Letters to the editor:Academics Under Attack: A Call to Boycott Israeli Academia

George Salzman

By George SalzmanRetired UMB Professor

Two Israeli academics are “under siege”. One even received death threats. In my correspondence while preparing the note that follows, I wrote May 8:

“Perhaps one reason I reacted with such rage to the actions against Professor Ilan Pappe and graduate student Teddy Katz is because the administrators at the University of Massachusetts Boston campus, backed by the President of the entire system, viciously attacked my wife Freda Friedman Salzman, who was a theoretical physicist with credentials at least equal to mine (though she was untenured), in an effort to drive us out of the Physics Dept there, of which we were the charter and senior members. I am convinced, though I cannot of course prove it, that they contributed in a major way to the breakdown of her health and subsequent early death from cancer in 1981, only a few years after she fought for, and finally won, her full professorship and tenure.”

The item that follows did not cause my blood to boil-but to vaporize. It’s one more outrageous example of what universities really are, of their true function-bulwarks and vigilant guardians of the status quo. I urge a boycott of Israeli Academe, going beyond merely joining the boycott of Haifa and Bar-Ilan Universities by the British Association of University Teachers (AUT), and to support Professor Ilan Pappe and graduate student Teddy Katz. As described in the following mainstream Israeli newspaper report, the bulk of Israeli academics have to their shame either directly attacked, ostracized or, for the most part, simply ignored Pappe and Katz in their plight as the first was pressured to give up his teaching post and the latter had his masters thesis downgraded from an initial grade of 97 to being unacceptable. Thank God for the students, as always, who let Pappe know his worth. Why are so many credentialed academics such shameless cowards?

The article “Alone on the Barricades” by Meron Rapoport appeared in Ha’aretz, a major Israeli daily newspaper on May 6, 2005 describing the situation in detail. The article can be found at: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/572912.html.

I am indebted to Jeffrey Blankfort