For those who are home, and for those who are on the way. For those who support the historic and just return of the land of Israel to its people, forever loyal to their inheritance, and its restoration.
(This update alerts readers to a major petition against the boycott campaign signed by four Nobel Laureates and more than 850 other academics as well as to comments below this entry from academics opposing the boycott) —————————————-
Norway’s University of Trondheim could become the first European university to adopt a formal academic boycott of Israel if a vote by the university’s board on November 12 goes through. The situation is particularly worrying because the rector of the university, Torbjorn Digernes, is (according to some reports) behind the campaign for a boycott himself or at least has been giving a nod of approval to those that are.*
The university, better known as NTNU (Norwegian University of Science and Technology), is Norway’s second largest university. Four Nobel Laureates have endorsed a petition (see link below) against the proposed boycott. The petition has been organised by Scholars for Peace in the Middle East. There were 863 signatures at the time of writing this updated entry. The petition’s organisers are hoping for 5,000. I would therefore encourage as many readers as possible to implore friends and colleagues in academia to stand up and be counted at this time.
The Nobel Laureates are: Kenneth J. Arrow, Economics, Stanford University; Roald Hoffmann, Chemistry, Cornell University; Steven Weinberg, Physics, University of Texas; Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, Physics, Ecole Normale Superieure.
The vote is emerging as a test case of how anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist bigotry is being confronted by anti-racism groups and their sympathisers in Europe. If the boycott proposal is accepted it could set a precedent all across the continent and reignite the academic boycott campaign in Britain in particular.
Dr. Shimon Samuels of the Simon Wiesenthal Center wrote last week to Norwegian Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg saying:
“The virus of antisemitism in Norway’s media, unions, NGOs and even government circles is now infecting academia. NTNU has deformed free and open scholarly discourse based upon mutual respect into a campaign of hate propaganda, led by masters of disinformation who exploit their academic credentials to call for a boycott of their colleagues who happen to be Israeli.”
The Wiesenthal Center’s website elaborated on the details of the letter adding:
“Samuels pointed to Norway’s ‘obligations, as a State Party to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), to combat all forms of antisemitism under the Berlin Declaration of 2004 – a document which includes the singling out of Israel as a contributing factor to the scourge of Jew-hatred.’”
If the move goes through it is crucial that swift action is taken against the university. In the rest of Europe and also in the United States, students, academics, faculties, funders, university boards and research institutes should be lobbied to ensure that Trondheim itself becomes the subject of a crippling boycott.
* NB: The exact position of the rector of the university is difficult to work out. A reader of this site has informed me that he was quoted in a Norwegian newspaper, Dagbladet, on October 4 as saying that dialogue rather than boycotts are the way to go. On the other hand he has openly supported a recent seminar series involving extreme opponents of Israel who are themselves supporting the boycott campaign. The seminar series at the university provides the immediate backdrop for the boycott campaign. It is up to the rector to clarify his position.
Since details of the case are scant in the English speaking media I would like to ask readers of this website to send me further information. I am aware that there are readers in Norway itself, and any further details that they could provide would be particularly welcome. Either leave comments below or contact me by email.
To read the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s take on the matter, click here:
I visited Hevron in November 2000 after the outbreak of the Rosh Hashanah War to see what could be done to assist in the face of the growing daily attacks on the community. After returning to work for the community in the summer of 2001, a bond and a love was forged that grows to this day. My wife Melody and I merited to be married at Ma'arat HaMachpela and now host visitors from throughout the world every Shabbat as well as during the week. Our goal, "Time to come Home!"