What's this blog about?

As a result of a combination of factors, culminating in the shameful UCU boycott-in-waiting of Israel, I've grown alienated & silenced, working here in one of the UK's finest universities all the while feeling like a Boycotted British Academic, alone in facing some dilemmas of the moment. In this generally chilling environment, it's hard to speak out and be heard, and hear others...and I find myself writing this blog.

What's it about? At present, it seems to me like a rather tortured articulation of the state of being silenced & mute, beyond words; struggling for the right even to use them, for a voice which can still be heard. When it started, all those successive boycott motions ago, I'd hoped it would function as a blog forum of support & solidarity amongst academics similarly-situated to BBA, to help us break through the boycott movement's silencing strategies. That hope remains notwithstanding this silence... Perhaps it lives in trying to articulate beyond the filter of these coping mechanisms of old (denial, avoidance, withdrawal); by way of this labour of finding the words, this voice...
[A forum of sorts has also arisen in the blog's comments, in which others have adopted the BBA moniker in case of need (e.g.
and here exposing the racist hate speech which masquerades as UCU solidarity activism).]

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Boycott, Non!

This whole business is old news in France & here are some lessons we might learn from their experience:

Anti-Zionism and the boycott of Israeli products and skills are viewed by French Jews as another form of anti-Semitism. But, unlike other countries, France has successfully countered the phenomenon, launching the France-Israel Foundation in July 2005 to reinforce ties with the Israeli government and encourage collaboration in various fields, from literary exhibits to stem cell research.

The foundation has prevented boycotts that would have isolated Israel in the intellectual and commercial fields. It instigated French investments in the Israeli film industry, for example, leading to the success of the Israeli Film Festival of Paris and to numerous productions and prizes, the latest ones being the awards granted at the Cannes film festival to two Israeli films, "Jellyfish" and "The Band's Visit." Israeli movies, once rare in French theaters, have become common and, at times, even popular.

Those who supported the boycott against Israel, mainly within the pro-Palestinian association CAPJPO (Coordination of the Calls for a Fair Peace in the Middle East), are about to observe a new high in French-Israeli relations since the annual book fair -- the major cultural event of the year -- selected Israel to star the 2008 exhibit.

I hope to hear that our government is following the French example...

[hat tip for link: YIISA (newsletter); photo: ParisDailyPhoto]


Noga said...


I don't know if you followed the whole Ahmadinejad kerfuffle at Columbia. But one thing I enjoyed in particular was Bollinger's introductory speech in which he said the following:

"Twelve days ago you said that the state of Israel cannot continue its life. This echoed a number of inflammatory statements you have delivered in the past two years, including in October 2005, when you said that Israel "should be wiped off the map", quote-unquote.

Columbia has over 800 alumni currently living in Israel.

As an institution, we have deep ties with our colleagues there.

I have personally spoken -- personally, I have spoken out in most forceful terms against proposals to boycott Israeli scholars (in/and ?) universities, saying that such boycotts might as well include Columbia. (Applause.)

More than 400 -- more than 400 -- more than 400 college and university presidents in this country have joined in that statement
My question then is, do you plan on wiping us off the map too? (Applause.)"

I thought it was very effective and ingenuous of him to seize the moment and mention this vile boycotting campaign in the context of Ahmadinejad's genocidal plans for Israel. These are the aims of the boycotters, taken to their rational conclusions. They should be made aware of what kind of company they keep.

Boycotted British Academic said...

Thanks Noga - yes, I had seen it but only thanks to your great & fabulous blog, which reproduces Bollinger's speech! I was thinking of posting this extract on my blog, so I'm glad you did it for me, by way of this comment. Thanks again!

I've just received notice of some boycott-busting activities at our National Theatre. It shows that Britain is already defying the boycott sentiment even without a UK equivalent of the Foundation mentioned in the main post. Here are the details, if anyone wants to go along:

Habimah, the National Theatre of Israel, in a collaboration with Britain's National Theatre, is visiting London from 8th-10th October.

**Conflicts and Confrontations: New Israeli Political Drama**

One of a series of readings of five new plays from Israel, performed in English, and a discussion on the state of Israeli theatre.

**The Guide to the Good Life
**The Masked, and In Spitting Distance
**Hebron, and You and Me and the Next War

Wednesday 10th October at 6:00pm, Cottlesoe Theatre


A discussion about the distinctive dramas performed in this season, and the social and political context in which they were written.

Panel includes:
Nicholas Hytner, Artistic Director of the National Theatre
Ilan Ronen, Artistic Director of Habimah, National Theatre of Israel
Shai Bar Yaacov, Theatre Critic of Yedioth Aharonoth and lecturer at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem
Dr. Varda Fish, director of international relations and dramaturg at Habimah, National Theatre of Israel

[hat tip: Gavin Gross of ZF]

Boycotted British Academic said...

Or this is another possibility for the UK Government to support:

IPSO (the Israeli-Palestinian Science Organization) is a joint Israeli-Palestinian Science organization, with an
international board of world renowned scientists and scholars, including one
Abel laureate and seven Nobel laureates, is headed by Professor Torsten
Wiesel, also a Nobel prize recipient. IPSO was set up several years ago
specifically to encourage joint, peer-reviewed research by Israeli and
Palestinian scientists. So far, IPSO has succeeded in funding eleven
research projects, mostly in the hard sciences and medical and health fields,
for a total cost of $2 million dollars. IPSO has also approved another twenty
similar projects submitted jointly by Israeli and Palestinian scientists, at an
estimated cost of about $5 million. IPSO has tried unsuccessfully in recent
months to raise funds to support this new generation of excellent research
projects. One proactive way to counter boycotts is to support such
cooperation. One way for the U.K. government to support academic
cooperation is to support IPSO's joint research projects.
Sari Nusseibeh/Professor of Philosophy/al-Quds University
11th June 2007

Israeli Palestinian Science Organization: http://www.ipso-jerusalem.org/

[hat tip: Nusseibeh's letter was reproduced on the UCU email activist list]

Boycotted British Academic said...


update on the Paris bookfair mentioned in this post - it's being boycotted, of course!