Another Mona Baker Journal Boycotting Israeli Scholars

Posted: 8/18/2007 10:04:00 AM
Author: Prof. Bencie Woll and Prof. Wendy Sandler
Source: This article appeared in the SPME Faculty Forum on August 17, 2007.

Another Mona Baker Journal Boycotting Israeli Scholars
By Prof. Bencie Woll and Prof. Wendy Sandler

St. Jerome Publishing carries the dubious distinction of being the only international publisher in the world that has an overt discrimination policy. Mona Baker, owner of St. Jerome, has a stated policy of rejecting any submission by a researcher affiliated with an Israeli university. Baker has also singled herself out by being the only publisher to dismiss editorial board members because of their nationality: Miriam Shlesinger and Gideon Toury, highly respected scholars in translation studies, are both Israeli.

For reasons we still fail to understand, no one has taken action against this publisher, which violates all international standards of academic conduct, and St. Jerome is still turning out translation journals. In fact, when Baker dismissed the Israeli editorial board members, five former presidents of the Linguistics Association of Great Britain wrote a letter to The Guardian defending Baker against any attempt to penalize her for these actions, a letter which brought no honor to linguists in Great Britain.

In recent months, a new journal has been added to St. Jerome’s list: Sign Language Translator and Interpreter. Its editor, Graham Turner, has refused, on instruction of his publisher, to make any public anti-discrimination statement. Turner has steadfastly ignored appeals to either adopt an anti-discrimination policy, to move the journal to another publisher, or to make the current discriminatory position public. He has also refused to make the journal’s boycott position public. This refusal to reveal the publisher’s policy means that contributors are unwittingly submitting and reviewing for the journal, although they would not if they knew of the policy.

Numerous sign language researchers who have learned of the boycott policy of SLTI, many of them prominent people in the field, have appealed to Turner to keep prejudice and discrimination out of our discipline. But to each appeal, Turner gives the same terse, noncommittal response:
"Thank you for your e-mail below. I note and am mindful of all that you say, and I remain committed to seeking constructive outcomes to all of the issues inquestion."
There are two possible interpretations: Either Graham Turner approves of the boycott himself, but is afraid to admit it, or he is afraid to either defy it or to try to find another publisher. It really doesn’t matter which it is; cowardice is no excuse for promoting an academic boycott. In any case, it is clear that Turner is hoping that if he hangs tough long enough the whole thing will blow over.

We believe it will not. Many of our colleagues have written to the editor, saying they will not publish in this journal as long as it is associated with St. Jerome, and a number of contributors from different countries have withdrawn their contributions after having learned of the policy of the publisher. The signals we have seen indicate that this active protest will continue, that sign language researchers will not sit quietly by and let an openly discriminatory journal pretend to represent the field.

Professor Bencie Woll
Deafness, Cognition and Language Research Centre (DCAL)
Human Communication Science
University College London

Professor Wendy Sandler
Director, Sign Language Research Lab
University of Haifa