Statement on proposed boycott of Israeli universities by Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust

Earlier this summer the University and College Union (UCU), an organization of British academics, proposed a boycott of Israeli universities and academics, a proposal to be voted on by their membership in the coming months. On my second day as President, July 2, I wrote directly to Sally Hunt, the First General Secretary (president) of the UCU, stating my strong opposition to this measure. I expressed my conviction that such a move subverts the academic values and freedoms necessary to the free flow of ideas that are the lifeblood of universities and, ultimately, that of the societies and world we serve. To be clear, my own view is that academics should be promoting, not undermining, the fullest possible collaboration with Israeli universities as well as other universities in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Finally, while I am most comfortable expressing my views on such matters directly in my own words as opposed to signing group statements or petitions, I obviously join many colleagues throughout the international academic community in denouncing unequivocally an action that would serve no purpose and would fundamentally violate the academic freedoms we must defend at all costs.