Campaign for Academic Boycott Supports Barghouti’s right to Study at TAU

BRICUP and PACBI, the organizations which campaign for a boycott of Israeli “apartheid” universities, are supporting the decision of a leading supporter of the boycott Israel campaign, Omar Barghouti, not to boycott Tel Aviv University.  Barghouti is registered there to study for a PhD.  Good for them.  And good for him.

More on Barghouti’s decision to break the boycott of Israeli academia here.

29 Responses to “Campaign for Academic Boycott Supports Barghouti’s right to Study at TAU”

  1. 701 Says:

    “Because of the restrictions on Palestinian Universities, Israeli universities are the only places that many Palestinians can study at. This is particularly true at doctoral level where Israeli occupation and blockade has prevented all but a few programmes being offered within the Occupied Territories.”

    So, the Israeli universities are not operating a policy of “apartheid” after all; in that it is a place where Palestinian’s can study.

    In fact, they are offering a place for Palestinians to study despite the appalling situation that currently effects Palestinian universities and the OT generally. My, my, that is really what you call collaboration with an occupying power!!

    Quite right – boycott the bastards for letting Palestinians studying in their halls!!

    Good to know also that it is only Israeli Jews who are to be boycotted and not institutions. I mean, if it was institutions, then all Palestinian students connected to an Israeli university would have to be boycotted.

    I love also the now statutoys notion of “organised” campaign. Organised by whom one wonders, as if one does not know the answer! I know the JC supported TAU’s decision for Barghouti to study there, as did many other Jewish organisations; so exactly which evil Zionists are BRICUP referring to.

  2. Alex Stein Says:

    I think someone should address the arguments they’ve used, which actually seem reasonable to me (at least in terms of native Palestinians; no idea why Barghouti is obligated to study at TAU). Needless to say, their general arguments for an academic boycott remain absurd.

  3. Bill Says:

    Wait a minute. We support Barghouti’s academic freedom to study at TAU and we get called “McCarthyites”?!?

    What a perfect example of “Damned if they don’t do, damed if they do don’t!”

    Boycotters make me dizzy. What a WTF morning this has become!

  4. Martin Wisse Says:

    You are aware that the boycott is, like the boycott of South Africa before it, aimed at ending foreign (“western”) support for Israel rather than an internal boycott Israeli institutions by Palestinians? It’s a subtle difference I know, but the goal of the boycott has not been to stop Palestinians using Israeli universities as, through outside pressure force the Israeli government to ends its policy of apartheid.

    Engage’s continued claims of hypocrisy make no sense whatsoever.

  5. 701 Says:

    So, Barghouti is now at an Israeli institution.

    Should a boycott of Israeli universities occur, would Barghouti be boycotted? In the past, boycotters have refused to consider Israeli p/g’s.

    Now are you saying that Barghouti does not fall under that category because he is a Palestinian?

    In which case, the boycotters are lying when they say it is about institutions and not individuals.

    Or, what of Israeli nationals who are not Jewish but who are students or faculty of Israeli Universities; are they to be boycotted?

    In which case, the boycotters are lying when they say it is about institutions and not individuals.

    Or, what of Israeli Jewish students and faculties? Are they to be boycotted? In which case, the boycotters are lying when they say it is about institutions and not individuals.

    Whilst it is evident that Israeli universities do not practice apartheid policies, it would seem that the boycotters, such as yourself, go to extreme lengths to classify people according to criteria that are rejected by Israeli HE institutions.

    Your continued practice of hypocrisy makes no sense whatsoever.

  6. Bill Says:

    No Martin, his ability to use TAU’s resources as any other student or scholar gives the lie that Israel is an apartheid state and that the universities are complicit in it. If Israel, and Israel’s universities, were half the things that the BDS movement claims, Barghouti, an A-lister in the BSD movement who could study wherever he pleases at any higher ed facility in Israel, Palestine or Kansas, would not be at TAU to begin with. The contradiction remains on the BSD camp’s lap.

