Friday, May 27, 2005

Academic freedom

The Brits have reversed the Association of University Teachers (AUT)'s boycott of Bar Ilan and Haifa Universities with a two-thirds majority, showing how much of the anti-Israel activity in academia and on campus could probably be stopped if only Israel's supporters were more vigilant, better organized, and more determined.
Sue Blackwell, who organized the original boycott, complained that the vote had been 'fixed' and that many of the people voting had never participated in AUT before. She conveniently forgot to mention that the original vote was also fixed, deliberately held on erev Pesach (on a Shabbos, noch) so that many Jewish delegates couldn't be there, and without anyone speaking against the motion because 'time was running short.' Which is of course not 'fixing' a vote.
Blackwell has also vowed to continue trying to ostracize Israel and declared that
while she had been accused of harming academic freedom, the discussion of such freedom had no significance while Palestinian students did not even have the freedom to get to university.
This line of accusation is repeated by another of the boycott's organizers, Steven Rose, who
said those at Bar-Ilan and Haifa universities who had raised their voices in protest against the infringement of their academic freedom did not do so when it came to the academic freedom of their Palestinian colleagues.
It is true that Palestinian students have in the past sometimes been prevented from attending university on particular days due to Israelis closing certain roads, curfews etc., and that this is a problem. This was in response to Palestinian terror, however, to protect lives, was not a systematic move against academic freedom, and would be solved immediately if Palestinians stopped trying to murder Israelis. The fact is that by and large, not only are there Palestinian students in Israeli universities, but the Palestinians have well-known, well-attended and extremely lively universities including Bir Zeit and Alquds. So lively, in fact, that the Palestinian universities (especially Bir Zeit) are known as hotbeds of radicalism and terror -- whilst most Israeli universities harbor the only die-hard Leftists still known to exist in Israel... If there is any lack of academic freedom in the Palestinian institutions, I would suggest it comes not because of anything Israel has done but from the Palestinians themselves, who ensure through social pressure and other means that academics toe a strictly anti-Israel, anti-peace line. Case in point: the Ha'aretz article ends with Palestinian university teachers calling for Alquds President Sari Nusseibeh, the exception who proves the rule,
to be fired for violating a boycott by signing a cooperation agreement with an Israeli school.
Hey, what about his academic freedom? When are we going to hear Sue Blackwell standing up for him?

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