University heads partner with Hillel International to combat academic boycotts

Under the new partnership, Hillel will notify the Committee of any attempt to organize boycotts.

Boycott Israel sign (photo credit: REUTERS)
Boycott Israel sign
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Committee of University Heads in Israel announced on Tuesday a partnership with Hillel International - the Foundation for Jewish Campus Life to counter academic boycotts.
As part of the collaboration, Hillel International, the largest Jewish student organization in the world which maintains a presence on over 550 university and college campuses globally, will coordinate activities with the Committee to combat calls for an academic boycott of Israeli institutions and researchers.
“The fight against boycotts cannot be conducted solely by universities from Israel but should involve organizations operating abroad,” said Prof. Menahem Ben-Sasson, president of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and chairman of the Committee of University Heads on Tuesday.
“That is the place where the discussions regarding academic boycotts are taking place and that is the place where we need to combat the phenomenon,” he said.
Ben-Sasson met last week with Alon Friedman, director-general of Hillel Israel and Eric D. Fingerhut, president of Hillel International to solidify the collaboration.
Under the new partnership, Hillel will notify the Committee of any attempt to organize boycotts and will help with on-the-ground activities towards the public struggle against academic boycotts.
Hillel branches will also hold informational campaigns and dialogues on campuses and will raise awareness of the harm inflicted on academic research through the use of boycotts against scientists or research institutions.
This past year has seen the issue of academic boycotts against Israel lead the headlines as the American Studies Association endorsed a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.  According to the Committee of University Heads in Israel this coming year will also see three major US groups decide whether to join the boycott against Israeli universities - the American Anthropological Association, the Middle East Studies Association and the History Studies Association.
"Boycotting a single researcher or an academic institution is a phenomenon of serious consequences for academic freedom and for the cooperation between universities essential to the development of teaching and research,” said Ben-Sasson.
“I hope that the cooperation with Hillel will bring about that those calling for boycotts will give up as a minority and will be condemned as those using weapons contrary to their commitment to science,” he said.