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August 15, 2018


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Is it not disingenuous to state "We take no position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict nor on calls for divestment or economic sanctions" when the position explicitly rejects BDS? Isn't the AAUP saying that they pass no judgement on whether a consumer decides not to buy a product made in an illegal settlement, or when a rock star decides not to play in Tel Aviv, but that they do pass judgement when a university professor or academic group decides they don't wish to be involved with Israeli academic institutions.
I see there is a clash of principles. Academic Freedom is certainly a principle to be respected but it is not an absolute. The harm done to academic freedom seems less significant than the harm done by avoiding the moral responsibility of academics to do all they can to respect the principle of defending human rights. The AAUP has sided with Israel. Shame on them.

Steve DIamond

I don't think its accurate or fair to suggest that opposition to BDS is "siding with Israel."

It is taking a position in support of a form of political behavior that advocates the presence of a wide range of views inside academia. It means that academic exchange is one means of supporting basic civil liberties inside Israel for Arabs, Christians, Jews and secular residents alike.

Despite the persistent oppression of Palestine, its citizens and Arabs inside Israel (sadly a longtime dimension of some winges of the Zionist movement) there remains space there to engage in debate and democratic politics. It is resolutely not South Africa under apartheid, a canard that the Stalinist movement developed many years ago as part of its campaign to win support for Soviet backed foreign policy in Africa and the middle east and now, sadly, adopted widely on the "left," including most visibly today, inside the British Labour Party.

Academic freedom can amplify that space inside Israel.

I am a career long member, supporter, and sometime officer of the AAUP. Although I had no role in the preparation of the statement I think it makes an important contribution to the battle for civil liberties.

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