Monday, May 23, 2005

Israeli universities boycott likely to be thrown out.

Israel: Sue Blackwell is resigned to the fact her anti-Israel ploy is going to be overturned.

Sue Blackwell, an academic at the University of Birmingham who attracted worldwide condemnation 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leading calls to cut academic links with the universities of Bar-Ilan and Haifa, said she expected the boycott to be rescinded on Thursday by the Association of University Teachers.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. ...."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." 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.

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