THE BLOG
08/05/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Appeal to Dr. Bollinger for Gaza Fulbright Students

I received this email and I post it with the hope that somehow it can reach Dr. Bollinger at Columbia University.

Saturday, July 26, 2008
Gazan Fulbright Scholar at Columbia
Lee Bollinger's Selective Boycott Opposition
by Joachim Martillo (ThorsProvoni@aol.com)

When human rights organizations took a stand against Israeli human rights violations by using techniques borrowed from the anti-Apartheid campaign, Columbia President Lee Bollinger declared any attempt to limit the access of Israeli academic institutions to British universities to be "utterly antithetical to the fundamental values of the academy, where we will not hold intellectual exchange hostage to the political disagreements of the moment."

He added, "In seeking to quarantine Israeli universities and scholars [the] vote [of Britain's University and College Union] threatens every university committed to fostering scholarly and cultural exchanges that lead to enlightenment, empathy, and a much-needed international marketplace of ideas."

See below for Bollinger's entire statement.

So far the State of Israel has refused to give permission to three Gazan Fulbright Scholars to travel to the USA. One of them is supposed to attend Columbia in the fall.

Please write President Bollinger (bollinger@columbia.edu). Here is my letter.

Dear President Bollinger,

You have taken the lead to support international access of Israeli scholars and academic institutions with your June 12, 2007 Statement on British University and College Union Boycott.

The State of Israel is attempting to enforce a quarantine of Gazan Palestinian scholars and thereby "threatens every university committed to fostering scholarly and cultural exchanges that lead to enlightenment, empathy, and a much-needed international marketplace of ideas."

Because of your public stand do you not now have the ethical obligation today to inform the American and Israeli academic communities that you are rethinking your opposition to the boycott of Israeli educational institutions and scholars -- especially because one of the quarantined Gazans is supposed to start at Columbia in the fall?

The State of Israel owes you, and I cannot think of a more effective way to compel the Israeli government to give the remaining three scholars permission to depart for the USA.

Sincerely yours,

Joachim Martillo

Statement by President Lee C. Bollinger on British University and College Union Boycott
June 12, 2007

As a citizen, I am profoundly disturbed by the recent vote by Britain's new University and College Union to advance a boycott against Israeli academic institutions. As a university professor and president, I find this idea utterly antithetical to the fundamental values of the academy, where we will not hold intellectual exchange hostage to the political disagreements of the moment. In seeking to quarantine Israeli universities and scholars this vote threatens every university committed to fostering scholarly and cultural exchanges that lead to enlightenment, empathy, and a much-needed international marketplace of ideas.

At Columbia I am proud to say that we embrace Israeli scholars and universities that the UCU is now all too eager to isolate -- as we embrace scholars from many countries regardless of divergent views on their governments' policies. Therefore, if the British UCU is intent on pursuing its deeply misguided policy, then it should add Columbia to its boycott list, for we do not intend to draw distinctions between our mission and that of the universities you are seeking to punish. Boycott us, then, for we gladly stand together with our many colleagues in British, American and Israeli universities against such intellectually shoddy and politically biased attempts to hijack the central mission of higher education.