The Committee on Human Rights of Scientists of the New York Academy of Sciences has released the text of a letter to the Association of University Teachers (AUT) of the United Kingdom calling upon the organization to "rescind and withdraw its call for a boycott of Israeli universities, passed by AUT delegates on April 20, 2005."The letter is from Joseph Birman, the chair of the Academy's committee, and addressed to Angela Roger, AUT president. From the letter:
The Committee on Human Rights of Scientists of the New York Academy of Sciences urgently calls upon the Association of University Teachers (AUT) of the United Kingdom to rescind and withdraw its call for a boycott of Israeli universities, passed by the delegates on 20 April 2005. This call for boycott contradicts the most basic tenets of academic life which have been repeatedly reaffirmed by international bodies including those to which the United Kingdom adheres.
The International Council for Science (ICSU) of the United Nations Educational and Scientific Organization (UNESCO) has promulgated protocols on the Free Circulation of scientists and other academics, and cooperation amongst academics, which have been ratified by all UN members (including the UK), and go back to the 1930s and the League of Nations. The very integrity of academic life and the possibility of progress depend on free, open, and voluntary cooperation between academics in different nations.
We call attention to the "Commentary" in Nature (vol. 421, 23 January 2003) by four prominent UK academics: Colin Blakemore, Richard Dawkins, Denis Noble and Michael Yudkin entitled "Is a scientific boycott ever justified?" This commentary reaffirmed the importance of the UNESCO-ICSU protocols in the most emphatic manner. It points out, that short of preventing (sic) a nuclear war, even extreme circumstances do not support boycotts. Also relevant is a statement by ICSU Chairman James C. I. Dooge and Executive Director Peter Schindler writing in 2002 on "Israeli Scholars." They "urge all scholarly communities and not least those in science and technology" to heed the words of the London Evening Standard of 10 July 2002: "Intellectual communities world-wide are in the business of fostering international understanding and co-operation, not of penalizing each other for the shortcomings of their governments." And on August 27, 2002, in response to earlier boycott proposals, the Council of the National Academy of Sciences (USA), among other learned bodies, issued a "Statement on the Critical Importance of Continuing International Cooperation in Science," a title which speaks for itself.
... The AUT resolution, by selecting individuals and universities for boycott, is a very clear reminder of "McCarthy-like" tactics of accusation which were the shame of the United States some 40-50 years ago. We remind those members of the AUT who voted for boycott that this year - 2005 - has been declared by the United Nations the year to celebrate the centennial of the extraordinary contributions that Albert Einstein made to physics, science and international cooperation. We call upon the AUT to take immediate steps to rescind their regressive vote and join forward-looking academics the world over in voting for cooperation and not boycott.