Academics Oppose and Await Norwegian University Vote on Boycott of Israeli Academics

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The academic world is eagerly awaiting the results of vote of Trondheim University’s academic board on the boycott of Israeli Scholars on November 12. The vote would make the University the first European university to publicly boycott Israeli scholars despite strong local and international academic opposition to academic boycotts.

As of this writing nearly 3500 scholars from around the world have joined 13 Nobel Laureates in refuting and condemning the anti-Israel boycott proposals being generated at Norway’s prestigious Trondheim University. The petition is expected to exceed 5000 signatures by week’s end. Nobel Laureates who have signed to date are: Kenneth Arrow (Economics), Aaron Cienchanover (Medicine and Physiology), Claude Cohen-Tannoudji (Physics), Edmond Fischer (Medicine and Physiology), Ivar Giavever (Physics), Avram Hershko (Chemistry), Roald Hoffmann (Che””mistry), Tim Hunt (Physiology and Medicine), Finn Kydland (Economics), Eric Maskin (Economics), Andrew Schally (Physiology and Medicine), Steven Weinberg (Physics), Torsten Wiesel (Medicine and Physiology).

This public petition initiated by SPME also initiated actions by many groups including the AAUP and a number of Israel advocacy groups.

The petition, which can be read and signed at has some of the world’s most prestigious academics.

Norwegian Nobel Laureate in Physics, Ivar Giaever proclaimed, ” I’m against boycott in science, we are all individuals who are trying to do our best. Please include me.”

Chemistry Nobel Laureate Avram Hershko commented, ” I am against any academic boycott, not only because I am Israeli, but also because I believe that it is basically wrong to mix academic issues with politics.”

“I certainly agree with Prof. Hershko on the principle that there is no place for any form of boycott in academic life and add my signature to the petition that protests against the act of the university of Trondheim” adds Nobel Laureate Aaron Ciechanover.

Bjørn K. Alsberg of Tronheim University shares these thoughts with academic colleagues from around the world. ” It makes me very upset that my institution has initiated this boycott process against Israel. I hope with all my heart that we’ll manage to stop the NTNU Board from making a huge mistake on the 12th November. Thanks to you all for the support!”

“I apologize on behalf of my institution for having admitted the long arms of PLO into the Board meeting room,” lamented Tor Ytrehus of Trondheim University.

SPME President Edward Beck of Walden University, when signing the petition wrote, “Academic boycotts are counter productive, do not contribute to peace and constitute discrimination by virtue of national origin. Furthermore they suppress academic freedom. They are antithetical to academic ideals and practices.”

Philip Carl Salzman, McGill University observes, ” It is very surprising and disappointing that members of a university in a country that regards itself as civilized and enlightened would lose themselves in anti-Semitic anti-Israelism. In victimizing Jews once again, the advocates of such policies join the despots, annihilationists, and terrorists of the Middle East.”

Egon Balas of Carnegie Mellon University and winner of the von Neumann Prize writes, ” As a friend and repeated visitor of your university, I was appalled by the news that such an action is contemplated. It goes counter to everything that I know about past anti-Nazi, anti-Soviet and pro-freedom activities of your faculty.”

Jerome Goldberg at the University of New South Wales in Australia states, ” my dept will not take any students from a university that supports academic boycotts.”

” Cooperation not boycotts is the way to peace,” points out Juliusz Brzezinski of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.

Edwin Locke of the University of Maryland who is scheduled to lecture at Trondheim warns, ” I am scheduled to speak at Trondheim in May. If the boycott of Isreali scholars goes through, I will not speak. For your interest, I am internationally famous in my fields of I/O Psychology and Management.”

” I attended an international symposium (GHGT-8) at NTNU in 2007. If this boycott resolution goes through, I shall never attend any academic conference at NTNU.” states Dan Golomb at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell.

” have had very strong reseasrch ties with colleagues at NTNU, and will be most disappointed if this foolish academic boycott resolution is adopted,” states Theodor Krauthammer at the University of Florida.

Sheila H. Akabas, Columbia University points out, ” In an arena where freedom of opinion and exchange of ideas is respected, the boycott seems contradictory to all academic values.”

Milton Diamond, University of Hawaii commented, “…Fortunately a number of our Norwegian colleagues have the sense and courage to oppose the kind of hate-driven agenda represented by this campaign. They deserve our thanks.”

Roger J-B Wetts, University of California-Davis, wrote, ” Boycott of scientific institutions means that mostly one boycotts exactly the people who are usually the strongest supporters of the peace policy.”

” have been to Trondheim University. I belived that people whom I knew were decent scientists and scholars. I hope I was not mistaken,” reflects Igor Mel’cuk, Professor Emeritus from the University of Montreal.

“Academia should not become involved in politics. It should be open and inclusive to all. Academicians that boycott a country or a cause are following their own, personal agenda – in this case – antisemitism,” commented Israel Hanin of Loyola University, Chicago.

Robert Costrell at the University of Arkansas reminds us, ” Has Trondheim — the first W. European city occupied by the Nazis, and abandoned by Neville Chamberlain — so quickly forgotten the lessons of appeasement? “

Margaret Winters at Wayne State University opines, ” An academic boycott will delay any peaceful solution to this grave on-going crisis; it is certainly not part of the solution.”

In signing the petition Lance Drager of Texas Tech University commented, ” Israel is the model democracy for the Middle East.”

David Karasik at Harvard University Medical School chided the campaigners with, ” Shame on Trondheim University for even considering the issue.”

Dr. Stephen Pastner, University of Michigan observed, ” Even more than antisemitism, such boycotts are demeaning to Palestinians /Arabs/Muslims by holding them to infantile levels of accountability for their own provocations and misdeeds.”

“Do you boycott Sudanese scholars? Do you boycott Burmese scholars? Realistically, the rejection front is led by Hamas in Gaza, Hizbullah in Lebanon, and by the Revolutionary Guard in Iran. This is how to deconstruct Israeli policy; this is the appropriate contextualization of Israeli policy, which I see as tactical, but not strategic, meaning it is a reaction to external threats, but is not its true self. Put another way, you are blaming people for defending themselves, even as you excuse Hamas for defending itself,” reflects Abe Amidor at the University of Indiana-Bloomington.

Victor Lieberman, University of Michigan suggests, ” If there is no peace in the mideast itis because the Palestinain Authority in 2000-2001 rejected Israel’s offers that were indistinguishable from thoe offered by the Arab League in 2002 — and substituted violence for rational discussion.”

“Academic boycotts are short-sighted and in direct opposition to the academic freedom that is the core principle of academia. Better to debate and discuss than to boycott. ” points out David Shore, McMaster University.

President Beck of SPME added, ” The academic world is waiting for its colleagues to do the right thing and vote down the academic boycott measure.”

Academics Oppose and Await Norwegian University Vote on Boycott of Israeli Academics

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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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