attack Israel boycott
Will Woodward, education editor
July 9, 2002
The boycott of Israeli universities led by British academics was
condemned last night by the National Union of Students.
The NUS attacked as "racist" the sacking of two academics
from a pair of Manchester-based journals because they work at Israeli
Mona Baker, a professor of linguistics at the University of Manchester
Institute of Science and Technology (Umist), angrily denied the
charge levelled at her by the union. She dismissed Gideon Toury
and Miriam Shlesinger from their minor roles on two translation
journals owned by her company because they worked for Israeli universities.
She insisted that it was their university and not their nationality
which provoked her decision. More than 700 academics worldwide have
signed a petition supporting the boycott, begun by Open University
professor Steven Rose in a letter in the Guardian.
The Association of University Teachers has also condemned Israeli
aggression and backed a motion calling for a boycott.
But Mandy Telford, president of the NUS, said: "The National
Union of Students stands firmly against all forms of discrimination.
This is an abuse of academic freedom that can only have a negative
impact on students at Umist.
"We wouldn't support the infringement of [people] being able
to study because of where they live and where they are."
Daniel Rose, the union's anti-racism campaign convenor, said: "To
exclude people based on their nationality is abhorrent and nothing
short of racism, and should be universally condemned."
But Prof Baker, who has received hundreds of abusive emails from
pro-Israelis, said last night: "The other issue of academic
freedom is if they succeed in what they are doing in trying to get
me out of Umist. That would mean nobody would ever be able to do
anything they believed in. I boycotted South Africa in exactly the
She said 10 Israeli academics were supporting the boycott.