Thursday, July 05, 2007

UNESCO concerned about boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions

The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, has expressed concern over the motion passed on 30 May 2007 by the British University and College Union (UCU) to boycott Israeli academic institutions. This boycott request is currently being circulated to all UCU local branches for discussion.

He stated:
In situations of conflict, opportunities, no matter how small, should be seized whenever possible, to enhance the prospects for peace and dialog.

Academics are responsible for gathering, processing and distributing information, which are tasks necessary for building stable, prosperous and democratic societies. We need to preserve the universality of research, exchange and learning, and support all joint academic activities that foster the sharing of experiences and expertise.

If we are serious about the need to promote sustained peace, democracy and development, I believe that we have the moral responsibility to share knowledge and promote understanding.

International university cooperation is not a luxury but a necessity. We must therefore continue to support all efforts within civil societies to nurture contacts in the spirit of respect and mutual understanding which characterize peaceful relations.
Editorial Comment: Israeli academic organizations are of course not homogeneous, but I have worked with hundreds of Israeli academics who effectively utilize their international networks to promote peace, and who have take personal and professional risks to cooperate with Arab colleagues. John Daly

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