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December 26, 2013 2

University Presidents Across The Country Reject Academic Boycott Of Israel

The deci­sion by the Amer­i­can Stud­ies Asso­ci­a­tion (ASA) to boy­cott Israeli aca­d­e­mic insti­tu­tions has yielded a sil­ver lin­ing: a wide­spread con­dem­na­tion of the deci­sion – and the broader Boy­cott, Divest­ment Sanc­tions (BDS) move­ment – by uni­ver­sity admin­is­tra­tors across the United States.asa-harvard-statement

Since the ASA’s Decem­ber 16th deci­sion to sup­port a boy­cott, which ADL decried as “intel­lec­tu­ally dis­hon­est and shame­ful,” there has been an increas­ing groundswell of rejec­tion by uni­ver­sity pres­i­dents, fac­ulty and aca­d­e­mic asso­ci­a­tions. These state­ments, which num­ber in the dozens, have force­fully and respon­si­bly affirmed the prin­ci­ples and soci­etal ben­e­fits of aca­d­e­mic free­dom and open dialogue. 

Uni­ver­sity pres­i­dents of large and small col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties have made pro­nounce­ments on the topic, including:

  • Pres­i­dent Drew Faust of Har­vard Uni­ver­sity, who said:  “Aca­d­e­mic boy­cotts sub­vert the aca­d­e­mic free­doms and val­ues nec­es­sary to the free flow of ideas, which is the lifeblood of the world­wide com­mu­nity of schol­ars. The recent res­o­lu­tion of the ASA propos­ing to boy­cott Israeli uni­ver­si­ties rep­re­sents a direct threat to these ideals, ideals which uni­ver­si­ties and schol­arly asso­ci­a­tions should be ded­i­cated to defend.”
  • Pres­i­dent Ronald J. Daniels  and Provost Robert C. Lieber­man of Johns Hop­kins Uni­ver­sity, who said: “The Israeli-Palestinian con­flict is, of course, a com­plex mat­ter on which many in our com­mu­nity hold pas­sion­ate and com­pet­ing views. We can all agree, how­ever, that one essen­tial ingre­di­ent to the res­o­lu­tion of that con­flict will be the free exchange of infor­ma­tion and open debate of ideas. This boy­cott is a con­tra­dic­tion, one that threat­ens what it pur­ports to pro­tect: the free­dom of thought and expres­sion that is the heart­beat of our aca­d­e­mic community.”
  • Pres­i­dent Mary Sue Cole­man and Provost Martha Pol­lack of Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan, who said:  “The Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan strongly opposes the boy­cott of aca­d­e­mic insti­tu­tions in Israel that was recently endorsed by sev­eral aca­d­e­mic asso­ci­a­tions. While we affirm the right of indi­vid­ual fac­ulty, fac­ul­ties, and pro­fes­sional aca­d­e­mic asso­ci­a­tions to hold and express dif­fer­ent view­points, we believe that aca­d­e­mic boy­cotts vio­late the prin­ci­ples of aca­d­e­mic free­dom and free­dom of speech, which are fun­da­men­tal to our mis­sions of edu­ca­tion and research. The Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan is com­mit­ted to con­tin­u­ing and strength­en­ing its long-standing and pro­duc­tive insti­tu­tional rela­tion­ships with Israeli uni­ver­si­ties and institutes.”

Sev­eral Amer­i­can Stud­ies depart­ments have also resigned from the ASA.  

ADL has com­piled a list of select state­ments which we are updat­ing daily.  Other blog­gers are also main­tain­ing full lists of all uni­ver­sity state­ments and actions. 

Here’s what you can do:

Check these lists to see if offi­cials at your alma mater have spo­ken out.  If they have, write the pres­i­dent or chan­cel­lor to com­mend them. 

If they have not, con­tact the office of the pres­i­dent or chan­cel­lor and call on them to join their col­leagues around the coun­try in con­demn­ing the aca­d­e­mic boy­cott of Israel and stand­ing firm in sup­port of aca­d­e­mic freedom.

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