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University of Haifa
Haifa University president calls on dissident academic to resign, Letter from Ron Kuzar, English, Haifa University; Letter from Avraham Oz, Theater, Haifa University


1. Haifa University president calls on dissident academic to resign

By Tamara Traubman, Haaretz Correspondent

26th Paril 2005

Haifa University President Aharon Ben-Ze'ev called on Dr. Ilan Pappe, a staff member who supports the academic boycott on Israeli universities, to tender his resignation. "It is fitting for someone who calls for a boycott of his university to apply the boycott himself," Ben-Ze'ev said Monday.

Ben-Ze'ev said the university management would not boycott Pappe nor would it take disciplinary steps against him, because boycotts destroy academic freedom. But he said Pappe's behavior was "intolerable from a moral point of view," and that he should therefore decide to leave of his own accord.

Pappe, a member of the political science department, was not available Monday evening for comment.

The Association of University Teachers - the leading union of British lecturers with some 48,000 members - decided on Friday to impose the boycott on Haifa and Bar-Ilan universities on the grounds that they "collaborate with the crimes of occupation." Haifa University was charged with restricting academic freedom of staff members who have spoken out against government policies, while Bar-Ilan is being boycotted for its ties with the Judea and Samaria College in Ariel in the West Bank.

The boycott was the talk of the day Monday on both campuses with staff members planning to take action to counter it. Prof. Eitan Gilboa of Bar-Ilan's political science department, said he and the rector, Prof. Yosef Yeshurun, will call on all British AUT members who oppose the boycott to resign from the union. Gilboa said they would also ask the Israeli government to request that the British government impose sanctions on Birmingham University and the Open University where the initiators of the boycott teach. He said they would also request that academics at British universities who apply the sanctions be brought to disciplinary hearings.

Gilboa called the boycott "an academic terror attack on Israeli academe." He said its initiators were "a radical and extremist group" that has been trying for a long time to find an excuse to boycott Israel.

The presidents of the two universities and staff members are planning personal appeals to British lecturers to work against the boycott. Haifa University Rector Prof Yossi Ben-Artzi said the boycott could severely harm the two universities. "There is hardly a staff member who does not have connections with Britain," he noted.

Prof. Avi Saguy of Haifa University, who is organizing a psychology conference together with Palestinian professionals, said a British colleague had already written to protest the decision and ensure his participation in the conference. Three AUT members announced they would resign from the union. Two of them, Jonathan Ginsberg and Shalom Lapin of Kings College, London - called on other unions in Britain and abroad to cancel recognition of the AUT until it withdraws the boycott.

2. Letter from Ron Kuzar, Haifa University

As someone who is strongly opposed to Israel's behavior towards the
Palestinians in the territories as well as its misconduct of its Arab
citizens, I would like to make the following points:
1. While I do find some similarities between South-Africa's apartheid
and Israel's conduct in the occupied territories, I do not find the AUT
boycott to be similar to that imposed on South-African universities. The
latter was part of a total embargo - diplomatic, economic, cultural, and
educational - a concerted effort of the international community to force
SA to abandon apartheid. Had there been a total international embargo on
Israel to force it to abandon the occupation of the territories, I would
have supported that embargo, including the boycott of Israeli
Universities (all of them).
2. The University of Haifa has made many mistakes, or even worse, has
acted in an unfair manner towards its Arab students. Yet, this is an
institution with a dynamic community of lecturers, many of whom are
opposed to both its policies against Arab students (see the recent
discussion about signs in Arabic) and some (perhaps others) are opposed
to Israel's policies in the occupied territories. As an institution, the
University of Haifa has not allied itself in any way with expansionist
anti-Palestinian policies. Hence, the university is not a tool in the
hands of the state or the expansionist forces in Israel, but rather a
battle ground in which different ideologies are in conflict.
3. Even if Pappe's allegations (as reported) are all true, this is not
enough of a reason to impose a boycott on the whole university. There
could be more specific ways to challenge the university's decision re
Teddy Katz's MA or re Pappe's secure position at the university.
4. While I do not trust the Jerusalem Post as a source of reliable
information, I haven't seen any alternative reports of what went on at
the AUT conference. If these are indeed the facts of the decision making
procedure, I condemn the decision as both illegal and unjustified in
light of 1, 2, and 3 above.
5. The boycott against Bar-Ilan University is fully justified since this
university actively supports a college which is part of the settlement
Ron Kuzar
Dr. Ron Kuzar
Address: Department of English Language and Literature
University of Haifa
IL-31905 Haifa, Israel
Office: +972-4-824-9826, Fax: +972-4-824-9711
Home: +972-2-641-4780, Mobile: +972-54-481-9676
Email: kuzar@research.haifa.ac.il
Homepage: http://research.haifa.ac.il/~kuzar

