AFT President Denounces Academic Boycott of Israel

March 19, 2009

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, on Wednesday issued a statement condemning efforts by a group of professors and others to organize an academic boycott of Israel. Weingarten noted in her statement that the AFT in 2002 came out against a push by British faculty members to boycott Israeli academe. "We believe academic boycotts were a bad idea in 2002 and are a bad idea now. Academic boycotts are inconsistent with the democratic values of academic freedom and free expression," the statement said. Weingarten added: "We want to make clear that this position does not in any way discourage an open discussion and debate of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or of ways to resolve it. However, we expect that such a discussion would not be one-sided and would consider the behavior of all the relevant actors. An academic boycott of Israel, or of any country, for that matter, would effectively suppress free speech without helping to resolve the conflict. An academic boycott is the complete antithesis of academic freedom; therefore, it should not be supported by any individual or institution that subscribes to this basic principle of higher education and, indeed, of democratic discourse."

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