  7. Siggy Says:

    What a silly argument.
    In an allegedly “apartheid” state, Martin Wisse wants to boycott what for him is the one place where “apartheid” is not practiced. So, instead of supporting those institutions, these islands of sanity, he wants to boycott them. And, why, to pressure the “apartheid” state of Israel even though, as he has shown, Israeli institutions are open to, erm, Palestinians.

    But, I suppose, you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs, even if the eggs in this case are the eggheads who do not practice the said alleged “apartheid”.

    And this is what passes for progressive politics these days!

  8. Absolute Observer Says:

    So, now Wisse had admitted that Israeli universities are open to Palestinians, what other possible reason can boycotters want to boycott Israeli and only Israeli universities?

    And what better way to fight an apartheid state than boycott what is so evidently a non-apartheid institution. I know, let’s boycott everything that brings Israelis and Palestinians together; that’ll show ’em; that will really pile the pressure on.

    (I leave it to others to disabuse Wisse of his equation of Israel and SA, a case that he has made already in fact.)

  9. Ronnie Fraser Says:

    This is actually old news because Barghouti has been at studying the TAU since 2004

  10. Jonathan Romer Says:

    Speaking as a partisan I have to say I hope BRICUP & PACBI keep this up. Because, regardless of how it sounds to the loyal foot-soldiers of the UCU activists’ list, to everyone else it has to look like what it is: Sophistry and rationalisation. “Do what I say, not what I do” has always been a hard sell.

  11. zkharya Says:

    Martin Wisse:

    “You are aware that the boycott is, like the boycott of South Africa before it, aimed at ending foreign (”western”) support for Israel rather than an internal boycott Israeli institutions by Palestinians?”

    If you say so. Surely the purpose of an academic boycott of Israel is to force Israeli academia to enroll Israeli Arab Muslims like Barghouti on courses.

    Oh wait…

  12. Lbnaz Says:

    That Martin Wisse can not acknowledge that the BDS movement – in supporting Barghouti obtaining his Phd at TAU – is wide open to two serious charges that severely undermine the good faith of two of the key arguments on which the BDS movement has -apparently without any warrant- justified themselves until now: namely, that first they aren’t in fact boycotting Israeli institutions as they claim, but are boycotting Israeli Jewish individuals and second, that contrary to their claims Israeli universities aren’t in fact complicit in “apartheid”, suggests to me that in practice, Mr. Wisse equates demonstrating solidarity with the BDS movement with vigilant maintenance of a blinkered and compromised intellect.

  13. Academic Says:

    I too don’t understand why “Engage” has raised this matter now given that, as Ronnie Fraser points out above, Barghouti has been a student at Tel Aviv since 2004.

    Anyway though, it is worth pointing out the (as far as I can figure out) anachronistic distortions that PACBI finds themselves needing to resort to in order to somehow try to maintain that Israel is an “Apartheid” state while simultaneously conceding that this Omar Barghouti (along of course with countless other ethnic Palestinians) is enrolled at an Israeli university 🙂

    PACBI writes: “Palestinians, like any people under apartheid or colonial rule, have insisted on their rights, including their right to education, even if the only venues available were apartheid or colonial institutions. Nelson Mandela studied law at the Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg, one of the most notorious apartheid institutes then. ”

    As far as I understand, Mandela studied at Witwatersrand in 1943 while Apartheid was only officially introduced in South Africa in 1948. I assume that once Apartheid laws had been applied at Witwatersrand, Mandela would *not* have been permitted to study there!

  14. Martin Wisse Says:

    Really people, I understand that you’re staunch defenders of Israel and all and therefore opposed to the boycott, but at least be honest about it. The boycott is meant to put pressure on Israel to stop its Apartheid policies, it has nothing whatsoever to do whether or not individual Palestinians are able to go to university. Which many btw, can’t.

  15. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    “I too don’t understandwhy “Engage” has raised this matter now given that…Barghouti has been a student at Tel Aviv since 2004.”

    For precisely the reasons you give in your last two paragraphs above, Academic, on PACBI and Mandela: when people get it factually wrong, when they, possibly wilfully, misinterpret facts and evidence for their own ends (when the truth would undermine their case, when they reveal their collectively hypocrisy (everyone else but PACBI is supposed to boycott Israeli universities), and when they are downright satupid. On the last, neithr Barghouti nor PACBI offer any explanation of his actions, merely that it’s his business. Regrettably, his politics make it our business as well.

