Haifa U.: Academic Boycott Is Defamation

Tamara Traubman
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Tamara Traubman

Haifa University's British lawyers have sent a warning letter to the British Association of University Teachers (AUT) claiming that it defamed the university when it made allegations about the university's persecuting Dr. Ilan Pappe, who has tenure at the institution and cannot be fired.

The association, which voted in late April to boycott Haifa and Bar Ilan University, has been roundly condemned for the decision, which is coming up for reconsideration at a May 26 conference.

The letter from the Mischon de Reya law firm says that the AUT decision "received the most perfunctory debate, was held at a time that made it impossible for most Jews to attend, requests for rescheduling of the debate were refused, and no delegates were allowed to speak against the resolution.

"The allegations against the University of Haifa are damaging to its reputation... false, and were not put to the university prior to the debate."

Therefore, the letter has two purposes, the firm writes: to provide information the AUT would have received if it had asked the university, and to warn the AUT that the defamation "is continuous," because the resolution appears on the AUT Web site.

The letter then goes on to refute each allegation made by the association concerning the university's treatment of Pappe. "Indeed, the university has shown great tolerance toward Dr. Pappe despite his own obvious contempt for it. Nevertheless and in this regard, no action has been taken against Dr. Pappe by the university, nor has any action against him been threatened."

As for discrimination against Arab students, the letter points out that some 20 percent of its student body is Arab.

The letter concludes that the university is awaiting the results of the May 26 session of the AUT, and that the letter has been made available "forthwith" to all association members.

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