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Silent Boycott

Prof. Miriam Shlesinger
Prof. Miriam Shlesinger 
 
Prof. Yosef Yeshurun Photo: Yoni Hamenachem
Prof. Yosef Yeshurun Photo: Yoni Hamenachem
 
 

British 'silently boycott' Israeli academics

Israeli researchers, professors boycotted by British press, higher education institutions in protest of ‘occupation of Palestinian territories’

Moran Zelikovich
Published: 11.12.06, 04:33 / Israel News

The International Advisory Board for Academic Freedom warns against a “silent boycott” in Britain against Israeli institutes of higher education.

 

The council said that Israeli researchers wishing to publish articles in Britain were asked to remove the name of which ever Israeli academic institute they belonged to as a condition for publishing their articles.

 

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The latest “unofficial boycott” was initiated by the “Bibliography of Translation Studies" journal, owned by a British publishing house headed by Mona Baker, a supporter of the academic boycott on Israel.

 

The publishing house invited professors from all over the world to send in articles for publication. Among the many professors who accepted the invitation was Prof. Miriam Shlesinger, Department Chair of Translation and Interpreting Studies at Bar-Ilan University.

 

Shlesinger asked the new associate editor of the publication, Prof. Gaby Saldahana if she would be willing to accept Israeli articles. Saldahana replied that she would accept articles from researchers in Israel, but not from an Israeli academic institute.

 

Shlesinger, who used to head Amnesty International in Israel, decided not to send in an article to the journal.

 

Political protest

This “silent boycott” was taking place alongside other outright boycotts on Israel. An article published on Ynet in September revealed that dozens of academics worldwide called for a boycott on Israeli academic institutes until “Israel ends its occupation of the Palestinian territories”.

 

Despite Israel’s efforts to fight the phenomenon of the academic boycott, the International Advisory Board for Academic Freedom continues to receive reports on more entities which do not want to publish articles by Israeli researchers.

 

Pro - Rector and IAB chair Prof. Yosef Yeshurun responded to the latest case and said, “We adamantly oppose the academic boycotts. Research and study, and their expression through an exchange of open and free ideas, are the basis of civilization, and in their absence there cannot be true progress of human knowledge and understanding.”

 

“Academic boycotts, whether individual or collective, must be stopped immediately,” Yeshurun said.

 

According to him, Israel did not have a clear picture of the extent of the problem, “We appeal to members of university staff and ask to be updated. Our concern is with a development, a change in atmosphere in Europe and that the term ‘boycott’ is used freely in scientific dialogue.”

 

“We fear the boycott will become a legitimate phenomenon. We fear the UCU meeting, an organization of 100 thousand professors, in May 2007’s yearly meeting, when the issue to be discussed, at so far, is the possibility of an academic boycott on Israel,” Yeshurun said.

 

Boycott after boycott

This was not the first time a “silent boycott” was put on professors of higher education institutes in Israel. In May 2006, Richard Seaford, an English professor at Exeter University, was asked to review a book for an Israeli magazine for classical studies.

 

He refused the request and explained that he, along with many other British academics, had signed an academic boycott against Israel, in light of what he called the “brutal and illegal expansionism, and the slow-motion ethnic cleansing”.

 

Two months prior, the London Jewish Chronicle reported that the British magazine Europe Dance had refused to publish an article about Israeli choreographer Sally Ann Freeland and her dance group, because she was an Israeli artist and the editor “opposed the Israeli occupation”.

 

In June 2003, the British Telegraph reported that Andrew Wilkie, a pathology professor at Oxford University, refused to accept a doctoral student from Tel Aviv University because he was Israeli.

 

Wilkie claimed at the time that he was joined by many British academics that were not willing to accept Israelis because of their government’s “gross violation of human rights” against Palestinians.

 

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