TAU scholar to advocate Israel boycott

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

gaza airstrike 298.88 (photo credit: Associated Press)
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 "oneyear since Israel's attack" on Gaza.

Dr. Anat Matar of TAU's Philosophy Department will be speakingon February 17 at London University's School for Oriental and AfricanStudies (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 weeksorganized by the Palestinian societies at five University of Londoncampuses - University College London, SOAS, Imperial College, KingsCollege and Goldsmiths - as well as at the University of Westminster.

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

A mother of a conscientious objector, on her profile page onthe university's Web site Matar lists her main nonacademic activitiesas "movements against military service" and the "Israeli Committee forPalestinian 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, stronglycriticized such moves, saying they were "delusional" and "dangerous."

"Israeli anti-Zionists boast that their country carries out themost important and horrific genocides in the world," he said. "Thedelusions of grandeur of Israeli anti-Zionists are as puerile as thoseof the most naive and proud nationalists. But it is dangerous to tellEuropeans that the Israelis are a unique evil on the planet, becausethis lie finds a resonance in the collective memory and it feelsplausible to some contemporary Europeans."

The series of events is titled, "Gaza: Our Guernica," inreference to the bombing of a Basque town during the Spanish Civil War.The 1937 attack caused widespread destruction and civilian deaths, with1,650 reportedly killed.

"In April 1937, on a market day, the Nazis attacked Guernicafrom the air, first with bombs and then with incendiaries. Fighterplanes followed the bombers to machine-gun survivors. It was the firsttime anybody had launched an attack from the air to kill a civilianpopulation. A third of the population was killed or seriously injuredin an afternoon," Hirsh said.

The series of events opened last Thursday with a candlelightvigil at University College London, recently in the headlines after itwas discovered that failed Detroit airline bomber Umar FaroukAbdulmutallab 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 inSelf-Righteousness: Israeli public discourse after the last invasion ofGaza."

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