The Teachers Union of Ireland voted last week to commence a full boycott of Israel.
At its Annual Congress on Thursday 4th April 2013, the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) became the first academic union in Europe to endorse the Palestinian call for an academic boycott of Israel. The motion, which refers to Israel as an “apartheid state”, calls for “all members to cease all cultural and academic collaboration with Israel, including the exchange of scientists, students and academic personalities, as well as all cooperation in research programmes” was passed by a unanimous vote during today’s morning session.
Now, in the exchange of “scientists, students, and academic personalities” between Ireland and Israel it is perhaps not so difficult to guess who benefits. Israel is a world leader is science and high-tech, and any exchange must be entirely one-sided. So what the teachers have done is to cut themselves off from knowledge and advancement. Far worse, of course, they have deliberately tried to cut their students off.
The head of the Teachers Union, Jim Roche, added this comment:
Mr. Roche pointed to the desperate situation of Palestinian education under occupation saying that: “Palestinians are struggling for the right to education under extremely difficult conditions. They are eager for it, as shown by the large numbers of students in third level education inside and outside the occupied Palestinian territories. Education has always been a target of the Israeli occupation….”
A few facts. When Israel took over the West Bank in 1967 literacy was about 88 percent; now it is about 93 percent, according to the CIA Factbook. In Jordan, just across the river and with a large Palestinian population, it is almost exactly the same–which suggests that Israeli “targeting” of education isn’t working too well, or more likely that Mr. Roche is simply motivated by ignorance and hatred of Israel. It is also the case that according to UNICEF, the youth literacy rate in Jordan is 99 percent and in Gaza and the West Bank it is exactly the same, 99 percent. This is despite the fact that per capita income in Jordan is twice as high as it is in the West Bank and Gaza, suggesting again that Israeli “targeting” of education is a nonsensical accusation.
One could pile statistic upon statistic, but that would be a vain effort when it comes to minds like those of the members of the Teachers Union of Ireland, who voted unanimously on the boycott; not one soul had the wit or independence of mind to object or to question. One can only pity the poor Irish student who might think for himself or for herself, might wish to spend a term in Israel at a place like the Technion, and might not share in the biases of the teachers. The message from teachers to students is pretty clearly “shut up.” And meanwhile, of course, no mention (much less boycott) by the Irish teachers of China, Saudi Arabia, Cuba or anyplace else where students are “struggling for the right to education under extremely difficult conditions” that include repressive governments, no academic freedom, political tests for admission to higher education–and in the Saudi case greatly restricted opportunities for girls. What a lesson to their students: ignorance, bias, bigotry, narrow-mindedness, and anti-Semitism wrapped in self-righteousness.