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December 24, 2004

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HERITAGE FLORIOA JEWISH By Daniella Peled LONDON (JTA)--A fresh push for an academic boycott of Israel has been launched at an international conference in a London university, in what supporters describe as a newly ambitious strategy to divest from the Jewish state. Organized by the School of African and Oriental Studies' Palestine Society and at- tended by around 300 people, "Resisting Israeli Apartheid" was the latest in long-run- ning attempts by some U.K. scholars to embargo their Israeli counterparts. "Israel is violating every possible right of the Pales- tinian people and it's only a question of time before sanc- tions have to be applied, as in the case of apartheid South Africa," a Palestine Society spokesman said. The British Committee for Universities in Palestine, or Bricup, called for a concerted, public effort by academics to break links with Israel by refusing to work with Israeli institutions or attend confer- ences in the Jewish state. Last week's summit, which included speakers such as poet Tom Paulin--who notoriously published a poem describing Israeli soldiers as the "Zionist SS" and has wished for set- NEWS, DECEMBER 24, 2004 tiers' deaths--caused outrage among Jewish groups. Gavin Gross, who heads the school's Jewish Society, was shocked by the extremism of the views espoused. "Some of the comments from speakers were things like 'the occupation started in 1948' "--referring to the formation of the State of Israel--"and 'Zionism is ab- solutely evil,' with the actions of the IDF described as similar to, although not on the same scale as, the Nazis," he said. "It's unfortunate that they have chosen now to renew talk of boycotts against Is- rael when everyone else is talking of peace initiatives for the region," added Ronnie Fraser of Academic Friends of Israel, which organized an e- mail protest campaign to the school's governors. Alarmed at what they viewed as the event's extrem- ist bias, the Jewish Society and Peace Now U.K. organized a counterconference on the importance of dialogue in resolving the Israeli-Pales- tinian conflict. Around 80 people came to hear author and scholar David Cesarini argue that Israel is not an apartheid state, and a plea by former Israeli negotia- tor Moty Cristal for peace talks rather than divestment. There was a lot of hatred," Cristal said, "although the response to the countercon- ference was very good. Quite a number of Palestinian stu- dents engaged with us." The current radicalism on campus stifles discussion, he said: "If the Palestinian call for justice is the destruction of Israel, that's no basis for dialogue." The idea of the boycott can be traced back to a letter in the left-leaning Guardian newspaper on April 6, 2002, written by Professor Steven Rose--who is Jewish--and his wife Hilary, and signed by over 120 scholars, most of them European. Decrying Israel's policy of "violent repression against the Palestinian people," the authors wrote, "Many national and European cultural and research institutions regard Israel as a European state for the purposes of awarding grants and contracts. Would it not therefore be timely if a moratorium was called upon any further such support un- less and until Israel abides by U.N. resolutions and opens se - rious peace negotiations with the Palestinians?" The issue sporadically made headlines through incidents such as the June 2002 dismissal of two Israeli professors from the editorial board of a pair . of academic journals run by Mona Baker, a Manchester lecturer. But Hilary Rose, now Bricup's co-convenor, believes the issue is entering a new and more ambitious stage. "The 2002 letterwas limited to calling for a moratorium on E.U. research projects, and not collaborating with Israelis attached to Israeli universities," she says. "That was the first phase, a modest call." Spurred by boycott calls from Palestin- ian academics, trade unions and NGOs, Bricup has grander aims that include lobbying the European Union and the British government to exclude Israel from the European Research Area, as well as encouraging individual academics to break professional ties with Israel. Many people are protest- ing quietly by privately boy- cotting Israeli products and institutions, Rose said. But for sanctions to be really power- ful, they need to be organized and public, she added. "It's about not treating rela- tions with Israel as if it were a normal state," she said. As for talking to Israelis rather than shunning them, Rose believes the time is not right. "Dialogue is fine, once you've secured justice," she said. HMREC Continued from page 15 PAGE 15 "The Trip" by Saul Balagura, 1999. Acrylic on canvas. 