TAU scholar to advocate Israel boycott

Dr. Anat Matar to support move at London university event commemerating year since 'attack' on Gaza.

January 21, 2010 09:57
2 minute read.
gaza airstrike 298.88

gaza airstrike 298.88. (photo credit: Associated Press)

A Tel Aviv University academic will call for a boycott of Israel, speaking at a London university event next month to commemorate "one year since Israel's attack" on Gaza.

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Dr. Anat Matar of TAU's Philosophy Department will be speaking on February 17 at London University's School for Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) - a campus renowned for anti-Israel activity.

Matar's talk is to be titled "Supporting the Boycott on Israel: A View from Within."

She is taking part in a series of events over the coming weeks organized by the Palestinian societies at five University of London campuses - University College London, SOAS, Imperial College, Kings College and Goldsmiths - as well as at the University of Westminster.

In an article in Haaretz in August, Matar accused her own university of being complicit with the "occupation" and questioned Israel's stance on Palestinian academic freedom and basic education.

A mother of a conscientious objector, on her profile page on the university's Web site Matar lists her main nonacademic activities as "movements against military service" and the "Israeli Committee for Palestinian Prisoners."

Dr. David Hirsh, a sociology lecturer at University of London's Goldsmiths College and editor of Engage, a campaign against the academic boycott call against Israel, strongly criticized such moves, saying they were "delusional" and "dangerous."

"Israeli anti-Zionists boast that their country carries out the most important and horrific genocides in the world," he said. "The delusions of grandeur of Israeli anti-Zionists are as puerile as those of the most naive and proud nationalists. But it is dangerous to tell Europeans that the Israelis are a unique evil on the planet, because this lie finds a resonance in the collective memory and it feels plausible to some contemporary Europeans."

The series of events is titled, "Gaza: Our Guernica," in reference to the bombing of a Basque town during the Spanish Civil War. The 1937 attack caused widespread destruction and civilian deaths, with 1,650 reportedly killed.

"In April 1937, on a market day, the Nazis attacked Guernica from the air, first with bombs and then with incendiaries. Fighter planes followed the bombers to machine-gun survivors. It was the first time anybody had launched an attack from the air to kill a civilian population. A third of the population was killed or seriously injured in an afternoon," Hirsh said.

The series of events opened last Thursday with a candlelight vigil at University College London, recently in the headlines after it was discovered that failed Detroit airline bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was a former president of the Islamic Society there.

Two other Israelis are taking part in the series. On Monday, journalist Daphna Baram spoke at SOAS in a talk titled, "Besieged in Self-Righteousness: Israeli public discourse after the last invasion of Gaza."

Next Wednesday, Israeli academic Avi Shlaim, professor of International Relations at Oxford University, will speak about "Gaza: Past and Present" at Goldsmiths.

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