Boycotts and campus harassment

The UK Jewish community has expressed concern about the physical safety of Jewish students on campuses in light of recent agitation relating to the UCU boycott resolution:

Henry Grunwald QC, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said, “Our community has been able to rely on the support of the Prime Minister throughout his tenure and he has repeatedly proved to be a true friend of Israel as well. However our community is now facing a different type of threat – a recent attempted boycott of Israel by members of the University and College Union will result in Jewish students being harassed and bullied on campus. There is need for direct action – not just on the floor of union debates but also on university campuses themselves. We are grateful for the Prime Minister’s robust criticism of such boycotts and we call on him to do whatever he can to secure the safety of Jewish students’ on campus.” — Jerusalem Post

The anti-Israel climate in the UK is getting worse, with a recent call by UNISON, the UK’s largest trade union, representing over 1.3 million members working in the public sector, private contractors and the utilities. Their boycott motion calls on Israel to

1) withdraw to its 1949-67 borders;
2) allow the refugees of 1948 to return home;
3) remove all its settlements from the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Occupied Syrian Al-Joulan [Golan Heights];
4) take down the Apartheid Wall; and
5) respect the Palestinian people’s right to national self-determination and to establish a state in the West bank and the Gaza Strip with its capital in Jerusalem.

Conference believes that ending the occupation demands concerted and sustained pressure upon Israel including an economic, cultural, academic and sporting boycott. — UNISON Web site

There’s more, but you get the idea.

Here in North America, the situation on campuses has not reached the point that it has in Britain, but there have been some incidents of harassment of pro-Israel speakers in the US and Canada; for example, take Daniel Pipes’ recent experience at the University of California Irvine, and also the demonstrations that prevented Benjamin Netanyahu from speaking at Concordia University in Montreal in 2002. There are numerous other examples.

One of the few bright spots in the American academic scene has been the declaration by several university presidents that they reject the concept of academic boycotts on the grounds that they stifle academic freedom.

I’ve asked Dr. John Welty, the president of our own California State University at Fresno to issue a similar declaration, and will publish it here if he does so.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Comments are closed.