MAY 2005


who is daniel pipes?

A third-ranking Republican member of the U.S. Senate, conservative Rick Santorum (Pa.), plans to introduce so-called "ideological diversity" legislation that would cut federal funding for thousands of American colleges and universities if those institutions are found to be permitting professors, students and student organizations to openly criticize Israel, which Santorum considers to be an act of "anti-Semitism."
Meanwhile in England after a furore of letters and articles in The Guardian it has been decided to ban two Israeli Universities, Bar Ilan University, and Haifa University, from any communication within English Universities.
Professors in Britain Vote to Boycott 2 Israeli Schools by LIZETTE ALVAREZ | The New York Times | 8 May 2005
LONDON, May 7 - Acting in response to an appeal by 60 Palestinian organizations, Britain's leading higher education union has voted to boycott two Israeli universities. The boycott, which has prompted outrage in Israel, the United States and Britain, would bar Israeli faculty members at Haifa University and Bar-Ilan University from taking part in academic conferences or joint research with their British colleagues. The resolution on the boycott, passed by the Association of University Teachers in late April, would allow an exception only for those academics at the two schools who declare opposition to Israeli policies toward the Palestinians. The move has so angered Jewish groups in the United States that one organization, the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, is considering calling on American universities to carry out a counterboycott against British universities

It seems that these are two entirely separate measures with no cross references. But it is possible, perhaps, that the English furore would have collapsed if any reference had been made to American plans, already well developed, to harrass and possibly dismiss Professor Massad and others on US Campuses. Plans devised by the American representative of The USA Peace Institute, Daniel Pipes.
UPDATE 4th April 2005:
and please follow down to THE DEBATE CONTINUES on the end of this page.Update 9th May, letter from Dr.Ilan Pappe at the very end of this page

A demonstration against the  Israeli government's decision to establish an Israeli university in the west  bank settlement of Ariel took place Wednesday May 4, 08:00 AM, near the college of  Ariel (which, according to the government decision, is to be turned  into a university)

The demonstration was organized by  Courage to Refuse, a movement  of IDF's reserve soldiers who refuse to serve in the occupied  territories.The demonstrators call to the  government cancel its poor decision.A settlers' university, on an  occupied land, they say, contradicts the core values of the academic  world as well as its spirit.They also point out that  in every reasonable and peace-seeking agreement, the city of Ariel, which is set in the heart of the West Bank, will not stay in Israeli  hands.

The demonstrators oppose the decision  made last week by British Academics to boycott Israeli Universities in  Israel. However, we believe that  the establishment of an Israeli university in the West Bank is not only  illegitimate, but also is in every aspect against Israel's  interests. More on Courage to  Refuse:


WHY US? (On the academic boycott)
Tanya  Reinhart
Wed, 4 May 2005
Yediot Aharonot, May 4, 2005. Translated from Hebrew by  Mark Marshall.

A boycott decision, like that passed by Britain’s  Association of University Teachers to boycott two Israeli universities,  naturally raises a hue and cry among Israelis. Why us? And why now, “just when  negotiations with the Palestinians might be renewed”?

It may be  worthwhile, however, to consider how the world perceives us. In July 2004, the  International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled that Israel must immediately  dismantle those parts of the wall that were built on Palestinian lands. We  disregarded the ruling. We are turning the West Bank into a prison for  Palestinians, as we have already done in Gaza in the course of 38
years of  occupation, every one of which is a violation of UN resolutions. Since 1993 we  have been engaged in negotiations with the Palestinians, and in the meantime we  continued expanding settlements. In its judgement, the Court recommended to the  UN that sanctions be imposed on Israel if its ruling is not obeyed. The Israeli  reply - no need to worry! As long as the United States is behind us, the UN will  do nothing.

In the eyes of the world, the question is what can be done  when the relevant institutions do not succeed in enforcing international law?  The boycott model is drawn from the past: South Africa also disregarded UN  resolutions. At that time as well, the UN (under U.S. pressure), was reluctant  to impose immediate sanctions. The South African boycott began as a grass roots  movement initiated by individuals and independent organizations. It grew slowly  but steadily until it finally became an absolute boycott of products, sport,  culture, academia and tourism. South Africa was gradually forced to abrogate  apartheid.

The international community is beginning to apply the same  model to Israel in all domains, from the Caterpillar bulldozers that demolish  Palestinian homes, to sports and culture. In the eyes of the international  community, the relevant question is whether the Israeli Academy is entitled, on  the basis of its actions, to be exempt from this general boycott. Many in the  Israeli Academy oppose the occupation as individuals. But in practice, no  Israeli university senate has ever passed a resolution condemning, for example,  the closure of Palestinian universities. Even now, when the wall cuts off  students and lecturers from their universities, the protest of the Academy is  not heard. The British boycott is selective  two universities were selected  to signal to the Israeli Academy that it is being watched. But the Israeli  Academy still has the option of removing itself from the cycle of passive  support of the occupation.

One puzzle still remains Why just us? Why is  Israel being singled out? What about Russia in Chechnya? What about the United  States? What the U.S. did in Falluja, no Israeli general has yet dared to  try.  Indeed, the logic behind a boycott of Israel dictates that a boycott  of the great powers is fully justified. It is only because at the moment there  is a greater likelihood of success in stopping a small state, that Israel became  the focus. Still, if an effort is made to save first the Palestinians and at  least stop the wall, can we condemn that effort as unethical? Is it more ethical  to refrain from trying to save anyone until it is possible to save  everyone?

As usual, we believe that the solution lies in the realm of  force. When the Valencia basketball team tried to boycott Israel in March 2004,  and announced that it would not participate in the League Championship if it  took place in Israel, the steamroller was set in motion; there were threats,  there were mutterings about contracts, until Valencia was forced to relent and  play here. Similarly, in the case of the academic boycott, the global Israeli  lobby has tracked down, one by one, those who have declared support of the  boycott, and have tried to make their lives miserable. The attempt by Haifa  University to dismiss Dr.Ilan Pappe in 2002 was not instigated because of the  Teddy Katz affair, but because Dr. Pappe openly supported the boycott and signed  the original British petition calling for it.

It is possible that the  bulldozer, which has come to symbolize Israel, will succeed in reversing the  decision of the AUT in England. But will this prevent researchers from  boycotting us quietly, without involving the media? Perhaps it would be more  worthwhile for the Israeli Academy to direct its anger at the government and  demand that it finally put a stop to this wall.  

Dr. Nabil Kassis - interview with Palestine Report.

It's not a boycott of academics but pressure on Israel
Published April 27, 2005 Volume 11 Number 43

This week Palestine Report Online interviews Nabil Kassis, President of Birzeit University, on the boycott of two Israeli universities by the British Association of University Teachers (AUT).

