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Boycott Calls Against Israel
The European Commission Rejects Boycott Proposed by Irish Academics

     International Advisory Board
     for Academic Freedom (IAB)

Press Release: November 16, 2006
Letter to IAB and SPME: 

The European Commission Rejects Boycott Proposed by Irish Academics
The International Advisory Board for Academic Freedom (IAB) of Bar Ilan University
and Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME), are pleased to announce that the
European Commission has no intention of suspending its programs of co-operation with
Israeli institutions.

In a letter published in the Irish Times on 16 September, 61 Irish academics called
for a moratorium on EU support of Israeli academic institutions until Israel ends
the occupation of Palestinian territories (see full letter and list of signatories
below. See also http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3307438,00.html
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/766389.html ).
On September 22, 2006, The International Advisory Board for Academic Freedom (IAB) -
Bar Ilan University & Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) called upon the
European Union to defend academic freedom and to clearly state that it opposes such
boycotts. The letter to the EU, signed by IAB chair and BIU Pro-Rector Prof. Yosef
Yeshurun and SPME president, Dr. Ed Beck, stated that "Academic life is about
building bridges, not destroying them, opening minds, not closing them; hearing both
sides of an argument, not one alone. The call for an EU boycott of Israeli academia
is a betrayal of these values".
Today, November 16, 2006, the office of the External Relations Directorate General
of the European Commission, stated in a letter addressed to Prof. Yeshurun and Dr.
Beck, that the European Commission considers "that measures such as to suspend the
support that the EU addresses to academic and scientific co-operation between
European and Israeli institutions are contrary to the principles of academic freedom
and its objective of encouraging scientific cooperation". The letter, signed by
Alain Seatter, head of the EU unit, added that "It is the Commission’s view (which
reflects the views of the EU foreign ministers) that positive persuasion and
dialogue on respect for international and humanitarian law through the means
provided by the legal treaties with Israel is a more effective approach to conveying
EU views on issues such as those raised by the academics to whom you refer". The
letter concluded that "For this reason, the European Commission has no intention of
suspending its programs of co-operation with Israeli institutions".
The IAB & SPME welcome the European Commission's statement and consider it an
acknowledgement of their position that Academic boycott actions are antithetical to
the universal principle of Academic Freedom.

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