Will Norwegian universities force their employees to boycott Israel?

If “the Board of Governors of the University of Trondheim and University College of Sør-Trøndelag [were] to declare at their upcoming meeting that Israeli universities and academic institutions cannot be normal partners of any self-respecting Norwegian institution”, they would be committing an act of discrimination against fellow academics on grounds of nationality, without any prospect of affecting the conflict. As employers, they would be intervening in the scholarly work of their employees. I wonder what a trade union would make of that.

Sue Blackwell was the inspiration, it turns out. Israel unites employers and trade unionists – how beautiful is that?

Seriously though, surely these board members will throw it out. Unless, of course, they’re convinced otherwise by an Israeli academic lecturer, most recent of an series of boycotting lecturers, who will visit the institution a couple of days prior to the vote to discuss Israel’s use of antisemitism as a political tool.

(When wasn’t antisemitism a political tool?)

There’s a petition against the boycott from Scholars for Peace in the Middle East.

If Trondheim’s Rector is building opposition to the boycott on the board, it’s not public.

A piece in the Jerusalem Post.

Here’s some typical support for the boycott containing many inadvertent ironies and ending paradoxically with a call for “freedom from fear”.

Meanwhile OneVoice is starting its universities tour – more on Facebook. These events are very good because in my experience you get to see how principled peace-makers – peacemakers who are out to build something – take the trouble to respond to boycotters (among other polarising tendencies) with patient but firm refutation, for the sake of peace in their own homelands.

  • EXETER! Monday, 9th November, Queens Building Lecture Theatre 2, 6.30pm
  • SOUTHAMPTON! Tuesday, 10th November, Nightingale Lecture Theatre, 6pm
  • MANCHESTER! Wednesday, 11th November, Student Union Common Room/Club Academy, 1pm
  • BIRMINGHAM! Thursday, 12th November, The Arts Building, 5pm
  • SURREY! Monday, 16th November, School of Management Main Lecture Theatre, 5.15pm
  • LONDON! (LSE, UCL, SOAS, KING’S COLLEGE) Tuesday, 17th November, University of London Union, Malet Street, WC1E 7HY, 5pm
  • OXFORD! Wednesday, 18th November, Catholic Chaplaincy, 8pm
  • GLASGOW! Thursday, 19th November, the Debates Chamber, 6pm

Update: Should have said at the time: this is typical of what anti-Israel boycott campaigns are like – Jews under scrutiny.

Update 2: Another Observer, in the comments below, says:

“The old SUS laws (stop and serach) were universal (i.e. they applied to everyone), but, when examined in practice, was only being used by the Police against the Black population. In other words, whilst all the population of the UK could have been pulled under the laws, the vast, vast, majority of those affected were Black, In that instance, as in the case of the boycott, that “something more” was and is racism. As such, it was part of the anti-racist agenda to end the SUS laws on the gorunds of their racist application (as well as the general abuse of civil liberties).

Nowadays, of course, many, but not all, of the anti-racists openly support what is, in effect, and in practice, a policy of racist exclusion against Jews.”

Update 3: Ben Cohen at Z-Word blog has examined the Trondheim boycott campaign in more detail. At Harry’s Place Gene reminds us: “Trondheim, the city where the NTNU is located, is in the county of Sør-Trøndelag. The county council voted in 2005 to boycott Israel.”

EXETER! Monday, 9th November, Queens Building Lecture Theatre 2, 6.30pm

SOUTHAMPTON! Tuesday, 10th November, Nightingale Lecture Theatre, 6pm

MANCHESTER! Wednesday, 11th November, Student Union Common Room/Club Academy, 1pm

BIRMINGHAM! Thursday, 12th November, The Arts Building, 5pm

SURREY! Monday, 16th November, School of Management Main Lecture Theatre, 5.15pm

LONDON! (LSE, UCL, SOAS, KING’S COLLEGE) Tuesday, 17th November, University of London Union, Malet Street, WC1E 7HY, 5pm

OXFORD! Wednesday, 18th November, Catholic Chaplaincy, 8pm

GLASGOW! Thursday, 19th November, the Debates Chamber, 6pm

22 Responses to “Will Norwegian universities force their employees to boycott Israel?”

  1. luny Says:

    Will Engage tell the Zionist central council to stop boycotting Israeli
    human rights activists? Just wondering.

    http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/21462/zionists-stop-medical-talk-after-campaign

    • Mira Vogel Says:

      Speaking for myself, the answer is no. It’s not a boycott. It’s about how you maintain spaces which do their job for a local community.

