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AUT loses the plot

By Andre Oboler

The National Postgraduate Committee passed a motion a little while back condemning the proposed academic boycott of Israel as being against the interests of students in the UK. Previous attempts to boycott have resulted in discrimination against Israeli staff and students on the basis of their nationality. The latest proposal to boycott Israel came from the same old crowd. One of the heads of the boycott movement is Mona Baker, who (as put in an opinion piece in The Times ) “is in cahoots with Britain’s leading anti-semitic lunatic, David Irving” [Giles Coren, Don't play the nutty professor with David Irving, December 14, 2002]. She’s also the one responsible for firing two Israeli academics from a Journal she edited, their crime? Being Israeli, nothing more.

The current motions were put forward by Sue Blackwell who stated in the Guardian that the motions were designed to put pressure on the “illegitimate state of Israel”. I wonder what she considers legitimate, given Israel was established by the UN while most other countries are entirely a result of war? You may have heard of Sue Blackwell before, a few years ago she was ordered to remove web pages from her university website after complaints by the Jewish Board of Deputies… one of the sites she linked to was trying to make out that there was no difference between Israel and Nazi Germany.

The Palestinian Authority officially gave it’s support to the motions – not surprising given the motions stated support for a Palestinian Boycott initiative (quoting the terms of the boycott initiative verbatim) designed to mimic the boycott of South African over apartheid (who needs to argue the facts right? If we treat them the same, people will buy into the argument that they are - without learning the facts). What is the purpose of this boycott? It certainly can’t be to help the current efforts towards peace. Sue Blackwell does not believe Israel should exist at all. She believes that all people deserve human rights like the right to self determination – except the Jews.

Somehow, perhaps something to do with the AUT running the meeting just before the starts of the Jewish Sabbath and a day before the festival of Passover, (not to mention not allowing any speeches against the motion) all bar one of the anti-Israel motions passed. The motions prepared by the Palestinian activists have now become AUT policy, academic freedom has been thrown out the window, and the AUT now has the task of setting up thought police to ensure only Israel academics who agree with their views are published or collaborated with from the UK. You see, left wing Anti-Semitism needs its good Jews to prove it’s not “Racist” - simply against human rights for those it regards as undeserving.

The Academic Friends of Israel (the main group opposing the motions) said that they condemn the AUT call for a boycott which “was based on false information, imposes a discriminatory boycott and vetting of political opinions, and is a backward step in the current climate of positive moves being made in the region.” They also indicated this was the beginning of “a dangerous process against the tenets of academic freedom and may rebound on the AUT itself”.


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