Posted July 18th, 2007
President Jerry M. Hultin has endorsed a statement by Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger criticizing a British union’s move to boycott Israeli academics and institutions.
President Bollinger issued the statement in response to a resolution passed by the annual Congress of the University and College Union (UCU), a 120,000-member organization of British academics and administrators, in May. The UCU resolution supports a Palestinian-inspired call for a boycott and requires the UCU to circulate and debate the call among its local chapters.
President Bollinger characterized the UCU effort as an “intellectually shoddy and politically biased (attempt) to hijack the central mission of higher education."
In endorsing President Bollinger’s statement, President Hultin cited Poly’s 153-year history of support for scientific objectivity, along with the role of Poly faculty and graduate students in the growth of two world-renowned Israeli academic institutions, the Weizmann Institute of Science and the Technion.
President Hultin also noted that faculty at Poly are currently engaged in projects that bring together academics, mayors, business executives and entrepreneurs on both sides of the border between Israel and the Palestinian territories. In addition, in May 2007, President Hultin, Poly Board member Israel Borovich, and Professor Harold Sjursen met with a major Israeli industrialist to discuss a potential Poly-sponsored program to provide entrepreneurial skills to young Israelis and Arabs.
"The resolution passed by the UCU flies in the face of efforts by universities around the world – and Poly in particular -- to open channels and foster cross-border understanding between Israelis and Palestinians,” President Hultin noted. “We would rather see new efforts to create opportunity and economic development in the region so that young people will use technology to create jobs and companies that benefit all. A boycott is not the answer.”
In addition to President Hultin, President Bollinger’s statement has also been endorsed by the leaders of other institutions. Their names were published in a full-page advertisement in The New York Times on Aug. 8.