A group that counters anti-Israel academic boycotts weighed in on a controversy over Gazan students seeking to study in the United States. “Scholars for Peace in the Middle East reaffirms its dedication to the principles that all students have a right to pursue their education at legitimate institutions and all faculty have a right to engage in academic research, collaboration and scholarly exchanges at institutions of higher education around the world, if they pose no security threats to those institutions and host countries,” said the group’s statement issued Friday. “We condemn all boycotts and all governmental and institutional efforts to restrict freedom of academic study, exchange or collaboration.” Israel this year has tried to keep seven Fulbright scholars from the Gaza Strip from leaving. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice intervened in May, saying the program is her department’s signature effort to promote good will.
Israel has allowed four of the scholars to leave, but is resisting allowing three others because they are past assistant teachers or students at the Islamic University, an institution affiliated with the Hamas terrorist movement.
Scholars for Peace in the Middle East brings together academics “to develop effective responses to the ideological distortions, including anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist slanders, that poison debate and work against peace,” according to its Web site. It has been outspoken in opposing attempts to boycott Israel.
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