Sunday 8 November 2009

ADL calls on European Union to counter academic boycotts of Israel

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today urged the European Union to disqualify any university that adopts an anti-Israel academic boycott from participating in the E.U.'s student exchange program, Erasmus.

The board of Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, a participant in the Erasmus program, is slated to consider an anti-Israel academic boycott resolution on November 12. While Norway is not a member of the European Union, the Trondheim institution benefits from its participation in Erasmus.

In a letter to the European Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth, Mr. Maroš Šefèoviè, ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman noted the Commissioner's "unique position to have a positive influence" in working to counter anti-Israel academic boycotts.

"Academic boycotts are clearly antithetical to the spirit and purpose of the Erasmus program to enhance academic cooperation," said Mr. Foxman. He called on Mr. Šefèoviè to make clear that "there is no place within the Erasmus program, or any of the E.U.'s Lifelong Learning programs, for institutions that adopt a policy of boycotting Israeli academics and institutions."

According to the European Union, "Erasmus is the E.U.'s flagship education and training programme, enabling more than 180,000 students to study and work abroad each year, as well as supporting co-operation actions between higher education institutions across Europe."
Source: Norway, Israel and the Jews

Torbjørn Digernes and the Palestine-lobby

NTNU rector Torbjørn Digernes has asked the board not to vote for a boycott of Israel. He has also said that he is "saddened" by some of the criticism directed against him. Yet let us look as his "form" so far:

1. Digernes has endorsed and possibly also financed a seminar-series which has been: a) organized by the same individuals who stood behind the call for boycott b) had as its primary objective to prepare the ground for the debate concerning boycott, which the NTNU board of directors wil take on November 12th c) so critical of Israel that it might as well have been offered by the Norwegian Palestine Committee.

2. Digernes has thus politicized his university, thrusting it into the forefront of a political campaign against the one country on earth with which Norway already has "strained" relations, thereby demeaning NTNU staff and students by dividing them into two political camps.

3. Digernes has avoided open debate by refusing to speak to, for instance, Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post. He primarily makes himself known through the university newspaper - Universitetsavisa - which can hardly be expected to function as a critical voice.

It appears quite obvious that this goes far beyond the NTNU board merely deciding, on November 12th, whether or not to boycott Israel. Rector Digernes cannot merely wash his hands of the situation at which he himself has had such an obviously active hand.

What we need to discuss now is to what extent Torbjørn Digernes has behave properly as an NTNU rector. If he has not, he ought to resign.

Yet who in Norway has the political courage to go up against the Palestine-lobby, which has the power and influence to enroll the rector of NTNU in its campaign in the first place?

- Norway university to vote next month on boycott of Israel (Haaretz)
Norway's second-largest university to vote on Israel boycott (TJP)
A-ha! Norwegian University is Latest Focus of Academic Boycott (Z Word)

1 comment:

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