Monday, June 11, 2007

Israel academic boycott III

Colin Green, first clarifying what the UCU motion is about: 'the motion passed was not calling for a boycott, but for a 12-month debate about an academic boycott. I suggest that that is in the best tradition of academic freedom and free speech. We will encourage Israeli academics to visit us, as indeed they did for weeks before the recent debate, and put their case for or against.'

And then expressing his opinion on the substantive issue at hand: 'We cannot go on muttering platitudes about academic freedom and exchange of ideas. What freedom?'

The list of restrictions is too long to detail. Examples include: the closure of Birzeit University for four years; refusal of entry to that and all other universities for teaching faculty and students on the whim of heavily armed Israeli teenagers in uniform at checkpoints; refusal to allow passage to medical students to their teaching hospitals; raiding of campuses in the middle of freezing winter nights forcing women undergraduates to stand for five or six hours outside in their nightdresses simply to humiliate them while their dormitories were ransacked; refusal to allow doctors to attend their clinics and teach students on the ludicrous claim that their ID cards (valid for the previous 15 years) were fake; refusal to allow UK academics entry to Ben-Gurion airport and forced return on the grounds they were engaged in subversive acts simply coming to be medical teachers.

Then has been the refusal to allow a final-year student to attend his graduation ceremony and to add to his humiliation and torment by being forced at gunpoint to stand and watch the proceedings from only 400 metres away; refusal or long delays in granting exit permits for Palestinian research workers and teachers travelling abroad to conferences; the threat that if they travel overseas (especially if they have a Jerusalem ID) they may not be allowed back into their own homes again; endless restrictions on travel within the occupied territories so that attendance at lectures or important exams are a daily nightmare; the forced return of Gaza students "illegally" studying in the West Bank, some after seven years of separation from their families and in their final year of medical training; the deliberate shooting at school buses carrying six to 10-year-old children by Israeli snipers; recently, the kidnapping and imprisonment without charge of five senior university lecturers in Nablus; the killing of a young female medical student by CN gas. All of this I have witnessed at first hand.

Thanks Nakul for this link to a wide-ranging debate between Ilan Pappe (arguing for a one state solution) and Uri Avnery (for two states). Among other things, Pappe says: 'We need the outside world in order to end the occupation. We need public opinion in Europe, in the United States. After forty years we have the right to say that we need an outside pressure on Israel in order to end the occupation, that we don't want to wait for another forty years.'

Ilan Pappe makes a compelling case here. You must already have read it?
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