PR: Do you think the boycott initiated by the AUT is a positive step?

Kassis: I think it shows awareness on behalf of the AUT of the problems that beset the Palestinian educational system and the problems that teachers here are facing. It's a step that shows solidarity and signals disapproval of the practices of some Israeli universities.

PR: There is some cooperation between Palestinian and Israeli universities. Could such a boycott affect Palestinian institutions?

Kassis: The cooperation you refer to is not between Israeli and Palestinian universities. There are researchers in certain universities that work together or have arranged to work together. In fact, there is a kind of boycott already in our case, manifest through the fact that we cannot move around. We cannot move freely within the Palestinian areas let alone go to Israeli universities and meet with Israeli colleagues and professionals in their fields. If that happens at all, I think it happens in conferences that take place outside the country. The circumstances that pertain here, makes a boycott a fact of life, whether intended or not.

PR: There has been some criticism of the boycott in terms of academic freedom, that such boycotts are counterintuitive in terms of what they are trying to achieve and how they are trying to achieve them. How would you respond?

Kassis: There was also criticism of the boycott of South Africa participating in international sports events. But the question is much deeper than this, and can't be brushed aside with such general statements as to the validity of sports events or academia.

You have here an occupying power that is in very clear breach of the 4th Geneva Convention regarding how to deal with occupied territory. Settlements are being built in occupied territory and you have universities and educational institutions established in these illegal settlements. So how do
you react to such a gross violation of international law? Do you say this is an academic activity and we have nothing to do with it? This would be too hypocritical. You cannot be for international law and also condone things that are in breach of international law.

PR: This boycott is limited in scope and comes from one group in one country. Are you hopeful that such a boycott might spread?

Kassis: It's not the boycott per se. It's about pressure on Israel to desist from practices that contravene international law and are in breach of the law of occupation. This is occupied territory. Israel has been doing things contrary to international law for the past 37 years. Somebody should be telling them 'we don't approve of this and you should change your ways'. Any way this message can be conveyed is welcome. It is not a boycott of academics that is the exercise, but the pressure on Israel, and the pressure on those who can pressure Israel from within, like Israeli academics. It's a protest against the practices of the occupation.

PR: Are these useful and effective ways for people outside to voice their displeasure and pressure Israel?

Kassis: More than displeasure. There should be some very clear positions [by the international community] on the right of Palestinians to exercise academic freedom, which means the right to travel, the right to move, the right to attend conferences, and not have to ask for a permit every time we want to move. The present situation is such that even if you want to go and attend a conference with Israelis held somewhere in geographic Palestine, say in Jerusalem, you need a permit if you are from the West Bank. If you are from Gaza it's even more difficult. Such a permit is not required from Israelis. Israelis can move freely. We can't.

This lack of parity is something the international community should see as a breach of academic freedom because it does not allow academics to pursue their work. It is taken for granted that an Israeli academic can hop to the airport, take a plane, attend a conference and come back without any problems. In our case we haven't been able to plan academic activity for this reason for four decades. This should draw the attention of the international community and calls for action.

PR: The EU in particular has always publicly upheld international norms on this conflict but has been criticized for not following through. Will this boycott help pressure the EU to do more, boycott goods from the occupied territories etc.?

Kassis: I hope that this will provide an example to all those who stand for freedoms, academic and otherwise, and do very little about it. It's no secret that all signatories of the Geneva Conventions are not only obligated to respect the Conventions but also to ensure respect for them. I haven't seen any country do anything serious to enforce that clause of the 4th Geneva Convention on Israel.

Everybody agrees that Israeli practices here are contrary to the 4th Geneva Convention but no country is doing what we think they should be doing to fulfill their obligations under the conventions, which is to ensure compliance. The European countries are no exception to this. We haven't seen any country taking any measure that might be seen as really pressuring Israel.

On the political level, many European countries take good positions, but when it comes to pressuring Israel, well, look at the results: After 37 years, the settlement activity is still ongoing and this is the one activity that makes this occupation different from any other occupation. It's an occupation to displace people and replace them with the population of the occupying power. This is something that calls for serious protests to stop it. This hasn't happened over the past nearly 40 years and I haven't seen anybody taking a serious step on that front.

So, if you are asking whether what is happening by the AUT is moving things in the right direction and more boycotts will occur, this is a little optimistic. But at least it might open the eyes of some academics.

April 27, 2005ŠPalestine Report

Arab News Press Release:
Major Jewish organizations are lobbying the Senate to approve a bill that would authorize federal monitoring of government-funded Middle East studies programs throughout US universities. 19.3.2004
Arab News has learned that the main promoters of this effort to control intellectual debate on the college campuses are all prominent and outspoken supporters of Israel and harsh critics of the Arab and Muslim worlds. They are Martin Kramer; Stanley Kurtz, a contributor to the anti-Arab National Review Online and a research fellow at the pro-Israel Hoover Institution; and Daniel Pipes(photo above), founder of the pro-Israel Middle East Institute and its affiliate, Campus Watch, an organization that keeps tabs on college professors and students who "are or are suspected of being" critics of Israel.

COMMENT FROM Professor Massad, of Columbia University New York. 2002:
While academics live in a world where intellectual disagreements are registered through scholarly debates and discussions,and where methodological disputes are negotiated on the pages of academic journals and books and in the context of conferences, the new self-designated academic policemen refuse to acknowledge such modes of argumentation and fora as appropriate. In their fantasy world, the offending academics must be silenced, dismissed from their jobs, and their offending publications heaped and burned in an auto-da- fe?. The strategy of the thought policemen
consists of a refusal to address any of the offending contentions made by scholars and instead relies on the use of policing methods of discrediting, intimidation, and character assassination often used in societies run by the secret police. The overall purpose of this policing agenda is the destruction of academic freedom and the subversion of democratic procedure.
How will this Ban, or Boycott, affect Dr. Menachem Klein?
Dr Klein is a teacher, researcher, author, human rights activist and peace practitioner. As an academic, he is a Senior Lecturer in Political Science at Bar-Ilan University and, for this year, a Senior Associate at the Middle East Centre of St. Antony's College, Oxford.

As a human rights activist, he is a board member of B'tselem, the Israeli Research and
Information Centre in the Occupied Territories and of Ir Shalem, Peace Now's branch dealing with East Jerusalem. As a researcher and author, he has published extensively on different aspects of the Middle East conflict. His most recent book, which draws on Arabic, Hebrew and English sources as well as his own personal experience, offers an authoritative insider's analysis of
the Israeli - Palestinian Final Status Talks,where he was an expert adviser
to the Israeli Foreign Minister, Shlomo Ben-Ami.

