Some days ago I wondered whether a Norwegian university was going to force its employees to boycott Israelis. The answer turned out to be a no from the board, none of whom objected to a proposal to throw out the motion.
“Some of the people in attendance spoke in favor of scrapping the vote,”Alsberg told Haaretz. “The main arguments raised were that Norwegian universities should not [make] their own foreign policies, and that a boycott would be harmful to NTNU.”
According to Alsberg, who collected signatures from over 100 NTNU scholars against the boycott, the move was prevented due to “a combination of factors.” He said these included media attention; opposition to the boycott by the Norwegian Ministry for Higher Education; and petitions, including his own.
But Erez Uriely, director of the Oslo-based Center against Anti-Semitism, said the boycott was prevented largely thanks to Alsberg’s petition.
“Norwegian politicians often take anti-Israeli positions and then renege when this creates an outcry,” he said. “The petition against a boycott of Israel at NTNU is an unusual event which tipped the scale.”
Norway, Israel and the Jews note the disappointment of boycotters and predicts that they will return:
“For anyone in doubt, please observe that Mr.Lysestøl and his comrades are dedicated, hard working people who honestly believe they are engaged in a battle against ultimate evil. They will regroup and recover. If it had not been for the tremendous effort of people from around the globe in general and professor Bjørn Alsgaard* at NTNU in particular, the motion for boycott might have passed.”
*Strange mingled references to Bjørn Alsberg/Alsgaard – not sure why.