As we sit here, during what is semester break for most American universities, a difficult situation is gaining more and more attention from university students, professors, and administrations.
By now you might have heard that a group called the American Studies Association voted to adopt a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.
This boycott obviously is part of the unfortunate Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions effort to rob Israel’s legitimate right to exist in the eyes of the world.
The good news is that the ASA’s hateful action also has brought together a number of universities opposing the mere suggestion of boycotting Israel. The 40,000-member American Association of University Professors recently released a statement calling the ASA vote “a setback for the cause of academic freedom.” Also, the executive committee of the Association of American Universities, a group of 62 leading research universities, which includes Rutgers and Princeton as well as Harvard, Stanford, and Yale condemned the ASA’s actions.
The AAU statement called “restrictions imposed on the ability of scholars of any particular country to work with their fellow academics in other countries, participate in meetings and organizations, or otherwise carry out their scholarly activities violate academic freedom.”
It went on to say that boycotting Israeli academic institutions violates the freedoms not only of Israeli scholars but also of American scholars who might be pressured to comply with the boycott.
We urge American academics to oppose this and other such academic boycotts.
We ask that you get in touch with your alma mater to consider an institutional resignation from ASA.
Locally, Rutgers and Princeton already have taken that step. But our families, our students, and our alumnae have connections to schools both large and small throughout the land. It behooves us all to make sure that the schools our children or we attended or attend hear loudly from us that they need to have their educational institutions boycott this insidious ASA boycott.
There’s no shortage of irony that the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has spoken out against ASA and this boycott. If he has done so, than we should too.