Weird Zionist Enclave at Norwegian University of Science and Technology

One of the most disreputable arguments for an academic boycott of Israel came from Tom Hickey, a philosophy lecturer at Brighton University who said in the well-known political publication, the British Medical Journal:

In the case of Israel, we are speaking about a society whose dominant self image is one of a bastion of civilisation in a sea of medieval reaction. And we are speaking of a culture, both in Israel and in the long history of the Jewish diaspora, in which education and scholarship are held in high regard. That is why an academic boycott might have a desirable political effect in Israel, an effect that might not be expected elsewhere.

Even if this were true, and the achievements of the likes Aaron Ciechanover and Avram Hershko, or Ada Yonath were front page news in Entitean newspapers (hint, they were not), how obscene would it be for anyone claiming to represent the unifying force of academia and scientific thought to ostracize a society in which such brainboxes are uniformly praised?

Yet, apart from senior and genuinely brilliant academics such as Professors Stephen Rose or Terry Eagleton, many of the pro-boycotters – not least, Hickey – are minor lecturers or higher education staff whose ‘political activism’ is pursued due a lack of professional responsibilities. I assume Israeli institutions are seen as a soft-target because of their real or perceived lack of co-operation with British institutions: true moral consistency would surely involve a similar call for boycotts of American institutions, and definitely those with ties to the US Government and/or military, but this would likely result in a rapid response from university Senates at such a threat to their academic relations.

In my experience, people involved with academic life for the love of knowledge and learning may have disagreements with the policies of named countries, but never have been so perverse to boycott their institutions such as those in Serbia at the height of the Balkan wars.

The latest wheeze from professional political agitators in Norway, appealing to their status as the indulged children of state-education, has been to pursue an academic boycott of Israeli institutions and individuals deemned to move in the wrong circles.

They reckoned without, however, the likes of Professor Bjørn Alsberg of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and the tendancy of the Board of Trustees NTNU to reject outright vanity projects which single out only one country for especial oppobrium.


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