Support science – do not boycott Israel!

Support science – do not boycott Israel!

Boycotting Israeli universities is wrong. Norwegian scientific institutions are supposed to have the most to lose from the boycott, writes Alex Cromer.

I don't want to write this post, I don't like talking about war and boycotts, and I don't like comparing academic results. I'd rather focus on my research, on the negative impact of playing in white shorts in women's soccer or on athletes' ski jumping performance, but here I am writing this instead.

silly Boycott decision

First I would like to introduce myself. I am Israeli and work at a Norwegian academic institution, and as I have said many times before, I feel lucky to live in Norway and raise my children here. However, in recent months I have witnessed a growing hatred for everything related to Israel. Anti-Semitic incidents have become more frequent, and a recent report showed that Norwegian Jews are unwilling to participate in discussions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, simply because they are afraid. Recently, there has been a call to create a list of Jews/Israelis/Pro-Israel “Like a list of pedophiles».

So I'm afraid too, but I realized that my fear is the reason I don't want to be silent. Because if we are afraid to speak out in a country like Norway, we have lost Western civilization.

The purpose of these facts is to discuss them Oslomit's final decision (and two other institutions later) to “freeze” cooperation with the University of Haifa in Israel. Frankly, I don't see a difference between whether the decision is called a boycott, or whether it is called a “freeze.” The absurdity of this decision is that the University of Haifa includes the largest percentage of Arab students among all Israeli universities. More precisely, the percentage of Arab students at the University of Haifa is 44 percent, while the percentage of Arabs in Israel is 21 percent. So those who made this cowardly decision to “freeze” are actually harming the idea of ​​a very fruitful cooperation between Jews and Arabs, a cooperation that has led to an excellent university.

Blind political activity

Later, two other Norwegian universities decided to follow Oslomet's decision to “freeze” cooperation with Israeli institutions. The first was the University of South-Eastern Norway, which completed exchange agreements with the University of Haifa and Hadassah Academic College in Jerusalem. He was last in line The University of the North, which decided to “freeze” its agreements with the University of Haifa and Ben Gurion University.

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In general, it is an academic shame not to benefit from cooperation with Israeli universities to advance knowledge, which is the ultimate goal of science. According to the latest academic classification of world universities (Shanghai classification) For example, Israel, which was first founded in 1948 and has since fought several wars, has three universities among the top 100 in the world (four universities among the top 300). In comparison, Sweden also has three universities in the top 100 (six in the top 300), Denmark has two in the top 100 (three in the top 300), while Norway has only one university in the top 100 (and only two in Top 100 universities). Best 300).

Good if the conflict is bad

Unlike University of Haifa And Ben Gurion University Only Oslomet University, Surest-Norge University and Nord University are listed as unranked universities outside the top 1000 list. When looking at individual subject areas, the University of Haifa and Ben-Gurion University perform better than Oslomit University, University of South-Eastern Norway and Nord University in almost all subject areas. This means that these three Norwegian universities have a lot to gain from cooperation with better academic institutions. By “freezing” the cooperation agreements with the University of Haifa and Ben-Gurion University in Oslomit, the University of South-Eastern Norway and Nord University have chosen not to develop, have chosen not to develop their knowledge, and have chosen blind political activity over scientific progress.

Lowest rated universities

On the other hand, for the University of Haifa and Ben-Gurion University, the decision to “freeze” cooperation with the above-mentioned Norwegian institutions does not have much significance. I am sure that Oslomet, University of South-Eastern Norway, and Nord University also have excellent researchers, but the overall picture is not satisfactory, not only in the international context, but also at the national level.

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According to the report on scientific publication scores per scientific position in 2022 (the latest available report), Oslomet University, Sørest-Norg University and Nord University are not among the best academic institutions in Norway, to put it mildly. In fact, it's the opposite. These are the three lowest-ranked Norwegian universities in terms of scientific publications. The report shows that both Oslomet University and Nord University have 0.86 publication points per academic position. The University of South-Eastern Norway is at the bottom of the list with just 0.75 publication points per scientific position.

Based on the above, the “freeze” decision is the result of a lack of understanding of the idea of ​​science, cooperation, and the universality of science. According to the International Council of Scientific Unions, the universality of science implies “freedom of association and expression, access to data and information and freedom of communication and movement in relation to international scientific activities without discrimination on the basis of factors such as citizenship or religion.” belief, political position, ethnic origin, race, colour, language, age or sex.”

False comparison

In the Israeli case, discrimination is encouraged on the basis of citizenship (or, more precisely, membership in an Israeli scientific institution). In extreme cases, of course, the universality of science could be challenged, and a boycott might be appropriate. It makes sense, for example, to boycott a country to avoid a nuclear war that would endanger the Earth's entire population. But as you know, the threshold for a scientific boycott should be very high, and this is not the case for Israel, although many boycott advocates compare the Israeli case to Russia.

Responding to double standards in the Ukraine-Gaza war

Without going into talk about the scientific boycott of Russian academic institutions, the comparison is simply wrong. The main difference is that Russia invaded a sovereign country, Ukraine, while Israel was invaded by a group of terrorists from Hamas and Islamic Jihad who deliberately killed, raped and kidnapped civilians simply because they were Israeli or worked in Israel (there are still 134 hostages in Gaza, including a child He is one year old.)

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In addition, the International Court of Justice in The Hague, in several decisions over the past two months, recognized not only Israel's right, but also its duty, to defend itself, and most importantly, it did not order Israel to do so. To stop military operations against Hamas, which explicitly calls for the atrocities of October 7 to be repeated “again and again.” In stark contrast, the International Court itself ordered a halt to the war in Ukraine, something Russia ignored.

Parliament and the Foreign Ministry oppose this

In addition, Parliament recently voted against all proposals to boycott Israel. In the same way, UEFA recently announced that it does not want to exclude Israel, and that it is not even discussing the issue.

So it is incomprehensible to me how Oslomit University, the University of South-Eastern Norway and Nord University decided to “freeze” cooperation with Israeli institutions, while the Parliament and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are against it. Therefore, I sincerely hope that science will prevail, and that Oslomet University, University of South-Eastern Norway and Nord University will reconsider their unscientific decision.

This is the only correct thing to do, because the “freezing decision” they took does more harm than good.

Dalila Awolowo

Dalila Awolowo

"Explorer. Unapologetic entrepreneur. Alcohol fanatic. Certified writer. Wannabe tv evangelist. Twitter fanatic. Student. Web scholar. Travel buff."

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