3. Letter from Avraham Oz, Haifa University

An update written on a date where professional and personal concerns converge may require a special issue to be addressed. Today's date traditionally mark both Shakespeare's date of birth and death, It is also the Eve of Jewish Passover, known as the holiday of Liberation. As the old Chinese curse would has it, the Middle East will never fail to provide interesting occasions to furnish a special update.

The British AUT has voted a couple of days ago in favor of a motion to boycott two Israeli Universities, one of which is the one I am employed in. Since, I have been asked by many friends for my reaction to this, and I gather I owe you my response.

Whenever asked, over the last few years I expressed my opinion that even though the repressive policies of my country against the Palestinian population, especially in the territories occupied in 1967, is appalling, racist, sometimes horrifying in its cruelty, and often having crossed the boundaries of war crimes, academic boycott was neither morally justified nor effective. It does not distinguish between university administrations and faculty; nor am I sure that a proper mechanism was devised to distinguish between faculty members who think they can live in the ivory tower of academia in times of gross injustice and such ­ and there are many in Israeli academia ­ who risk their position for actively participating in acts of protest against official policies of repression and cooperation with the victims of injustice.

However, while I still adhere to my opinion regarding this matter, both my government and my university hardly have a cause for complaint: they did whatever they could to provoke the responses leading to this, to my mind, erroneous move. The Mini-stress of Education and Culture, who will probably soon cry havoc on that boycott, is the same person who threatened to deny Daniel Barenboim a prestigious prize, and goes on demanding the firing of academics whom she blacklisted as traitors to the national cause. An academic community which didn't shout its protest when an eminent academic and moral figure such as the late Professor Yeshayahu Leibowitz was forced to withdraw the Israel prize following an ugly wave of political bigotry; which kept quiet when academic freedom in the Occupied Territories was constantly curbed by closures and harassments; which is even now piling on my friend and colleague Ilan Pappe as responsible for the move, while having cheered and elected the person who demanded his firing as their academic leader, but never seriously questioned the "academic privilege" overriding transparency when a formerly cum-laude awarded thesis was suddenly disqualified by an anonymous group of readers following a political controversy surrounding its conclusions; such an academic community should first question its own standards, before proclaiming itself the victim of an anti-Semitic campaign. No equivalent to the AUT was ever created in Israel, to become a body where not only local problems are tackled in the face of a system which made higher education in Israel approach total crumbling, but also take a stand in matters which transcend local issues, and protect the rights of those individuals within academy who face injustice perpetrated by the administrations for protesting against the abuse of justice.

As many of you know, on a personal level, I have many reasons to endorse the allegations directed against my university: I will not elaborate on matters which are still subject to a court litigation. However, while still believing the AUT measure to have been counterproductive, I would advise my colleagues to look deeper into the circumstances which have led a majority of members of the AUT council to go along with such an extreme motion. Hiding our heads in the old arguments of Jew-baiting will not answer many viable questions directed at us, which we often fail to address. Justification for boycott aside, can we really, in all honesty, brush aside the issues directed not only against Israeli policies, but against the general functioning of academia in Israel? I wish all of us will take a moment, while celebrating tonight the holiday of Liberation, to ponder on "the oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely... the law's delay, the insolence of office, and the spurns that patient merit of th'unworthy takes," rather than exonerate ourselves of any wrongdoing by assuming the role of the eternal victims.

For better days,

A. Oz

Professor Avraham Oz
Department of Hebrew and Comparative Literature, University of Haifa
2105 Eshkol Tower, Mount Carmel, 31905 Haifa, Israel
Office Tel +972-4-8240672 Office Fax +972-4-8249713
Home Tel +972-3-5609627 Home Fax +972-1533-5609627
Mobile +972-50-7220783 Email: avitaloz@research.haifa.ac.il

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