Norway university to vote next month on boycott of Israel
By Cnaan Liphshiz, Haaretz Correspondent
The university of Trondheim in Norway may become the first university in the West to adopt an academic boycott of Israel, if a majority of its board votes in favor of the move at a meeting on the subject next month. Three days prior to the November 12 vote by the board of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), the institution will host a lecture on Israel's alleged use of anti-Semitism as a political tool.
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. Prof. Morten Levin, an NTNU lecturer and member of the seminar's organizing committee, set up the series of lectures - which also featured Ilan Pappe and Stephen Walt - with Ann Rudinow Saetnan and Rune Skarstein. All have signed a call for an academic boycott of Israel.
In a letter this week to Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, the Simon Wiesenthal Center's director for international relations, Shimon Samuels, called the seminar "a new stage in Norwegian incitement to Jew-hatred" and "outrageously anti-Israel bigotry." According to a scientist working at NTNU who spoke to Haaretz on condition of anonymity, the idea of holding a vote on boycotting Israel was modeled on the campaign run by Sue Blackwell, a leading proponent of an academic boycott of Israel in the United Kingdom.
A group of pro-Israel employees of NTNU are currently looking for ways to prevent the boycott from being adopted, drawing on the legal reasoning that in 2007 prompted Britain's University and College Union - of which Blackwell is a prominent member - to nix plans for a boycott of Israel. According to people who fought the U.K. boycott motion, it was dropped after legal consultants told UCU officials that a boycott of Israel would violate anti-discrimination laws.
"We have to see how similar the laws in Norway are," the Trondheim scientist said. "If this were the U.K., [a boycott] would be illegal.
But this is Norway, where these things may fly," said Manfred Gerstenfeld, chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, who has published a book on anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism in the Nordic countries.
[Tel Aviv U, Philosophy] Anat Matar signed an open letter to the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge, asking to cancel their performance in Israel
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Saturday, October 31, 2009 9:37 AM
Subject: [bfw] Open letter to the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge
I've just sent my signature. I urge you to do the same.
Please consider signing this letter below and sending your reply back to Michael or John by Sunday November 1st at the latest, and circulating of you can.
Further to my message yesterday, I am copying below a letter to all
members of Clare College Choir which has been drafted by the UK
Palestine Solidarity Campaign and which is currently being sent around
for supporting signatures. I would be very grateful if you were
prepared to sign it (and, if so, in what capacity you would like your
name to appear); I'd likewise be very grateful if you could pass it on
to other figures in the arts and in public life in Palestine who might
be prepared to lend their support to its sentiments.
I gather that the letter will be sent out this Monday (November 2nd)
to the members of the Choir, so if you could ensure that any signatory
names reach me by Sunday evening at the latest, I'd be very grateful.
Please reply to me email@example.com or John
Very best wishes,
CHOIR OF LONDON
Open letter to the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge:
Dear Director of Music, Timothy Brown and members of the choir,
We understand that you intend to tour Israel with the Choir of Clare
College to perform J.S. Bach’s ‘Christmas Oratorio’ between 25th and
30th December this year and we are asking you to reconsider this
Artists and musicians in Palestine, inspired by the example of the
campaign which brought an end to apartheid in South Africa, have asked
people of conscience around the world not to perform in Israel as an
act of solidarity with them. They do not do this lightly, but because
over forty years of talking have brought no meaningful results in the
implementation of international law and humanitarian law to help
Palestinians achieve an independent sovereign state.
December 27 will be the anniversary of the terrible day last year that
Israel unleashed a military onslaught on the trapped population of the
Gaza Strip. While the rest of the world will be remembering the
massacre of 1,400 Palestinian people, your choir will be performing in
the capital city of the government which perpetrated acts now regarded
as war crimes, according to the latest UN report from Judge Richard
Your invitation to perform in Israel is from the Israel Camerata, a
body partially funded by the Israeli government. To accept such an
invitation is to ignore the fact that Israel is currently engaged in
the longest ever occupation of a people, an occupation declared
illegal by the United Nations. You will see nothing of the reality of
life under occupation for the Palestinian people of the West Bank,
Gaza and East Jerusalem.
