AJC Deplores American Academic Group’s Boycott of Israel

AJC Deplores American Academic Group’s Boycott of Israel

December 16, 2013 – New York -- AJC deplores the boycott of Israeli academic institutions announced today by the American Studies Association (ASA). Two-thirds of voting ASA members favored the resolution calling for the boycott.

“This abhorrent action is blatant discrimination against Israelis,” said Kenneth Stern, AJC’s director on Anti-Semitism and Extremism. “Why are Israeli academic institutions the only universities in the world to be shunned? Well, as ASA President Curtis Marez said, “one has to start somewhere.’”

“Frankly, Mr. Marez’s observation is shameful,” said Stern, who pointed out that academic organizations of much greater import than the ASA, such as the American Association of University Professors, have steadfastly rejected the idea of academic boycotts.

“Academic freedom is based on the principle that human civilization benefits from the free flow of ideas and knowledge,” said Stern. “This resolution – ghettoizing knowledge simply because it is tied to Israeli academic institutions – violates the core principles of the academy.”

The ASA National Council adopted the resolution on December 4, and members had until December 15 to vote. Of the 1,252 voters, 66.05% endorsed the resolution, while 30.5% voted no and 3.43% abstained.

Also disturbing were some of the comments in support of this resolution. “By using terms like ‘Zionist settler-colonialist project’ and ‘apartheid’ to describe Israel, the ASA is showing itself to be driven more by anti-Israel dogma than by scholarly interests,” said Stern.