On September 15th, a petition was launched on the Faculty for Academic Freedom website that is immensely critical of the BDS movement against Israel, as it "violates the very principle of academic freedom."
By the 23rd, some 620 academics from around the world have signed this crucial document, which begins as follows:
We, the undersigned academics, (faculty, full time and part time, academic staff including librarians, researchers, post doctorates,technicians and technologists, administrators, and trustees) vigorously support free speech and free debate but we oppose faculty or student boycotts of Israel's academic institutions, scholars and students.
The petition is based on these four principles:
1. Academic freedom: The BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement discriminates against Israeli institutions, professors, and students for no other reason than their nationality and the policies of their government. Thus BDS violates the very principle of academic freedom....
2. Truth: The factual record does not support the accusations and narratives of the BDS movement. Many are based on overstatements, cherry picked evidence, outright falsehood, or on disputed or highly biased data.
3. Peace: The two-state solution .... By demonizing and seeking to isolate one of the two parties to the peace process, the anti-Israel BDS movement sets itself apart from the global consensus for peace.
4. Access to World-leading Scholarship: BDS would have the practical impact of undermining academic cooperation and would deprive universities significant Israeli contributions in many academic areas, especially scientific research....
Given the alarming trend on university and college campuses to call for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions, the petition could not have come at a better time. Earlier this week, 360 anthropologists (hailing from respected universities such as Yale, Harvard and Columbia) endorsed an academic boycott of Israel by signing a statement that begins as follows:
We, the undersigned anthropologists, are circulating this petition to voice our opposition to the ongoing Israeli violations of Palestinian rights, including the Israeli military occupation of the Gaza Strip, West Bank, and East Jerusalem, and to boycott Israeli academic institutions that are complicit in these violations.
Now, less than a month since the anti-BDS petition was launched, nearly 1,200 academics have signed the online petition that opposes any boycott of Israel or its higher education institutions.