U.S. Jews Block Conference Set to Include anti-Israel Professors

Less than half of participants openly oppose academic boycott of Israel; professors' association distributes anti-Semitic article.

Tamara Traubmann, Haaretz Correspondent
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Tamara Traubmann, Haaretz Correspondent

Pressure exerted by Jewish organizations in the United States has succeeded in preventing an American Association of University Professors (AAUP) conference, in which a number of supporters of an academic boycott on Israel were scheduled to take part.

The AAUP announced Thursday that it was indefinitely postponing the conference, which was scheduled to take place in Italy next week.

Some twenty professors were invited to take part in the conference, less than half of whom openly oppose an academic boycott of Israel.

Ahead of the conference, the AAUP distributed a collection of articles, which included an article that had been published in Barnes Review, a publication that denies the Holocaust.

A number of attempts were made by Jewish groups, including the Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish American Congress, to cancel the conference due to the article and the planned itinerary. The groups condemned the AAUP as well as the Ford Foundation, Nathan Cummings Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation for financing the conference.

AAUP General Secretary Roger Bowen apologized Thursday and explained that, "The article had been collected during our research for the conference. But it was never intended for distribution to the participants or indeed to anyone else."

The AAUP recalled the article, informed all conference participants of the move and promised that, "nothing of this sort will happen again."

The article in question was pubished in the Barnes Review and claims that Zionist movement leaders tried to advance the establishment of the Nazi regime in the 1930's, in hopes that "the tension between the Germans and the Jews would lead to massive immigration to Palestine."

The Jewish organizations expressed satisfaction with the apology, but called for the cancellation or postponement of the conference.