He has also been a member of the political advisory team operating in the office of former Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

Information on Daniel Pipes culled here and there from the Internet:
The Middle East Forum at University of Toronto,April 2005

In an unusual move, with regard to an invitation to Danial Pipes, more than 80 professors and graduate students wrote an open letter pointing out that Mr. Pipes has a "long record of xenophobic, racist and sexist [speeches] that goes back to 1990."

"Genuine academic debate requires an open and free exchange of ideas in an atmosphere of mutual respect and tolerance. We . . . are committed to academic freedom and we affirm Pipes' right to speak at our university," the letter states. "However, we strongly believe that hate, prejudice, and
fear-mongering have no place on this campus."

Mr. Pipes, who has written 12 books, is described in his biography as "one of the few analysts who understood the threat of militant Islam." He is the creator of Campus Watch, a controversial website that reviews and critiques Middle East studies in North America In 2003, under heavy police protection, he told an audience of 180 students at York University that Arab rejection of Israel's right to exist is the root cause of violence in the Middle East, and that Western university campuses are becoming increasingly intolerant of pro-Israeli views. Mr. Pipes also drew criticism when he suggested, following the report into the 2001 attacks on the United States, that Islam is the enemy in the war on terrorism.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Major Jewish organizations are lobbying the Senate to approve a bill that would authorize federal monitoring of government-funded Middle East studies programs throughout US universities. 19.3.2004
Arab News has learned that the main promoters of this effort to control intellectual debate on the college campuses are all prominent and outspoken supporters of Israel and harsh critics of the Arab and Muslim worlds. They are Martin Kramer; Stanley Kurtz, a contributor to the anti-Arab National Review Online and a research fellow at the pro-Israel Hoover Institution; and Daniel Pipes, founder of the pro-Israel Middle East Institute and its affiliate, Campus Watch.

   Leading the charge against any academic criticism of Israel is Daniel
Pipes' "Campus Watch" project (see: ).

   Launched in September 2002, Pipes' website monitors the political views of US professors and graduate students, maintains "dossiers" on professors and academic institutions deemed insufficiently pro-Israel, and urges students to inform on their professors' views. Since its inception, a number of professors, students and other prominent persons have been targeted. The "survey institutions" section includes condemnations of Colorado College for inviting Palestinian activist Hanan Ashrawi to speak at a symposium. In addition to Professor Massad, Columbia Professors Rashid Khalidi and Hamid Dabashi, as well as others such as Tariq Ramadan, have also been targeted.

   * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
   Pipes is the "wrong person for the job"

   Your editorial criticizes my opposition to the Bush administration's appointment of Dr. Daniel Pipes to the U.S. Institute of Peace ("Kennedy vendetta's price," Aug. 27.2004). But a review of his record clearly shows that he's the wrong person for the job.

   The Institute of Peace was founded in order to find ways to bridge differences between nations, cultures and religions to prevent armed conflicts. Its mission is more important today than ever, and we should appoint to it only the best that America has to offer...

   Regarding the Middle East conflict, he wrote, "The idea that a 'peace process' can take the place of the dirty work of war is a conceit." The view that armed conflict is inevitable may be debated in academic circles, but it has no place at the Institute of Peace.

   Pipes also has made various offensive remarks over the years, and has called for racial and religious profiling in law enforcement. He believes that mosques should be targets of police surveillance. These controversial stands make him unsuited for a position that's about bringing people together...

   But surely, we can find someone better to serve at our Institute of Peace.
   - Sen. Edward M. Kennedy

   where does this unpleasant brawl leave academics such as Prof.Illan Pappe and Prof.Naomi Chazan?    Naomi Chazan, a professor of political science at Hebrew University, is currently the Robert Wilhelm Fellow at the MIT Center for International Studies. Formerly the deputy speaker of the Knesset, she has been involved for many years in the Israeli–Palestinian peace initiatives.    Daniel Pipes has already attacked her:

 Preventing war: Israel's options; [Daily Edition]
Jerusalem Post Jul 18, 2001

We understand the dangers a bit differently. For her, (Naomi Chazan), the danger stems from "the failure of the cease-fire and the absence of any movement on the diplomatic front." In contrast, I emphasized "Israeli demoralization over the past seven years, [which has] reignited Arab overconfidence." Not surprisingly, we recommend polar opposite policies. [Naomi Chazan]'s solution lies in Israel resuming what I call the "Oslo niceness" D.Pipes ...


further AMERICAN comment from 2002: Professor Massad of Columbia University.......
Take the examples of two of the better known academic policemen in recent years, the American Daniel Pipes and the Israeli Martin Kramer, neither of whom teaches in any US academy...............Their role in the debate is to extend Israeli violence to the US academic arena by bombarding all enemies of Israel with defamatory accusations. It is not Merkava tanks, Uzi submachine guns, or Apache helicopters that are used in this bombardment, but rather newspaper gossip columns and secret police-style dossiers to name the preferred methods; as for the e-mail spamming, identity theft, and the death threats to which the unrepentant have been subjected, one can be sure that Kramer and Pipes are unconnected to either of them. Admittedly, their campaigns, unlike the Israeli government's campaigns, have not yet eliminated anyone physically (although the death threats sent by others to many of us continue), but the main point is to eliminate us professionally, and, failing that, to terrorise us into silence. Like the Israeli strategy of indiscriminate violence and terror, these campaigns have failed to achieve their purpose, whether to stop the Palestinians from resisting Israel's illegal occupation and violence in the case of Israel, or to stop Israel's academic critics in the case of the academic policemen.

This campaign of intimidation against academics has been well planned and conceived with one major goal in mind: defamation. This is undertaken by following a number of steps involving refusal to engage any of the ideas or propositions put forth by the targeted professors, much less to refute
them, consistent use of innuendo, fabrication of claims based on half-quotes pulled out of context, recruitment of young and impressionable defenders of Israel's aforementioned "rights" on college campuses, use of the right-wing press to whip up hysteria about anti- Israel sentiment being allegedly rampant on US campuses, and calls for outright dismissal of professors found guilty of not upholding Israel's "right" to be a racist state. The less the US public believes in defending Israel's crimes, the more intense the campaign becomes...................

The campaign against university professors and instructors began in earnest in the Spring of 2002 and has not abated since. Columbia University, where I teach, is a major focus of the campaign, as it is seen by Kramer and Pipes as a major battleground for their cause. In addition to the unceasing
campaigns against Edward Said, the campaign is now focussing on new professors, namely University of Chicago Professor Rashid Khalidi who will be joining Columbia University next fall, Professor Hamid Dabashi, the chairperson of the Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures at Columbia, and myself. Other professors and academics targeted on other campuses include John Esposito, Juan Cole, Ali Mazrui, M Shahid Alam, and Snehal Shingavi, among others.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Professors in England, signatories of recent letters to the Guardian, are entering an arena where combatants are already struggling for their own academic freedom and for concepts of educational and financial freedom in respect of the Universities themselves.Oxford University is in a turbulent condition at the moment with the prospect of Reform that will destroy centuries old tradition there.

