April 20, 2017
Internationally Acclaimed Life Science and Healthcare Academics Speak Out Against BDS-Inspired Academic Boycotts
What Did They Do?
One hundred and two (102) internationally acclaimed life science and healthcare academics from across Greater Boston have signed on to support AJC New England’s letter opposing academic boycotts, including those now promoted by proponents of BDS (Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment) directed against Israeli universities and academics.
These prominent signatories include: 1 Nobel Prize winner, 17 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 4 current and former Deans of medical and dental schools, 4 current or former CEOs or Presidents of hospitals, 3 former college Presidents or Provosts, 3 recipients of the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research, 4 recipients of the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, 6 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators, 9 current or past Presidents and Vice Presidents of prominent academic and life science institutions and associations, 5 Deans of major faculty, clinical or academic medical programs, some of the world’s leading medical researchers.
What Is the Problem?
For more than a decade, academic institutions across the United States have been roiled by calls for the Boycott, Divestments and Sanction (BDS) of the State of Israel. The campaign has been led by anti-Israel activists dedicated to the delegitimization and marginalization of the State of Israel. One of their strategies has been to promote boycotts of Israeli universities and academics. No American university has officially supported this initiative. However, academic associations, faculty unions and student governments have done so and anti-Israel activists continue to advance new initiatives.
Why Are Academic Boycotts So Problematic?
Academic boycotts are at odds with the liberal ideals which have shaped our democracy. They also threaten the life blood of all academic institutions: the free and unencumbered flow of ideas. In their letter, the one hundred and two (102) life science and healthcare academics state:
“We believe that the free flow of ideas and information is integral to our work. Efforts to restrain and otherwise undermine communication between and among academics from around the world are misguided and inconsistent with the liberal ideals that have fueled democracy and brought vitality to the scientific enterprise.”
Why Did Life Science and Healthcare Academics Think It Important to Speak Out?
For academics involved in the life sciences and healthcare, boycotts pose a special danger. Medical research depends upon international collaboration to develop scientific breakthroughs and life-saving treatments. Israeli academics, for example, play a vital role in the development of cutting-edge research taking place in Greater Boston. To insure that this important work continues to flourish, it is important to speak out against cynical efforts to manipulate the prestige and influence of academia to advance narrow political interests.
• AJC Statements and Tools
• U.S. and New England-Israel Academic and Scientific Collaboration