The LA Times on Wednesday published a reply by Ben Gurion University's president to an article published
a week and a half earlier by one of the university's lecturers, in which he called for a boycott against Israel.
"I have always remained open and impartial to the wide diversity of opinions within our academic faculty and their right to free speech, no matter how controversial their views or writings may be," Rivka Carmi wrote in response to Dr. Neve Gordon.
"However, I strongly believe a call for a worldwide boycott of Israel written by a Ben-Gurion University faculty member, oversteps the boundaries of academic freedom - because it has nothing to do with it," she continued.
Prof. Carmi stated that academic freedom exists to ensure that there is a free discussion of ideas relating to research and teaching and to provide a forum for the debate of ideas that challenge accepted norms.
"Gordon, however, used his pulpit as a university faculty member to advocate a personal opinion, which is really demagoguery cloaked in academic theory," she wrote.
Carmi rejected Gordon's statements that Israel is an apartheid state to be saved only through a boycott and claimed, "This 'call for a boycott' is already being used to isolate Israel."
The university president said an internet campaign had been launched following Gordon's article, which calls on donors to boycott the university.
She also stated, "We have heard the calls by those who demand that the university ignore Israeli law and fire Gordon on the basis of his statements. And we are also under attack by others who champion Gordon on the basis of freedom of speech." Carmi wrote that the university is unable to fire Gordon due to Israeli law.
The professor wrote that Gordon had lost his ability to work effectively within the academy, claiming he was unable to "create the collaborative atmosphere necessary for true academic research and teaching."
Carmi addressed the issue of relations between Arabs and Jews by referring to her own line of research, which focuses on preventing hereditary genetic diseases in the Bedouin Arab community. She has set up a laboratory at the university which works with Bedouin, Palestinian and Jordanian doctors and researchers in an effort to improve the health of Arab children across the region.
"This is but one of the many Israeli-Arab collaborations in fields that range from developing advanced water technologies to solar energy, environmental conservation and emergency medicine that will be compromised here if 'collective punishment' for Gordon's actions or for my opposition to his views is imposed on BGU," she concluded.