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AAAS Decries British Group's Motion on Proposed Academic Boycott of Israel
The American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world's largest general scientific society, is urging the University and College Union (UCU), a new association in the United Kingdom that represents 120,000 college teachers, to reject a motion that could result in a boycott of all Israeli academic institutions.
The motion was approved by delegates to the UCU's annual meeting and now will be circulated for discussion by the full membership. The motion was in response to a call from Palestinian trade unions for a boycott of Israeli academics.
"We urge the membership of UCU, which will be discussing the motion over the next twelve months, to reject it," the AAAS statement said. "We join with others in condemning the motion 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."
This is the third time in as many years that the AAAS has issued statements condemning efforts by British higher education associations to consider boycotts of Israeli academic institutions. In 2005, the Association of University Teachers in Britain voted to boycott Haifa and Bar-Ilan universities. The council of the association later reversed the decision after objections by leading scholars and academic institutions.
Last year, another teachers association called on its members to boycott Israeli scholars and academic institutions that do not publicly declare their opposition to Israel's policies in the territories. That proposal was never approved.
The AAAS noted that the current boycott effort is politically motivated by a vocal minority within the UCU. "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 statement said.
6 June 2007