Friday, April 29, 2005

An Open Letter to the Association of University Teachers (UK)

Emanuele Ottolenghi of Oxford University sent me the following open letter to the Association of University Teachers and asked if I might post it. I do so very gladly.

To: Sally Hunt,
General Secretary, The Association of University Teachers
United Kingdom

Dear Sally Hunt,

Regarding the AUT recent decision to boycott Haifa University and Bar Ilan University in Israel, I am shocked to learn that, in addition to a call for boycott, the AUT is ready to offer a waiver to scholars on condition that they publicly state their willingness to conform to the political orthodoxy espoused by the academics who sponsored your motion.

Oaths of political loyalty do not belong to academia. They belong to illiberal minds and repressive regimes.

Based on this, the AUT's definition of academic freedom is the freedom to agree with its views only. Given the circumstances, I wish to express in no uncertain terms my unconditional and undivided solidarity with both universities and their faculties. I know many people, both at Haifa University and at Bar Ilan University, of different political persuasion and from different walks of life. The diversity of those faculties reflects the authentic spirit of academia. The AUT invitation to boycott them betrays that spirit because it advocates a uniformity of views, under pain of boycott.

In solidarity with my colleagues and as a symbolic gesture to defend the spirit of a free academia, I wish to be added to the boycott blacklist. Please include me. I hope that other colleagues of all political persuasions will join me.


Dr Emanuele Ottolenghi
The Middle East Centre
St Antony's College
Oxford University