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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Shelton speaks out against Israel boycott

    University of Arizona President Robert Shelton spoke out against a boycott of Israel made by members of Britain’s University and College Union in protest of Israel’s policies on Palestine.

    The UCU’s vote, which was nearly 2-to-1 at 158 to 99, will equate to a cut in funding of Israeli academic institutions by the European Union. The boycott stands until Israel complies with United Nations resolutions.

    “”It is critical that universities speak out against this type of effort,”” said Stephen MacCarthy, UA vice president for external relations.

    Shelton, along with administrators at Columbia University and Cornell University, issued formal statements rejecting the boycott.

    “”There is a realm for politics, politics (are) important,”” Shelton said. “”Governments need to be effective and negotiate and work together, but that’s not what the university setting is all about.””

    With Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger, Shelton helped issue an Association of American Universities statement saying that the organization rejects the UCU’s efforts.

    “”Just because you don’t like a country’s politics doesn’t mean you can ban the exchange of ideas that come from, in this case, the university scholars,”” Shelton said.

    Shelton also issued a statement of his own that stated, “”The University of Arizona stands with its colleagues around the globe in repudiating the effort of Britain’s University and College Union to promote a ‘boycott’ of Israel’s universities. An academic boycott undercuts the fundamental principles of a modern university and runs counter to everything for which the UA stands.

    “”This attempt to ostracize Israeli academics for political purposes is an insult to anyone who cherishes academic integrity and the free exchange of ideas.””

    This boycott has spawned from a series of others in recent years. In 2005, the Association of University Teachers was involved in a similar boycott, as was the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education in 2006. These two organizations have now combined to form the UCU.

    But not everyone in the UCU supports the boycott. UCU general secretary Sally Hunt was quoted opposing the motion in a Feb. 6 story on the Web site of Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper.

    “”As I have made clear in the past, and as I reiterated on the floor of congress this morning, I do not believe a boycott is supported by the majority of UCU members, nor do I believe that members see it is a priority for the union,”” she said in a statement on the UCU Web site.

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