Fiasco at AAUP

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A planned conference by the American Association of University Professors imploded Wednesday amid reports that the group accidentally distributed to invited attendees an anti-Semitic article, published in a magazine affiliated with Holocaust deniers.

The conference was already under fire over an invitation list that critics said was tilted toward scholars who have backed academic boycotts of Israeli universities. The additional turmoil of the article prompted AAUP leaders to apologize early Wednesday. But the three major foundations that are sponsoring the invitation-only conference called for it to be delayed, and the AAUP’s own executive committee voted to do so. For much of the day, the AAUP had a statement on its site saying that the conference would go on, but last night, association officials announced that they would postpone it.

People involved in the AAUP were using words like “disaster” to describe the fallout they feared from the incident. In the apology published on the AAUP Web site, the association acknowledged an “egregious error” in which it had distributed “a deeply offensive article by a Holocaust denier.” The apology stated that the article had been collected during research for the conference, but was not intended for distribution to anyone. All conference participants were notified of “this blunder,” the statement said, adding that “nothing of this sort will ever happen again.”

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