Petition in Support of the Statement on the Postponement of the AAUP Conference on Academic Freedom and Boycott sign now

Petition in Support of the Statement on the Postponement of the AAUP Conference on Academic Freedom and Boycott

We urge the AAUP and the Ford, Nathan Cummings and Rockefeller Foundations to work toward convening the AAUP conference on academic freedom and academic boycott with the same invited participants. We base this on the following statement issued by the academics and researchers invited to the conference:

We the undersigned, academics and researchers invited to participate in the conference on academic freedom and academic boycotts organized by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), wish to register our condemnation of the tactics used by critics of the conference to cast doubt on the integrity of the organizers and some of the participants, and to ultimately derail it.

In the words of Joan Scott, former chair of the AAUPВs Committee on Academic Freedom and one of the key organizers of this conference, the postponement was due to "a carefully orchestrated campaign to abort the conferenceВ by groups which believe that Вany representation of a point of view other than theirs is anathema; indeed they claim that academic freedom is the freedom to listen only to those who agree with them [В]."(1) There is sufficient evidence to suggest that this campaign, organized by American, British, and Israeli academics and organizations, questioned the very idea of the conference and found the participation of some of the invitees objectionable. (2) We think that the AAUP meeting, which was to be held in Italy this month (February), was carefully conceived and organized to provide an open platform for a genuine, respectful and scholarly debate between conflicting viewpoints on the issue of academic boycott and its bearing on the principle of academic freedom. A clear majority of the invitees and organizers was against boycott, for various reasons. While some of us perceive academic boycott as a morally sound, non-violent form of resistance to injustice and others view it -- in principle -- as an infringement of academic freedom, we collectively converge on the indispensable role and value this debate would have had in promoting a deeper understanding - on all sides - of the issues at hand. Those who lack the power of logic to pursue this debate resort to the logic of power; and only those who are unable to rationally argue their views adopt the tactics of bullying and intimidation instead.

Furthermore, we are surprised and deeply disappointed by the retreat of this projectВs funders. Bowing to pressure from highly partisan political lobbies, they have abetted the suppression of academic freedom by wavering in their support for the convening of an academic meeting that is undoubtedly intended to promote dialogue and debate.

We remain committed to the universal application of academic freedom and the obligations that come with it, particularly "the duty to respect the academic freedom of others, to ensure the fair discussion of contrary views, and to treat all without discrimination [В]."(3)

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(1) Joan Scott expressed her view in a comment to an article in Inside Higher Education:
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/02/09/aaup


(2) Tamara Traubmann, ВU.S. Jews block conference set to include anti-Israel professors;В and comment from Edward Beck. HaВaretz, February 10, 2006. It is also clear that the AAUPВs inadvertent inclusion of an offensive article in the background readings for the conference was not a crucial factor in the postponement of the conference. Despite the fact that the AAUP immediately apologized to the participants and requested that they cross the article off from the list, the blunder was manipulated by the lobby, triggering the decision to postpone the conference.

(3) UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, The Right to Education(Art.13), December 8, 1999.
http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/ae1a0b126d068e868025683c003c8b3b?Opendocument

Signatories (As of February 13, 2006)

Hilary Rose
Emerita Professor of Social Policy
University of Bradford, UK

Salim Vally
Senior Researcher, Education Policy Unit, School of Education
University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

Rema Hammami
Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Birzeit University, Palestine

Sondra Hale
Professor of Anthropology and WomenВs Studies
University of California, Los Angeles, USA

Ur Shlonsky
Professor of Linguistics
University of Geneva, Switzerland

Lisa Taraki
Associate Professor of Sociology
Birzeit University, Palestine

Shireen Hassim
Associate Professor, Political Studies
University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

Omar Barghouti
Independent Researcher
Palestine

Anat Biletzki
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Tel Aviv University, Israel

Jonathan Hyslop
Professor and Deputy Director, Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research
University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

Rajeev Bhargava
Senior Fellow, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies
Director, Programme of Social and Political Theory, Delhi, India

Soraya M. Castro MariГo
Senior Researcher, CESEU. Havana University, Cuba

Andris Barblan
Magna Charta Observatory, Bologna, Italy



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