- The Washington Times - Friday, July 12, 2002

LONDON Hundreds of European academics have called for a boycott of Israeli universities to protest treatment of the Palestinians a move that has led to the firing of two Israelis from British publications and prompted charges of discrimination and intellectual censorship.
Boycott supporters say they are exerting political pressure on the Israeli government. But Miriam Shlesinger says she is a victim of academic discrimination. Miss Shlesinger, a lecturer in translation studies at Bar-Ilan University in Tel Aviv, was fired from the journal Translator by an editor who supports the boycott.
"I was appointed as a scholar," Miss Shlesinger said Wednesday. "But I was dismissed as an Israeli."
The boycott, as it appears in an Internet petition, calls on academics not to "cooperate with official Israeli institutions, including universities" and to protest the "military reoccupation of the Palestinian territories in the West Bank and Gaza Strip" a reference to Israel's military campaign that began in March in response to attacks by Palestinian suicide bombers.
Steven Rose, a professor at Britain's Open University who helped start the campaign, likens it to the cultural and sporting sanctions imposed on apartheid South Africa.
"We are concerned with boycotting or refusing to collaborate with Israeli institutions," Mr. Rose told British Broadcasting Corp. radio. "Unfortunately, institutions are expressed through individuals. That means that some of our friends are actually going to suffer for it."
More than 750 academics most from Europe, but including 10 from Israel have signed the petition or a related one calling for a moratorium on European Union cultural and scientific ties to Israel until Israel abides by U.N. resolutions and opens "serious peace negotiations with the Palestinians."
Amnon Rubinstein, a former Israeli minister of education and former dean of Tel Aviv University's law school, said the boycott was outrageous.
"There are many disputes and many accusations against many other states, and I haven't heard of a petition like this against any other country," he said.
Last month, Miss Shlesinger was asked to step down from the editorial board of the Translator, a semiannual journal, by owner and editor Mona Baker. Mrs. Baker, a professor at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, signed the Internet petition.
Mrs. Baker also asked Tel Aviv University professor Gideon Toury to resign from the advisory board of Translation Studies Abstracts, another journal she owns. When Miss Shlesinger and Mr. Toury refused, Mrs. Baker fired them.
Mrs. Baker's husband, Ken who is managing director of St. Jerome, the journals' publisher said Mr. Toury and Miss Shlesinger were fired not because they are Israeli but because they work for Israeli universities.
The boycott has been condemned by Jewish groups, such as the Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and petitions denouncing it have sprouted on the Internet. One, based at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, says it has 13,000 signatures. Another, set up in the United States and signed by more than 1,000 academics, calls the boycott an "alarming and nonconstructive development."


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