In a blow to the BDS movement, the Association of American Universities issued a statement reaffirming its opposition to boycotts of Israeli academic institutions.
The statement issued on Thursday began by discussing the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association that recently passed a resolution in support of such a boycott.
The final vote is set to take place in April, where more than 10,000 American Anthropological Association members will cast ballots on whether to boycott formal collaborations with Israeli academic institutions. The boycott would not apply to individual Israeli academics.
Should the boycott resolution pass, it will mark the largest association to date to call for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.
“In light of these developments, the Board of Directors of the Association of American Universities reaffirms the Board’s opposition to such boycotts and today reissues the 2013 statement on this subject by the then-Executive Committee of the association,” the statement read.
The AAU is composed of 62 leading research universities in the United States and Canada, including Harvard, MIT, Princeton and Stanford.
The 2013 statement reads, in part, “Any such boycott of academic institutions directly violates academic freedom, which is a fundamental principle of AAU universities and of American higher education in general.”
The AAU also stated that “American colleges and universities, as well as like institutions elsewhere, must stand as the first line of defense against attacks on academic freedom.
“The boycott of Israeli academic institutions therefore clearly violates the academic freedom not only of Israeli scholars but also of American scholars who might be pressured to comply with it. We urge American scholars and scholars around the world who believe in academic freedom to oppose this and other such academic boycotts,” the 2013 statement read.
Prof. Peretz Lavie, president of the Technion- Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa and chairman of the Association of University Heads, welcomed the reaffirmation.
“This is an important step in the uncompromising war against boycotts of Israel,” said Lavie.
“We hope that other academic associations and universities will stand against academic boycotts of Israeli institutions and researchers and in favor of free academic and universal research detached from political or ideological petitions,” he said.
The AAU opposition came days after the American Historical Association, the largest organization of historians in the United States, voted down a resolution criticizing Israel at its annual meeting in Atlanta, Georgia.