48" x 38" (122 cmx 96 cm). us that we have not come as State - Division of Cultural far as we may think since the Affairs, Florida Arts Council Holocaust-onlythistimewe and National Endowment for are all witnesses, the Arts. This program is supported The Holocaust Memorial through generous grants Center is open Sundays from from the Jewish Federation 1 p.m. to 4 p.m Mondays of Greater Orlando and the - Thursdays from 9 a.m. to Darden Restaurants Foun- 4 p.m and Fridays from 9 dation. This project is also a.m. to 1 p.m. There is no funded by United Arts of admission charge. For more Central Florida, Inc State information, call the Center of Florida, Department of at407-628-0555. Sharansky Continued from page 1 marvel at the success of his book, which was difficult to find in Washington book once news of Bush's endorsement spread. "I can't say it's a big surprise to me that the president is a man who shares my views," Sharansky said in an inter- view with JTA two weeks ago in New York. In fact, he said, the book was inspired in part by Bush's June 2002 speech pegging Mideast peace to Palestinian reform. Sharansky praised the president as a fellow "dis- sident" fighting conventional wisdom. Sharansky had expected his book to "trickle up" through think tanks, op-ed columnists and members of the U.S. Congress before it got Bush's attention. "In fact, the mission was fulfilled almost before it started," Sharansky said. "On the third day of my book tour, rny publisher received a call from the White House: The president is reading my book Sharon Continued from page 1 on their position in Gaza, 11 Were wounded last Thursday night when they were shelled With mortars. Sharon's speech, which also praised the recent improve- nlent in relations with Egypt, .Seemed designed toappeal not Just to the Palestinians but to the broader Middle East. "During 2005, we face an historic opportunity to change, from the ground up, the strategic situation of the grate of Israel and take great Strides towards the realization of our hopes," Sharon said. :h ar~t "In order to actualize these :ry f0f| Pportunities, we must take cGo]~I the initiative. This is the hour, this is the ti me. Th~s is the national test, and wants to meet me." The Nov. 11 meeting, scheduled for 20 minutes, lasted 70. On his way out of the Oval Of- rice, Sharansky apologized to former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz, who had been kept waiting. "He was so helpful for me in the struggle for my release," Sharansky said of the Reagan- era official. Insiders say Bush wasn't so much inspired by the book as gladdened by the validation it offered, from a celebrated sur- vivor of the Soviet gulag, for his own theories that progress toward peace can only come .after democratic reforms. The Nov. 11 death of Pal- estinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, whom Bush linked to terrorism and des- potism, was the main factor in the recent revival of Bush's de- mands for Palestinian reform. But it's clear that Sharansky's book played a role in bolster- ing Bush's position. When they met Dec. 2, Bush urged Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin to read the book. Bush's language in astatementafterthatmeeting recent report from Bush's letgooftheexternalenemy-- thatArafat was the only pos- echoed Sharansky's own. State Department, which Israei---thatheneededtojus- sible Palestinian leader. "Achieving peace in the blasted Musharraf's regime tifyhisdespotism, Sharansky Almost immediately upon Holy Land is notjusta matter for extrajudicial killings, ex- argues, his arrival in Israel in 1986, of pressuring one side or the cessive use of force, intimida- The book sets out a three- days after his liberation from other on the shape of a border tion of opposition figures and year plan for the introduction the gulag, Sharansky faced or the site of a settlement," ajudiciarywith"lowcredibil- of democratic institutions the challenge of squaring le- Bush said. "This approach ity." Still, the greatest threat among the Palestinians: gitimatePalestinian Iongings has been tried before without Sharansky and Bush face free speech; free press; free- with their culture ofviolence. success. As we negotiate the in linking democracy with dom to organize politically, He had a secret meeting with details of peacewe must look progress toward Middle East religiously and socially; an the late PLO official Faisal to the heart of the matter, peace is from the allies that end to incitement; and the ' Husseini to discuss Pales- which is the need for a Pal- are closest to the issue--Arab dismantling of refugeetinian rights; subsequently, estinian democracy." Bush's states and the Europeans. camps. Once the markers Palestinians misquoted new activism extended to his Secretary of State Colin are achieved, Shara~sky Sharansky as endorsing the meeting two weeks ago with Powell failed this weekend to says, the Palestinians would Palestinian cause. Pakistani President Pervez bring Arab states on board', be ready for elections toward In fact, Sharansky consid- Musharraf. A get-together with foreign statehood, ered it repellant to equate his "The solution in the Middle ministers in Morocco devolved He supports the current non-violent resistance to the East is for there to be a world into a