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Archives: June 2006

Mon Jun 26, 2006

Palestinian teachers union calls for Sari Nusseibeh's dismissal

A Palestinian teachers union has called for the dismissal of Al-Quds University President Sari Nusseibeh for "normalising ties with Israel" and "serving Israeli propaganda interests".

A statement by the Palestinian Union of University Teachers and Employees (PUUTE), published on the front page of the Ramallah-based daily Al-Ayyam, on Monday accused Nusseibeh of "normalising relations with the Sharon government" despite the Israeli prime minister's policy of "bullying the Palestinians and stealing their land".

"This constitutes a strong blow to the Palestinian national consensus against normalisation with Israel," said the statement.

"We call on all concerned parties within the Palestinian Authority, including President Mahmoud Abbas and the Higher Education Council, to take the necessary measures to put an end to this behaviour, which doesn't represent the position of the Palestinian university teachers and employees, and dismiss the president of the Al-Quds University."

The statement also accused Nusseibeh of acting against a recent decision by Britain's Association of University Teachers to boycott Israel's Haifa and Bar Ilan universities. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jun 26, 06 | 4:43 pm

Sat Jun 24, 2006

Confront the colluders in Israel's academy

Israeli scholars have either collaborated in the occupation or turned a blind eye. They deserve a boycott, argues Lisa Taraki

Although Menahem Milson's career path and mine have been on a collision course, we have never met. In 1976, I joined Birzeit University in the occupied West Bank as a junior instructor in sociology. The same year, Milson, a professor of Arabic language and literature at the Hebrew University, became "adviser on Arab affairs" in the Israeli Government.

By 1981, when the academic community I was part of was struggling under the crushing yoke of Israeli punishments, he was appointed head of the military administration in the West Bank. One of the highlights of his tenure was the notorious "Village Leagues" scheme, a failed experiment in promoting a class of Palestinian collaborators to mediate Israeli rule. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jun 24, 06 | 11:14 am

Tue Jun 20, 2006

Israeli university boycott: how a campaign backfired

Following a heart attack earlier this year, Paul Mackney, then general secretary of the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (Natfhe), was lying in hospital last month flipping through emails on his Blackberry. A proposal calling on the lecturers' union to encourage an academic boycott of Israel had just been made public, and flooding his inbox were messages accusing him, among many things, of being a "Bin Laden-oriented supporter of Islamic terror and propaganda" and an "ultra anti-semitic Nazi". Later, at the union's annual conference, he leaned over during a debate to show the most recent: "Subject: Jew Hater!" it read. "It's nice to hate Jews and single them out for everything! It's called ANTI-SEMITISM you disgusting piece of shit."

Mackney was sent over 15,000 messages from boycott opponents. At least 50,000 more were sent to other leaders of Natfhe and the Association of University Teachers, which passed a similar motion last year. Petitions with more than 17,000 signatories were sent to the union. While much of the criticism was well formulated and respectful, there was something troubling about the massive international campaign. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jun 20, 06 | 9:13 am

Mon Jun 19, 2006

On Boycotts, Activism and Moral Standards

Gideon Levy of the Israeli daily Ha’aretz is an artist at the crafts of reportage and commentary. Prolific yet deeply thoughtful and fair, Levy delivers his subjects whole and unfiltered on the page, speaking from the heart in their own voices. His analysis is honest, insightful, and often devastating in its indictment of Israel’s occupation.

Yet even the most ardent fan will find cause to quibble from time to time. In a piece that cleverly exposes the hypocrisy in Israel’s complaint that boycott and divestment campaigns against it are “illegitimate” (With a little help from the outside, Ha’aretz, June 8, 2006), Levy also charges international activists with a “moral double standard” in expending their outrage against Israel when they should be tending the home fires. For instance, British and Canadian boycotters should shoulder their own responsibilities and work to end their countries’ occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Whatever the origin of this critique, it deserves rebuttal because it puts political activism in a conceptual and moral straitjacket while denying the fundamentally international character of Israel’s occupation. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jun 19, 06 | 7:00 pm

Sun Jun 18, 2006

Why the Boycott of Israel is Justified

The recent boycott resolutions of CUPE and NATFHE against Israel’s Apartheid predictably awakened Israel’s willing apologists, initiating a high pitched chorus of condemnation and self pity across the Western media, not to mention the blogosphere.

Their arguments, however, are flimsy, not to say rotten. I’ll review them one at a time.

But first a clarification. The boycott/divestment/sanctions (BDS) campaign is a very diverse campaign. Each organization has its own specific criticism of what it condemns. Israel’s offensive policies of colonization in the West Bank and Gaza are the common denominator, but some organizations go beyond that. Likewise, each organization has a different take on what action its members should undertake. But all agree on the need for and appropriateness of some kind of collective action that puts pressure on Israel. I have my own take on both these questions -- what to condemn and how to respond -- but my following remarks address only the broad consensus. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jun 18, 06 | 11:12 am

Sat Jun 03, 2006

Academics Must Take a Leading Role ..

The recent vote by NATFHE in support of a boycott of Israeli institutions is the latest in a series of similar international decisions that signal the determination of civil society to put an end to one of the most brutal and racist colonial enterprises in recent history. Only a few days earlier, an overwhelming majority of delegates of the Ontario division of Canada’s largest union, representing more than 200,000 workers, voted to support the boycott campaign. And last November, the United States Green Party became the first political party to publicly endorse a statement calling for a comprehensive strategy of boycott and divestment to pressure the government of Israel to end its abuse of human rights in Palestine. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jun 03, 06 | 10:26 am