academic publisher boycotts Israel
By Relly Sa'ar
October 25, 2002
The British academic publisher St. Jerome Publishing has informed
Bar- Ilan University that it will no longer sell books and periodicials
to the school due to Israel's activities in the territories.
This is the second time that St. Jerome, a highly regarded Manchester-
based publisher that specializes in translation studies and cross-
cultural communications, has been involved in an academic boycott
against Israel. A few months ago, one of the journals it publishes,
The Translator, fired two Israeli researchers - Dr. Miriam Shlesinger
and Professor Gideon Toury - from its academic board.
According to Bar-Ilan's vice president for research, Professor
Mina Teicher, the university has been a long-time St. Jerome customer.
"This scientific boycott of Israeli academe is very serious
and must not be allowed to pass in silence," she said.
The university yesterday asked Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and
Science Minister Matan Vilnai to intervene to prevent "the
escalation of the scientific boycott on the State of Israel, which
will damage the level of research in Israel, and thereby the level
of development and technology."
The academic boycott was the brainchild of two professors from
Britain's Open University, Hilary and Steven Rose, who circulated
a petition in response to April's Operation Defensive Shield urging
all Europeans to sever academic and scientific ties with Israel.
It was signed by some 250 European researchers and 10 Israeli researchers.
The boycott could potentially have done Israel serious harm by
jeopardizing its participation in numerous research projects financed
by the European Union's Research and Development Fund, of which
Israel is a member. In practice, however, the idea was roundly denounced
by the EU's Research Commissioner, Philippe Busquin, and never really
Nevertheless, Israeli researchers view St. Jerome's decision with
concern. Ruth Shalgi, Tel Aviv University's vice president for research,
termed it "another aspect of the war against Israel via science
and academe" and declared: "It is necessary to mobilize
international public opinion against the British publisher's policy,
so that research in Israel will not be hurt with regard to the allocation
of scientific resources."
Already, she added, "the security situation is affecting the
arrival of [post-doctoral] researchers and students from abroad,
and the number of participants at scientific conferences has also
fallen significantly. In the long run, this scientific isolation
has a negative impact on the level of Israeli research."
Vilnai said that he "views very gravely every attempt to mix
inappropriate political considerations into scientific research,"
and that his office "will use all diplomatic and legal means
to prevent a recurrence of such incidents."