TEL AVIV - The British Association of University Teachers (AUT) is scheduled to hold a meeting in two weeks to reconsider the academic boycott against Bar-Ilan University and Haifa University.
The renewed debate on the matter marks the 48,000-strong teacher organization’s submission to massive pressure exerted on it since the controversial decision was first announced, on April 22.
The decision to ban the two universities was premised on the claim that Haifa University limits academic freedom when it comes to research that criticizes Israeli policies, while Bar-Ilan was slammed for operating an affiliated college in the West Bank settlement of Ariel.
The boycott prompted intense pressure by both Israeli and international academicians, who have expressed their strong objections to the decision.
Some AUT members have also come forward and said they oppose the move.
‘We do not stand alone in our struggle’
Meanwhile, Israeli students initiated an international public relations campaign against the boycott.
Haifa University also joined the fray, sending a letter to AUT accusing it of spreading libel.
It now appears the massive pressure prompted AUT to schedule a meeting for May 26 in London to reconsider the issue.
Bar-Ilan university, meanwhile, has launched an international forum on its website, demanding the boycott be lifted.
In the forum, Bar-Ilan Rector Yosef Yeshurun wrote that “It is of great comfort and satisfaction that we have recently learned that we do not stand alone in our struggle to oppose and abolish the AUT's decision.”
“Thousands of letters have been received in our offices, clearly stating the shock and disbelief of colleagues and institutions throughout the world, with regard to the AUT decision,” Yeshurun wrote.