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Dear President Summers, Dean Kagan, and friends at the Harvard Law
School
Graduate Program,

I write this email fearing the gravest of consequences for academic
freedom.

On April 22, 2005 the Association of University Teachers in Britain (a
trade union and professional association for over 48,700 UK higher education professionals) voted to boycott 2 Israeli Universities, Haifa and
Bar-Ilan, and to blacklist their faculty (further inquiry was made to boycott the
Hebrew University). These decisions were based on the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict. (see http://www.aut.org.uk/index.cfm?articleid=1201). The two
Israeli Universities were not represented and were not requested to
provide their views.

To the best of my knowledge (I am not that sure about this), the boycott
itself was taken against the opinion of the management of the AUT, but
was nevertheless approved by those who attended the meeting and who had a chance to vote. Many members of the AUT itself strongly condemn these actions and several motions were raised calling for the reversal of this decision. To the best of my knowledge the AUT is supposed to vote on these motions shortly (May 26).

On May 3, 2005 the American Association of University Professors
(http://www.aaup.org) (AAUP) issued a statement (reproduced below) that
saw this as a threat to fundamental principles of academic and intellectual
freedom, and "joins in condemning these resolutions and in calling for
their repeal."

Bar Ilan is my own alma mater and I see this as a direct action against
me and my colleagues back home. You might say that this does not concern
you, and you do not wish to get involved in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute -
but next time such a boycott might be against your own university. This time
its Israeli Universities - the next time it will be American universities
for example, based on a strong opposition to the war in Iraq (Didn't Harvard
University until recently allow the U.S. army to recruit on campus?) and
any other university across the world. Where will the list stop? It should
never have begun in the first place.

Politics should not gag academic freedom. Academic freedom must be
maintained, not matter what your politics are - this is essential for
promoting dialogue.

To this end, Palestinian and Israelis alike condemned the boycott
("Prof. Sari Nusseibeh, president of Al-Quds University in East Jerusalem, last Thursday joined Prof. Menachem Magidor, president of Hebrew University, to denounce the academic boycott of Israeli universities"). See
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/578622.html)

I therefore urge you to do all that is in your power to stop this
boycott.

I would also request you to consider joining the following petition
http://www.petitiononline.com/j141789/petition.html (4,761) calling for
an end to the boycott and for academic freedom. This is our small
contribution to academic freedom. You might also wish to sign another petition that has already 42,922 signatures: http://www.petitiononline.com/isboy05/

The following is a copy of the statement by the American Association of
University Professors (see http://www.aaup.org/newsroom/press/2005/AUT.htm
):

Thank you

Zvi Altman
SJD Candidate
Harvard Law School

 

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