Haifa University President Calls on Dissident Academic to Resign

Dr. Ilan Pappe supports the academic boycott on Israeli universities imposed Friday by the union of UK lecturers.

Tamara Traubman
Haaretz Correspondent
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Tamara Traubman
Haaretz Correspondent

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.

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