Words of support

December 13, 2002

We are writing in support of Mona Baker, who is under investigation by the University of Manchester Institute for Science and Technology for removing two Israeli members from the editorial board of a journal she privately owns and publishes. We may speak for many in our field because we are the recent past presidents of the Linguistics Association of Great Britain.

We believe that Umist's treatment of Baker and subsequent publicity are disproportionate. Although Umist denies considering dismissal, Baker has been publicly reprimanded on the Umist website and an inquiry set in motion.

Like the rest of the academic community, we are divided over whether or not the boycott of Israeli institutions is justified, and even more so over whether Baker was right to extend it to individual Israeli scholars. However, we all agree that the discrimination by Israel against the Palestinians raises issues that are far more serious than the academic boycott, and we regret the way that this issue is serving to divert attention.

We are also concerned at the potential infringement of Baker's liberty by Umist and at the precedent this would set. Whether or not an individual academic wishes to engage outside the university in a political action, such as the boycott of the Israeli academic community, is not an issue for the employing organisation.

Keith Brown
Cambridge University

Greville Corbett
University of Surrey

Richard Hudson and Neil Smith
University College London

Ruth Kempson
Kings College London

Andrew Spencer
University of Essex

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