      Basically I don’t know why PHR think they are justified in exporting this struggle, no matter how well-intentioned, into an NHS Hospital. I think that is pretty bad of them, actually.

  2. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Note this from the Ha’Aretz piece:
    “The lecture, by Prof. Moshe Zuckermann of Tel Aviv University, is part of a controversial six-session seminar on Israel that is comprised entirely of Norwegians and Israelis known for highly critical attitudes toward Israel…[T]he series of lectures…also featured Ilan Pappe and Stephen Walt. All have signed a call for an academic boycott of Israel.”

    I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that Pappe and Walt get in there. Nor should we be surprised that “Sue Blackwell was the inspiration” for this move. After all, anyone who threatens to sue for libel when their own, publicly acknowledged, words are quoted and who can’t get re-elected to the Council of their union, when they are in agreement with the policy of that union with regards to Israel, must be an inspiration to us all!

    As is noted, we must hope that the law on discrimination in Norway is similar to the one the UK. If not, Norwegian universities will be all the poorer for any boycott and universities elsewhere will be the beneficiaries.

    But then logic, sense and sensibility have never been the strong points of the BDS movement.

  3. Steve From Raleigh Says:

    Well I would hope they also boycott 100% of all intellectual property as well. For instance I was reading today of research into cancer cures that show great promise. Clearly this must boycotted. Anything less would be disingenuous.

  4. Absolute Observer Says:

    It may be a thoroughly familiar rhetorical ploy, but it is no defence to speeding to argue that someone else is speeding too.

    However, as we know from the old anti-SUS law struggles, it is legitimate (and, indeed, part of the anti-racist struggle)to ask why it is that only one particular driver (or, rather, type of driver) is the only one ever being pulled.

  5. Absolute Observer Says:

    “It may be a thoroughly familiar rhetorical ploy, but it is no defence to speeding to argue that someone else is speeding too.”

    luny’s “argument” [sic] is that since a pro-Israel group has complained about an anti-Israel meeting in a NHS hospital, then one cannot complain about an instututional boycott by a Norwegian University of Israel – each cancels the other.
    In other words, luny is unable and unwilling to confront an issue on its own terms, but, instead, seeks to relativise and negate all criticism of that one event.

    A similar form of argumentation is made by neo-nazis who justify the Holocaust by reference to the mass murders of Stalin.

    “However, as we know from the old anti-SUS law struggles, it is legitimate (and, indeed, part of the anti-racist struggle)to ask why it is that only one particular driver (or, rather, type of driver) is the only one ever being pulled.”

    Whilst is is of course true that many of those who oppose the boycott of the Jewish state point to Iran as worse offenders of Human Rights and, therefore, use a similar form of argument as luny does, the question remains that, since there is no “innocent state” in the world, why is it only Israel that is being targetted again and again for censure for boycott something more must be at play?

    The old SUS laws (stop and serach) were universal (i.e. they applied to everyone), but, when examined in practice, was only being used by the Police against the Black population. In other words, whilst all the population of the UK could have been pulled under the laws, the vast, vast, majority of those affected were Black, In that instance, as in the case of the boycott, that “something more” was and is racism. As such, it was part of the anti-racist agenda to end the SUS laws on the gorunds of their racist application (as well as the general abuse of civil liberties).

    Nowadays, of course, many, but not all, of the anti-racists openly support what is, in effect, and in practice, a policy of racist exclusion against Jews.

  6. Duncan Bryson Says:

    Hi,

    does anyone know if all are all welcome at the one voice events? Or are they just for university students?

    Ta

    Duncan

  7. A-ha! Norwegian University is Latest Focus of Academic Boycott at Z-Word Blog Says:

    […] opposing the boycott; Engage, which did such extraordinary work to counter the UCU boycotters, is on the case; Scholars for Peace in the Middle East has put together an impressive petition signed by several […]

  8. tony Says:

    I truly do not wish to change the subject but merely to ask something that is very related. Does the position of most supporters of engage on the following boycott issue is similar to the position of the American ADL? If the answer is no, I would be curious to understand the difference. Thanks:

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3795731,00.html

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      Having read all the way through the Ynetnews article (have you? – your comment would indicate otherwise), the following comemnt, posted on the comments thread attached to the article below this one – and with the moderators’ indulgence, as it’s still awaiting moderation – applies just as much here as to that article.

