Palestinian University President Comes Out Against Boycott of Israeli Academics

Al-Quds University's Nusseibeh: If you want to punish any sector, this is the last one to target.

Israeli academics threatened by boycotts have received support from an unlikely source: the Palestinian president of Al-Quds University.

"If we are to look at Israeli society, it is within the academic community that we've had the most progressive pro-peace views and views that have come out in favor of seeing us as equals," Sari Nusseibeh told The Associated Press. "If you want to punish any sector, this is the last one to approach."

Nusseibeh acknowledged, however, that his is a minority viewpoint among his colleagues.

Britain's main academic association recently called on its members to consider boycotting Israeli professors, and a top Canadian labor union voted in favor of divestment from Israel.

The 69,000-member National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education in Britain, censuring Israel for "apartheid" policies.

"It just reminds people that somehow Israel is always singled out, that we're the case study," David Newman, a professor of politics and government at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Be'er Sheva, said.

Israel has been targeted by numerous boycotts throughout its history, ranging from weapons embargoes to product blacklisting to the blocking of Israeli web sites.

But the latest resolution by the British association, encouraging a boycott of Israeli academics, touched a raw nerve in the Jewish state.

"I wonder why not China, why not Chile, why not Burma, where the human rights issue is far, far worse than here," Newman said.