I was outraged by
the utterly unjust and unjustifiable decision to boycott the
University, its teachers, and researchers that was taken by the
British Association of University Teachers (AUT) on the eve of this
past Pesach. I was disheartened by that organization’s attempt to
erect barriers and obstruct the flow of ideas within the
international academic community. If there was any good that emerged
from the AUT’s act, so reminiscent of similar actions taken in the
1930s, it has been the encouraging responses that we have received
from overseas, Britain included.
In making their accusations, the authors of this campaign of
vilification have chosen to adopt a three-year-old urban legend.
Worse, the AUT never requested our response prior to adopting the
resolution, nor did it allow our position to be presented by members
of the AUT who are familiar with the facts. The case against Israeli
academia, in general, and the University of Haifa, in particular,
was devoid of empirical evidence and in violation of due process.
Driven by a prior and prejudicial assumption of guilt, the AUT has
refused to confuse itself with facts.
In actual fact, the University has demonstrated extraordinary
tolerance during the past few years, when certain of its own staff
transgressed common ethical standards of academic life, including
efforts to disbar other faculty members from international forums.
Let it be clear: the University made no attempt to expel anyone for
expressing radical views.
Although there is always more work to do, the University of Haifa is
proud of its record of Arab-Jewish cooperation and reconciliation,
both on campus and in the community. We will continue our efforts to
further Jewish-Arab relations, despite politically motivated
initiatives to muzzle free speech and academic discourse.
It is indeed puzzling that despite the deluge of abuses of academic
freedom throughout the world, the AUT chose to focus upon a
politically spurious charge and, on the basis of false allegations,
to single out the University of Haifa for condemnation. We call upon
the AUT to rescind its resolution, whose complete distortion of
facts is in the end far more embarrassing to that body than to the
The academic community throughout the free world is once again put
to the test. It cannot sit aside in silence, but must expressly and
unequivocally reject the AUT’s politically motivated abuse of
academic discourse. As I mentioned, certain prominent individuals
have issued encouraging responses, for which we and, I am sure, our
sister university, Bar-Ilan, similarly singled out for undeserved
condemnation, are grateful. But entire organizations and even
governments must roundly denounce the AUT’s unconscionable decision
to give it its due burial.
The University of Haifa is determined not to remain passive.
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