Simon Fraser University

Statement on Proposed Boycott of Israeli Universities by President and Vice-Chancellor Michael Stevenson

July 9, 2007

In response to the call of the University and College Union of the UK for consideration of a boycott of Israeli universities, I wish to state my clear disapproval of such a move.  An academic boycott conflicts with the free exchange of ideas and research that is central to the mission of universities, and violates the principle of academic freedom.  Such action might be justifiable in response to a state's action which stripped its universities of academic freedom, and to complicity in such action on the part of its university administrations and faculty. Clearly, complexities and ambiguities surround empirical arguments of this kind, as recent discussion in the Senate of Simon Fraser University has indicated.  However, whatever one's position on other issues in that county or region, I do not believe that such criticisms can be made of the state of Israel, and Israeli universities share our commitment to the fundamental value of academic freedom.  I call for all who subscribe to this value to oppose the proposed boycott of Israeli universities.