Although the University of Regina (U of R) has rejected a potential partnership with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the business dean of the Saskatchewan school insists the decision has nothing to do with calls for a boycott against Israeli institutions.
“I reject the suggestion that the end of discussions with Hebrew University and suspension of the study tour has anything to do with politics,” Andrew Gaudes, dean of U of R’s Hill School of Business, wrote in a letter to the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA).
A Regina newspaper reported that last week, 60 people from a group called the Coalition for a Free Palestine marched to the offices of Gaudes and U of R president Vianne Timmons and called on the administrators to cut academic ties to Israeli institutions.
In an attempt to “set the record straight” that he was not influenced by pressure from boycott activists, Gaudes explained that until last month, he had been in talks with Hebrew U about the possibility of providing two courses toward a proposed MBA in public safety management.
“I saw this as an excellent opportunity for our graduate school to participate with a world-leading university… a university that has associations with Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, Oxford, McGill, University of Toronto and University of British Columbia, to name a few,” he said.
“As discussions progressed into course content, we did not find a fit with our curriculum requirements for the MBA in public safety management. As is normal in explorations of this nature, communications dropped off in early 2014, and we moved on to other considerations.”
Gaudes said U of R rejects calls to boycott Israeli academic institutions and supports the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada’s (AUCC) formal agreement to deepen ties with Israeli academics and institutions.
The AUCC is a national body representing 97 universities and colleges in Canada that signed a five-year memorandum of understanding in 2013 with the Association of University Heads, Israel to increase collaboration on research and teaching.
“We are encouraged that the dean of business has unequivocally denounced boycotts of Israel and has affirmed the university's openness to partnering with Israeli universities. Not a single university in North America has endorsed a boycott of Israel, and Canadian universities in particular have been strengthening, not decreasing, their ties with Israeli schools,” said Judy Zelikovitz, CIJA’s vice-president of university and local partner services.
“We should always be skeptical of reports that suggest boycott calls have been successful, given that anti-Israel activists regularly make false claims that companies or institutions have adopted boycott measures.”