Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Fighting back

On November 12 the board of directors of Norges teknisk-naturvitenskapelige universitet (NTNU) in Trondheim will vote on whether or not to declare an academic boycott against Israel. The chairwoman of the board says that while she opposes the move, she will not move to cancel the vote.

The university's rector, Torbjørn Digernes, has already drawn strong criticism for his decision to hold a series of seminars at which only one viewpoint - hostile to Israel - will be heard. Comments on this, and on the boycott project, can be read on the rector's webpage, where he calls the seminar series "a praiseworthy enterprise".

Professor Yossi Ben-Artzii of the University of Haifa has written to Rector Digernes protesting the boycott, Ynet reports, and
stressed that Israel is an enlightened state, and that any attempt to impose an academic boycott on it can only stem from lack of knowledge or a wrong perception of the Jewish State. An academic boycott will only hurt academic freedom, while curbing intellectual progress and undermining universal values.
Meanwhile, Ynet also reports that the Swedish journalist responsible for the Aftonbladet article
accusing the Israel Defense Forces of stealing and trafficking in Palestinians' organs, was received Monday with boos and shouts during a panel he took part in at a media conference held in Dimona.

The Swedish reporter said that he understands the anger and explained that his infamous article only claimed that the Palestinian families' allegations need to be investigated. He also said that there was much misunderstanding surrounding the article. "The fact is that the families said what they said. That's a normal article," he said.

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