Academic boycott of Israel endorsed by American Studies Association members

( The membership of the American Studies Association (ASA), the oldest and largest association devoted to the interdisciplinary study of American culture and history, has voted to endorse the ASA’s participate in a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. 

An anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) protest. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

In a vote that attracted the largest number of participants in the 5,000-member organization’s history, more than 66 percent endorsed the resolution, while 31 percent were against it, according to an ASA announcement.

The vote comes after the ASA national council’s unanimous approval of a resolution to boycott Israel on Dec. 4. The council stated, “Our resolution understands boycott as limited to a refusal on the part of the Association in its official capacities to enter into formal collaborations with Israeli academic institutions, or with scholars who are expressly serving as representatives or ambassadors of those institutions, or on behalf of the Israeli government, until Israel ceases to violate human rights and international law.”

According to the New York Times, the ASA resolution is primarily symbolic, since no American college or university officially supports it.

“This vote to boycott Israel, one of the most democratic and academically free nations on the globe, shows the Orwellian anti-Semitism and moral bankruptcy of the American Studies Association,” said World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder. 

“Academic freedom is based on the principle that human civilization benefits from the free flow of ideas and knowledge,” said Kenneth Stern, the American Jewish Committee’s director on Anti-Semitism and Extremism. “This resolution—ghettoizing knowledge simply because it is tied to Israeli academic institutions—violates the core principles of the academy.”

Posted on December 16, 2013 .