Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Lecturers vote to boycott Israeli universities

The new University and College Union today voted for a year-long debate over whether it should boycott work with Israeli universities. The delegates voted to condemn the "complicity" of Israeli academics in the country's "40-year occupation of Palestinian lands".

This is a mistake. It's hardly in the best traditions of academic discussion and debate to sever ties with an entire group of people who must surely represent an entire spectrum of thought, and not one narrowly composed motion for debate. I understand that the UCU's entire membership will be consulted before any such move is taken. But where is the rigour of thought? Direct me to the cogent exhortation. Who are these censors of opinion? Academics thousands of miles from the reality. This restriction on academic freedom should be condemned in exactly the same language as that used to criticise those Austrian law-makers who sought to silence David Irving for representing a view they considered out-of-bounds, illegal, unworthy of engaging with.

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