Board denounces publishing firm
From the www.monabaker.com archive (legacy material)
Helen Jacobus and Eric Silver | The Jewish Chronicle | 1 November 2002
The Board of Deputies said this week it was considering calling for a boycott by British academics of a Manchester-based publisher which is refusing to supply its specialist publications to Israeli universities.
St Jerome Publishing, run by Ken Baker, has refused to fulfil an order from Bar-Ilan University, near Tel Aviv, in protest against the Israeli government’s policies towards the Palestinians. The move is part of a political campaign by some European academics against Israel’s universities.
Mr Baker’s wife is Professor Mona Baker, company secretary of St Jerome and professor of translation studies at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology. She is the subject of an internal inquiry at UMIST following her dismissal, in June, of two Israeli academics from honorary posts on the editorial boards of two periodicals published by St Jerome.
This week, Board public affairs director Fiona Macaulay wrote to Mr Baker criticising St Jerome’s actions towards Bar-Ilan, saying: “To boycott Israeli academic institutions and scholars is to castigate the very people whose contributions are so needed during these troubled times.”
Ms Macaulay told the JC: “While we are reflecting on the possibility of a boycott, we are awaiting a response to our letter.”
The Board has been leading the response to the academic boycott of Israel by holding meetings with concerned professors and talking to the teaching unions, including the National Union of Teachers and the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education.
Moving beyond the St Jerome issue, Ms Macaulay said that she felt that a trend towards “factually inaccurate and biased demonising of Israel” was generally contributing to an increase in anti-Jewish sentiment and activities in Britain.
In Israel, meanwhile, Mina Teicher, Bar-Ilan’s vice-president for research, urged scholars in British universities “fight” St Jerome’s boycott, which she described as “outrageous.”
But one of the two academics sacked by Professor Baker cautioned against a counter-boycott of St Jerome’s publications. Bar-Ilan’s Dr Miriam Shlesinger, who was dismissed from the editorial board of The Translator, told the JC this week: “We have about 10 Palestinian students in our department. They, too, will be deprived of books which were ordered to help them acquire a better education in their chosen field.”
She added: “Some believe we should apply a counter-boycott, but I disagree. I won’t stoop to this measure. Our students deserve to be kept up to date.”
Mr Baker declined to discuss the reasons for St Jerome’s actions.