38 Nobel winners slam academic boycotts against Israel

Laureates: "Academic, cultural boycotts, sanctions are antithetical to principles of academic, scientific freedom," WJC report says.

November 2, 2010 18:07
2 minute read.
Academics enter a meeting to discuss the issue

South Africa University boycott vote. (photo credit: Associated Press)

In an attempt to reverse the trend of boycotts against Israel, 38 Nobel peace prize laureates have signed a declaration condemning international attempts to divest from, sanction or boycott Israeli academic institutions and research centers, according to a World Jewish Congress (WJC) report on Tuesday.

Under the auspices of an initiative by Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) the Nobel prize winners gave special attention to the continued threat of a boycott by South Africa’s University of Johannesburg of Ben-Gurion University in Israel and student divestment efforts in the University of California system.

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The WJC report contained a statement by the Nobel prize laureates which read "Academic and cultural boycotts, divestments and sanctions in the academy are antithetical to principles of academic and scientific freedom, antithetical to principles of freedom of expression and inquiry, and may well constitute discrimination by virtue of national origin. Instead of fostering peace, [they] are likely to be counterproductive to the dynamics of reconciliation that lead to peace.”

"We, the undersigned Nobel Laureates, appeal to students, faculty colleagues and university officials to defeat and denounce calls and campaigns for boycotting, divestment and sanctions against Israeli academics, academic institutions and university-based centers and institutes for training and research, affiliated with Israel," the statement continued.

The statement went on to say that "we, and many like us, have dedicated ourselves to improving the human condition by doing the often difficult and elusive work to understand complex and seemingly unsolvable phenomena. We believe that the university should serve as an open, tolerant and respectful, cooperative and collaborative community engaged in practices of resolving complex problems," the WJC report said.

SPME is a grassroots network of more than 60,000 faculty and scholars on 4,000 campuses.

The initiative works towards creating peace in peace in the Middle East, and also strives towards a world in which Israel can have secure borders and peace agreements with all its neighbors.

This recent statement was coordinated by Nobel Prize laureates Steven Weinberg, University of Texas, Austin and Roger Kornberg, Stanford University.

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