Tuesday, December 17, 2013

IAN Calls American Studies Association Decision to Adopt an Israel Boycott Resolution a Violation of Academic Freedom

The Israel Action Network (IAN), a strategic initiative of The Jewish Federations of North America in partnership with the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, has been working with many of you over the last several months on a behind-the-scenes strategy to identify and mobilize American Studies Association (ASA) members to oppose a proposed resolution calling for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. As we noted from the start, this was an uphill battle in a small association with a leadership actively committed to an academic boycott of Israel, and where the process was neither balanced nor transparent. As anticipated, following this unusual and troubling process, the ASA today announced its endorsement of the resolution by its National Council to institute an academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions. It should be noted that this decision represents a narrow fraction of overall members, approximately less than 20 percent of ASA membership took part in the vote. Further, it follows a condemnation of the boycott by eight former presidents and more than 70 concerned ASA members, who signed onto a letter in support of academic freedom and in opposition to the resolution. In addition, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), an influential body of higher education professionals committed to preserving academic freedom, unequivocally oppose academic boycotts, and issued both a statement and a letter urging ASA and other organizations to seek alternative means to pursue their concerns.

IAN issued the following statement below in response. We are thankful for the valuable contributions from our network of Federations and Jewish Community Relations Councils and our allies, including AJC, ADL, ICC, SWU, and in dialogue with the Israeli embassy. As a practical matter, this resolution will have little impact. It will have modest symbolic significance and will embolden the opposition in other settings. The next association meeting where these issues will be raised is the Modern Language Association to be held in Chicago on January 9-12, 2014.


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