  16. Academic Says:

    Sorry, Brian, I thought the PACBI article was a response to Engage’s article. Anyway I suppose you’re right that it’s never too late to flush out their inconsistencies…

  17. Absolute Observer Says:

    “I understand that you’re staunch defenders of Israel and all and therefore opposed to the boycott, but at least be honest about it.”

    That’s the mind frame of the boycotters………….

    Flexibility of thought has never been their strong point now has it. So, far better to fall back on false stereotypes that evades the dilemmas of thought.

    What a pathetic but expected, response from the boycotters.

    1. Ignore all questions put and,
    2. Label those who oppose them as “dishonest” “staunch defenders of Israel”.

    Why not throw in that we have callled you an antisemite (no one has, but that doesn’t normally stop you).

  18. Absolute Observer Says:

    This from Wisse’s webpage…..

    “This walkout by western diplomats is embarassing at best, political correctness trumping truth as what’s being sold as a principled action is the equivalent of a child sticking their fingers in their ears and going “la la la can’t hear you”. What’s more, this is the second conference on racism in which the US and EU are throwing their weight around to defend Israel, the first being the conference in Durban back in 2001, where too much attention was paid to Israel as well. Several western countries, including my own, actually stayed away entirely this time because it “echoed the spirit of Durban” too much. It’s all incredibly cringeworthy, as it shows up how far our governments are willing to go to deny the truth about Israel.”

    He’s stark-raving mad!

  19. Mikey Says:


    Can you please come clean and explain what you are really boycotting when you, or someone else in the campaign, says that they are boycotting Israeli universities.

    They are clearly not boycotting the universities themselves since the campaigners actively support certain people such as Barghouti’s right to attend the university. Also, as leading supporter of the boycott campaign, Tony Greenstein comments on his blog they are also not boycotting “anti-Zionist” Jews. Presumably, if a lecturer at an Israeli university is Jewish and his subject is for example mathematics, or French literature or biology or a whole host of other subjects, the boycottors will have no way of knowing whether the Jew in question is anti-Zionist or not. The only way they can tell is if, like say Ilan Pappe, they declare themselves to be anti-Zionist. Hence Jews, and only Jews, are those to be boycotted unless they stamp their head with the anti-Zionist label.

    To argue that this is not antisemitism carries as much weight as to suggest that the crusades were not antisemitic since those Jews who were willing to stand up and say that they believed in Jesus were spared.

  20. zkharya Says:

    This is what Martin Wisse is really about:

    Martin Wisse seeks to dissolve the Jewish state of Israel forcibly, since, he writes, it will not do so itself willingly. He also thinks that original partition was illegitimate and unjust as was, presumably, any kind of Israel and the Jewish national movement that bore it.

    He does not merely support an academic boycott of Israel, he seeks a complete boycott of Israel, until the Jewish state is dissolved. He also writes in support of the American academic Joel Kovel who calls Israel an “abomination” and expresses the desire to “smash Zionism”.

    Presumably Martin Wisse has never felt that way about the Palestinian Christian and Muslim nationalist movement that sought to exclude Jews from its beginning.

    “Decent people cannot recognise Israel as a state with a right to exist until it stops being an Apartheid state, like decent people could not support South Africa’s right to exist as an Apartheid state either. Now it may seem today that this will never happen, but it seemed that way with South Africa in the eighties as well, with its Black population herded into bantustans and only let out to serve as cheap labour, almost slave labour, the South African army rampaging across the Frontline states at will, Mandela and other resistance leaders locked up or killed and no negotiation with the ANC possible. Yet a few years later the system was broken down, South Africa made peace with its neighbours and Mandela became president. Israel could do the same, but will not do it voluntarily. Therefore, we need toboycott Israel like South Africa was boycotted.”

  21. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    This beauty from Martin Wisse in his second comment on this thread:
    “The boycott is meant to put pressure on Israel to stop its Apartheid policies, it has nothing whatsoever to do whether or not individual Palestinians are able to go to university.”

