Boycott of Israeli Academics and the Position of the American Psychiatric Association

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Dear Editor

It may interest your readers to learn that as of December 2006 the American Psychiatric Association (APA) has adopted an official position opposing the resolution at the time (May 29, 2006) of Great Britain's National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education, Britain's largest academic union, calling on its members to consider the appropriateness of a boycott of individuals and institutions in Israel that do not publicly dissociate themselves from Israel's policies regarding the Palestinians. By doing so, the APA joined several thousand academics in America and Great Britain, as reported in the journal Science (2 June 2006, vol 312, p. 1289), the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Royal Society of the United Kingdom in condemning the proposal as antithetical to the role of free scientific inquiry. In 2005, the Association of University Teachers (AUT), another British academic union had rescinded their endorsement of a similar boycott in the face of legal objection.

The adoption of this position by the Board of Trustees of the APA came about last November as the result of an initiative by a number of current and immediate past members of the Assembly of the APA (the undersigned) who put forward the proposal for approval by the Assembly and successfully argued for its passage, which occurred, without significant opposition, by a clear majority in a voice vote. At its December meeting, the Board of Trustees, which must approve any official position, did so. …