Israels lobbymaskin med hurtig reaksjon og målretta henvendelse til meg

Dette er jaggu meg godt organisert og hurtig eksekvert. Jeg har i dag 3. november 2009, som underskriver av NTNU-oppropet for Israel- boikott, mottatt et "personlig brev". Legg merke til hvordan det er skreddersydd for meg i den forstand at avsender sier ting som plasserer ham som "fredsdue" i det israelske politiske spektret.

Smart tenkt.

Trond Andresen


Date: Tue, 03 Nov 2009 12:26:19 +0200
Subject: Letter to Prof. Iversen, The Weizmann Institute of Science

To: Professor Trond Andresen, Department of Engineering and Cybernetics, NTNU

Dear Professor Andresen,

I am writing to you from The Weizmann Institute of Science (Israel), where I chair Yad Chaim Weizmann (The Chaim Weizmann National Memorial) and serve as a trustee of YEDA Research and Development (the Knowledge-Transfer branch of the institute).

Two days ago I wrote a letter to Professor Tore Iversen of the NTNU, with the research of whom I am somehow familiar (as a historical hobby...). The background of this letter is inevitably the "boycott" initiative, and I wanted to share some thoughts with an intellectual whom I appreciate.

Since Professor Iversen has not (yet) answered me, I decided to address you (just by chance, since your name is appears first amongst those who signed the boycott petition...). I wanted to make sure that my words haven't offended Professor Iversen, and if for some reason they did then I shall naturally apologize). I believe that he hasn't answered me because of trivial matters and a busy schedule, but the topic tends to raise emotions and I'd like to be on the safe side.

Please be kind enough as to check this matter (if you do not find it inappropriate and provided that you are available). I'll be grateful... And you may naturally also take a look at the letter to Professor Iversen, which you should probably find interesting (even if not convincing).


Edly Dollar

Chairman, Yad Chaim Weizmann
The Weizmann Institute of Sceince


Honorable Professor Tore Iversen,

I am writing to you from Rehovot, Israel. Amongst my activities, at The Weizmann Institute of Science and elsewhere, I chair the Yad Chaim Weizmann (The Chaim Weizmann National Memorial), the body which is entitled to document, study and commemorate the legacy of the first president of the State of Israel, founder of many educational and scientific endeavors, both as a prominent scientist and as a public activist.

I have decided to address you because I was surprised to see your name amongst those who signed a petition to the board of the NTNU, calling for an academic boycott on Israel. I was familiar with your work on Medieval Slavery in Europe (unfortunately, I could read only that which has been published in English and not in Norwegian), and I hold enormous esteem both to your intellectual seriousness and to your academic integrity.

I have no intention to argue with you about the criticism towards Israel expressed in the open letter of which you are one of the writers. Many Israelis may share many elements of this critical outlook, and in spite of the fact that I find the petition itself quite superficial, I believe that it is, generally speaking, motivated by good will and noble intentions. I know that it is often believed that Israelis tend to counter-attack their intellectual opponents by accusing them, directly or indirectly, of conscious or unconscious antisemitism. It may be the case (that Israelis too often revert to such reactions), and it is also not impossible that there might sometimes be a kernel of truth in such allegations (about antisemitism). Yet, I mention all this namely because this is very far from my point of view, particularly with regard to this specific petition. And at any rate, I find it deplorable to make ad hominem arguments when one can simply try to dialogue.

Israeli academia is one of the leading vectors inside Israel of activity against the occupation and civil right violations perpetuated by the State of Israel toward the Palestinians. It is true that one can say that this is not enough. It is obvious that there are also other voices within the academic community (and this is inevitable in a democratic environment). But it is a fact that the anti-democratic fundamental currents within the Israeli society, which exist and thrive in significant circles of the local extreme-right wing of the political scene, seek to weaken and suppress the Israeli academia because they regard it as factor that stands for democratic and humanistic values that undermine religious and nationalist fanaticism. Incredibly they find support amongst good-willing Europeans whose intentions are completely different. As a matter of fact, Israeli academia suffers now both from extremists (local right wing) who seek to cut its budget in order to hush those leading voices in Israel who stand for civil rights, and simultaneously from those adherents of "academic boycott" who make it more and more difficult for Israeli researchers, including those above mentioned voices, to circulate their ideas and to address both the local and the international community.

Further, the whole notion of "academic boycott" seems to be self contradictory, oxymoronic. In your petition you suggest that "foreign pressure" is the last recourse to persuade Israelis to change the reality for which they are responsible. Not only do I think that it will only corroborate more extremism (and push many moderate Israelis,including Arabs, to leave their country and seek academic jobs elsewhere), I can also think of better ways to help Israelis and Palestinians to achieve peace (yes, I think it is possible). But in addition to all this, I fail to see how academic boycott can be legitimized, academically speaking. Academic activity transcends the national realm. It deals with, thoughts, ideas, scientific exploration and methodological research. A good article is valuable regardless of the national identity of its author. Ideally I could even suggest that readers must try to make a judgment under "a veil of ignorance", being unaware, of the biographical background of the writers whose texts they read. And if this is practically impossible, we must at least try to evaluate intellectual endeavors regardless of the gender-nationality-religio

