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I am writing, as both an academic in the United States and a Jew, to
express my continued sadness and outrage that a group of fellow University
professionals, in a democratic society with a strong constitutional mandate

towards academic freedom, would vote to boycott the faculties of the
University of Haifa and Bar-Ilan University. The AUT has sadly shown
itself to be a bigoted and terribly reactionary institution given this
vote, one that appears to hold itself in a morally superior, but quite
tenuous position.

The political situation in Israel and the Palestinian territories is a
highly complex one, that cannot be "just reacted towards;" instead, it is a

situation that requires thoughtfulness, patience, and intelligence to both
understand and respond towards, in order to effect steps toward
change. Instead of taking such an approach, members of the AUT have
allowed a simplistic, bigoted response to be put forth, one that demeans
academic freedom and respect. As many others have stated to you, in their
letters of complaint, it strongly appears as if the AUT is taking an
antisemitic action, by condemning members of the Israeli academy while
condoning the hateful and disrespectful actions of the Palestinian academy
and peoples. It is very difficult from the outside to see this as anything

but an act of animosity towards the Jewish faculties of Bar-Ilan and Haifa
universities, and to view this as an act of antisemitic bias.

I strenuously argue for intervention within the AUT with regard to this
issue. Although members can differ in their opinions, it is imperative
that the Board and Directors of the AUT confront this situation directly
and with unified voice, reminding the membership that disagreements with
political processes have no place in the setting of contingencies on
academic freedom. Perhaps a reminder to the faculties of the British
academies might be required, that they too could find themselves censured
for their beliefs at some point if academic freedom is no longer respected.

There is no place for hate in the academy. It is up to you as president of

the AUT to remind your members of this fact.

Sincerely,

Scott J. Hunter, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
Director, Pediatric Neuropsychology
University of Chicago
5841 S. Maryland Ave., MC 3077
Chicago, IL 60657
email: shunter@uchicago.edu

 

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