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"Five axiomatic propositions of Canadian Nationalism vis-a-vis the Americans:

1. Boy, we hate Americans.

2. We really do.

3. Really.

4. I'm not kidding. We really hate them.

5. So how come they never pay us any attention?"

--Will Ferguson, Why I Hate Canadians, Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1997, p.105.


Monday, April 15, 2002

What could be worse than Europeans and academics? European academics. Many science fiction writers describe bizarre alternate universes where the physical laws do not hold. Back here on earth it's pretty clear, that on many issues, academicians live in a bizarre alternate universe unaffected by the normal laws of reason. The same is also true of a heck of a lot of Europeans. So when I say "European academics," you know where this is going.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports today that "European Scholars Seek Academic Boycott of Israel." Nine of the signatories are from Israel! Sadly, the article is only available to subscribers, so most of you won't be able to read that:

More than 300 European academics have signed a petition calling for a boycott of Israeli cultural and research institutions in the wake of Israel's stepped-up military action in the West Bank.

The petition calls for a moratorium on European support until Israel "abide[s] by UN resolutions and open[s] serious peace negotiations with the Palestinians."

Yup, 'cause while Yasser was really really sincere and serious between 1993 and 2002, those darned Israeli leaders refused to offer serious concessions.

"We are calling on European institutions, either national governments or the European Union and the European Science Foundation, to sever institutional links with Israeli institutions -- cultural, research, academic" links, said Steven Rose, a biology professor at Britain's Open University and one of two co-sponsors of the petition.

"It's not an attack on individual academics, but it's an attack on institutional links with Israeli state universities," he said, adding that the petitioners seek an end to "the state terror of the Israeli government."

[Insert your own snide remark about the strong moral fiber of many nations that these academics are happy to do business with.]

According to the petition: "Many national and European cultural and research institutions, including especially those funded from the EU and the European Science Foundation, regard Israel as a European state for the purposes of awarding grants and contracts. (No other Middle Eastern state is so regarded.)"

The majority of the signatories are from Britain, but academics in 18 other European countries are also on the list. Nine signatories are from Israel, five of them from Tel-Aviv University.

So apparently it's okay to regard Israel as a European state when soliciting signatures for this petition.

Israeli academic and government officials objected to the call for a boycott. Moshe Fogel, the press spokesman for the Ministry of Science, Culture, and Sport, said there had been no indication that the petition would lead to any substantive action by the European Union or any other institution. He pointed out that Israel maintains active scientific partnerships and exchanges with countries that are often critical of the country, such as France and China.

"The scientific and cultural dialogue is, when it comes down to it, meant to advance the international scientific community, and science should not be mixed with politics," he said. "Experience proves that everyone profits when science and politics are not mixed."

Some university administrators in Israel have been urging professors to contact their European colleagues to protest the boycott call. Hillel Shuval, a professor of environmental sciences at Hebrew University who has worked closely with Palestinians, sent a letter to his European contacts in which he noted that some of the projects that would be hurt by a boycott involve Europeans, Israelis, and Palestinians. Such projects have "played a very important role in maintaining open lines of communication, collegial relations, and friendships between Israelis and Palestinians during these difficult times," he wrote.

"Calling for the boycott of such projects by the European cooperating scientists and the EU would hardly be an act promoting the much needed peace process," he added.

True. If you believe that the purpose of this petition is to promote constructive action, rather than giving the signers something to chatter about at the next faculty tea. Gee, I wonder if Tom Paulin signed?

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