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Exchange of Letters Between ADL and AAUP, re Academic Boycotts

Note: The following is an exchange of letters between Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, and Roger W. Bowen, General Secretary of the American Association of University Professors.

  May 24, 2006

Mr. Roger Bowen
American Association of University Professors
1012 Fourteenth Street, NW, Suite #500
Washington, DC 20005

Dear Mr. Bowen:

We are writing to you to request that the American Association of University Professors reiterate its condemnation of academic boycotts in light of a new initiative in Great Britain to boycott Israeli academics.

As you may know, anti-Israel activists in the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE), have introduced a resolution to be presented at their annual conference on May 29, which would endorse a blacklist of Israeli scholars.  Specifically, members of the union will be urged to ask Israeli academics about their political views before cooperating with them.  If passed, the resolution would also enable members to boycott their Israeli counterparts without giving a reason.

This initiative comes just one year after another British academic union, the Association of University Teachers (AUT), rescinded its boycott of Israeli universities. 

At the time of the AUT boycott resolution, the AAUP issued an important statement condemning the resolution boycotting Israeli academic institutions, and called for the AUT to support the rights “of all in the academic community to communicate freely with other academics on matters of professional interest.”

We respectfully request that the AAUP reiterate its policy on academic boycotts and call on NATFE to respect the principles of academic freedom and spirit of open exchanges of ideas among scholars and academics.

We look forward to your early reply.


Abraham H. Foxman
National Director


26 May, 2006

Abraham H. Foxman
National Director
Anti-Defamation League
823 United Nations Plaza
New York, NY 10017

Dear Mr. Foxman:

I thank you for your letter of 23 May.

The AAUP’s position today is what it has always been: we are opposed to all academic boycotts. As we declared at the time of the AUT academic boycott, “We reject proposals that curtail the freedom of teachers and researchers to engage in work with academic colleagues, and we reaffirm the paramount importance of the freest possible international movement of scholars and ideas.”

I agree with your assessment of the NATFHE resolution as a “blacklist” and one, I should add, that encourages individual scholars to set the terms of litmus tests for working with Israeli scholars; and, further, ascribes to individual Israeli faculty members particular positions of their institutions. We deplore this approach no less than the opposite: a university’s claim to constrain academic freedom on grounds that the faculty member’s speech or conduct implies institutional endorsement.

The AAUP’s Committee A will be meeting on 2-3 June and will at that time discuss an appropriate response, if needed, to NATFHE’s resolution. The AAUP shares and supports the principles of the ADL in this matter.

All good wishes,

Roger W. Bowen
General Secretary

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ADL Calls for Action Against Academic Boycotters
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