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UC President Napolitano denounces academic boycott of Israel

By Daily Bruin

Dec. 30, 2013 2:59 p.m.

University of California President Janet Napolitano joined other heads of prominent universities in denouncing a national scholar organization’s recent vote for an academic boycott of Israel.

The American Studies Association’s National Council said it voted for such a boycott because it contends that Israeli policies have deprived Palestinian scholars and students of their academic freedoms.

But Napolitano, echoing similar concerns from other prominent university presidents, said such a boycott threatens free speech and the free exchange of ideas.

“Universities depend on the unrestrained exchange of ideas, and it is our role to defend academic freedom and our scholars’ ability to pursue research of their choice,” Napolitano said in a statement released Monday. “An academic boycott goes against the spirit of the University of California, which has long championed open dialogue and collaboration with international scholars.”

Under an academic boycott of Israel, the American Studies Association said it will not establish any formal collaborations with Israeli universities or any scholars who are serving expressly on behalf of Israeli universities or the Israeli government.

The association, which issued its statement on its decision earlier this month, said its boycott was prompted by U.S. support of Israel, Israel’s violations of international law and of UN resolutions, impacts of Israeli occupation and policies particularly on Palestinian scholars and students.

Compiled by Kristen Taketa, Bruin senior staff.

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