During Wednesday`s meeting of the Education, Culture and Sports Committee on the Israeli Sociological Society`s (ISS) intention to boycott a conference scheduled to be held at Ariel University this summer, acting committee chairwoman Merav Ben Ari (Kulanu) said, ”There is no place for academic boycotts in the State of Israel.”

Professor Uri Ram of Ben-Gurion University, president of the ISS, said the organization plans to ban the conference and that he will bring the decision up for a vote of its members.

In a recent interview with Army Radio, he said ”We will not cooperate with the institute, known as Ariel University, which is not located within the bounds of the State of Israel.”

Education Committee to Israeli Sociological Society: No place for academic boycotts, certainly not in the State of Israel

(Ariel University – Photo: Ori)

According to Ariel University Chancellor Yigal Cohen-Orgad, plans for the conference, an initiative of the Subcommittee for Society and Security, have been put on hold due to the ISS` announcement.

A representative of the Council for Higher Education said that its ”decision from many years ago maintains that academic boycotts or any call for an academic boycott of institutions in Israel are fundamentally inappropriate and undermine academic freedom”. He said the Council for Higher Education has yet to discuss the issue with the ISS.

MK Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid) criticized ISS` plan to boycott the conference, and MK Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin (Zionist Union) also condemned the use of boycotts. MK Oded Forer (Yisrael Beitenu) mentioned that Israeli law bans the use of boycotts to harm the State of Israel, and called to prosecute Prof. Ram. MK Bezalel Smotrich (HaBayit HaYehudi) added that as long as there is a connection between state institutions and the ISS, Ram should be suspended until his ”miserable remark” is retracted.

Ben Ari presented the committee`s conclusions and said, “The committee expresses the opinion that it cannot be that, in Israel one university will boycott another university. The committee is for freedom of expression and academic freedom but opposes a boycott; the committee calls to take steps to prevent similar future occurrences. The committee takes a grave view of the statement by Prof. Uri Ram calling to impost an academic boycott of Ariel University and will turn to Prof. Uri Ram to retract his statement and respond to the committee on this matter.”