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TTN Academics Lead Initiative to Combat Boycott of Israeli Colleagues


The Third Narrative (TTN) was founded to promote a vision that a defense of Israel from unjust attacks and boycotts is fully consistent with an emphatic critique of Israeli policy — including the occupation and settlement expansion — which undermines a future two state solution and peace with the Palestinians.

The story below from Walla News Service highlights prominent American academics — all leaders and members of TTN-affiliated academic groups —  seeking honorary appointments from Israeli universities as a way to combat the attack on academic freedom inherent in the movement to boycott Israeli institutions of higher education.  TTN, and the progressive and liberal academics and scholars who work through the TTN groups, are in the front lines of efforts to defend Israel from external threats while fighting the existential danger to Israel’s democratic future if it remains an occupying power.


By Moshe Steinmetz

A series of professors from around the world have recently been given the status of honorary faculty members at Israeli universities. Thanks to their appointment, the academics in question will be able to attend conferences that are sponsored by movements, such as the BDS movement, to oppose their motions and to present a position as formal members and representatives of the Israeli institutions. A second goal of the initiative, which was undertaken at the initiative of the Committee of University Heads in Israel, is to examine whether those professors are barred from attending conferences that they register for as members of Israeli universities.

The most prominent among the professors in question is Todd Gitlin from Columbia University. Gitlin is one of the most prominent sociologists in the world and was recently given an honorary appointment at Ben-Gurion University in Beer Sheva. Ben-Gurion University Rector Professor Zvi HaCohen wrote in the letter of appointment to Gitlin: “We appreciate your support in light of the attacks on Israeli academia. As you certainly know, those attacks are based on misleading disinformation and undermine the fundamental principles of academic freedom. Academia in Israel is pluralistic, open to debate, including political, and as such is no different from other universities across the Western world. The attacks on institutions that champion free knowledge and dialogue are baseless attacks. If attacks of that kind succeed, they won’t stop with just Israeli academia, but will reach other institutions and organizations that fail to toe the line of a certain political position, a new McCarthyism.”

As noted, Professor Gitlin is not the only professor from around the world to be given an honorary title at an Israeli university. Other professors who agreed to enlist in the effort are Professor Steven Zipperstein, who teaches Jewish culture and history at Stanford University; Professor Michele Rivkin-Fish from the University of North Carolina; Professor Stan Nadel from University of Portland; and Professor Philip Mendes from the Social Policy & Community Development in the Department of Social Work, Faculty of Medicine at Monash University, Australia.

Professor Peretz Lavie, the chairman of the Committee of University Heads in Israel and the president of the Technion, spoke about the honorary appointments, saying: “I thank the distinguished professors for enlisting in the struggle against the academic boycott of Israel. This is a phenomenon that has been spreading in recent years and has even manifested itself in actions and conferences on leading campuses in the United States. Those activities are held under the auspices of organizations and movements, such as the BDS movement, and are based on false and misleading information that paints a distorted picture of Israeli universities. The result is that students and scholars, from among whom the future political, economic and public leadership is destined to grow, receive falsified and mendacious information. It is incumbent upon us to recognize that issue as one of national importance and to act to curb it and to prevent the spread of the phenomenon by means of public information activity, among others.”

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