Modern Language Association rejects resolution condemning Israel

( The membership of the Modern Language Association (MLA) did not ratify Resolution 2014-1, which condemns Israel for denying “academics of Palestinian ethnicity entry into the West Bank,” in a vote that concluded at midnight June 1. 

A Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) protest in Melbourne, Australia, on June 5, 2010. The Modern Language Association did not ratify Resolution 2014-1, which condemns Israel for denying “academics of Palestinian ethnicity entry into the West Bank." Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

The resolution stated that the entry restrictions violate international law, disrupt “instruction, research, and planning at Palestinian universities,” and restrict “the academic freedom of scholars and teachers who are United States citizens.”

But a report issued by MLA members opposing the resolution states that in 2012 only 142 Americans were denied entry to Israel and the disputed territories out of 626,000 who wanted to enter, a refusal rate of about 0.023 percent. The U.S. restricts entry to its own borders at a much higher rate—5.4 percent in 2012 for Israeli applications for “B” visas. 

In order for a resolution to be considered the official position of the MLA, it must be ratified by a majority vote in which “the number of those voting for ratification equals at least 10 percent of the association’s membership, which was 2,390 votes this year,” MLA said on its website. 

“There were 1,560 votes in favor of ratification and 1,063 votes against ratification. The vote therefore fell short of ratification by 830 votes,” said MLA.

Peggy Shapiro, an MLA member and Midwest Director for the Israel education group StandWithUs, said in a statement, “Like other anti-Israel resolutions, the MLA resolution also erased all context to manipulate voters… It had only one purpose: to defame Israel. This resolution was discriminatory, singling out Israel for unfair and dishonest attacks.”

“We strongly support the principle of unrestricted scholarly travel, however this resolution only served to divide and politicize the MLA, rather than empower the organization to address more urgent matters facing higher education,” Israel Action Network Managing Director Geri Palast said in a statement.

MLA Members for Scholars Rights called the decision “a victory for responsible advocacy.”

Posted on June 4, 2014 .