SPME Petition 19

A Petition To Refute and Condemn the Anti-Israel Academic Boycott Campaign at Norway's Trondheim University

November 12, 2009 Update: SPME is proud to announce the successful defeat of the campaign to boycott Israeli scholars by Tronheim University in a unanimous vote of its board not to boycott. We thank our colleagues at JCPA and AAUP for their support of our efforts as well as colleagues from other organizations around the world. Please feel free to add your name to this petition to automatically become a member of the SPME Faculty Network or to go to www.spme.net to subscribe to the SPME Faculty Forum. Thank you.

Edward S. Beck

*********************************************************************************

We, the undersigned Nobel Laureates, scholars and members of the international academic, research and professional community, refute and condemn the campaign to boycott Israeli academics and academic institutions at Trondheim University in Norway.

We stand in solidarity with Israeli academics and academic institutions; if you
boycott them, boycott us as well.

Background material

1) Translation of a petition letter against the boycott proposal from employees of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and Sør-Trøndelag University College(HiST):

To the Boards of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology
(NTNU) and Sør-Trøndelag University College(HiST)

A group of employees at NTNU and HiST have earlier this year in an open letter requested their respective Boards to perform a cultural and academic boycott against Israel. We who sign this letter are employees of the same institutions. We are generally positive to unbiased and objective internal discussions at NTNU/HiST on the Palestine-Israel conflict. However, we are of the opinion that it is
very unfortunate if the institutions as such give their unreserved support to one of the parties in the conflict. In our view, the following arguments support that the proposed boycott should be rejected:

  • The primary tasks of NTNU/HiST are research and education, not constructing their own foreign policy. To take sides in difficult political issues gives the impression of not being objective and unbiased. This goes against the university role as a meeting place
    of a wide range of thoughts and ideas.
  • To be associated with a controversial viewpoint in such a difficult conflict will have negative consequences for NTNU/HiST internationally. Do we really want to be known as the first western university to make an academic boycott against Israel?
  • Within NTNU/HiST there are also different opinions on this conflict, and a decision of boycott will tend to make internal divisions. Even we who sign this petition have different views as to how the conflict should be solved.
  • We do not know if NTNU/HiST have considered all the legal aspects of a possible boycott resolution. What means are for instance the institutions willing to employ against researchers who may defy the boycott? Will their salaries be reduced, or could they be fired?
  • We do not believe that a boycott decision will contribute to a peaceful solution to the conflict, but rather that it will result in an increased polarisation.
  • NTNU would also lose by cutting the ties of scientific contact and collaboration with the various internationally renowned academic groups of Israel.
  • If NTNU/HiST decide to boycott Israel, it will also be very difficult to produce rational arguments for why we should not also boycott other nations who perform far worse human rights violations. It would thus mean that the institutions initiate an ongoing process where boycott will be used to flag our standpoint in other conflicts as well.
  • We therefore request that the Boards of NTNU and HiST vote against the proposal of boycotting Israel. Individuals at our universities are of course free to involve themselves in international conflicts, but it is unwise that the institutions as such choose one side. Our
    universities will loose more than we might win by involving ourselves in a boycott.

    Letter was signed by Prof. Bjorn Alsberg and colleagues.

2) Click here: Norwegian university to hold vote on academic boycott of Israel -
Haaretz - Israel News

3) Click Here: Test Case For European Anti-Semitism as To Academic Institution in Norway Considers Academic Boycott Against Israel

Nobel Laureate Endorsers

Kenneth J. Arrow
Economics
Stanford University

Aaron Ciechanover
Medicine
Technion
(Israel Institute of Technology)

Claude Cohen-Tannoudji
Physics
Ecole Normale Superieure

Edmond Fischer
Medicine and Physiology
University of Washington

Ivar Giaever
Physics
Rensselaer Polytechnical Institute and University Oslo

Avram Hershko
Chemistry
Technion
(Israel Institute of Technology)

Roald Hoffmann
Chemistry
Cornell University

Tim Hunt
Physiology and Medicine
Cancer Research UK

Finn Kydland
Economics
University of California

Erik Maskin
Economics
Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton

Andrew Schally
Physiology and Medicine
University of Miami

Steven Weinberg
Physics
University of Texas

Torsten Wiesel
Medicine
Rockefeller University

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