BDS activists (file)
BDS activists (file) Wikimedia Commons

The Academic Engagement Network (AEN), a diverse network of college and university faculty and administrators on campuses across the United States addressing issues relating to Israel, announced its official launch on Wednesday.

Noting that campuses across the US are "roiled" by calls to endorse BDS as well as attempts to link Israel with a host of unrelated issues, AEN stressed a need to counter such anti-Israel rhetoric and activity.

According to Mark G. Yudof, president emeritus of the University of California System, who chairs the AEN board of advisors, attempts have been made to silence Israel Studies scholars as well as attack the objectivity of Jewish students on campus. 

“In the face of activities aimed at vilifying Israel, AEN members aim to stir robust discussions relating to Israel on campus, promote and protect academic freedom and freedom of expression, stand for human rights for Arabs and Jews, and engage colleagues and students to better understand complex issues."

“College students as well as faculty and administrators are often uncertain how best to respond to BDS efforts,” said Ken Waltzer, AEN’s executive director. “Network members will have access to advice, materials, resources, and best practices elsewhere to assist them to respond constructively to BDS and related initiatives on campus.”

Network members will serve as resources to educate students, faculty and administrators on anti-Israel and anti-Semitic activities as well as how to counteract the BDS movement in order to provide reasoned discourse about the Jewish state. 

"It is time to substitute reason for mindless rhetoric, to combat false ideology, and to offer complexity in response to one-sided slogans.  Network members are concerned about real steps toward peace in the Middle East," AEN concluded. 

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