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Sunday, June 05, 2005

 

The British Academic Boycott: The Logic of Sanctions Dawns

On April 22, an important psychological barrier was shattered when the British Association of University Teachers (AUT) decided to boycott Haifa and Bar Ilan Universities because of their "complicity in the racist and colonial" policies of Israel. At its annual meeting, the AUT also voted to circulate the Call for Boycott issued by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) among all its branches. The Palestinian Call is supported by almost 60 of the most important unions, professional associations and educational institutions in Palestine, including the Federation of Unions of Palestinian Universities' Professors and Employees and the umbrella organization of Palestinian NGOs in the occupied West Bank (PNGO).

As expected, the Zionist campaign against the boycott has intensified dramatically, resorting to the now familiar tactics of misinformation to promote the fictional view of Israeli universities as liberal havens for those who champion Palestinian rights. Supporters of the boycott are also accused of anti-semitism, in spite of the fact that many of the most active supporters of the boycott are progressive Jews opposed to the Occupation.

On May 26, the Zionist lobby in Britain succeeded to in reversing the AUT motions on the basis of misleading arguments. One such argument is that the boycott would harm a number of cooperative projects already in place between Palestinian and Israeli universities. But these projects, where they exist, disregard the specific and authoritative call by the Palestinian Council of Higher Education for "non-cooperation in the scientific and technical fields between Palestinian and Israeli universities".

Palestinians academics have largely rejected these 'cooperative' projects because they lend legitimacy, perhaps unintentionally, to Israeli policies of oppression, including continued expropriation of Palestinian land, expansion of settlements, building of the Apartheid Wall, indiscriminate killing of innocent people, demolition of homes and destruction of agricultural land, not to mention the suffocating siege designed to separate Palestinians from other Palestinians as well as from their sources of livelihood, medical services and educational institutions, in a clever attempt to force them out of their land gradually, without attracting international attention. read more

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