Haifa U. Academic Remains Steadfast in Support of Boycott

Tamara Traubman
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Tamara Traubman

Dr. Ilan Pappe of the University of Haifa's political science department remains adamant in his support of the boycott imposed on Haifa and Bar-Ilan universities by the British Association of University Teachers (AUT) for "symbolizing aspects of the occupation."

In an e-mail interview yesterday, Pappe said he hopes he had contributed to the boycott decision.

"As I wrote in an article that appeared in The Guardian, I believe that unless external pressure is brought to bear on Israeli institutions involved in the occupation, including universities, the barbaric occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip will continue," Pappe said.

Regarding the central claim by boycott opponents in Israel - that science must be kept separate from politics - Pappe said: "This nonsense was first introduced by pro-Nazi lecturers in 1930s Germany, to justify their silence in the face of the Jews' destruction. In Israel, it's impossible, and superfluous, to distinguish between the two. History and political science studies in Israel are led in most cases by Zionism's loyalists (particularly at my university, much more than at Bar-Ilan. The authorities cleanse anyone who dares to cast doubt, as part of his professional work, on the foundation of Zionism)."

On Monday, University of Haifa President Aharon Ben-Ze'ev called on Pappe to resign, saying "it is fitting for someone who calls for a boycott of his university to apply the boycott himself."

Pappe would not be ostracized, Ben-Ze'ev said, since that would undermine academic freedom, but he should leave voluntarily.

An AUT motion on Friday called on its 48,000 members to boycott the two Israeli universities, exempting any lecturers who condemn Israeli policy. However, the boycott may contradict Britain's Equal Employment Opportunity Law.