Simon Johnson, Chief Executive of the JLC, has welcomed the statement issued by Universities UK, the representative organisation for UK’s universities, on academic boycotts and academic freedom issued in response to the decision of the NEC of the National Union of Students to affiliate with the BDS movement. Mr Johnson said
We welcome the unequivocal statement of Universities UK that it opposes any academic boycott of Israeli universities. We thank them for issuing this statement so quickly.
The statement of Universities UK is as follows.
“Universities UK statement regarding academic boycotts and academic freedom
The board of Universities UK is committed to the free exchange of ideas between universities and between academics, regardless of nationality or location. The board therefore firmly opposes academic boycotts on the basis that they are inimical to academic freedom, including the freedom of academics to collaborate with other academics.
Given the reported perception in Israel that UK universities support an academic boycott, the board of Universities UK wishes to confirm its previously stated position that it is firmly opposed to any academic boycott of Israeli universities. The board also confirms its view that all universities must uphold, in the interests of free expression of ideas, the fundamental right of academics to question national and international policies.”
Earlier today, Mr Johnson made the following comments regarding the NUS decision.
This was the action of a tiny fringe of supposed representatives at a small meeting. The same radical minority, at NUS Conference, had not been able to garner even 100 students to express interest in moving this BDS debate forward. Contrast this with thousands of students engaging in thoughtful discussion on Israel-Palestine during ‘Piece 2 Peace’ or the thousands of students involved in courses and institutions with partnerships with Israeli universities and organisations, and it becomes blindingly obvious how out-of-touch these grandstanding so called student representatives are. It is important to note that, of the hundreds of academic institutions in the UK, barely more than a dozen have any form of BDS policy, those that do are quickly overturned or limited, and over 90% of Jewish students are at universities with neutral or positive policies regarding Israel, where many also have active ties with Israeli colleagues and companies.