Sunday, September 14, 2014

If you're as opposed to the boycotts of Israel as I am, please read on.

From my friend Danny Sokol

Dear Colleagues:
The following statement is being circulated on numerous campuses to be released  in the next week or so.  We are trying to get signatures prior to it being posted, although people will also be able to sign up after it is posted.
If you are interested in singing, please drop a line indicating your approval to William Jacobson at Cornell Law, ( from your university/college email account. Note your title and affiliation. 
Also, feel free to share this with colleagues who might be interested.
The text of the statement cannot be changed at this point.  It is, by nature, a compromise statement intended to focus on core principles, not politics. I think it is very mild and broad. 
Here is the text of the statement:
We, the undersigned academics, vigorously support free speech and free debate but we oppose faculty or student boycotts of Israel’s academic institutions, scholars and students. 
 Our opposition is rooted in the following core principles. 

1.       Academic freedom:  The BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement discriminates against Israeli institutions, professors, and students for no other reason than their nationality and the policies of their government. Thus BDS violates the very principle of academic freedom.  Academic boycotts such as those promoted by BDS activists “are antithetical to the fundamental principles of the academy, where we will not hold intellectual exchange hostage to the political disagreements of the moment,”according to a statement signed by 300 university presidents in 2007, and additional statements written by over 250 university presidents last year in response to the ASA boycott of Israel. The American Association of University Professors, other academic organizations, and more than forty Nobel Laureates have opposed all academic boycotts for this reason. 
2.       Truth:   The factual record does not support the accusations and narratives of the BDS movement. Many are based on overstatements, cherry picked evidence, outright falsehood, or on disputed or highly biased data. 
3.       Peace: The two-state solution – which guarantees to both parties mutual recognition -- enjoys the endorsement of the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, and the Arab League. By demonizing and seeking to isolate one of the two parties to the peace process, the anti-Israel BDS movement sets itself apart from the global consensus for peace.
4.       Access to World-leading Scholarship:  BDS would have the practical impact of undermining academic cooperation and would deprive universities significant Israeli contributions in many academic areas, especially scientific research. It appears that such a loss is immaterial to the leaders in the BDS movement.
 This statement is not a response to any particular BDS effort on campus, but rather to the growing wave of such efforts by academic professional associations and so forth. The idea is to get out ahead of such efforts with a broadly subscribed statement.
Thank you.
Prof. Eugene Kontorovich
Northwestern University School of Law

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