Israelis fight cut to book supply

November 1, 2002

Israeli universities are challenging the refusal of a UK academic publisher to supply books, a move they view as an escalation of the academic boycott.

Manchester-based St Jerome Publishing said the decision was made in July, when Mona Baker, owner of St Jerome and a professor of translation studies at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, sacked two Israeli academics from the boards of two of its journals in protest against Israel's actions in the West Bank.

But it came to light in Israel only when Bar-Ilan University placed an order for Guidelines for Translators , a book used by students on its MA programme for translators that is published only by St Jerome.

Mina Teicher, Bar-Ilan's vice-president for research, said Bar-Ilan was told that the books would not be supplied "due to the actions of the Israeli government".

Professor Teicher described the implication as "very serious". She has consulted with the vice-presidents of other Israeli universities, approached the ministers of education, science and foreign affairs, and a group of US professors who are acting against the boycott. She is also taking advice on the legality of St Jerome's action.

Professor Teicher said: "We have to do something, otherwise we're in trouble. However, it should be on a national level.

"St Jerome is preventing Israelis from accessing scientific material. Even if Israel was attacked by Iraq, I would still send scientific material and keep contacts with Iraqi scientists because there should be a total separation between politics and science."

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