Delegates at the first conference of the new University and College Union (UCU) in Bournemouth, England voted by 158 to 99 for "a comprehensive and consistent boycott" of all Israeli academic institutions, as called for by Palestinian trade unions in response to what they are calling Israel's "40-year occupation" of Palestinian land.
Today the Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) announced that over 10,000 academics from nearly every level of academia, 32 Nobel Laureates, 53 university and foundation presidents have signed a public declaration demanding that the boycott effort be immediately overturned. SPME said it will deliver to the UCU the Statement as an expression of outrage against the boycott, and as an act of solidarity with their Israeli academic colleagues.
Even though I am not British, Israeli or Jewish, even though I consider myself a liberal and a labor activist, I am proud to say that I am one of the signers of that petition and that I have joined SPME.
I agree with Dr. Edward Beck, President of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East and Professor of Psychology, Walden University who said: “The decision by the UCU to promote a boycott is a disgraceful anti-intellectual act that replaces factual discourse with a one-sided political agenda, and turns morality and the notion of freedom on their head. It says more about the boycott proponents than those to be boycotted. All of those who believe in academic freedom must speak forcefully to prevent a minority of extremists in the UCU to politicize, control and shut down the free exchange of ideas, where any group, whether based upon religion or national origin is singled out for exclusion. In moving this boycott proposal forward, members of the UCU are, in fact, separating themselves from the international academic community, and deeply undermining their credibility in the process.”