We previously mentioned that a pro-Academic Freedom Petition was circulating among faculty and researchers, specifically objecting to the academic boycott of Israel passed by a small number of groups, such as the American Studies Association.
The Petition has now passed 1200 signatures, mostly from faculty at universities in the United States, but including some international faculty, researchers and scholars.
This is an important development, as some anti-Israel activist groups misleadingly attempt to portray academia as stifling speech hostile to Israel. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, there is a pervasive campus climate of hostility to Israel led by pro-boycott faculty, concentrated in the Humanities and Social Sciences.
The anti-Israel academic boycott covers Israeli institutions of higher education, and demands termination of exchange programs, terms abroad programs in Israel, academic cooperation, and any attempt at normalization of relations among scholars. The comprehensive boycott of these institutions by its nature includes a boycott of the faculty and staff at such institutions.
In practice, the boycott such as that of the ASA, includes refusing attendance at conferences by the individuals representing such institutions or who carry administrative titles. It is a boycott of individuals.
The faculty supporting the academic boycott of Israel disregard calls by over 250 university presidents, numerous university associations, and the American Association of University Professors, that such systematic academic boycotts threaten the academic freedom of all of us.
The anti-Israel boycotters have taken over some professional organizations, where a relatively small number of activists can manipulate key committees and national councils.
But the academic boycotters do not represent the majority.
This Petition is just a first step in the silent majority in the academic community speaking up — not to take sides in the Middle East dispute, but to speak out against those who bring the war into the classrooms and hallways regardless of the consequences. Enough already.
The Petition remains open, and more signatures are anticipated as the word spreads.
You don't have to be "pro-Israel" to sign — only pro-academic freedom, pro-fairness, pro-intellectual honesty, pro-education and pro-peace.
Here's an excerpt from the Petition:
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.
Our opposition is rooted in the following core 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....