A small leadership group of the new British University and Colleges Union has recommended a boycott of Israeli universities and scholars by British universities. This proposed boycott represents a direct assault on a core principle of academic freedom. University scholars must be free to produce and disseminate knowledge and understanding, without threat of interference or penalty, regardless of the policies of their national governments. This freedom is a sine qua non of higher education's global--and globally recognized--mission.
The proposed boycott therefore amounts to nothing less than an attempt to hold hostage the academic freedom of Israeli students who wish to study abroad, their British counterparts who want to host them, and the Israeli scholars who wish to engage in the normal academic process of collaboration. Indeed, it directly threatens the moral foundation of each and every university.
I join my fellow university presidents in adamantly opposing this effort to ostracize Israeli academics and universities from the global community of scholars of which they are an important and highly respected part.
-- Amy Gutmann, President, University of Pennsylvania