Defend Academic Freedom - An Internationally Supported Denouncing Any Boycott of Israeli Scholars

A Group Defending Academic Freedom
and Denouncing Any Boycott of Israeli Scholars

Chairman: James H. Charlesworth  [Princeton]   July 2014

At the outset, allow me to share a personal anecdote. When I was teaching in the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, as Lady Davis Professor, a Palestinian blew himself up in the cafeteria, killing Israelis. Subsequently, Palestinian students were not boycotted. I observed them being treated with respect, and relaxing with Israelis, as they have been for decades.

Manifesto of Scholars and Professionals Defending Academic Freedom
and Denouncing Any Boycott of Israeli Scholars

We affirm:

  1. The academy is a universally revered setting in which humans may ask all questions and search for answers using methodologies established by former and contemporary scholars.

  2. Too many scholars have expressed hate against Israeli scholars and even boycotted colleagues in Israeli Universities. In April 2013, the Association for Asian American Studies was the first group in the United States to support an academic boycott of Israel. In December 2013, the American Studies Association also endorsed a boycott of Israeli universities. The announced reason was alleged human rights violations by Israelis against Palestinians.

  3. To boycott a highly sophisticated, open and democratic academic community such as found in the exceptional universities in Israel and not to criticize other institutions that masquerade indoctrination for education, seems to be stained by a streak of anti-Semitism. Why do those who boycott Israeli scholars not also boycott Syrian scholars, since Arabs in Syria have murdered thousands of Christians and other Arabs?  Why is there no boycott of Palestinian scholars, since Palestinian suicide bombers have killed so many civilians, notably children and women?

  4. Biblical scholars can master the meaning of our sacred texts, especially the Hebrew Scriptures and the Dead Sea Scrolls, by spending time in "the Holy Land," and discussing shared commitments and visions with Jews teaching in some of the most sophisticated universities in the world. Scientists can benefit from the research advanced in the Weitzman Institute and the Technion; and all of us benefit from the astounding Israeli inventions when we use iPhones, computers, and health care. To boycott all Israeli scholars is to defame the many Jews who have won Nobel Prizes.

  5. Some of us are members of the American Association of University Professors and are proud of its condemnation of boycotts; they are a violation of academic freedom. We should never forget history and the condemnation or boycott of Galileo Galilei (1564-1642). We join voices in exposing and criticizing those who reject and boycott Israeli scholars. We are a group of scholars and professionals who defend academic freedom and stand against the Anti-Israel scholars boycott.

If you agree, please send your name, place and title to: James H. Charlesworth