The academics involved in this boycott will all suppose their embargo is of greater importance - but it cannot supersede either the unrest, described above, or the activities of Messr. Pipes, Kramer and Co. Infact it will bolster the Bush Programme of investment in Daniel Pipes, his newly appointed leader of the US Institute of Peace, and possibly seriously affect negotiation prospects for the Palestinians.In addition the Jewish students in England whose political persuasions are knotted together on protests and rumours of protests against Muslim scholars will feel encouraged to persue their political goals that are actually outside the parameters of their studies.

It occurs to me that we have all been wondering and waiting for a strong and organised response to matters in the Middle East from the academic world - but all we got was Professor Susan Blackwell of the University of Birmingham who could not muster an academic lobby against War and obtained only acrimony and a ban on her website - but Surprise! Surprise! She is now marshalling the present campaign and her accumulated "terrors" of Publicity and uncontrolled Advertisements against Fascists and other sinners are forgotten.

She will soon have to measure up to the campaign in USA by Mr. Pipes and metaphorically ofcourse we can hope that the Pipes theories will disappear down the Blackwell and surge up again with only the purest and transparent streams of reason as the background for debate. On one hand the racial hatred that has now become the refuge of liars and publicity seekers, and on the other the political status of all citizens that is at the mercy of three politicians, George Bush and Tony Blair and Ariel Sharon. Two who have accumulated for themselves, if mankind shall survive to reminisce on our history, the shame and guilt of a depraved "war", the shame and guilt of lies told, and the shame and guilt of demonstrating to the whole world the folly of unprincipled control of Laws and Governments that have previously been regarded as the preserve of democratic sanity, trust and strength.One who is a war criminal, admitted so by his own Government, who is determined to go down in history as the architect of the Israel Empire of the Middle East.

But where indeed does academic debate lead? Only to the sorry sight of academics in disarray, and their status as possible negotiators for peace completely destroyed? Threats to University Charters have accumulated for Professors for many years recently, Industrial overtake and Funding Perogatives, Dissent on many fronts, quality of newly introduced Women's studies and Salaries and Science Funding ofcourse.Is this new furor among Professors possibly a more serious threat to the Academic world than any of them realise?
J.Braddell, editor.

The boycotts are based on specific causes in the case of each university. At Haifa, it is due to the controversy surrounding a masters thesis by Teddy Katz documenting a massacre during the 1948 war at Tantura, a document which was roundly lambasted by many Israeli academics. It was defended by Ilan Pappe of Haifa U, who has been harassed due to this and other political causes. At Bar-Ilan, the call for boycott is based on that institution?s allegiance with the College of Judea and Samaria, an Israeli/Jewish college in the Occupied Territories.

Below, we find two views of the academic boycott. One, by Prof. Baruch Kimmerling of the Hebrew University opposes the boycott; the other by Ilan Pappe defends it. Finally, we include a JVP view of the whole issue of targeted sanctions, boycotts and divestment, by Jewish Voice for Peace Board of Directors member, Henri Picciotto.

JVP has long taken the stance that outside pressure on Israel is absolutely crucial if the occupation is ever to end. But we also believe that such pressure needs to be properly targeted, both for ethical and tactical reasons. We offer these various views to you to stimulate discussion, debate and creative thinking on this controversial subject. --

Mitchell Plitnick, Director of Education and Policy, JVP

The Meaning of Academic Boycott

By Baruch Kimmerling

The British Association of University Teachers' annual council, which convenes on April 20 in Eastbourne, will also debate whether to boycott Israeli universities as a protest against oppressive policies directed against the Palestinians. The motion submitted to the AUT additionally specifies three reasons for boycotting three Israeli Universities. The allegation against the Hebrew University is based on a simple dispute over a real-estate plot which was settled some time ago and has nothing to do with the occupation or oppression of the Palestinians. Namely, the institution is planning to construct a large complex of dormitories, partly on land formerly settled by several Palestinian refugee families uprooted during the 1948 war. In fact, the entire Mt. Scopus campus was an Estate of the British Lord Gray and was purchased by a Russian-Jewish philanthropist in 1919 and donated for the purpose of establishing a university. It was never owned by any local population under any title and was never cultivated by them.Moreover, the dormitories on campus provide much-needed housing for hundreds of Palestinian students who face difficulties renting apartments in town. By this way the motion mixed the general issue of protest against Israeli policy that having nothing to do with the universities with some presumed wrongdoing of specific institutions.

Admittedly, a more serious charge, which is directly connected to the occupation, is the one regarding the academic recognition extended by Bar Ilan University to the College of Judea and Samaria located in Ariel, a West Bank settlement. Charges against Haifa University seem partially justified as well. It seems to me that Dr. Ilan Pappe is indeed harassed for his political views by some faculty and administration staff. However, as a tenured staff member, his position is secure. The controversial MA thesis by Mr. Theodore Katz (submitted at the same institution) which included a chapter about a massacre committed by Israeli forces in the village of Tantura during the 1948 War was retracted under threat of a libel suit. Additional misconduct on the part of this institution, such as the dissolution of the Jewish-Arab theater ensemble, does exist. However, the situation in Haifa looks more like a lack of proper leadership combined with the inter-departmental and interpersonal rifts that common at many universities.

Contrary to a few of my Israeli colleagues, I do respect the right of every member of the scientific international community to call for an academic and cultural boycott on Israeli institutions. I even agree with most of the reasons raised in support of this call. However, the very same reasons that lead some academics to call for a boycott lead me to urge the international academic community not only to refrain from boycotting us but to offer us its moral support and protection.

I will be the first to admit that Israeli academic institutions are part and parcel of the oppressive Israeli state that has, among other acts of foolishness and villainy, committed grave crimes against the Palestinian people. A major cause for the Israeli academy's inseparability from the state is that we are so heavily funded and heavily subsidized by the government. A successful boycott will have a boomerang effect by cementing the dependence of Israeli academic institutions and their members on an increasingly capricious government.

Since Mrs. Limor Livnat?s appointment as Minister of Education, the Israeli academy has become the target of a reconstruction and "reeducation" campaign. This policy was in no way accidental. In Israel today, mass media is generally chauvinistic and unwilling to challenge the policies of the Sharon government. Dissenting journalists who document the daily afflictions and human rights violations suffered by the Palestinian population, are the subject of petition drives designed to pressure the country's most liberal private newspaper, Ha'aretz, to stop publishing their work. In this repressive climate, the Israeli academy remains almost the last bastion of free thought and free speech. Most of the humanistic and dissident voices in Israel sound from the ranks of the academy, or are supported by its faculty members.

