Academic boycott of Israeli universities likely to be overturnedI have to hand to Sue Blackwell, she's been very courageous. She has been personally vilified in all of the mainstream media now and no one wants to be accused of anti-semitism. And I agree with her, the passing of the boycott resolution in the first place will have a lasting impact with many no seeing a)Israel as an apartheid state and b) the zionist movement marshalling its forces to overcome what was a democratically taken decision. The zionists are getting clumsy in their arrogance. They're still going on about Ken Livingstone believing that having the mainstream media on their side represents a victory. Wrong again.
By Jon Boone
The supporters of a controversial boycott of two Israeli universities have accepted that the measure is likely to be overturned at a special meeting of Britain's biggest university lecturers' union later this week.
Sue Blackwell, an academic at the University of Birmingham who attracted worldwide condemnation [and worldwide support]for leading calls to cut academic links with the universities of Bar-Ilan and Haifa, said she expected the boycott to be rescinded on Thursday by the Association of University Teachers.
"I think a stitch-up is quite likely. It looks like the meeting is going to be packed with people who never usually bother to come to conference because of the campaign that has been waged against us," she said.
Members of the AUT voted at their annual conference in Eastbourne last month to boycott the two universities for their alleged [alleged?]complicity in human rights abuses.
Haifa University was accused of restricting the academic freedom of staff who are critical of the Israeli government, and Bar-Ilan University was boycotted for its links to a college in the disputed settlement of Ariel.[disputed? I thought was illegally occupied and illegally settled by the population, well Jewish population anyway, of the occupying power]
Haifa has started defamation proceedings against the union over the allegations.
Anti-boycott activists hope they will overturn the original motion, which they say was not properly debated and did not represent the balance of views of the whole [new] membership.
Even if the policy is overturned, supporters of the boycott say the campaign has encouraged more British academics to shun joint scientific projects in Israel than ever before.[now that is true]
"The boycott is there, active and expanding," said Professor Steven Rose, a professor of biology at the Open University. "Because of the campaign it has become a much more high-profile issue and academics will not be able to ignore the treatment of Palestinians when they do joint-projects with Israelis.
"[Israel] is very strong in areas such as neuro-science, genetics and stem cell research so British scientists will lose out. But the people who will lose out most are the Israelis because they value links with Europe so highly."
Opponents said the boycott would have little effect on research, but was an unacceptable attack on academic freedom. David Hirsh, a lecturer at Goldsmiths College and one of the co-ordinators of the campaign to overturn the boycott, said Israel was being "unfairly demonised".
He said: "The logic of their position is that Israel is an illegitimate state and that Jewish nationalism is unlike that of any other nationalism. I think that is essentially an anti-Semitic position and there is a risk of Jews working and studying at British universities being unfairly painted as racist if they do not describe themselves as anti-Zionists." [this might apply to Israelis generally but definitely not to Jews in general]
Dr Blackwell said she was offended by the suggestion that the boycott was in some way motivated by anti-Semitism, and said she had a track record of fighting all forms of racism.
Richard Engel as a judge of the debate
6 hours ago