      At least you’re being consistent, even if the consistency is suspect as to your motive. How about a reasoned statement as to the content of the Ynetnews article instead of a bogus question. Repeated comment starts here:

      And your point is, tony? That Jews who support Israel’s right to exist as an “ordinary” and/or “normal” state (and others who do the same) should be vilified for doing so? That they should be somehow tarred with the same brush as open antisemites? You _might_ (but only _might_, not _do_) have a point if those who attack Israel’s right to exist and/or demand boycott’s against Israel and Israeli institutions _also_ made such attacks and demands against other states which have equally bad or worse human rights records – and, no, I’m not going to list which these are: you’re (presumably) a big boy and can look them up for yourself. Heck, you only have to scroll through these comments columns to find out.

      And if you _still_ need convincing, read Absolute Observer’s second comment on the thread attached to the article immediately above this one: you are well aware of this article and comment, as you’ve already posted a comment there.

  9. Absolute Observer Says:

    Tony,
    You are a rabid boycotter of the Jewish state, which you label as racist,etc. etc.
    So, quit the polite questions.
    If you have something to say about the Norwegian attempt to boycott Israel – and only Israel – say it.
    If not, don’t.
    I am sure many people here have better things with their time than play semantic games with you.

    As for myself, I am as opposed to the boycott of that particular college (as of all academic institutions as a matter of principle) as I am to the existence of that college on occupied territory (as I am of all colleges built on occupied lands both in Palestine and elsewhere as a matter of principle).

    As I noted above, it is the question of the continual focus on one driver time after time after that stinks to high heavens and which points to something rotten in the kingdom of the boycotters.

    Discussion over.

    • Mira Vogel Says:

      I agree with BG and AO, and additionally I reserve the right not to debate with people who don’t themselves value debate i.e. who’ve already decided what the outcome should be. Otherwise, I find, it can really be a waste of time.

      “TO THOSE on the left who derive sado-masochistic entertainment from the more bilious of its internal debates, Tony Greenstein will need no introduction. But for anyone who doesn’t think that spending endless hours on email discussion lists and internet message boards is an appropriate and productive use of their time, it is necessary to provide a little background. ”

      http://www.whatnextjournal.co.uk/Pages/Back/Wnext30/Tonyreply.html

      Now I dare say Tony will want to come back on that – go ahead Tony, and then let’s call it a day. You have the rest of the Web to play with.

  10. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Mira & AO, thanks for telling me (and the rest of us) that “tony” is Tony Greenstein. If I’d known that, I’d would have been far more forceful, even (politely, of course, as always) rude.

    Tough things, these pseudonyms.

  11. luny Says:

    The position of Palestinian students in Israeli universities is available here:
    http://www.alternativenews.org/english/2263-open-letter-to-the-board-of-governors-of-trondheim-university.html
    Not that I necessarily agree, but worth reading.

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      So, luny, if you don’t necessarily agree with the contents of the link, why are you providing it without adding a comment? _Do_ you agree with them? I think we should be told, though I’m willing to guess as to your position – which, without an actual statement in support or opposition, is a weasel one. In fact, the only reason you’d provide a link without a comment is that you’re looking for a cheap way of stating your support for Trondheim University. You know what comes next: what, luny, is your evidence for the efficacy of a boycott? why Israeli, and only Israeli, universities? etc, etc.

      Oh, and what evidence do you have that these student bodies represent significant (or, indeed, _any_) percentages of the Arab-Israeli students in Israeli universities? Or are they, in fact, despite their claim to the contrary, actually _Palestinian_ (and not Arab-Israeli) student bodies? How do we know? _You_ offer us no evidence. After all, the likes of Tom Hickey can make all sorts of claims about what UCU supports, but we know very well that any statement he makes fails to represent the views of the rank and file, which he (and others) refuses to consult in any meaningful way.

      Absolute Observer’s ironic aside (next two comments) is about right!

  12. Absolute Observer Says:

    The banality of link envy

    http://www.spme.net/cgi-bin/articles.cgi?ID=6139

    Not that I necessarily agree, but worth reading.

  13. Absolute Observer Says:

    One wonders why the link-obsessed luny did not link to this on the same page,

    http://www.alternativenews.org/english/1925

    “The Alternative Information Center to Host Its Third International Political Field Seminar: Bridges Instead of Walls! ”

    “Let us unite our social, cultural, humanitarian, and political efforts as peoples from many nations in order to end the walls of occupation, aggression, discrimination and racism. Let us build the bridge of justice, peace, equality, human justice and respect.”

  14. Sarah Says:

    Just quickly to note that the proposal for a boycott was defeated.

  15. zkharya Says:

    Thanks, Sarah. Z


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