On March 31, 2004 Martin Kramer noted Professor Zachary Lockman, the director of the Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies at New York University as one of the signatories who describe themselves the "defenders of Palestinian academic freedom and supporters of the academic boycott against Israel." Lockman and his colleagues believe that the Israeli – Palestinian conflict does not allow Palestinians to thrive academically because they cannot get to their universities and the "Israeli occupation" does not allow for an educational framework.Below are the form responses that Zachary Lockman and the provost of NYU, David McLaughlin gave:
Professor Zachary Lockman
I am writing to clear up any misunderstanding that may have arisen regarding
my position on a boycott of Israeli scholars and academic institutions. To
put it simply: Contrary to what you may have read or heard, neither I nor
NYU's Hagop Kervorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies, which I direct,
advocate or implement such a boycott.
A few weeks ago I signed an open letter circulated via the Internet; it
urged Israeli academics who have organized to oppose a boycott of Israeli
scholars and academic institutions to also speak out about the effects of
Israeli government policies on Palestinian education and academic freedom.
Although in the letter I am correctly identified as director of NYU's
absolutely clear that I signed that letter as an individual member of NYU's
faculty, and not in my capacity as director.
Furthermore, I signed the letter as a supporter of academic freedom for
Palestinian scholars and academic institutions, not as a supporter of a
could have led people to construe my support for the defense of the academic
freedom of Palestinians as an endorsement of a boycott of Israeli scholars
and academic institutions, which is not the case. In reality, as I stated at
the outset, neither the
or practices a boycott of Israeli scholars or academic institutions. In
fact, the Center regularly hosts visiting scholars and professors from
and issues related to
Provost David McLaughlin
There are a number of serious and fierce debates regarding the many conflicts between
As Provost, however, I can speak to your concerns in two main areas: the University's posture towards the public call for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions and of Israeli academics; and Professor Lockman's signing of the letter posted at www.academicboycott.org.
In his accompanying letter, Professor Lockman makes clear that he does not advocate a boycott either of Israeli scholars or of
His letter now clarifies his actual position that he does not advocate or support a boycott. The University's position on calls for a boycott is similarly clear. It stands firm against any such boycott, which by its very nature runs counter to the essence of the University, and to the values to which
Our view is that the University is a space that encourages open, free and continuous dialogue free from fear of recrimination. This vision applies to the activities of the
At the heart of the University's commitment to the free and open exchange of ideas is the principle of academic freedom. No University can survive or fulfill its important social roles without a firm commitment to the principle that scholars are free to pursue their research and responsibly to express their ideas without fear of persecution or recrimination because of the unpopularity or controversial nature of the positions they embrace or express.
Just as there might be some faculty at NYU who support the idea of a boycott, there are others who are firmly opposed. It is hardly uncommon for individual members of our faculty to disagree with University policy; and I take this as a sign of our strength and vibrancy. The creation of a space where ideas may be freely exchanged and debated is at the heart of one of the University's most important contributions to society, and so the University protects and secures its faculty's right responsibly to express their views whether or not those views coincide with the University's.
I can sense the passion with which your views are held; I hope that my note has addressed some of your most pressing concerns.