Trondheim academic boycott motion thrown out

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.

Ha’aretz:

“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.”

Kudos to the academics at Trondheim who spoke out against the boycott by signing Bjørn Alsberg’s* petition.

*Strange mingled references to Bjørn Alsberg/Alsgaard – not sure why.

 

11 Responses to “Trondheim academic boycott motion thrown out”

  1. NIMN Says:

    Congratulations to all those involved at the University. It cannot have been a pleasant time for them.

    In the meantime,

    How long before Steven Rose tells us all that it was down to a malevolent secret Zionist cabal that determined the outcome?

    How long before we hear that the result was the pressure of the Israel Lobby?

  2. James Mendelsohn Says:

    Not long I suspect, so let’s enjoy the good news while we can🙂

  3. efrafandays Says:

    Anything which makes Jostein Gaarder choke on yet more bile is good enough for me.

    What’s noteworthy is the complete unaminity of the NTNU’s Board of Trustees in rejecting this. Pro-boycotters often lack any desire to accept a moment of inconvenience for their actions – for instance, not going for a boycott of US insitututions – so don’t expect governing bodies to take into considering wider relations.

    Now, let’s leave it to Tom Hickey:

    http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/335/7611/124

    >> In the case of Israel, we are speaking about a society whose dominant self image is one of a bastion of civilisation in a sea of medieval reaction. And we are speaking of a culture, both in Israel and in the long history of the Jewish diaspora, in which education and scholarship are held in high regard. That is why an academic boycott might have a desirable political effect in Israel, an effect that might not be expected elsewhere.

    Even if this were true, and the achievements of the likes Aaron Ciechanover and Avram Hershko, or Ada Yonath were front page news in Entitean newspapers (hint, they were not), how obscene would it be for anyone claiming to represent the unifying force of academia and scientific thought to ostracize a society in which such brainboxes are uniformly praised?

    • Bill Says:

      Aye-up… We should never forget that, by their own admission, the boycott campaign targets Jews as Jews and does so by leveraging Jewish stereotypes. Tom Hickey said so explicitly and with no ambiguity.

      More still. if select Norwegians, British or American academics want to boycott or otherwise decline to work with, and let’s not pretend here, certain Israeli academics and certain Israeli IP and technologies, that is their right to do so. No one can make anyone work with anyone, anymore than the administrator should put blanket that-shall-not-collaborate restrictions on anyone. If they want to quietly say “no” as they would say no to anyone, then fine. If they want to be showy and blow their trumpets before them, as far as I’m concerned, that’s their prerogative and right under academic freedom too.

      But that’s never enough for them. They want to be free of any RRA, or EEO, or any other legal constraints that their institutions need to follow. If they find themselves in deep legal weeds, the balance of the university community must either cheer them on, or underwrite their legal costs (too often from divisions that do not discriminate but have deep pockets). And more still, they want their personal boycotts to be boycotts for everyone else.

      Academic Freedom for the Boycotteers to Boycott, Academic Freedom for everyone else to do (and agree) with whatever they say and pay the bill. If that’s what AF is these days, you can have it.

  4. Weird Zionist Enclave at Norwegian University of Science and Technology « A Rabbit's Eye View of the Hyperborean North Says:

    […] the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and the tendancy of the Board of Trustees NTNU to reject outright vanity projects which single out only one country for especial oppobrium. Possibly related […]

  5. Absolute Observer Says:

    “More still. if select Norwegians, British or American academics want to boycott or otherwise decline to work with, and let’s not pretend here, certain Israeli academics and certain Israeli IP and technologies, that is their right to do so. No one can make anyone work with anyone, anymore than the administrator should put blanket that-shall-not-collaborate restrictions on anyone.”

    But, of course, refusing to work with someone because of their nationality and nothing else, is racist whether done individually and quietly or in a herd and noisily.

    After all, racism thrives in silence and, in so doing, thinks it can remain immune to the public light of anti-racist equality and justice.

  6. efrafandays Says:

    >> But, of course, refusing to work with someone because of their nationality and nothing else, is racist whether done individually and quietly or in a herd and noisily.

    Yes, but they still shout be permitted to do so. It’s just that their relevent institutions should also be permitted to with-hold access for them to services/benefits which come from being in those institutions.

    Unless, that is, we don’t expect power to actually speak back now and again.

  7. Bill Says:

    “But, of course, refusing to work with someone because of their nationality and nothing else, is racist whether done individually and quietly or in a herd and noisily.”

    Yes, and when they do that (blow their horns on it, as it were, like the Oxford prof (?) who sent that one email to a prospective student), they’re in breach of law. And with that they should receive no enablement form union or university. Indeed, the university could and should discipline, even terminate, the violator (even if tenured) to better indemnify the institution. Otherwise, the trouble is when you have “silent” boycotts, without a smoking gun or do some stupid thing (uh… like Hickey’s letter), any governing body has to link intent with act for any legal action😦. And when there isn’t any, you just have to be patient for the actual motives to out themselves, they almost always do (uh again… like the Hickey letter).

    Good thing Hickey and the boycotters are too clever by half and showed their hand a little too clearly for their lawyers comfort, eh? You gotta go to college to do something that dumb.

  8. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    The assumption being made by AO and efrafandays is that the people not being worked with (on an individual level) are Israelis. While this may be so, and the unlovely Steven Rose has pointed to the way for “individual silent boycotts” (ie, boycotts by individualswithout shouting from the rooftops), this isn’t necessarily what Bill is on about (although he will correct me if I misinterpret).

    Such an individual boycott against Israelis and only Israelis (or any other ethnic or religious group) is, by definition, racist, and will run up against the law in the UK and the US: that one is an individual is no excuse, as the Oxford academic who refused a qualified Israeli ex-army applicant for a Doctoral programme found out to his cost. No amount of weasel words by Rose or anyone else will get round this, however “individual” the boycott is.

    However, refusal to work with _some_ individuals from a country, but not others from the same country, will be difficult to tag, in legal terms, as racist, especially if whatever criteria are used can be shown to be universal. Thus, if I were qualified in the field (which I most decidedly am not) and looking for research partners, I sure wouldn’t want to work with either Ilan Pappe or Avi Shlaim, but I’d be more than willing to work with, eg, Benny Morris.

  9. Jonathan Romer Says:

    A silent boycott, operating under the radar, may be hard to prove and so avoid legal dangers, but it suffers from several disabling impediments:

    — First, what use is a superior morality if nobody but you knows you possess it?

    — Second, since most boycotters are second-rate academics (perhaps because first-rate ones put scholarship and research before politics?), an undeclared boycott is likely to hurt no one as much as the boycotter. The would-be victim will find other collaborators, and nobody will lose much sleep over what the world might have lost. Top tier academics, who actually create reputations for their institutions and for the endeavour of learning, will keep on doing what they do with whoever can best help them do it. Academic progress will continue and boycotters will be left behind.

    To be really satisfying and to achieve anything at all, a boycott must not only be done, it must be seen to be done.

  10. University of Bergen to hold official debate on boycotting Israel « Engage – the anti-racist campaign against antisemitism Says:

    […] January 24, 2010 — Mira Vogel Last year the University of Trondheim’s board threw out an attempt by its anti-Israel pressure group to force all Trondheim employees to boycott Israel. It […]


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