Baker defends actions and denies anti-Semitism

January 23, 2003

Mona Baker, the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology academic under investigation for dismissing two Israeli academics from the journals she edits, has spoken out for the first time since Umist said it was to investigate her actions.

In an open letter to Denise Nevo, vice-president of the Canadian Association of Translation Studies, Professor Baker defends herself against accusations of anti-Semitism. Professor Nevo had circulated a condemnation of Professor Baker's position on the academic boycott.

"An anti-Semite would not have invited these scholars to join her editorial boards in the first place,"  Professor Baker writes. "Applying the boycott does not mean that all forms of dialogue between Israeli and other academics are ruled out - quite the opposite. What I and many others advocate is that we 'penalise' Israeli institutions by refusing to give institutional space and recognition to universities and research institutes."

She went on to justify her decision to dismiss Gideon Toury and Miriam Schlesinger from the editorial board of The Translator . She said their presence constituted institutional recognition to their Israeli universities.

St Jerome, Professor Baker's publishing house, has said that it would not supply books to Israeli universities. But in her letter, Professor Baker says: "It continues to supply individuals in Israel... with any publication they care to order, knowing of course that individuals can order books then pass them on to their libraries."

Dr Schlesinger said: "The dismissals remain a tragic mistake. They are immoral, discriminatory and -above all - useless. But all this has been discussed ad nauseam , to no avail."

Professor Baker also talked of the "amazing indifference" of many academics to the boycott.

The Umist investigation continues. The university is tight-lipped about the terms of the inquiry and when it is due to conclude.

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