Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, www.spme.net, strongly condemns and opposes the actions of the NATFHE British Professors Union to boycott and blacklist Israeli scholars and universities who will not publicly condemn their governments policies in the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
SPME, over the past two weeks, collected just over 5000 signatures on a world wide petition, from faculty scholars, students and community members urging NATFHE, the largest British professors union, not to engage in a blacklist or boycott of Israeli scholars who do not make public statements against their government’s policies.
SPME President, Edward S. Beck, called the action, “an affront to the very basic principles of academic freedom and results in confounding and hindering progress towards peace…The action was generated by those with little understanding of the issues in the region, who have separated themselves from the academic community by choosing to reinforce propaganda rather than carefully study and analyze the real facts and scholarship pertaining to the area…”
“Furthermore,” Beck added, ” this ill-conceived action, which provides a political litmus test for individual scholars is hauntingly reminiscent of McCarthyism which is rooted not in progressive peaceful ideals, but in bigoted, maladaptive and xenophobic attitudes, reflective of the darkest elements of any given society. It represents the commencement of a very ugly and unprecedented practice the history of academic freedom.”
Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, a international, grass roots community of nearly 6000 faculty, students and others seeks to promote academic integrity, academic excellence and honest debate which will result in an ” Israel within safe and secure borders at peace… and recognizing the legitimate peaceful aspirations of her neighbors.”
” SPME will continue to work with British and Israeli faculty and community groups as well as others from around the world to try to reverse this decision and the devastating effects of this egregious action…It simply is wrong and is a deep dark stain on the academic tradition.” Beck added.
SPME seeks to raise the quality of discussion of the Middle East conflict beyond the current rhetoric and misinformation so that peaceful resolutions can be negotiated and adopted. SPME believes that a peaceful resolution must be negotiated between the parties and that actions such as those taken by NATFHE obstruct, not further peaceful aspirations.