Washington, DC—This week, Representatives Brian Higgins (D-NY) and Mike Pence (R-IN) introduced legislation (H.Res. 279) which would condemn the British Association of University Teachers (AUT) for the boycott of Haifa and Bar Ilan Universities in Israel.
“As a former college lecturer, the action of the British AUT is particularly troubling to me,” said Higgins. “This boycott violates the spirit of academia. It is unconscionable that the AUT will force professors and other educators to take a disloyalty oath against the Israeli government, in order to be exempt from the boycott and engage with British universities. It also wrongly punishes both British and Israeli students by limiting their access to thought, scholarship and opportunities for learning. I urge the British AUT to overturn its vote at its May 26 hearing, and to try to restore a modicum of academic integrity and freedom at its universities.”
“Rather than boycotting Haifa and Bar Ilan Universities, the British Association of University Teachers should be lifting them up as an example of cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian students,” said Pence. “Academia is about free thought, not boundaries and boycotts.”
On April 22, 2005, the British AUT voted to boycott two Israeli universities (Haifa and Bar Ilan) and has threatened to boycott a third. These two universities are paradigms of academic freedom, and one of which, Haifa University, is an exemplar of Israelis and Palestinians working and studying together freely. The decision by the British AUT is coming up for reconsideration at a May 26 conference.
H.Res. 279 condemns the vote by the British AUT, calls on the British AUT to overturn this vote, denounces the call by the British AUT for professors from these universities to take loyalty oaths disavowing the Israeli Government, and urges governments and educators throughout the world to generate dialogue regarding their differences and not bar students and professors from engaging with and learning from each other.