    Especially not if their name is Omar Barghouti, leading light of PACBI. Let’s not confuse principle, even ideology, with personal advancement here, folks. It just equips Barghouti with even better skills for his future of fighting Israel, and, incidentally, makes him look a total pragmatist, with no principles, along the way. “Hey folks, boycott Israeli universities, but not until I’ve got my Doctorate, okay, dudes?”

    Meanwhile, back at the funny farm, Martin Wisse is doing the usual anti-zionist trick of making bricks without straw (subtle allusion to the second book of the bible there, folks!). Yet again an assertion with no evidence, let alone argument behind it. Israel is an apartheid state. Martin has said it, so it must be true.

    How about some evidence? How about citing relevant Israeli law? Or, maybe, if it’s easier, some documented actions by the Israeli government or its agents? No? Can’t find any? Why am I not surprised. This is _not_ to argue that non-Jews who are Israeli citizens receive equal treatment de facto, despite the laws that say that, de jure, they’re entitled. But then neither do UK non-white citizens, but no-one (or no-one who anyone else takes seriously) argues that the UK is an apartheid state.

    Provide the evidence, Wisse, or quit the arena. (If only!)

  22. john Strawson Says:

    The issue is not whether Barghouti is at TAU; the issue is his politics of boycott. No one suggested that Ilan Pappe was was compromised by being at Haifa, whejn he argued for the boycott. Israelis and Palestinians may well be at Israeli universities for obvious practical reasons (where else should they study or teach?). Barghouti’s studies at TAU are not hypocritical. He has an Israeli ID and wants to do a research degree – there are vitually no options in the Palestinian Occupied Territories – and why should he have to study outside Israel and Palestine?. He is entiitled to study in Israel and he is – and righly so. He is also entitled to exercise free speech recognized by the Israeli state to argue for a boycott of his university – just as Pappe had the right to do so. We need to argue the politics of the boycott, not the personal circumstances of an individual.

  23. Saul Says:

    Martin Wisse an alleged antiracist argues that antisemitism is good for the Jews and how noting antisemitism, erm, leads to antisemitism………….follow this if you can….

    “I’m not sure how real this danger is; there have been various studies showing anti-semitism is on the rise in Europe (examples left as exercise for your googling skills) but many of those suffer from the same problem as Greenstein mentions, that they confuse criticism of Israel, anti-zionism and anti-semitism. Anecdotally [sic] there have been incidents here in the Netherlands where hotheaded demonstrators [sic] against Israel’s War on Gaza have shouted anti-semitic slogans, which have then been used to discredit legitamite [sic] attacks on Israel. It does make sense to assume that in a climate where anti-semitism as a charge has been devalued to the point that any criticism of Israel is anti-semitic by default, people will wory less about it as they see how ridiculous most charges are. It even makes sense that this will lead to more real anti-semitism. [sick]

    From the point of view of the Israel boosters this may not even be so bad, as 1) it delegitamises genuine criticism and 2) it adds credibility to the idea that Israel is the sole defence Jews have against persecution and that therefore they should support it unconditionally. Which doesn’t mean this was a conscious goal of those that have made those accusations the most of course, just that it’s a not entirely unwanted side effect.”

    Yes, Martin, Jews love antisemitism; we stoke it up to get more of it, bring it on we just can’t get enough. It is so useful and good for us. We wake up every morning, phone each other, and say, hey, what fantastic news, people are talking about gassing the Zionists again! people are saying that there is a Jewish Lobby that controls the world; that Jewish kids are being attacked on buses. Because, for Jews, everything can be turned to a profit, already, my life.

    I also love the idea that, for Wisse, to be a good anti-Zionist one has to oppose the representatives of those capitalist, “Western” states who refused to tolerate the rantings of a Holocaust denying Jewish conspiracy theory nutjob and to explain those actually taking an anti-racist position at, erm, an anti-racist conference by recourse to the single purpose of “hiding the sole truth of Israel”; as if. of all the things that motivates these states is the question of Israel.

