Boycott of Israel endorsed by American Studies Association leaders

A Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) protest against Israel in Melbourne, Australia, on June 5, 2010. Credit: Mohamed Ouda via  Wikimedia Commons.

( The national council of the American Studies Association (ASA), the oldest and largest association devoted to the interdisciplinary study of American culture and history, last week announced its adoption of a resolution to boycott Israel. The ASA’s 5,000 members have until Dec. 15 to vote on the measure.

“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,” the ASA national council stated. 

Kenneth Stern, director on anti-Semitism and extremism for the American Jewish Committee, said in a statement that the ASA resolution “is despicable, contravenes the most basic values of academic freedom and does nothing to advance the cause of Israeli-Palestinian peace.”

“Treating Israeli academic institutions in a way no other universities are treated anywhere else in the world is discrimination pure and simple,” Stern said.

The Israel Action Network, an initiative of the Jewish Federations of North America in partnership with the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, said in a statement, “Peace for both Israelis and Palestinians depends on both parties working together towards a negotiated, two-state solution. Academics can play a very constructive role in encouraging collaboration in all fields as well as peace-making. Divisive measures such as academic boycotts only serve to undermine this very objective.”

“It is shameful that an academic association would pass a resolution based on at best false, at worst, contested claims, and one that clearly calls for discrimination against one national and religious group. It is a sad commentary on the ASA that it would degrade scholarly standards and core academic values, and indulge in such bigotry,” said Roz Rothstein, CEO of the pro-Israel education group StandWithUs.

Posted on December 5, 2013 .