This is not to say that all the members of the Israeli academy are great humanists or necessarily support the idea of self-determination of the Palestinian people. We are a highly heterogeneous community, as is true of any other fine academic establishment. Some of us are highly active in ethnocentric groups. Others (perhaps the majority) are alienated from any public or intellectual activities. Nevertheless, a small but salient minority remains consistently very active and highly committed to the humanization and democratization of various aspects of Israeli society. Finally however, the most important feature of this community is that, in spite of the deep ideological rifts separating us, we continue to co-exist and to conduct a spirited dialogue amongst ourselves as well as with the world outside the ivory tower. This is made possible by the protective umbrella of academic freedom

In addition, I believe that the Israeli academy has stood fast in a time of crisis and has conducted itself more responsibly than, say, the British academy (when the British government was engaged in acts of brutality against the Irish-Catholics, during the Falkland/Malvinas war, or throughout the long Thatcher regime), or the patriotic American academy (during the current war against Afghanistan, the McCarthy era witch-hunts, or even during most phases of the Korean and Vietnam wars). Yet, I have never heard of any calls to boycott either the British or American academies. As for the cause celebre of the "successful" boycott against the South African academy, it is well known that it mainly damaged the progressive forces within South Africa and probably hindered its democratization process.

Certain scholars have suggested that the boycott should be institutional, rather than personal. Their call is to exempt "conscientious Israeli academics and intellectuals opposed to their state's colonial and racist policies" from the boycott. Some of these academics have offered ?generously- to cooperate with me (presumably because I am in some catalogue listing the "good guys"), while boycotting my institution. Obviously it is their right to boycott whichever institution or person they wish, but they must realize that if the call to freeze funds to my institution is effective, the resulting constraints on research and conferences will also hurt the "good guys." Moreover, the very idea of making selections among members of the academy is a horrifying prospect and I hereby pledge not to cooperate with any institution or person who will make such selections, disregarding whether I myself am ruled out or accepted by them. Once again, the crucial point here is that the call for a selective boycott, while wrong in itself, also undermines the logic of making a case against the universities at all. Ultimately, selections made on the basis of non-academic criteria endanger academic freedom.

I am fully aware that academic freedom is not above other moral considerations and does not exist within a political and social vacuum. I can understand British academics who feel strong moral resentment when confronted by oppressive policies and war crimes directed against Palestinians and who desire "to do something" within their own profession. Moreover, I can sympathize with Palestinian academics who daily witness the destruction of Palestinian academic institutions and the harassment of faculty and students, while knowing that at the same time, and only a few miles away, my institution operates more or less normally. Their feelings are especially comprehensible in light of the fact that my institution never took any institutional measures to relieve the harsh conditions suffered by Palestinian universities and colleges. And so, while not joining their call for a boycott, I can understand the emotions and motivations behind it.

I have less understanding, however, for my Israeli colleagues who are asking to be boycotted. I do not condemn them, as some my colleagues do, because they are fully entitled to express their opinions and to try to convince us of their correctness. Moreover, they and I share the goal of democratizing and de-colonizing Israeli society. The only divergence between us (besides our different conception of the very meaning of the academy) is that, should their call be taken seriously it would weaken our common academic autonomy and freedom. This sad outcome is the precise goal of our adversaries and will have catastrophic consequences for our common struggle.

On a final note, an agreement was signed between the four major Israeli universities and four Palestinian universities on June 4th in Roma at La Sapienza University. The agreement promotes close collaboration between Palestinian and Israeli researchers and institutions in various fields and disciplines and is endorsed by the Italian government and UNESCO. It declares a strong commitment to turn the campuses on both sides into places of peace, tolerance and pluralism. I strongly believe that supporting and implementing such positive steps will prove infinitely more effective in empowering the rational elements in the region than would futile and anti-academic boycotts.

Therefore, I am calling on the British and international academic community to strengthen its connections with both the Israeli and the Palestinian academic communities, in order to empower them. Both peoples need a strong and secure academic space as a part of their civil societies in order to promote the elements that are able to initiate major social and political changes in the region.

Baruch Kimmerling is George S. Wise chair of Sociology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He has published numerous books and articles on Jewish-Arab conflict, sociology of war and peace, Israeli and Palestinian societies, culture and history, including The Israeli State and Society: Boundaries and Frontiers (SUNY, 1989), The Invention and Decline of Israeliness (California, 2001), The Palestinian People: A History (with Joel Migdal, Harvard, 2003), Politicide: Ariel Sharon's War against the Palestinians (Verso, 2003) and Immigrants, Settlers and Natives (Am Oved, Hebrew, 2004).

Haifa University academic Ilan Pappe is one of the few Israelis supporting the university boycott of Israel. Here he explains why

Guardian, UK April 20, 2005

I appeal to you today to be part of a historical movement and moment that may bring an end to more than a century of colonisation, occupation and dispossession of Palestinians. I appeal to you as an Israeli Jew, who for years wished, and looked, for other ways to bring an end to the evil perpetrated against the Palestinians in the occupied territories, inside Israel and in the refugee camps. I devoted all my adult life, with others, creating a substantial peace movement inside Israel, in which, so we hoped, academia will play a leading role. But after 37 years of endless brutal and callous oppression of the people of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and after 57 years of colonisation and dispossession of the Palestinians as a whole, I think this hope is unrealistic and other means have to be looked at to end a conflict that endangers peace in the world at large.

Violence and armed struggle have also failed, and they can't be easily condoned by people like myself who are basically pacifists at heart. Historical examples, such as in South Africa and Gandhi's movement in India, prove that there are peaceful means for achieving an end to the longest oppression and violation of human rights in the last century. Boycotts and outside pressure have never been attempted in the case of Israel, a state that wishes to be included in the civilised democratic world. Israel has indeed enjoyed such a status since its creation in 1948 and, therefore, succeeded in fending off the many United Nations' resolutions that condemned its policies and, moreover, managed to obtain a preferential status in the European Union. Israeli academia's elevated position in the global scholarly community epitomises this western support for Israel as the "only democracy" in the Middle East. Shielded by this particular support for academia, and other cultural media, the Israeli army and security services can go on, and will go on, demolishing houses, expelling families, abusing citizens and killing, almost every day, children and women without being accountable regionally and globally for their crimes.

Military and financial support to Israel is significant in enabling the Jewish state to pursue the policies it does. Any possible measure of decreasing such aid is most welcome in the struggle for peace and justice in the Middle East. But the cultural image in Israel feeds the political decision in the west to support unconditionally the Israeli destruction of Palestine and the Palestinians. The message that will be directed specifically against those academic institutes which have been particularly culpable in sustaining the oppression since 1948 and the occupation since 1967, can be a start for a successful campaign for peace (as similar acts at the time had activated the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa).

