Support Academic Freedom and Stand by the State of Israel
Washington, DC—Today, Congressman Brian Higgins (D-NY) and Congressman Mike Pence (R-IN) introduced a resolution condemning the British National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education’s (NATFHE) recent vote to boycott Israeli academia and all other academic institutions that refuse to declare their opposition to the State of Israel. The Higgins-Pence resolution echoes H.R. 279 which the two introduced last year in the House to condemn the British Association of University Teachers’ (AUT) similar boycott of two Israeli universities; because of international pressure, the AUT resolution was overturned.
NATFHE, which has recently merged with the AUT to form the University and College Union (UCU), proposed to sever all professional ties with Israeli colleagues and disengage from any collegial contact with other Israeli academics. The House resolution calls on the UCU to nullify NATFHE’s boycott and to denounce their previous discriminatory actions.
“Israel is one of the United States strongest allies in the Middle East,” Congressman Higgins said. “NATFHE’s resolution is highly objectionable in the face of the shared democratic history of the U.S., England, and Israel. Such boycotts undermine academic freedom and open exchange and completely disregard the courageous strides towards peace that Israel has made, including the difficult Gaza withdrawal and recognition of a two-state solution. Congressman Pence and I, in the strongest terms, want to prevent further attack of Israel via its academia institutions and we object to any comparison to that of an apartheid regime.”
"Rather than boycotting Israeli academic institutions, NATFHE 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."
The resolution has the support of the Anti-Defamation League, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), which has called the recent boycott inconsistent with the principles of scholarship, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Republican Jewish Coalition and the Zionist Organization of America. The resolution also praises the British Government and many other academics for their open denunciation of the NATFHE decision.
Congressman Higgins continued, “This latest movement by NATFHE furthers existing tensions already present between Israelis and Palestinians. NATFHE’s resolution will do nothing but intensify and continue discriminatory measures within the academic world in which the traditional open dialogue between colleagues has been compromised.”