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).]

Monday, 17 December 2007

First Instincts

The crucial place of Israeli academia in the advancement of science has been recognized in the latest compilation of Scientific American's list of 50 of the world's leading innovators, just published. In fact, Israeli researchers dominate the section on neurological insights, contributing half the entries in the field, thanks to advances in treating neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. How can anyone suggest boycotting this?

The plot thickens. When I read about the story of one group of researchers recognized in this list, my first instinct was to think it showed traces of a silent boycott, that well hidden but no doubt (and therefore) potent campaign which likely precedes and succeeds UCU's shameful Motion 30 and the official campaign. That's the thing about the silent boycott. When something as absurd as this happens, one reaches for the explanation which is so readily suggested here in Boycotting Britannia:

Ben-Jacob told The Jerusalem Post he was very happy his and Baruchi's work was being recognized, especially since when he first sent an article on it for publication to the prestigious journal Nature along with recommendations from three Nobel Prize laureates, it was rejected on the grounds of "not being of general interest"

Do I need to add that Nature is based here in Boycotting Britannia?!

You know that saying about always trusting one's first instincts? Well, it seems that I should have been more trusting. Remembering how silent and not-so-silent boycotts have cropped up in our journals, I read with interest the links sent to me by one of the lovely BBA Forumniks which suggest the people over at Nature are not always very clear on the wrongs of boycotting Israeli academics, having lent the journal's pages to a lengthy debate on the subject a few years back, perhaps when the review process for the Ben-Jacob/Baruchi submission was underway. That being said - although I find it truly alarming that the question of a boycott should have been posed in reference to Israel, in no way the obvious target for a boycott and therefore absurd for it to drive a theoretical enquiry in such a prestigious journal - the exercise did produce a very strong piece against the boycott which was particularly important & compelling.

That a silent boycott should come to be associated with this otherwise prestigious journal just shows how damaging & bad this boycott is proving to be for all concerned - in this case (one amongst many suffering the boycott's damaging effects, as this BBA can attest from personal experience!), for Britain and the prestige of its journals & academe. Thanks to the potentiality of this uncontrollable silent boycott - this potentiality being its most emboldening characteristic: when one doesn't know the size of the beast, its size can be exaggerated - in the not-knowing, it can grow in size, stretching even to encompass prestigious journals which shouldn't be vulnerable to abasement in this way; but necessarily are, given the damage which this boycott movement has done to British academia.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many lives the silent boycot has already claimed?