Calling for a boycott of your own state and academia is not an easy decision for a member of that academia. But I learned how the concerned academic communities, worldwide, could mobilise at the right moment when I was threatened with expulsion by my own university, the University of Haifa, in May 2002. A very precise and focused policy of pressure on the university allowed me, albeit under restriction and systematic harassment, to purse my classes and research, which are aimed at exposing the victimisation of the Palestinians throughout the years. This is a particular important avenue, as I am the only one who does it in my own university, and one of the few who does it in the country as a whole, and also because the university has a large community of Palestinian students, who are prevented by draconian regulations from expressing their anger and frustration at what had been, and is, done against their people. These students have felt totally isolated since the university established close links with the security apparatuses in the country. The fact that the university is closely connected to the security services - by providing postgraduate degrees - is by itself not a crime, but as these are the agencies that exercise on a daily basis the occupation in the Palestinian areas, their presence in the campus means academia is significantly involved in perpetuating the evil.

As I learned from my own case, outside pressure is effective in a country where people want to be regarded as part of the civilized world, but their government, with their explicit and implicit help, pursues policies which violate every known human and civil right. Neither the UN, nor the US and European governments, and societies, have sent a message to Israel that these policies are unacceptable and have to be stopped. It is up to the civil societies, through organisations like yours, to send messages to Israeli academics, businessmen, artists, hi-tech industrialists and every other section in that society, that there is a price tag attached to such policies.

I thank you in advance for your support. Should you decide to embark on the bold policy suggested, you empower me and my friends who will, I am convinced of this, be able to build together with our Palestinian comrades a just basis for peace and reconciliation in Palestine.

Ilan Pappe is senior lecturer in the department of political science in Haifa University and the chairman of the Emil Touma institute for Palestinian studies in Haifa.


A JVP position paper by Henri Picciotto

Some members of Jewish Voice for Peace raised the question of how to escalate our nonviolent activism, and the possibility of calling for sanctions against the Israeli government. Many of us are frustrated by the contrast between the horrors of the situation and our inability to effect immediate, sweeping change. Still, we have to keep reminding ourselves that frustration alone is not sufficient foundation for policy, as it provides no useful way to evaluate competing strategies. Nor can we make our decision based on whether we will be attacked: we will be attacked no matter how we choose to proceed.

Instead, our criterion has to be "does this strategy build or undermine the movement for justice and peace?" To evaluate this, we need to first acknowledge that we are not anywhere near being able to build an economic pressure movement that could actually force the hand of the Israeli government. The sanctions against South Africa were a tactic at the tail end of a decades-long movement, when the South African government was thoroughly isolated in the US population. As of now, the Israeli occupation has powerful support in the United States. Not only the US government, not only the military-industrial complex, not only both major parties, not only the Christian right, but also millions of ordinary citizens. Not everyone by a long shot, but enough that it is a significant obstacle to any forward motion, and a guarantee that sufficient economic leverage against the Israeli occupation is not yet within our reach.

Our central task by far, and for the foreseeable future, is to educate the public so as to eventually be able to influence United States policy, and thus Israeli actions. Our strategic criterion needs to be whether a given campaign helps us educate people, or whether instead it helps our opponent's disinformation machine. On this score, we face a more hostile environment than our European colleagues, and thus we cannot uncritically adopt the decisions of the European Social Forum. (They approved an economic sanctions platform, at the urging of Palestinian activist Mustafa Barghouti.)

A look at recent campaigns is instructive:

On-campus "Divest from Israel" campaigns have crashed and burned, generating fantastic opportunities for our opponents to collect thousands of signatures in defense of the Israeli government (e.g. Harvard) while our allies struggled to collect hundreds. On the other hand, campaigns to "divest from companies that deal with the Israeli military" met with success (Oberlin, University of Pennsylvania).

A campaign to get a San Francisco grocery store (Rainbow) to boycott Israeli goods completely failed, and ended up being a great opportunity for our opponents to portray its sponsors as anti-Semites, a spurious charge, but one that worked for them.

The academic boycott of Israel has likewise been a total bust, while inviting pro-justice Israeli academics has proven useful.

In other words, the situation in Palestine has indeed gotten much worse, but the political situation here in the US is mostly unchanged as far as Israel/Palestine. Choosing a strategy that plays into the hands of our opponents is just wrong: when they attack us, and they will, we want to come out of that confrontation having more supporters, not fewer. The problem is not at all that being attacked is rough going for us -- we can stand a little rough going. The problem is that an effective attack sets us back.

How we frame our campaigns has an enormous impact on the outcome of the struggle. At this point, generic anti-Israel campaigns only weaken our movement and in fact perpetuate the occupation by shifting the debate away from it and towards the phony issue of "Israel's right to exist" and the like. This is a debate we do not need.

Just saying that such sanctions are not aimed at Jews or the Israeli people does not solve the problem. We should instead keep the focus of our campaigns laser-like on the occupation itself (and other human rights violations.) A boycott of goods from settlements does precisely that, as do campaigns against companies that do business with the Israeli military, such as Caterpillar. We should focus on the crimes we seek to stop. Every attempt our opponents make to defend the settlements and the occupation further exposes the nature of these human rights violations.

Of course, even though we do not think generic sanctions campaigns are effective at this time, we continue to reject the absurd charge that they are inherently anti-Semitic. Yes, anti-Semites may call for sanctions against Israel, but most supporters of Palestinian rights are motivated by a humanistic solidarity impulse, and they are our allies in the struggle for justice and peace.

Opposing generic anti-Israel campaigns at this time does not mean we cannot build campaigns that have teeth?Quite the opposite. The campaign against the Caterpillar sales of weaponized bulldozers to the Israeli military is one example. Human rights groups are pursuing this through shareholder resolutions and direct actions, and a divest-from-Cat campaign is definitely a possibility. Another example is the campaign led by the International Solidarity Movement last year, asking the City of Berkeley to support the call for an investigation of Rachel Corrie's death. They did excellent work lobbying the city council, mobilizing allies (including JVP), and actually showing up at the council meetings.

Of many such attempts, this was the first to succeed in Berkeley. All the experts were warning ISM to expect to lose, and yet they won. Because the campaign was focused on a specific human rights violation, rather than generically anti-Israel, it left the pro-occupation forces with nothing effective to do or say -- they raised generalities about anti-Semitism which were just not credible and clearly irrelevant, especially given the presence of a strong Jewish voice for peace at the council meetings. Even if the ISM proposal had not passed, the campaign would still have been a success, because the focus was on justice and human rights, not Zionism and terrorism -- and many people were educated in the process.

