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U.S. teachers reject academic boycott of Israel

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JERUSALEM (JTA) — The American Federation of Teachers reiterated its opposition to an academic boycott of Israel.

"We believe academic boycotts were a bad idea in 2002 and are a bad idea now," AFT President Randi Weingarten said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon. "Academic boycotts are inconsistent with the democratic values of academic freedom and free expression."

In the aftermath of the war in Gaza, several Canadian and American professors and organizers have called for an academic boycott of Israel. The initiatives are similar to efforts by a group of British academics earlier this decade intended to block Israeli universities and professors from participating in academic conferences and other forums outside of Israel.

"We want to make clear that this position does not in any way discourage an open discussion and debate of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or of ways to resolve it," Weingarten said. "However, we expect that such a discussion would not be one-sided and would consider the behavior of all the relevant actors. An academic boycott of Israel, or of any country, for that matter, would effectively suppress free speech without helping to resolve the conflict."

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