MOUNTING COUNT OF UNIVERSITIES REJECTING ASA BOYCOTT OF ISRAEL REACHES 56 AND GROWING

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Despite many universities and colleges being closed for the holiday/winter break, 56 have already issued statements rejecting the American Studies Association’s call for a boycott of Israeli universities.  More are expected in the coming days as they learn of the ASA action. 

Robert G. Sugarman, Chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, welcomed this nationwide repudiation of the discriminatory and unjustified ASA action and by that, the effort to boycott Israel. This remarkable response is a clear declaration that American academia will not be party to the efforts to promote the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.  About 16% percent of the claimed membership of the ASA actually voted in favor of the measure. But all it takes is a dedicated extremist minority to determine the outcome of a vote when most are apathetic or indifferent.  We must continue to be vigilant lest this takes root and spreads in the US.

The Presidents Conference wrote to the institutional members of the ASA outlining why this was an unjustifiable and blatantly discriminatory act. The leaders said, “The response is very encouraging and we are grateful that so many took the time during a holiday week to respond.” We continue to urge the rest of the members to speak out against the action and to disassociate from supporting the ASA.

Many university presidents have continued to express their support directly to the Conference of Presidents, including Rider University, Lehigh University, and the University of Delaware.

President of Rider University, Mordechai Rozanski wrote to the Conference:

“As the son of Holocaust survivors, I join the Association of American Universities and the American Association of University Professors in strongly rejecting the ASA boycott of Israeli universities. I consider it antithetical to our core principle of academic freedom and contrary to the free exchange of ideas so essential to the advancement of scholarly activities.”

Lehigh University released this statement:

“Lehigh University strongly opposes the ASA boycott of  Israeli academic institutions and we are disappointed that a portion of the ASA's membership chose to take this action. We also believe that one cannot effectively impact a boycott by the ASA with a boycott of the ASA.  It would be more productive for our faculty members who belong to that organization to express their displeasure to the leadership and advocate for a change in policy.  We will call upon our faculty to make their opinions known to the ASA. This would apply as well to any academic organization that might vote to adopt the same position as the ASA.

“The boycott of an academic community is antithetical to the mission of academia.  The essence of the academic enterprise is to advance the exchange of knowledge and ideas. This mission necessarily calls us to be open and receptive to intellectual discourse with others. There is no room in the pursuit of this mission for the isolation of any group of academics.  A boycott of any group is harmful to all. International collaboration and exchange has never been more important than it is today. Through collaboration across disciplines – and across borders – we will continue to live up to our responsibilities to our nation and our world.”

Patrick T. Harker, President of the University of Delaware, stated in an email to the Conference:

"The University of Delaware rejects the decision of the American Studies Association to endorse an academic boycott of Israel. Such a boycott is fundamentally incompatible with the principle of academic freedom, which is central to the mission of this University and to that of American higher education as a whole. It is imperative that the University's scholars be able to freely associate with colleagues and institutions around the world, and we will not suppress the rich research collaborations, faculty exchanges and program agreements with Israeli universities that have enlarged the breadth and enhanced the quality of our scholarship, nor will we discourage the formation of new partnerships."

A complete list of universities that have publicly rejected the ASA’s boycott can be found below, with thanks to Avi Mayer, of the Jewish Agency for Israel, and William A. Jacobson at Legal Insurrection for his diligence.

(Updated 11:00 p.m. EST, 12/26.)

In addition, the following institutions’ American Studies programs have withdrawn their membership in the American Studies Association (ASA) following last week’s boycott vote:

Furthermore, the following institutions have flatly denied being institutional members of the ASA, though the organization lists them as such:

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