AAAS Condemns British Group’s Proposed Academic Boycott of Israel

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The American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s
largest general science society, today urged a British teachers
association to withdraw a motion calling on its members to boycott
Israeli scholars and academic institutions that do not publicly declare
their opposition to Israel’s policies in the territories.

The boycott proposal is scheduled for consideration during the May
27-29 annual conference of the National Association of Teachers in
Further and Higher Education, the largest trade union and professional
association for lecturers, researchers and others working in higher
education and adult education in the England, Wales and Northern
Ireland. A vote is expected Monday.

In a statement, the AAAS Board of Directors said it joins with other
organizations “in condemning this proposed boycott as antithetical to
the positive role of free scientific inquiry in improving the lives of
all citizens of the world, and in promoting cooperation among nations,
despite political differences.” It added, “Free scientific inquiry
and associated international collaborations should not be compromised in
order to advance a political agenda unrelated to scientific and
scholarly matters.”

Last year another British faculty group, The British Association of
University Teachers, voted to boycott Haifa and Bar-Ilan universities,
charging them with complicity in Israel’s “suppression of the
Palestinians.” The council of the association reversed the decision
after objections by leading scholars and academic organizations,
including AAAS and the American Association of University Professors.

Bar-Ilan University’s International Advisory Board on Academic
Freedom has called for an immediate withdrawal of the pending boycott
motion. It warned recently that “silent” boycott efforts already
have been exercised by some British academics, including a classics
professor who refused to write for an Israeli academic journal because
of what he called the “brutal and illegal expansionism, and the
slow-motion ethnic cleansing” of the Israeli government.

In its statement, AAAS noted that it has stressed the importance of
safeguarding free and open communications among scientists throughout
its history. The association, founded in 1848, is publisher of the
international journal Science. It has 262 affiliated societies and
academies of science, serving 10 million individuals worldwide.

Statement of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Call for the UK National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher
Education (NATFHE) to Withdraw Its Motion Urging a Boycott of Israeli
Scholars and Universities

Throughout its 158-year history, the American Association for the
Advancement of Science (AAAS) has stressed the importance of
safeguarding free and open communication among scientists. The
fundamental value of the international exchange of scholars and freedom
of expression is embodied in international human rights treaties and
conventions as well as in declarations adopted by scientific and other
professional organizations throughout the world.

Last year the AAAS Board of Directors declared its opposition to the
resolution adopted by the British Association of University Teachers
that called on its members to “refrain from participation in any form of
academic and cultural cooperation, or joint projects” with two
universities in Israel. That resolution was subsequently repealed. This
year, another UK organization, NATFHE (the National Association of
Teachers in Further and Higher Education) is considering a motion for a
similar boycott. We urge NATFHE to withdraw this motion. As we did
last year, we join with other organizations in condemning this proposed
boycott as antithetical to the positive role of free scientific inquiry
in improving the lives of all citizens of the world, and in promoting
cooperation among nations, despite political differences. In the context
of the highly charged atmosphere of the Middle East, it is crucial to
keep channels of communication open in order to foster a dialogue that
is inclusive of all affected people. Free scientific inquiry and
associated international collaborations should not be compromised in
order to advance a political agenda unrelated to scientific and
scholarly matters.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the
world’s largest general scientific society, and publisher of the
international journal, Science. AAAS was founded in 1848. It has 125,000
individual members and 262 affiliated societies and academies of
science, serving 10 million individuals worldwide.

26 May 2006

AAAS Condemns British Group’s Proposed Academic Boycott of Israel

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AUTHOR

SPME

Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) is not-for-profit [501 (C) (3)], grass-roots community of scholars who have united to promote honest, fact-based, and civil discourse, especially in regard to Middle East issues. We believe that ethnic, national, and religious hatreds, including anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism, have no place in our institutions, disciplines, and communities. We employ academic means to address these issues.

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