us affiliation-age-hobbies and other categories that might define the people who stand behind them. Imagine that for more or less seemingly justifiable reasons there was an academic boycott, universally accepted by every university and research institute in the world, against the UK some sixteen years ago. It could have meant that Andrew Wiles would not have beet able to publish his Fermat's Last Theorem proof on any internationally recognized stage. In such circumstances the proof would not have been recognized as valid, and other mathematicians would have continued to struggle for its discovery whereas the solution had been already at hand. This is exactly what academic life should not look like. Think of Ada Yonath who recieved the Nobel Prize in Chemistry this year. Under the reality of an academic boycott similar to the one for which you advocate, it is most likely that she would have been unable to carry her research as she did. The structure of the Ribosome would still have to wait for its discovery, current research on medical applications which may result from this discovery could not yet be explored, and the spirit of academic life would suffer from censorship led by well intending moralists. You could try to argue that the restrictions imposed by the boycott would have an impact both on Professor Yonath and on the Israeli public, in a manner that would promote more peace and freedom in the Middle East. After all, to some degree this is implied in the text which bears your signature. But the truth is quite the opposite. Ada Yonath needs no stimuli from the outside to foster her humanistic vision, regarding the world in general and the Palestinian (and Israeli) situation in particular. In fact, she has held and expressed such views from her very youth. For the Israeli public it was completely unknown, because very few (in every society) might be interested in the political position of a bio-crystallographer. The Israeli public became aware (and maybe even somehow influenced) by her humanistic positions just after the news about her becoming a Nobel Prize laureate (and I prefer to refrain from an analysis of the importance of her being a woman, which is meaningful in every society, let alone in the Middle East). In a much quoted radio interview last month she expressed unpopular opinions, calling for the liberation from Israeli prisons of all those Palestinians whom Israel qualifies as "terrorists". It is undoubtedly the international recognition (exactly what the Academic boycott tries to prevent!) that gave her an opportunity to pronounce, and influentially so, radical positions to the astonished Israeli public. A boycott could have both prevented her from achieving her scientific breakthrough and from being in a position which allows her to be heard clearly about burning issues inside Israel. I imagine that you would not desire neither to impede her from attaining her scientific achievements nor from gaining influence within the Israeli society. But this is exactly the potential effect of an efficient boycott. Well, luckily for her, Ada Yonath herself has probably reached an international status that may spare her from the silence that a boycott might impose, but for promising young Israelis the boycott might just mean a detachment from their field of research, maybe even a halt to their academic career, and the lost of any potential influence, usually as a moderating force, inside their own society.

In your open letter your friends and you are cautious enough to state that the boycott must be applied for every member of the Israeli academic life, regardless of religion, gender, position or political conviction. It sounds correct, but it is hypocritical. From the experience already gained from "quasi boycott" (non official) situations which Israelis have been facing in the course of the last seven years (especially in the UK), we see, for example, that many of those who try to publish papers in academic journals must find indirect channels to the editors in order to ensure that their political views are "acceptable". In other words, in order not to ban Ada Yonath or her likes from publishing, authors must prove not only academic merit, but also the "correct" political vision, i.e. a sufficient degree of aversion from the deeds of the Israeli government. This is maybe understandable if we deal with a social club, not with academia. There is a certain inherent level of McCarthyism here, and even a slight Stalinist element of thought control which needs a mechanism of secret police of ideas. We saw it implemented throughout history. You may say that this is very far from your agenda, and I believe that it is indeed very far from your intentions, but the boycott is not just a declaration that attests for the morality of those who join it, it is also a practical act that must be somehow implemented, especially as it succeeds in gaining ground. In a discussion with British advocates of academic boycott against Israel held in London in 2006 I was bluntly told by one of the participants that although it is stated that every member of the Israeli academic community is supposed to be equally subject to the boycott, there isn't, "practically speaking", any intention of preventing Arab Israelis from working together with British academic institutions since "they must not be victimized twice, once as Palestinians in Israel and then again as Israelis in the UK". As a matter of fact I could have sympathized with her frankness, but I found myself obliged to say that here again one must naturally wonder how the question of "Arabness" can be determined. Are scientists who submit papers to academic journals supposed to add in parenthesis that they are "Arabs"? And should anyone check it? And are only Muslims and Christians entitled to be legitimate candidates for this "privileged" category, or also Jews? Again, the fear of a secret academic police troubles me.

You may try to appease my fears by stressing the declarative importance of your petition, which is not a tool for efficient practical measures. I have heard it before. But this is the least Kantian approach that one can imagine; I believe that in taking positions we must never ignore the issue of what the world would look like should everyone adopt similar views. This has guided me in opposing the very notion of academic boycott and the idea of implementing it not only when Israel is concerned but also when other countries are dealt with (and the potential list is long).

Professor Iversen, your desire to make things better is admirable, but the act for which you advocate can only help those whom you terribly oppose. There are other venues, and they require a dialogue, not a boycott. I invite you to create one with me, and hopefully not with me alone.

I hope that you are not offended by my words, and I promise to be always ready to hear whatever you have to say, academically or publicly, regardless of what your country might ever do (we do not know much about the future, let's admit...).

Respectfully yours,

Edly Dollar

Chairman, Yad Chaim Weizmann
The Weizmann Institute of Science