Norwegian University rejects proposal for an academic boycott of Israel
Vol 8 No12 17 November 2009
An academic boycott of Israel in Norway was averted on Thursday 12 November, when the Executive Board of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) at Trondheim unanimously decided to reject the controversial move.The board's statement can be read below.
The NTNU had received letters and emails from all over the world which resulted in tremendous negative publicity for the University and Norway. The global counter-boycott petition by SPME (Scholars for Peace in the Middle East) was signed by more than 3,500 people, more than 1,000 times the number of signatures on the original proposal to boycott.
The Academic Friends of Israel would like to thank everyone who wrote to the NTNU Board and Norwegian embassies, made phone calls, signed the counter-boycott petition and helped to defeat this latest boycott proposal. If passed, it would have been the first of its kind by a Western Institution.
At the beginning of 2009, students at 30 British Universities staged “occupations” in protest against Israel’s Gaza campaign. Nine months later, students who in January demonstrated at Sussex University continued their protests by organising a referendum with the question “Should USSU boycott Israeli Goods? The students voted to boycott Israeli goods by 562 votes to 450. The boycott campaign received messages of support from Norman Finkelstein and the UK charity War on Want. This is a perfect example of small groups of dedicated protesters, who will go away, regroup and return to fight another day.
More goods news last week, when the General Secretary of the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions [PGFTU] Palestine’s equivalent of the TUC told a delegation of British trade unionists that they are not interested in general boycotts of Israel. But they do have a have a boycott policy with regard to produce from West Bank settlements. This may however not be enforced as they have concerns about the effects a boycott would have on the 30,000 Palestinians employed there.
However a British left-wing political magazine, the New Statesman, published an article “A state of collapse” about the Boycotts, Sanctions and Divestments [BDS] campaign against Israel. It concluded that the TUC's decision in September to mount a partial boycott of Israeli goods was so significant that their endorsement of BDS "will reverberate across the world." Sadly it will not be long before we will have to fight again and it is good to know that there are people in the Jewish world and elsewhere one can count on to counter the unrelenting “hate” campaign towards the State of Israel.
Thank you once again for your support
Academic friends of Israel
For further information and sources:
The NTNU Board statement
The Board of NTNU decided today to reject the proposal for a boycott of Israel. The decision was unanimous and in accordance with the Rector's recommendation. The background to the case was an appeal from a group of employees at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and the Sør-Trøndelag University College (HiST), with a challenge to the institutions to approve a cultural and academic boycott of Israel. The goal of the boycott was to exert international pressure on Israel to start negotiations with elected Palestinian authorities and the international community in order to put an end to the suffering of Palestinians during the occupation by Israel. The petition was presented by the Rector during the previous board meeting as an oral briefing, and the Board then asked to have the matter put on the agenda for today's meeting for a substantive discussion.
Board against the boycott
The Board voted against the proposal to boycott, and stressed the need for open lines of communication and between scientists at NTNU and academic institutions in Israel. “As an academic institution, NTNU's mission is to stimulate the study of the causes of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and how it can be resolved. This means that the university is also dependent on being able to cooperate with Israeli academics, and hear their views on the conflict”, said the board.
Norway University rebuffs motion for Israel boycott http://haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1127734.html
Norway University won't boycott Israel
Palestinian unions say Israel boycott would harm them
Sussex Students' Union agrees Israel boycott
The New Statesman “A state of collapse”
The Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks
Dr Manfred Gerstenfeld - Chairman of the Board of Fellows, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
Vivian Wineman - President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews
John D A Levy - Director of the Academic Study Group on Israel and the Middle East
Andrew R. Marks, M.D. - Columbia University, USA
Dr Robin Stamler
Professor Leslie Wagner CBE
Rt Hon Lord Young of Graffham
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