The selective divestment strategy is quickly gaining adherents. In Israel, the feminist and anti-militarist organization New Profile has endorsed selective divestment. Here in the US, the Presbyterian Church resolved to explore "selective divestment of church funds from those companies whose business in Israel is found to be directly or indirectly causing harm or suffering to innocent people, Palestinian or Israeli". (Note that they wisely "did not approve a blanket divestment from companies that do business in Israel".) This was the first in what may soon be a torrent of church-based activism: the gigantic World Council of Churches has recently spoken in support of the Presbyterians. The genie is out of the bottle, and we may be entering an entirely new phase in the movement for justice and peace in Palestine/Israel.

Henri Picciotto is a math teacher, a Jew from Lebanon, and a member of the Coordinating Committee of Jewish Voice for Peace.


NO GROUNDS FOR BOYCOTT: letter to the Guardian:As the chair of Dr. Ilan Pappe's department, the division of International Relations at Haif University, and as his personal friend, I would describe the basis for the AUT's decision to boycott Haifa University (April 25) as groundless for the following reasons:

First, the charges against Dr.Pappe in his 2002 trial did not concern his defence of Mr.Katz's thesis or his political beliefs, but rather the style he used and the actions he took in making his stand. Other faculty members who took a similar position, but in a different way, provoked no antagonism and have been treated respectfully by the university authorities.

Second, no proceedings were started against Dr. pappe. This was due to the decision of the university's president of the court that these types of charges should be pursued in a civil court.

Third, after this incident there was no attempt to deny Dr.Pappe his position as a tenured senior lecturer. Hence the AUT's claim "that recriminations (against Dr.Pappe) are still continuing and Dr.Pappe's job is still being threatened" is groundless. Dr.Uri Bar Joseph, Haifa University

Dr. Sami Al Arian, Professor of Computer Science at the University of Florida, gaoled on unknown charges; solitary confinement, on hunger strike.
In the USA it is deemed a crime to be an Arab and a Muslim.   It appears that the only hospitality the USA offers Arabs and Muslims is the inside to US jails where justice and International Law are not granted or recognised for such people which is why hundreds of them have been incarcerated on trumped up charges and in many cases held without charges and denial of legal counsel!!   if any of you know about the imprisonment and false accusations against Dr Sami Al Arian,, could some of your readers write to the relevant judge pending his trial.  He needs as much support as possible. and please keep in mind that he is just a tip of the iceberg, one of many hundreds imprisoned without representation and demonised by US judiciary and the Media's witch hunt against Arab Muslims, irrespective of their genuine innocence. 

Dr.Al Arian writes:

"Despite my being falsely accused four months ago, the Constitution and the law guarantee the accused the right to defend himself. They also guarantee him the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty. However, the treatment I have received since the first day of my incarceration demonstrates that they deal with me as though I had already been tried and convicted. The prison in which I am being held is considered to be one of the toughest in the world. We remain in solitary confinement for 23 to 24 hours a day, and because the prison is more than 70 miles (that is, about 100 km) from the defense team, it is very difficult to prepare a genuine defense, not to mention the fact that the team of lawyers faces severe difficulty in seeing me, meeting with me, or even exchanging papers or documents with me. I also suffer some things that might be considered minor. For example, it is extremely difficult to obtain ink pens, whether fountain or ball point. As for pencils, we are given only two at a time, not to mention the scarcity of paper, which puts me at odds constantly with the prison administration due to my requests that they bring me a pen and some paper. When I leave my cell to meet the defense team, my hands are handcuffed behind my back, which makes it difficult to carry the papers or files relating to the case; the prison officials refuse to carry them, so I am obliged to carry them on my back by walking hunched over for about 200 meters. This is in addition to the rough, humiliating treatment, such as having to get completely undressed whenever I come out of the cell, and the tight restrictions on the use of the telephone to check up on my family and children. In the middle of last June, the federal prison administration decided to prevent me from using the telephone for six months, because my wife put me on the line with my son who is a student in London, their argument being that my son's number wasn't on the list.

"Since last February 20, I have not been allowed to kiss or hug my children on any visit, since the visits are limited and take place from behind glass barriers. We are also subjected daily to severe psychological pressures. There is noise and disturbance night and day, since they have me in a place where there are prisoners suffering from severe psychological exhaustion, which causes them to beat on the cell doors and scream nonstop. The prison administration responds by turning on the warning sirens, which are deafeningly loud, for a long time every day. They may turn them on between 5 to 10 times a day. As for leaving the cell, the prison administration is under obligation to bring prisoners out into the prison courtyard one hour a day. However, this does not happen regularly, since the administration has instructed prison guards to let everyone else out before my turn comes up, and there are many times when I never get a turn to come out."

Q: "What are the reasons for your hunger strike?"

A: "My open hunger strike came about in protest against the injustice that I am suffering. The case is a purely political one, and it is an attempt to silence me and to support the university in its unjust decision to require me to resign from my post. It is also an attempt to silence the Arab and Islamic voice against this Administration's violations through arbitrary laws against civil and constitutional rights, human rights, and political freedoms. However, I do take liquids, and I have managed to fast for God's sake on most days."

www.freesami< /B>

> I know this is a lot to ask, but I need you to do me a > favor TONIGHT!
> Please write a letter to the judge in the Dr. Al-Arian case tonight and mail it first thing tomorrow morning.   Yes, I mean "write" and "snail-mail." As you might know, the defense has asked for the trial (which is scheduled to begin in 12 days) to be moved.  I was at the hearing on the first day responses from the jury pool were reviewed.  Based on what I saw and heard, there is NO WAY Dr. Al-Arian will be able to receive a fair trial in Tampa.  There are three main reasons for this.
> 1. Bias (bigotry) against Muslims and Arabs.  You wouldn't believe how many potential jurors wrote things like "All Muslims are [fill in virtually any bad thing you can think of here]."
> 2. The horrible US Senate campaign in Florida last summer / fall.  Peter Deutch (I don't know how to spell his name), Mel Martinez, and Betty Castor all seem to have forgotten the "innocent until proven guilty" aspect of our judicial system - and they inundated Floridians with misinformation - much of which was absorbed by the potential jurors whose responses I was able to read.
> 3. The indescribably unprofessional coverage by the media, especially the Tampa media, and the Tampa Tribune in particular.  For a good recent overview, please read the May 2 piece by John Sugg at . Some of his earlier works are great as well.  Many of the juror responses said things like "I already know he's guilty because of what I read in the paper."
> I am not asking you to take a stand on Dr. Al-Arian's guilt or innocence.  I am asking you to demand what you would for any trial - that it be fair.  Please write two or three sentences (or more) to the judge in your own words about why it is impossible for Dr. Al-Arian to receive a fair trial in Tampa and ask that the trial be moved, preferably out of state.  A local church voted unanimously on April 24 to write a letter recommending that the trial be moved to Atlanta.  He may or may not be able to get a fair trial anywhere in the U.S., but he certainly will not get one in Tampa.
> I ask you to please take action today!
> Please mail your letter tomorrow morning to:
> The Honorable James Moody
> U.S. Courthouse
> 801 N. Florida Ave.
> Tampa, FL  33602

> I sincerely thank you,
> Seán Kinane

from maisoon Prof. Al Arian

Who is Sami Al-Arian?
The son of Palestinian refugees, Dr. Al-Arian came to the United States in 1975, where he has since lived with his wife of 25 years, Nahla, and his five American born children.

