Israeli rector fights Norwegian boycott

In his letter to the rector of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Professor Yossi Ben-Artzii stressed that Israel is an enlightened state, and that any attempt to impose an academic boycott on it can only stem from lack of knowledge or a wrong perception of the Jewish State.

An academic boycott will only hurt academic freedom, while curbing intellectual progress and undermining universal values, Prof. Ben-Artzi wrote.

In a conversation with Ynet, the Israeli rector said he decided to send the letter after reading the Ynet report about a boycott proposal in Norway’s second-largest university.

“I decided to approach him as one rector to another. This boycott will equally hurt our people and his people,” he said. “Academia needs to be completely free of political considerations and pressures…the whole boycott idea contradicts the very essence of academia premised on freedom, originality, and independence. What we see here is a case of silencing.”

‘Threat against Israel’
The boycott proposal constitutes a threat for the State of Israel, Ben-Artzi said, urging Israeli academicians to act soon.

“It’s true that this is a university located somewhere in distant Norway, and people can say ‘who cares,’ but that’s not the right move,” he said. “There’s a broader agenda here that started earlier in Britain and is aimed at turning Israel into a pariah state. It starts in academia at a marginal place but this flood won’t end.”

“We have to fight back, because this is a threat against the State of Israel,” Prof. Ben Artzi concluded. “I urge other rectors in Israel to act in a similar fashion.”