An Open Letter to University of Maryland President, Dr Wallace Loh
“You have not championed academic freedom, Dr Loh as you no doubt believe, not for those who are actually in need of it. You have only helped to sustain the ability of one party of a conflict to deny academic freedom to the other – to those living under its military rule and its never-ending occupation.”
January 20, 2014
President Wallace Loh
Office of the President
University of Maryland
College Park, Md 20742
Dear President Loh;
I have read your response to the ASA(American Studies Association) boycott of Israeli academic institutions. In fact, if reports are correct, you said:
We firmly oppose the call by some academic associations—American Studies Association; Asian-American Studies Association—to boycott Israeli academic institutions. Any such boycott is a breach of the principle of academic freedom that undergirds the University of Maryland and, indeed, all of American higher education.
Faculty, students, and staff on our campus must remain free to study, do research, and participate in meetings with colleagues from around the globe. The University of Maryland has longstanding relationships with several Israeli universities. We have many exchanges of scholars and students. We will continue and deepen these relationships.
… . To restrict the free flow of people and ideas with some universities because of their national identity is unwise, unnecessary, and irreconcilable with our core academic values.
A high sounding tone. Defense of academic freedom.
However your statement is silent on the rights denied of Palestinian people living under Israeli military occupation to enjoy the benefits of academic freedom, and fails, as well, to recognize the academic deprivations imposed on the Palestinian people by the 46 year long occupation by Israel of land conquered in the ’67 War. It also ignores the siege of the Gaza Strip where 1.7 million Palestinian people live on the edge of starvation and other depravations intentionally and consciously imposed on the civilian population by the state of Israel. Like so many western diplomats over the last century, you have completely ignored the interests of the Palestinian people.