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Boycott Calls Against Israel
Bar-Ilan Fights for Academic Freedom in Response to the AUT's Decision to Boycott Bar-Ilan and Haifa Universities
 Message from the Rector

On the 22nd of April 2005, the Association of University Teachers in the UK, a trade union and professional association for over 48,700 UK higher education professionals (henceforth known as the AUT), decided to impose a complete academic boycott on Bar-Ilan and Haifa Universities.

Motion 59 to AUT Council 2005 resolved to call on all AUT members to boycott Bar-Ilan University until it severs all academic links with the College of Judea and Samaria and with any other college located in an "illegal settlement" in the "Occupied Territories".

It is of great comfort and satisfaction that we have recently learned that we do not stand alone in our struggle to oppose and abolish the AUT's decision.

Thousands of letters have been received in our offices, clearly stating the shock and disbelief of colleagues and institutions throughout the world, with regard to the AUT decision.

It is here that I wish to extend my appreciation to all of you who stand behind the very simple and universal principle of academic freedom, no matter what your religion or political opinions are.

In order to keep you up to date, we have created this website that contains information regarding the background to the boycott, responses published and letters received.

We would also like to give you the opportunity to share your thoughts by contacting us through this site or by joining our International Advisory Board for Academic Freedom.

The International Advisory Board (IAB) for Academic Freedom will undertake actions and steps to guarantee freedom of thought and expression in Bar-Ilan, as well as of other Israeli and non-Israeli institutions of higher education.

The issues involved relate to the very core of academic life and far beyond the question of whether Bar-Ilan does or does not support the College of Judea and Samaria in Ariel. Nothing would be simpler than merely stating that the College of Judea and Samaria is independent, having ceased official academic ties with Bar-Ilan and that the University is responsible only for those Bar-Ilan students on the Ariel campus who have not yet finished their degree, a responsibility that will soon cease as well.

Considering the fact that the Ariel College is largely autonomous and on the way to full independence, we believe it was a purely non-academic agenda that brought about this unfortunate decision. For example, Bar-Ilan was not approached by the AUT and we were not presented with the "charges". Furthermore, my formal request to send a Bar-Ilan representative to the Council's meeting was rejected and, adding to the above, the council did not manage an Internal debate in the meeting itself, leaving no room for other opinions.

Unfortunately, it would seem that there were anti-Israeli and, at times, anti-Semitic motivations lurking in the background of the decision of the AUT. We, however, refrain from politics and address only matters of academic freedom.

As should be the case with any academic institution, Israeli universities are not subject to government interference. Our university system is based on the principle of academic freedom, research and critical thinking, in which staff and students enjoy a platform that not only enables, but systematically encourages freedom of thought and expression.

The principle of academic freedom makes it imperative that the decision of the AUT be rescinded at once.

Sincerely,


Prof. Yosef Yeshurun
Rector
Bar-Ilan University

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