It has been recently announced that the Committee of Universities Heads decided to create a special forum to track academic BDS. According to the article below, authorities have been worried that the BDS campaign – largely confined to liberal arts - will spread to sciences.
Professor Zvi Ziegler (professor emeritus, Technion), who would head the new forum, outlined its goals: “to examine and map out the scope of the threat, gathering information on potential boycotts as well as coordinating with relevant parties and institutions in Israel and abroad to minimize the damage.” Such information, in his view, can provide warnings about pending “boycott endeavors,” and “will help us thwart the initiative before it stews.” He added that “we see the importance of information regarding cases of discrimination against Israeli researchers such as rejecting articles for illegitimate reasons, refusal to take part in conferences alongside Israeli researchers or discrimination against inviting Israeli researchers to conferences.”
The new forum is a belated but welcome initiative to combat academic BDS that was initiated by the British lecturers' union (NATFHE) in the early 2000s in Great Britain.
Over the years, IAM has reported on this and hundreds of other instances of BDS in Europe and the United States and has amassed the largest database on the issue.
The following is a four-part summary of some points to consider when dealing with academic BDS:
- The BDS movement is driven by scores of organizations and individuals who network in complex and difficult to discern ways. Groups such as 'the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel' (PACBI), 'the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine' (BRICUP) and 'the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel' (USACBI) provide leadership, resources and liaison with other groups. A sophisticated network analysis is needed to map out the BDS phenomenon. NA and forensic accounting is needed to determine the financial inputs in the BDS initiative.
- Student-level activity is directed by Student for Justice in Palestine (SJP) which has hundreds of branches on campus’s in the United States and Europe – often in cooperation with Muslim students association.
- Faculty-level drives are “stealth operations” mounted by activists within professional associations that utilize small panels of like-minded members that pass BDS resolutions. Hard to predict and prevent, this strategy creates a tactical surprise; even if the general membership subsequently rejects the proposal, the resolution serves as an important exercise in PR. The Modern Language Association (MLA) is a prominent case in point.
- So far, the bulk of the BDS efforts occurred in the liberal arts (social sciences and humanities). The few attempts to boycott Israeli scholars were individual initiatives and quickly rescinded under pressure from the relevant professional association. A more organized effort to censure Israel has occurred in urban planning and architecture.
Part Two will analyze the role played by Israeli academics in the BDS movement.
Part Three will discuss the efforts the various response to the BDS in the West including political, legislative and legal.
Part Four will provide a preliminary assessment of the impact of European Union Horizon 2020 on Israeli sciences.
Israeli university heads establish forum to counter academic boycotts
By LIDAR GRAVÉ-LAZI
07/08/2014 15:18 JPOST
Boycotts have surfaced mainly in the humanities but there is concern that the phenomenon will spread to encompass the sciences.
The Committee of University Heads in Israel announced on Tuesday the establishment of a forum to counter academic boycotts against Israel.
Prof. Zvi Ziegler, professor emeritus at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and chairman of the Inter-University Senate will head the panel.
“An academic boycott is an unacceptable and dangerous process contrary to the spirit of research, undermining its foundations. This is an increasingly growing phenomenon with one aim – attacking the State of Israel and the research performed within its borders,” Prof. Menahem Ben-Sasson, president of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and chairman of the Committee of University Heads, said on Tuesday.
According to Ben-Sasson, the boycotts aim to attack the state by damaging its “most important national resource” – scientific academic research.
“For a long time this important resource has come under attack internationally by anti-Israel parties who are encouraging academic boycotts against the state,” he said.
The forum aims to examine and map out the scope of the threat, gathering information on potential boycotts as well as coordinating with relevant parties and institutions in Israel and abroad to minimize the damage.
“We see the importance of information regarding cases of discrimination against Israeli researchers such as rejecting articles for illegitimate reasons, refusal to take part in conferences alongside Israeli researchers or discrimination against inviting Israeli researchers to conferences,” Ziegler said.
Such activities “oppose the universal principal of science” and have no place in an academic setting, he said. “Foreknowledge of boycott endeavors will help us thwart the initiative before it stews.”
Academic boycotts have surfaced primarily in the humanities, though there is great concern among Israeli universities and officials that the phenomenon will spread to the sciences.
In December, the 5,000-member American Studies Association announced it would participate in a boycott of Israeli universities and academic institutions. It was later joined by the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association.
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