Academic and Cultural Boycott of Apartheid Israel: a Common Practice in UK Institutions
Posted inNews /

Academic and Cultural Boycott of Apartheid Israel: a Common Practice in UK Institutions

The movement for academic and cultural boycott is growing, particularly in the UK. One indication of this is that The National Association of Teachers in Higher and Further Education (NATHFE) is proposing another boycott motion on Israeli academic institutions in its upcoming annual assembly from May 27-29. NATFHE is active in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Also, more and more professors and editorial boards are adhering to the boycott policy at a level of professional consciousness. Recently, Professor Richard Seaford, Head of the Department of Classics and Ancient History at Exeter University in England, was requested to write a book review for the academic journal Scripta Classica Israelica. Illustrating the responsibility each person has to deny complicity with the Occupation, Seaford refused this request because the journal is funded by Israeli universities. Seaford wrote in a letter to the journal: “Alas, I am unable to accept your kind invitation, for reasons that you may not like. I have, along with many other British academics, signed the academic boycott of Israel, in the face of the brutal and illegal expansionism and the slow-motion ethnic cleansing being practiced by your government.” Seaford further stated that this refusal “is just a small contribution to the long-term raising of international consciousness which represents the only hope for an eventual just peace in the Middle East. In this respect, there is a parallel with the academic boycott of Apartheid South Africa. Though many charges of racism have been directed against Israeli universities, we do not want academics, of all people, to be boycotted: We would be delighted if there were other boycotts.”
While boycott motions of entire unions can be strong symbolic statements, raising public consciousness about the occupation is the core of the boycott movement.

Another example of the boycott movement’s daily progress was the refusal of a U.K. magazine, Dance Europe, to publish an article on the Israeli choreographer Sally Ann Freeland and her dance company. In March 2006, the magazine conditioned the publication of the article on an explicit declaration by Freeland against the occupation, which she refused to make.

The movement for the Isolation of Apartheid Israel is thus slowly growing in the consciousness of the people and in their daily actions, and it is becoming irreversibly pervasive.