Don't Boycott Israeli Universities: Academics Sign Letter of Protest
Update: On April 22, the Association of University Teachers voted at a meeting in Eastbourne to boycott two of Israel's leading universities. More>>
New York, NY, April 19, 2005 … More than five hundred (500) academics from universities around the world have signed a letter, sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and Scholars For Peace in the Middle East, condemning a proposal to boycott Israeli academic institutions. The proposal, demanding that British universities cut links with three of Israel's leading universities, will be debated at the annual conference of Britain's Association of University Teachers (AUT) on April 22.
Supporters of the boycott also want to circulate a call from a group of Palestinian academics for a total boycott of Israel's higher education sector. The only Israelis who would be exempted are those willing to denounce "their state's racist and colonial policies."
"The call for a boycott against Israeli academic institutions is reprehensible, even more so at a time when hopes for peace in the Middle East are being revived," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "The demand that Israeli professors have to denounce their own country in order to participate in international research is a chilling example of academic Stalinism. We strongly urge the AUT delegates not to discriminate against their Israeli colleagues.
The anti-boycott letter has attracted signatures from universities and colleges in the United States, Israel, Britain, Australia, Italy, Poland, and other countries. The letter points out that Israeli universities enjoy a political independence that is unique in the Middle East and calls on the AUT delegates to reject the boycott call in the name of academic freedom.
After having failed to secure a general boycott of Israeli academia at the AUT's 2003 conference, the boycott advocates are changing their tactics, targeting:
• The Hebrew University, which is alleged to have seized adjacent land belonging to a Palestinian family. Repeated court cases have found in favor of the University and the dispute has now been settled.
• Haifa University, for allegedly threatening the job of Dr. Ilan Pappe, an advocate of both the boycott and the dissolution of Israel as a Jewish State. Haifa university authorities have confirmed that Dr. Pappe's job is secure.
• Bar Ilan University, for supervising three percent of the courses at the College of Judea and Samaria in the West Bank. This is an outlandish reason for launching a boycott, particularly when similar attention has not been paid to Palestinian universities where Hamas, a terrorist organization, holds sway.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.