The Gaza tragedy was merely the latest episode in the catastrophe
which has befallen the people of Palestine since the destruction of
their villages and the creation of hundreds of thousands of refugees
at the foundation of the State of Israel in 1948. The town of Karmiel,
where you are due to perform on December 30th, is built on land
expropriated from the Palestinian villages of Deir al-Asad, Bi’ina and
The fact that you have been invited to participate in the traditional
Christmas Eve carol service in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem
only emphasises the publicity value to the Israeli government of this
trip. Many Palestinian Christians are denied the right to attend this
service by the Israeli government and army.
To go ahead with this tour could appear indifferent to Palestinian suffering.
Music brings a message of hope but in this instance it will be seen by
the Palestinian people as an endorsement of Israeli occupation. We
ask you again to reconsider your decision.
[Tel Aviv U, MA student, Ethics] Omar Barghouti's PACBI against the agreement between the University of Johannesburg and Ben Gurion University
27 October 2009
Petition Against the Agreement between the University of Johannesburg and Ben Gurion University
As members of the University of Johannesburg community, we wish to express our disagreement with the University’s decision to sign a scientific
co-operation agreement with Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. We believe that this agreement is damaging to our university because it ignores
the call of Palestinian civil society organisations to withhold co-operation from Israeli universities which co-operate in human rights abuses.
Ben-Gurion University is such an institution. Its president, Rivka Carmi, describes it as a ‘proudly Zionist institution’ which means that it actively supports
the ideology of the Israeli state, which denies Palestinians an equal share of the land of their birth. Ben-Gurion University also offers partial exemption
from its degree requirements to members of the Israeli military, thus bending academic requirements to the needs of a military engaged in occupying
Palestinian lands in violation of United Nations Resolutions.
We are particularly disturbed that the University has signed an agreement with Ben-Gurion at a time when it has declared that it is seeking legal ways to
discipline the head of its politics department, Neve Gordon, for labeling Israel an apartheid state and supporting a non-violent boycott of Israeli companies
and institutions which abuse human rights. Clearly, academic freedom is not a value in which Ben-Gurion University believes: the Association for Civil Rights
in Israel reacted to the threat to Gordon by expressing its ‘sorrow’ that ‘ this is not the first time Ben-Gurion University has misappropriated its duty to
stimulate social and political involvement among university staff, and is instead choking differing opinions within an argument between the Israeli public’,
indicating that this attempt to suppress free thought is not an isolated incident.
In defence of its decision, our university leadership argues that it is being even-handed because it favours partnerships with universities in Israel and
Palestine. It says this stance is, in its view, in line with the official policy of the South African government. We respectfully disagree.
The Palestinian people are currently victims of an Israeli occupation which violates their human rights as well as international law. Their plight has been
repeatedly compared to that of black South Africans under apartheid by, among others, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former Cabinet minister Ronnie
Kasrils. Palestinian institutions are forced to exist in circumstances which are strongly similar to the Bantustan system created by apartheid. To insist that
it is even-handed to support Israeli and Palestinian institutions is thus much the same as insisting, during the apartheid period, that it was even-handed
to support apartheid institutions as long as Bantustan institutions are supported too.
We do not know whether this approach is in line with that of our government – we understand it to oppose the illegal occupation of Palestine which would
surely assume non-co-operation with institutions which support that occupation. But, if our government supports the signing of co-operation agreements
with institutions which are complicit in human rights abuses, we wish to point out that, in democratic South Africa, universities are not bound by
In sum, we believe that signing this agreement endangers UJ’s reputation as a university justly proudly of its commitment to the values of a democratic
South Africa because it sends a signal to the world and our Palestinian colleagues that we are unwilling to support their demand for the rights we now
enjoy. We appeal to the university’s leadership to reaffirm our university’s commitment to human rights and democracy by cancelling the agreement with