    On his site Wisse offers a comprehensive reading list of Marx and Marxist works.

    It may come as a bit of a surprise to him but Marx’s thought was aimed precisely against the type of shallow thinking and one-cause dynamics that is so clearly evidenced in Wisse’s comments. Whilst Marx sought to understand the complexities of the world in which he (and we) live, his pateince with the idiocy of what passed for “insight” on much of the left of his time was very short indeed.

    Of course, I could be wrong, but I cannot remember where Marx argues that an accomodation with racists and racism is a step in the right direction for the progressive revolutionary politics. I can, however, remember where both he and Engels went out of the way to say the complete opposite.

  24. Jonathan Romer Says:

    “The boycott is meant to put pressure on Israel to stop its Apartheid policies, it has nothing whatsoever to do whether or not individual Palestinians are able to go to university.”

    It takes a mind shuttered to reason to note that Palestinians — even ones most actively opposed to Israel — can and do attend Israeli universities, whilst continuing to make apartheid slurs in the same sentence. A mind that tightly closed is not a productive one to argue with; it has no interest in being confused with facts.

  25. Sigggy Says:

    “Barghouti’s studies at TAU are not hypocritical.”

    John, spot on.

    What it does throw into relief though is the nature of the boycott; the difficulties of the boycotters sustaining their argument that it is the institution and not the individual. It also throws into question the argument by some boycotters that Israeli universities are an expression of “apartheid”, etc.

  26. Jonathan Romer Says:

    “No one suggested that Ilan Pappe was was compromised by being at Haifa, whejn he argued for the boycott.”

    On the contrary, many people noted the hypocrisy of Ilan Pappe availing himself of what Israeli academia had to offer, while at the same time working to damage the careers of his colleagues.

  27. fred Says:

    Tel Aviv University


    May 3, 2009

    Dear Governors and Friends,

    I am writing to you to clarify the University’s standing on the recent debate regarding Omar Barghouti, a Tel Aviv University master’s student of philosophy.

    Mr. Barghouti is leading an international campaign to boycott Israeli universities, despite being a student at one of those universities.

    A university campus should be a place that encourages and tolerates free speech, no matter how offensive the expressed opinions may be to the majority of students and faculty at that institution, or indeed to the public at large.

    Our university has adopted a similar policy also in previous occasions. Moreover, if legal issues are involved, a university does not have the authority to prosecute individuals. Rather, such a matter should be pursued by the State through legal channels.

    In response, therefore, to the petition calling for the expulsion of Mr. Barghouti that will be submitted to us in the near future, the University cannot and will not expel this student based on his political views or actions. He will be assessed only on the basis of his academic achievements and excellence.

    I thank you for your time, and look forward to seeing many of you in May at the annual Board of Governors meeting.

    Yours faithfully,

    Prof. Zvi Galil

    TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY, RAMT AVIV, TEL AVIV 69978, ISRAEL; TEL. 972-3-6408348, FAX. 972-3-6422379

  28. FromIsrael Says:

    “The boycott is meant to put pressure on Israel to stop its Apartheid policies, it has nothing whatsoever to do whether or not individual Palestinians are able to go to university.”

    But it has EVERYTHING to do with the fact that individual Palestinians are able to go to a university in Israel. Because this fact proves there are no Apartheid policies in the first place, therefore there is no need to put the pressure to stop something that does not exist, and your attempts at a boycott to put on such a pressure are uncalled for, even by your own (im)moral standards.

    This is odd. Academics displaying absolute inability to practice simple logic. I suppose logical thought is not a requirement for getting academic degrees nowadays. Sad.

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      “This is odd. Academics displaying absolute inability to practice simple logic. I suppose logical thought is not a requirement for getting academic degrees nowadays.”

      It never was. What is often (but not necessarily vital – it depends on the university, the faculty and the tutor(s) concerned) the prime requirement is producing the answers the examiners find acceptable. Which may not depend on logic, rational thought and the citing of apprpriate evidence (or appropriate experimental results). Not upsetting the taken-for-granted world of the examiners may be the most important requirement.

      Funny old (academic) world!

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