AU JOINS 300+ UNIVERSITIES REACTING TO A
PROPOSED BOYCOTT OF ISRAELI UNIVERSITIES
BY BRITAIN’S UNIVERSITY AND COLLEGE UNION
In early August, President Elect Neil Kerwin—along with more than 300 colleges and universities in the United States—endorsed a statement written by Columbia University president Lee Bollinger, in reaction to a recent vote by Britain’s new University and College Union to advance a boycott against Israeli academic institutions. The University and College Union is a trade union representing 120,000 British academics. Bollinger’s statement appears below. A list of signatories appeared August 8, 2007 as an advertisement in The New York Times.
“As a citizen, I am profoundly disturbed by the recent vote by Britain's new University and College Union to advance a boycott against Israeli academic institutions. As a university professor and president, I find this idea utterly antithetical to the fundamental values of the academy, where we will not hold intellectual exchange hostage to the political disagreements of the moment. In seeking to quarantine Israeli universities and scholars this vote threatens every university committed to fostering scholarly and cultural exchanges that lead to enlightenment, empathy, and a much-needed international marketplace of ideas.
At Columbia I am proud to say that we embrace Israeli scholars and universities that the UCU is now all too eager to isolate - as we embrace scholars from many countries regardless of divergent views on their government's policies. Therefore, if the British UCU is intent on pursuing its deeply misguided policy, then it should add Columbia to its boycott list, for we do not intend to draw distinctions between our mission and that of the universities you are seeking to punish. Boycott us, then, for we gladly stand together with our many colleagues in British, American and Israeli universities against such intellectually shoddy and politically biased attempts to hijack the central mission of higher education.”
—Lee Bollinger, president, Columbia UniversityUpdated:
August 23, 2007 10:58 AM