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Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Did the AUT Defame Haifa University?

On May 26th, the British Association of University Teachers will be deciding the fate of their executives' proposed boycott of Haifa and Bar-Ilan Universities in Israel. As part of it's reason for the boycott, the AUT has said that Haifa University persecuted Dr. Ilan Pappe, a tenured member of its faculty.

Now Haifa has notified the AUT that it considers the AUT material concerning Professor Pappe defamatory to Haifa University. [[h/t to M.A. for the link]

The letter from the legal firm of Mischon de Reya says that the AUT decision "received the most perfunctory debate, was held at a time that made it impossible for most Jews to attend, requests for rescheduling of the debate were refused, and no delegates were allowed to speak against the resolution.

"The allegations against the University of Haifa are damaging to its reputation... false, and were not put to the university prior to the debate."

Therefore, the letter has two purposes, the firm writes: to provide information the AUT would have received if it had asked the university, and to warn the AUT that the defamation "is continuous," because the resolution appears on the AUT Web site.

The letter then goes on to refute each allegation made by the association concerning the university's treatment of Pappe. "Indeed, the university has shown great tolerance toward Dr. Pappe despite his own obvious contempt for it. Nevertheless and in this regard, no action has been taken against Dr. Pappe by the university, nor has any action against him been threatened."

As for discrimination against Arab students, the letter points out that some 20 percent of its student body is Arab.
In related news, on Saturday the Board of Directors of Canada's Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship [SAFS] will be presenting a motion that I initiated to its annual general meeting, urging the AUT to rescind the boycott at its May 26th meetings.
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