British Columbia U. slams boycott plan

Canadian university head: Scheme against Israel affront to modern society.

Canadian scholars have joined protests against a proposed boycott of Israeli universities made by the British University and College Union (UCU) last month. President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of British Columbia, Stephen J. Toope, has denounced the move, calling it a "dangerous and unsupportable attack on the core values of academic life." In a letter published on the Canadian university's Website over the weekend, Toope urged the international community to condemn any attempt by teachers to suppress the views of another, branding such an endeavor "an affront to modern society." "Civil discourse, regardless of opposing political opinions, is the only hope for addressing conflict. The world desperately needs more international trade in ideas; we cannot afford less," said Toope. Toope pinned responsibility on pedagogues who had participated in the motion, which criticized Israel for its 'denial of educational rights' to the Palestinian people. "Those British professors who have brought forward this shameful scheme ought to reflect on the example and consequence of intolerance they are communicating to their students. "If a university is not a safe forum for ideas, popular or otherwise, it fails in its very purpose," Toope added. Last week, British universities unanimously opposed the boycott initiative.