Saperstein: Singling out Israel, the only democratic country in the Middle East and the only nation in the region where scholarship and academic debate are allowed to thrive without political interference of any kind, for a boycott is absurd at best and ignorant at worst.
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June 13, 2007 | Washington, DC— In response to the recent decision by a British labor union to consider a resolution calling for an economic and cultural boycott of Israel, Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
In the strongest terms, we condemn this biased and unjustifiable attack on Israel and its many respected academics. This effort by the University and College Union to impose a boycott against Israel is simply their latest in a series of measures ignoring the realities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Such measures do nothing to advance the cause of peace. Particularly coming from an academic union, this measure is galling, showing little respect for the deliberative, analytical nature of academia that demands a thorough consideration of a range of perspectives.
We applaud those throughout the UK academic community who have spoken in opposition to the resolution. Singling out Israel, the only democratic country in the Middle East and the only nation in the region where scholarship and academic debate are allowed to thrive without political interference of any kind, for a boycott is absurd at best and ignorant at worst. The resolution is a disservice to academics in Britain and Israel and will only deprive the world of the potential advancement of knowledge in all fields. The voices of anti-Israel extremists should not be able to hijack academia in this way, and we call on members of the UCU to oppose this resolution.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis.