Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Israeli academic boycott

The main university lecturers’ union in the UK has called for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. The boycott resolution called on British college lecturers to “consider the moral implications of existing and proposed links with Israeli academic institutions.” The resolution condemned what it called “the complicity of Israeli academia” in the occupation of Palestinian lands and said “passivity or neutrality is unacceptable, and criticism of Israel cannot be construed as anti-Semitic.

While the Israeli academic establishment has indeed some questions to answer, the resolution nonetheless seems pretty selective in its outrage.

Selectivity of another kind altogether in another resolution passed by the same union, which voted unanimously to reject a government plan to tackle Islamic extremism in universities. The Department for Education set guidelines last year urging university staff to contact police to identify and isolate Muslim students suspected of being radicalized. The report included real-life cases, including students watching online bomb-making videos in college libraries and using prayer rooms for radical meetings

The lecturers likened the initiative to "witch hunts" that would ‘unfairly’ single out Muslim students. Er, pardon me, but among whom exactly would you look for Islamic extremists – The Church of England Choir, the Young Conservatives?.

"Lecturers want to teach students," bleats Sally Hunt, general secretary of the union. "If they wanted to police them, they would have joined the force." Well Sally, my dear, let’s hope that remark doesn’t come back to haunt you. Even though you deserve it, you stupid bitch. The union added that such measures would ‘undermine academic freedom, collegiality and open discourse’.

And of course the Israeli boycott wouldn’t do any of those things, would it?

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