repetition of long-held EA. elections, scheduled for Soviet regime with the Pales- effort tO help the Palestinians views about terrorism, with Jan. 9, but only as a means tinians' reliance on violence. develop a state that is truly Arab leaders saying Israel is toestablishacredibleinterim "I was outraged at the use free--one that's got an inde- the crux of the problem and leadership, not as a signal of of my good intentions, to use pendent judiciary, one that's Powellsaying reform must be real democratic reform, me to introduce this moral got a civil society, one that's a priority. Sharansky says the mark equivalence," he said. got the capacity to fight off Europeans reverse Sharan- of a free Palestinian society "That's what restricted terrorists, one that allows for sky's equation, arguing that would be his "town-square" me in the first years" from dissent, one in which people concessions to the Palestin- test: Can a citizen walk into further activism on behalf of can vote," Bush said after ians will produce and bolster the town square and pro- the Palestinians. the meeting. "And President. reform, nounce his beliefs without Sharanskyisoptimisticnow Musharraf can play a big role "Progress in the Middle fear of retribution? becauseIsraelisarelessandless in helping achieve that objec- East peace process will lend Sharansky concedes that inclined to insist on a"strong" tive." That would be a role at all reform and modernization Israelitselfhad26years, from leader as a peace partner. considerable odds with a efforts unprecedented mo- 1967 to 1993, when it was in "We had such a sad expe- mentum," German Foreign control of the West Bankand rience of the Oslo process, Minister Joschka Fischer Gaza Strip, to introduce the there are many people who said in Morocco. democratic institutions he are today much more open between Israel and other Sharansky heard similar now touts as crucial, to these ideas," he said. nations in the fight against arguments in the succession Instead, Israel muzzled Palestinians are as well. terrorism, of Likud-andLabor-ledCabi- the Arab press, punished Nabil Amr, a P.A. Cabinet "In 2005, we have the op- nets in which he has served Palestinians for displaying minister who quit because portunity to establish a new after his immigrant rights the colors of the Palestinian he was disgusted with P.A. partnership with the inter- party, Yisrael B'Aliyah, was flag, ignored due process in corruption and who lost national community in the elected to the Knesset in itsadministrativedetention his iegearlier thisyear inan struggle against terror and 1996. The party ultimately practices, allowed munici- assassination attempt, wel- regional and global instabil- merged with the Likud.pal elections only once and corned any effort to further ity," he said. "The world, and Moderate societies cre- kept Arabs out of positions reforms among Palestinians, especiallyEurope, haslearned ate moderate leaders, not of authority in the territo- whatever their provenance. to understand what we have the other way around, he ries. "We need these reforms, faced for many years." Unlike argues. "Was it a mistake that we and not just because Presi- in past years, when Sharon There are "many calls didn'ttrytosupportthevoices dent Bush asked for them, used the conference as a from Europe and some other of real democrats among the or any Israeli," he told JTA in forum to unveil major policy places" to get a Palestinian Palestinians?" he said. "Of a phone interview. "We need initiatives, hisspeechthisyear "strong man" in place as course it was a mistake not these reforms for our people, was devoidofbold new moves, soon as possible after Arafat's to try to support them." But for our future." That's a view But some saw that as a sign death, Sharansky said.had Israel tried to introduce similar to Sharansky's. that Israel finally is emerg- "That's exactly to go back such reforms, it surely would "It is not how these people ing from a period of intense totheformulaofOslo,"which have faced resistance from treatus, but how these people conflict and moving ahead on Sharansky says foundered be- the Arab world and the wider treat their own people" that is the path Sharon already has causeit relied on the goodwill international community, important, Sharansky said of set forth, of Ararat. Ararat never would where many were convinced the Palestinians. Sharon said, stressing that withdrawing from Gaza--to focus on areas considered more vital to Israel, such as the West Bank settlement blocs--will unite the nation and ensure that it retains a solid Jewish majority. The withdrawal plan"is the foundation and cornerstone for the great opportunities which lie before us, and is perhaps one of the most important decisions we have made in the last few years," Sharon said. "Disengagement recognizes the demographic reality on the ground specifi- cally, bravely and honestly. Of course it is clear to everyone that we will not be in the Gaza Strip in the final agree- ment." Sharon also expressed hope for closer cooperation