There is a major development in the movement among universities and colleges to boycott Israeli universities over objections to its treatment of the Palestinians. The influential American Studies Association on Monday endorsed the boycott with mover 3000 of its members voting and 66 percent supporting the action as a response what they view as a pattern of human rights violations by Israel. It is a major victory for academics pushing for cutting off ties to Israeli educations institutions.
The association passed the endorsement of the boycott with the statement that “The ASA condemns the United States’ significant role in aiding and abetting Israel’s violations of human rights against Palestinians and its occupation of Palestinian lands through its use of the veto in the UN Security Council.”
The boycott is beginning to impact academics in Israel, a major part of the country’s economy and culture. A similar boycott against Israeli products has been expanding with many stores pledging not to buy products from the country.
The academic boycott not only calls for cutting off ties to Israeli institutions but divestment and sanctions against Israel. It has even greater support in Europe.
Kenneth Stern of the New York-based American Jewish Committee objected to the American Studies Association’s vote “abhorrent.”
Notably, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) opposes the boycott as a violation of academic freedom — a legitimate concern. However, the ASA insists that it is not limiting individual collaboration on scholarship and only “formal partnership[s] with or sponsorship[s] by Israeli academic institutions.”
Here is the ASA resolution:
American Studies Association Resolution on Academic Boycott of Israel
December 4, 2013
Whereas the American Studies Association is committed to the pursuit of social justice, to the struggle against all forms of racism, including anti-semitism, discrimination, and xenophobia, and to solidarity with aggrieved peoples in the United States and in the world;
Whereas the United States plays a significant role in enabling the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the expansion of illegal settlements and the Wall in violation of international law, as well as in supporting the systematic discrimination against Palestinians, which has had documented devastating impact on the overall well-being, the exercise of political and human rights, the freedom of movement, and the educational opportunities of Palestinians;
Whereas there is no effective or substantive academic freedom for Palestinian students and scholars under conditions of Israeli occupation, and Israeli institutions of higher learning are a party to Israeli state policies that violate human rights and negatively impact the working conditions of Palestinian scholars and students;
Whereas the American Studies Association is cognizant of Israeli scholars and students who are critical of Israeli state policies and who support the international boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement under conditions of isolation and threat of sanction;
Whereas the American Studies Association is dedicated to the right of students and scholars to pursue education and research without undue state interference, repression, and military violence, and in keeping with the spirit of its previous statements supports the right of students and scholars to intellectual freedom and to political dissent as citizens and scholars;
It is resolved that the American Studies Association (ASA) endorses and will honor the call of Palestinian civil society for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. It is also resolved that the ASA supports the protected rights of students and scholars everywhere to engage in research and public speaking about Israel-Palestine and in support of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement.