Dr Rynhold
Photo: Alice Rynhold

'Boycott call reminiscent of witch hunt'

Responding to UK lecturers' call to boycott Israel, Bar Ilan professor says Israel not apartheid state, shouldn't be held to higher standards than other countries, including US and Britain

"The British lecturers' union is trying to de-legitimize Israel by promoting radical prejudice," Dr Jonathan Rynhold of Bar Ilan University and member of the international Advisory Board for Academic Freedom said Wednesday following a decision by Britain's University and College Union (UCU) to consider boycotting Israeli academic institutions.


According to Rynhold, the decision was reminiscent of "McCarthy's witch hunt."


The UCU has called on the European Union to cut funding to the Israeli academia until Israel obeys UN Security Council resolutions and withdraws from the West Bank. This is the fourth time since 2003 that British lecturer groups are calling to boycott Israeli universities.


Rynhold stated that the UCU's "hypocritical" decision was the result of pressure by the radical Left, which believed Israel had no right to exist. "This isn't anti-Semitism, but it's prejudice, according to which the Palestinians and other nations have the right for self-determination, while the Jews don't.


"It's clear to everyone that Israel is not one of the most problematic countries in terms of human rights violations, such as China, Saudi Arabia and even the United States and Britain, which operate in Iraq and whose behavior is much more problematic. And still, it is Israel that is being threatened with this boycott."


'Israel has minority rights, academic freedom'

Rynhold warned of the dangerous link between the academic world and politics. "Only in very extreme cases should academia and politics be bound together, but what goes on in Israel is far from being an extreme case. There is no apartheid here, as some try to portray it.


"In an apartheid state there wouldn't be Arab parties or an Arab judge. We have academic freedom and minority rights, and the Israeli academia encourages peace and enables both sides to get to know each other better."


Rynhold also referred to the University of Haifa, where 20 percent of the students are Arab and where the university's vice president was also Arab.


However, he admitted that the treatment of minorities in Israel left a lot to be desired. "Just like there's discrimination against minorities in every place across the world, it's likely to exist in Israel too. But Israel isn't an apartheid state. The discussion over the Israeli policy is legitimate and even praiseworthy, but boycott is an extreme move, which holds Israel to higher standards than any other country," he concluded.


פרסום ראשון: 05.31.07, 00:35
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