December 16, 2009

Israeli Academics are up in arms...literally!!!

The AIC published a report on the deep ties between Israel's universities and the security forces, as well as other aspects of the involvement of academics and academic institutions in sustaining the occupation. As the AIC explains
This report aims to empower the debate on an academic boycott by giving information not on Israeli violence and violations of international law and human rights, but on the part played in the Israeli occupation by academic institutions.
So empower yourself! Read the report.

Did you know that scientists at the Technion developed a remote control D-9, the IDF's preferred tool for razing homes and neighborhoods? Or that you can "write a thesis" at an Israeli university guided by an executive at a weapons manufacturing firm? But why not let the groom present himself?
Technion President Yitzhak Apeloighe said: “This new program that we are launching and the yearly donation that Elbit Systems is going to give [...] are an example of the opulent cooperation between the Technion and the [arms] industry.”
Elbit is the company boycotted by the Norwegian Finance Ministry.

But do not think that this is a mere matter of lucre. Israeli universities are smitten with soldiers. The pain of having to spend a few years beating, harassing and killing Palestinians is perhaps somewhat dulled by a nice scholarship:

Israeli law itself stipulates that universities give special treatment to reservist students28 and none of the universities themselves have ever expressed even symbolic opposition to this political interference in the academic sphere; on the contrary, almost all of them have come up with their own original ways of supporting soldiers and the Israeli war-like agenda (way beyond what they are required to by law). The most common method for this is the granting of scholarships and academic benefits based, sometimes solely, on past, present or future military service.

If the thought of the coming anniversary for last year's slaughter of Gaza's Palestinians fills you with apprehension, you would appreciate knowing that those of the perpetrators who were registered students at Ben Gurion's University at the time got paid a special grant of about $50 for a day. The Peres Academic Center (whatever that is), offered special scholarships of over $3000 each to veterans of the slaughter. (There's more, a lot more, so read the report already!)

As the report notes, apart from the utter indecency of these backslap for barbarity programs, special assistance to soldiers constitute discrimination against those who do not serve in the army, and especially against Palestinians.

Some people have started to notice that Israel's allegedly liberal Supreme Court, despite the meagerness of its actual defense of Palestinian rights, is increasingly simply ignored by the army and the government. The Wall in Bil'in is an example. The Supreme Court ordered the path changed. So it did! But Haifa University is no better, also technically in contempt of court for discrimination against Palestinian students. The Hebrew University goes one better, requiring people who visit the campus while not being Jewish to present a police issued "character reference."

The College of Management has a program in "Security Studies." Apartheid 101? Since it is a graduate program, more appropriate would be 'Apartheid 501 '. Bar Ilan University takes care of the grunts, with a special, fast track B.A. for the personnel of the Shabak and similar agencies. Don't count on this book being assigned in any of their courses, nor this one.

Then there is the actual participation of universities in land theft and settlement construction. There are the cases of Arnon Sofer, a professor of Applied Racism, or as they call it in Israel, "demographics," and there is Pnina Sharvit Baruch, who teaches the Law of the Jungle at Tel Aviv school of Law. Both enjoy the warm embrace of their institutions, unlike say, a nebech like Neve Gordon, or the film instructor at Sapir college, Nizar Hassan, who dared ask a student not to come to class in uniform.

The report end with a discussion of arguments for and against boycotts, making a distinction between "ideological" boycotts, that target agents for specific actions, and "tactical" boycotts, that target the group that can exercise pressure on the agents. The report defends both types within the context of the history of BDS, but comes down for a nuanced preference for the "ideological" variant. Very useful.


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