by Farid Farid
One of Australia’s most acclaimed authors, Tim Winton, has re-released Land’s Edge: A Coastal Memoir. Through a series of autobiographical reflections, Winton describes how Australia is a littoral society always on “the edge of things” – floods, bushfires, riots etc… Winton talks about the sensuality of water being central to the Australian imaginary. Through his prose about surfing and sharks, readers can also envision human cargo packed on a floating boat teetering between life and death.
It is perhaps then fitting that this was underscored a couple of days ago by the enthusiastic reception by foreign minister Kevin Rudd and defence minister Stephen Smith of their British counterparts William Hague and Liam Fox at the HMAS Watson on a naval base in Sydney harbour. In an ironic scene on the water, the Australian government’s foreign image untarnished by floods or asylum seekers was tactfully kept and strategic interests were shared between “cousins on opposite sides of the world” according to Hague and Fox.
Hague & Fox in their joint opinion piece for the Sydney Morning Herald opt for a turgid title that spells out their foreign policy objectives — ‘Stronger alliance required to meet modern challenges’. They probably had Wikileaks in mind as one of these trans-national challenges with both countries agreeing to tighten intelligence cooperation against cyber crimes.
Continue reading “Wikileaks as a modern challenge”
Ha’aretz reports on the sudden growth of an American movement to boycott the Israeli academy, in protest at the Zionist ‘scholasticide’ aimed at Palestinian schools, universities, and students. Palestinians have long had the reputation of being the best educated population in the Arab world, but this is now under threat. For years, students in the occupied West Bank and Gaza have had only intermittent access to education as a result of curfews, closures and checkpoints. The Red Cross has found that children in Gaza are suffering from micronutrient deficiencies – which affect brain development – as a result of the Israeli siege of the territory. Studies have shown that more than half of children in Gaza suffered post-traumatic stress disorder before the latest massacre, a condition which results in insomnia, panic attacks, and an inability to concentrate. And during the massacre, Israel targetted schools and the Islamic university (which, despite its name, teaches secular subjects). In this context, anti-boycott lobbyists’ evocation of ‘academic freedom’ seems (to be polite about it) to miss the point. Palestinian civil society organisations, and anti-Zionist Israeli academics such as Ilan Pappe, have called for the boycott.
A call to join the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott, and then the mission statement of the Australian Academic Boycott of Israel follow. Please send on this information to all your academic contacts. Continue reading “Israel Academic Boycott Movement Comes to U.S, Australia”