Dr. Al-Arian has been professor at the University of South Florida, where he taught computer science since 1986 and received two awards for outstanding teaching. In 1990, he co-founded the World and Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE), a research and academic institution dedicated to promoting dialogue between the Muslim and Western worlds.

Community Leader
Dr. Al-Arian is a frequent speaker and lecturer on college campuses, churches, and conferences and is dedicated to interfaith dialogue, community development, and civil rights. He served on the board of the Hillsborough Organization for Progress and Equality (HOPE), the largest community group in Hillsborough Co., FL. In 1981, he helped establish the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the largest Muslim grassroots organization in country. He also serves as an imam the local Muslim community in Tampa.

Civic Activist
Dr. Al-Arian has helped empower the Muslim community through his dedicated hard work and personal relationships with other civic, political, and religious leaders in Florida and around the country. He has organized voter registration drives, supported candidates for public office, and lobbied numerous policymakers. Dr. Al-Arian has also attended briefings at the White House and Justice Department, advised several members of Congress, and has met both Presidents Clinton and Bush.

Advocate of Freedom
Dr. Al-Arian is been a tireless voice for freedom and justice at home and around the world. In 1997, he co-founded the Tampa Bay Coalition for Justice and Peace, a local coalition opposed to the unconstitutional use of secret evidence and other civil rights violations, as well as ongoing media attacks against Arabs and Muslims. He also co-founded the National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom, the nation's leading coalition challenging the use of secret evidence, and was elected as its first president in 2000. Dr. Al Arian is the recipient of three Civil Rights
Awards from the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the American Muslim Council (AMC), and American Muslim Alliance (AMA).

Prisoner of Conscience
Since 1995, Dr. Al Arian has been the target of an orchestrated campaign to silence him for his views in support of Palestinian rights.

The Al-Arian Case
After nine years of a highly public investigation, the government has yet to provide evidence to support their claims against Dr. Al-Arian and his co-defendants. Meanwhile, the case has already been intensely politicized by years of misinformation and lobbying by pro-Israel groups.

The government's indictment, which relies heavily on innuendos and guilt-by-association, complete distortion and mistranslation and outright fabrication, is based largely on old allegations that have already been debunked. Despite years of investigation, neither Dr. Al-Arian nor his co-defendants, all of whom were fully aware of the ongoing investigation, ever attempted to flee the country. Yet on April 10, Dr. Al-Arian and Sameeh Hammoudeh, who under U.S. law may only be denied bail if they pose a flight risk or a threat to the community, were denied bail.

Al-Arian and Hammoudeh remain in a maximum-security federal penitentiary in Coleman, Florida under the harshest possible conditions. They are the only detainees in the facility who have not been tried, much less convicted of any crime.

more updates

A.U.T. Special Council called on Israeli boycott proposals for 26th May
The AUT will be holding a special meeting of its national Council after receiving a formal request from Council members.The special meeting of AUT council will be held on Thursday 26 May 2005 in central London following the receipt of a request under rule from 25 members of council.The sole business of this special council meeting will be to have a full debate on proposals to boycott Israeli universities.

From Ilan Pappe, to the Association of University Teachers in Britain
by Ilan Pappe |  | 7 May 2005

The AUT’s decision to reconsider its motions on the academic boycott of Israel seems to confuse procedure and principle. I am not a trade union activist, neither am I a British citizen, but I understand there may – or may not – have been procedural and even tactical errors in the way the decision was taken. Either way, these issues cannot be the focus of the debate over sanctions and boycott. Judging by the amount of time spent – especially by the opponents of the new AUT policy – on debating procedural matters and tactics, there is a risk of the wider public losing sight of the main issue, namely the need to apply external pressure on Israel as the best means of ending the worst occupation in recent history.

I believe I am in a better position than many to judge the tactical and moral dimensions of the academic boycott of Israel. My case was singled out by the AUT as the reason for boycotting my own university, Haifa. I felt honoured by this attention to my predicament and at the same time hoped that the general context, the need to end the callous Occupation, will not be forgotten. In fact, judging from the reactions in Israel, after an initial confusion between the principled issue and private case, there seems to be a better understanding here of the link between the Occupation and the silencing of those who oppose it.

Whether the AUT decides to leave the motions intact – despite the wrath they brought upon me as public enemy no. 1 in Israel – or reword the Haifa motion in such a way as to deflect attention from my own case and stress the link between the boycott policy and the Occupation, I will live in peace with both options. I will feel in both cases that a great cause is being served. The AUT cannot go wrong whichever way it decides to pursue the much needed policy of academic boycott – if only to express solidarity with Palestinian colleagues, whose every basic human and civil right is being violated daily by Israel. Whatever the means, provided the AUT reaffirms its boycott policy, the Association will be remembered in history very much alongside those British and European NGOS whose bold and honourable stand against Apartheid in South Africa will always be engraved in our collective memory.

Two issues must not be obfuscated. The first is that many of those official Israeli and Zionist bodies demanding that the AUT rescind its early decision on the boycott openly justify and actively support the Occupation, some in an official capacity as an integral part of the Occupation itself. Secondly, and most importantly to my mind, should the AUT retract its principled and ethical policy of boycott, it will inadvertently send a message to all Israelis that the Occupation is legitimate and immune from any external pressure or condemnation. The Occupation is a dynamic process, and it becomes worse with each passing day. The AUT can choose to stand by and do nothing, or to be part of a historical movement similar to the anti-Apartheid campaign against the white supremacist regime in South Africa. By choosing the latter, it can move us forward along the only remaining viable and non-violent road to saving both Palestinians and Israelis from an impending catastrophe. Clearly, someone has to be bold enough to take the lead in pressuring Israel through sanctions and boycott in order to avert another cycle of bloodshed that is destabilizing the Middle East and undermining world security and peace. Who, other than academics and intellectuals, can be expected to provide this much needed leadership