1. Prof P Alexander, Professor of Sociology.
2. Dr Z Asmal, Centre for Psychological Services and Career Development.
3. Mr I Baatjes, Senior Researcher, Centre for Education Rights and Transformation.
4. Ms S Bassadien-Lecturer, Department of Social Work.
5. Dr M Belaid-Senior Lecturer, Department of Chemical Engineering.
6. Mr M Butler, Department of Civil Engineering and Technology.
7. Ms F Cachalia, Language Facilitator.
8. Ms C Ceruti, Researcher, Centre for Sociological Research.
9. Ms F Dangor, Department: Supply Chain Management.
10. Dr M Dawson, Lecturer, Department of Sociology.
11. Ms N Dharsey, Coordinator, Academic Development and Support.
12. Dr A Desai, Researcher, Centre for Sociological Research.
13. Prof N Erlank, Director, Centre for Culture and Language in Africa.
14. Prof F Esack, Professor of Religious Studies.
15. Prof S Friedman, Director, Centre for the Study of Democracy.
16. Dr A Graham, Lecturer, Department of English.
17. Dr L Kajee, Senior Lecturer, Educational Linguistics, Department of Curriculum and Instruction.
18. Dr F Kaldine, Lecturer, Department of Psychology.
19. Ms A Kasoojee, Corporate Governance.
20. Dr T Majam, Lecturer, Public Governance.
21. Dr I Marais, Lecturer, Anthropology and Development Studies.
22. Dr Z McDonald, Researcher, Centre for Sociological Research.
23. Ms V-J Merckel-Lecturer, Faculty of Education
24. Prof M Modiba, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Education.
25. Dr E Modimakwane, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Health Sciences.
26. Ms M Mahomed, Head of Student Support.
27. Dr D Moore, Department of Anthropology and Development Studies.
28. Ms F Mulla, Lecturer, Department of Radiography, Faculty of Health Sciences.
29. Dr S Nalla, Lecturer, Department of Human Anatomy and Physiology.
30. Dr A Peer, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Economics and Financial Services.
31. Dr N Petersen, Lecturer, Department of Education Studies.
32. Mr C Petker, Communications Department.
33. Ms G Petker, Centre for Education Practice and Research.
34. Dr P Pfafe, Researcher, Department of Sociology.
35. Ms M Phadi, Researcher, Department of Sociology
36. Dr D Postma, Senior Lecturer, Department of Education Studies.
37. Ms N. Rafee, Lecturer, Practical Business Law.
38. Ms E Sekgobela, Centre for Education Rights and Transformation.
39. Dr L Sinwell, Researcher, Centre for Sociological Research.
40. Dr C van Rooyen, Lecturer, Development Studies.
41. Prof E Weber, Director, Centre for Education Rights and Transformation.
42. Mr F Varachia, Manager, Engineering and Metallurgy.
43. Mr S Vally, Senior Researcher, Centre for Education Rights and Transformation.
Posted on 29-10-2009
October 31, 2009
SUSSEX STUDENTS VOTE TO BOYCOTT ISRAEL
Sussex Students’ Union first in UK to boycott Israeli goods
FOLLOWING a landmark referendum, students at Sussex University have voted to boycott Israeli goods. The decision will become part of the international
Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, which calls upon Israel to respect international law and end the occupation of Palestine.
The referendum received messages of support and thanks from Jewish and Israeli academics and non-governmental organizations that oppose Israel’s
policy of occupation in Palestine. Author and scholar Norman G. Finkelstein described the referendum result as ‘a victory, not for Palestinians but for truth
Iyad Burnat- Head of Popular Commitee and-co-founder of Friends of Freedom and Justice Bil'in -Palestine
The committee really appreciates Sussex Students' Union remarkable idea of starting a boycott on Israeli goods. We hope even more people all around the
world will follow by our example so that we can put an end to the israeli occupation and dismantle the apartheid wall.
Any questions or requests please contact Martha Baker on 07595 700717 or Bushra Khalidi on 07964 923753----or
Thank you for you continued support,
Iyad Burnat- Head of Popular Commitee in Bilin
co-founder of Friends of Freedom and Justice - Bilin
Mobile- (00972) (0) 547847942
Office- (00972) (2) 2489129
Mobile- (00972) (0) 598403676