The British academic publisher St. Jerome Publishing has informed Bar-Ilan University that it will no longer sell books and periodicials to the school due to Israel's activities in the territories.
This is the second time that St. Jerome, a highly regarded Manchester-based publisher that specializes in translation studies and cross-cultural communications, has been involved in an academic boycott against Israel. A few months ago, one of the journals it publishes, The Translator, fired two Israeli researchers - Dr. Miriam Shlesinger and Professor Gideon Toury - from its academic board.
According to Bar-Ilan's vice president for research, Professor Mina Teicher, the university has been a long-time St. Jerome customer.
"This scientific boycott of Israeli academe is very serious and must not be allowed to pass in silence," she said.
The university yesterday asked Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Science Minister Matan Vilnai to intervene to prevent "the escalation of the scientific boycott on the State of Israel, which will damage the level of research in Israel, and thereby the level of development and technology."
The academic boycott was the brainchild of two professors from Britain's Open University, Hilary and Steven Rose, who circulated a petition in response to April's Operation Defensive Shield urging all Europeans to sever academic and scientific ties with Israel. It was signed by some 250 European researchers and 10 Israeli researchers.
The boycott could potentially have done Israel serious harm by jeopardizing its participation in numerous research projects financed by the European Union's Research and Development Fund, of which Israel is a member. In practice, however, the idea was roundly denounced by the EU's Research Commissioner, Philippe Busquin, and never really took off.
Nevertheless, Israeli researchers view St. Jerome's decision with concern. Ruth Shalgi, Tel Aviv University's vice president for research, termed it "another aspect of the war against Israel via science and academe" and declared: "It is necessary to mobilize international public opinion against the British publisher's policy, so that research in Israel will not be hurt with regard to the allocation of scientific resources."
Already, she added, "the security situation is affecting the arrival of [post-doctoral] researchers and students from abroad, and the number of participants at scientific conferences has also fallen significantly. In the long run, this scientific isolation has a negative impact on the level of Israeli research."
Vilnai said that he "views very gravely every attempt to mix inappropriate political considerations into scientific research," and that his office "will use all diplomatic and legal means to prevent a recurrence of such incidents."
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