Decision of British Academics to Boycott Israeli Universities 'Misguided and Ill-Timed'
New York, NY, April 22, 2005 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today strongly condemned the decision of British academics, gathered at the annual Council of the Association of University Teachers (AUT) in Eastbourne, to boycott two of Israel's leading universities. The AUT also rejected a resolution to engage in dialogue with Israeli academics, while voting for more dialogue with Palestinian academics.
"The Association of University Teachers has launched a direct assault on academic freedom," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "We condemn this misguided and ill-timed decision to boycott academics from the only country in the Middle East where universities enjoy political independence. It is ironic that the British academics called for an end to dialogue at a time when Israelis and Palestinians are engaged in dialogue seeking a framework for peace.
"We will continue our efforts to have this decision overturned and to convince academics in other countries to stand firm against the demand to boycott Israeli universities," Mr. Foxman added.
Delegates to the AUT Council voted by a slim majority to endorse the boycott against Haifa and Bar-Illan universities. While AUT decisions are not binding on their membership, academics in the U.K. will face serious pressure to cut links with Israeli colleagues at those institutions. In addition, a call from Palestinian academics for a total boycott of Israel's higher education sector will be circulated by the AUT to its membership.
On April 19, ADL and Scholars for Peace in the Middle East sent a letter to the AUT Council urging delegates to reject the boycott call. More than 500 academics from the U.S., Britain, Israel and several other countries signed the letter, which expressed concern that the endorsement of the Israel boycott "could have an adverse impact on relations between American and British universities."
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.