Letter to The Independent

From the www.monabaker.com archive (legacy material)

OREN BEN-DOR | The Independent | 26 May 2005

Sir: At its meeting on 26 May the AUT should extend its boycott to include all Israeli universities. These universities persistently marginalise the debate about Zionist crimes, by denying sufficient resources and opportunities for it to enter the public discourse in Israel. A proper academic platform would enable debating the monopoly that the Shoah (Hebrew, "catastrophe") has had on memory in Israel, thus leaving no room for the Palestinian catastrophe, the displacement of 750,000 people by Zionism's creation of the state. The conflict in the Middle East will never be resolved until Israeli society internalises the tremendous wrong Zionism has inflicted on the Palestinian people. It is primarily in Israeli universities that the necessary debate about Zionism must be given a proper platform. Only a well-informed and firm external boycott will change the pathological academic complicity in keeping the Zionist question in the cupboard. The Israeli Zionist left, the "peace activists", smother the real debate about the origin of the problem by limiting it to the 1967 occupation. Instead, the point of debate ought to be the process which culminated in 1947-49 when Zionism displaced the indigenous population to establish a state based on a dominant religion and ethnicity. Speaking as an ex-Israeli, to each AUT member I would say that this boycott does not seek to punish Israeli academics for the crimes of Zionism, but to awaken our fellow academics in Israel. It is a boycott about academic freedom, about the academic duty to provide a platform for questioning conventional truths rather than submission to them. DR OREN BEN-DOR SCHOOL OF LAW UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHAMPTON