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AAAS Condemns British Group’s Proposed Academic Boycott of Israel
AAAS, the world’s largest general science society, is urging 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 27-29 May 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 England, Wales and Northern Ireland. A vote is expected Monday.
In a 26 May 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.
Read the full text of the statement by the AAAS Board.
26 May 2006