnt deny that there is no contradiction, but he claims I hold responsibility for the boycott. I showed already the problem with his argument and you are retreating to an even more rediculous one.

  39. Asaf, you should stop yawing and start arguing. You are correct that I am making assumptions about you. (You call them ‘stereotypes’ I’ll call them inductions or inferences, but it’s not important.) I believe you think Israel is fundamentally colonialist. I believe that you think Israel is especially guilty of human rights violations, in a way that other nations are not. I believe you think the overall behavior of the IDF in the occupied territories should be understood in terms of war crimes. Now, if I believed such things were true, I would favor boycotts, divestments etc. for the same reasons that similar methods were effective in ending apartheid in South Africa, because that is the obvious point of reference here. I don’t think you are ‘responsible’ for this boycott in the way TM suggests. You are an insignificant piss-ant on a blog, like me. What I do think is that you are full shit, and I think my conclusion is very well supported by the evidence. That’s all I claim. I apologize if my ‘unsophisticated’ conclusion offends your delicate sensibilities.

  40. your portrayal of my views is definitely stereotypical and generalizing, but thats not the main problem with your assertion. you still havent given me evidence that my political view contradicts with being against boycotts.
    I dont favor boycotts and full divestments because while they MAY seem to be effective tools to end the occupation, they are not. We are not south africa, the situation is very different. Boycotts and full divestments tend to hurt the wrong people, alienating would-be supporters etc. I just dont seem them as effective measures.
    Regarding the specific boycott being discussed, I mentioned specifically in my responses why I am against it – it attacks academic freedoms and pinpoints academics for their political views. I am very much against that due to my libertarian tendencies.
    Your argument is very weak – just because I am against the occupation doesnt mean I am against all the suggested means to fight it. Your are mixing up the ends and the means.
    All this being said, your portrayal of my views is caricaturistic: I dont think Israel is “especially guilty of human rights violations ,in a way that other nations are not.” BS. I can give you many examples of such countries (USA for instance?)

  41. No Asaf, what I said was that your actions and words give support to movements such as these. Also, the logical conclusion to your claims is a boycott as Reinhart points out. Your statement about how there’s a problem with my argument wasn’t convincing at all. Sorry and have a nice day.

  42. OK. So only two out of three of my generalizations were correct. I don’t think that’s too bad! As for the third, your example of the US as a exemplary instance of a human rights violator to set beside the case of Israel is hilarious! (They have gas chambers in North Korea y’know? Are poets jailed in the US as they are in Cuba? Are woman’s and gay rights better in the US or Saudi Arabia? Where exactly do you *choose* to live again?) I don’t portray you as a caricature; your positions do it all by themselves! You are a very silly man. And your arguments don’t make any sense at all. What the fuck does this even mean: (?)
    “Your argument is very weak – just because I am against the occupation doesnt mean I am against all the suggested means to fight it. Your are mixing up the ends and the means.”
    You sure I’m mixed up? You need to learn to express yourself more clearly if you want to be taken seriously.

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