TEL AVIV — The Association of American Universities (AAU) delivered another blow to the BDS movement when it issued a statement reaffirming its opposition to boycotts of Israeli academic institutions, the Jerusalem Post reported.
The statement issued on Thursday discussed the resolution passed by the American Anthropological Association (AAA) in support of such a boycott.
“In light of these developments, the Board of Directors of the Association of American Universities reaffirms the Board’s opposition to such boycotts and today reissues the 2013 statement on this subject by the then-Executive Committee of the association,” the statement read.
More than 10,000 AAA members will cast their final ballots on whether to boycott formal collaborations with Israeli academic institutions in April. The boycott would not apply to individual Israeli academics.
The resolution, should it pass, will mark the largest association to date to call for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.
The AAU is made up of 62 leading public and private research universities in the US and Canada, including Harvard, MIT, Princeton, and Stanford.
The 2013 statement reads, “Any such boycott of academic institutions directly violates academic freedom, which is a fundamental principle of AAU universities and of American higher education in general.”
The AAU also stated, “American colleges and universities, as well as like institutions elsewhere, must stand as the first line of defense against attacks on academic freedom.
“The boycott of Israeli academic institutions therefore clearly violates the academic freedom not only of Israeli scholars but also of American scholars who might be pressured to comply with it. We urge American scholars and scholars around the world who believe in academic freedom to oppose this and other such academic boycotts.”
Professor Peretz Lavie, president of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa and chairman of the Association of University Heads, applauded the reaffirmation.
“This is an important step in the uncompromising war against boycotts of Israel,” said Lavie.
“We hope that other academic associations and universities will stand against academic boycotts of Israeli institutions and researchers, and in favor of free academic and universal research detached from political or ideological petitions,” he said.
Days earlier, the American Historical Association, the largest organization of historians in the United States, rejected an anti-Israel resolution at its annual meeting in Atlanta, Georgia.