Israel and academic freedom

 

Sir, – The Irish Federation of University Teachers wishes to draw attention to a “code of ethics” being considered by the government in Israel for its academic institutions. It represents a threat not only to academic freedom but to Israel’s standing as a democracy.

No educator, at any academic level, anywhere in the world, should be told what to say or how to think. Israel’s Association of University Heads and the National Union of Israeli Students, as well as the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), have already condemned the proposal.

We call on the Israeli government to reject this initiative. It must not attempt to monitor or restrict academics’ political positions or their ability to freely instruct students in their respective areas of expertise.

While the Irish Federation of University Teachers does not endorse a boycott of Israeli universities, we do oppose stifling discussion of boycott proposals. Any attempt to prevent freedom of speech violates the norms of intellectual freedom and makes opposition to boycott proposals significantly more difficult to defend.

The “code of ethics”, if implemented, would greatly harm Israel on the international stage. For this reason, we express solidarity with students, faculty and university administrators in Israel who oppose it. – Yours, etc,

MIKE JENNINGS,

General Secretary,

Irish Federation

of University Teachers,

Dublin 2.