More U.S. Universities Withdraw From ASA Over Academic Boycott of Israel

Kenyon College and Indiana University cancel their memberships in the association.

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JTA
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Two more American institutions of higher learning officially withdrew their memberships from the American Studies Association after its membership voted in favor of an academic boycott of Israel.

Kenyon College and Indiana University on Monday joined Brandeis University and Penn State Harrisburg in canceling their memberships in the association. Dozens of other universities also have condemned the ASA boycott, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown, Cornell, the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, the University of Maryland and New York University.

Indiana University's president Michael A. McRobbie issued a statement explaining the institution's decision and exhorting the ASA to rethink the boycott.

"Indiana University values its academic relationships with colleagues and institutions around the world, including many important ones with institutions in Israel, and will not allow political considerations such as those behind this ill-conceived boycott to weaken those relationships or undermine the principle of academic freedom in this way. IU stands firmly against proposals that would attempt to limit or restrict those important institutional relationships or this fundamental principle.

"Indiana University will contact the ASA immediately to withdraw as an institutional member. We urge the leadership of the ASA and other associations supporting the boycott to rescind this dangerous and ill-conceived action as a matter of urgency."

ASA boycott raises bar

The executive committee of the Association of American Universities, composed of 60 public and private U.S. colleges and universities and two Canadian universities, issued a statement December 20 opposing a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

Earlier this year, the Association for Asian American Studies announced it would mount an academic boycott of Israel. On December 15, the Native American Studies Association urged its members to boycott Israeli educational institutions. The Modern Language Association next month will debate an academic boycott of Israel.

The December 16 decision made ASA the largest American academic organization thus far to support an anti-Israel boycott.

The association has stressed that the boycott does not prevent its members from engaging in research cooperation or joint publications with individual Israeli scholars. Rather, it bars the ASA as an organization from “formal collaborations with Israeli academic institutions, or with scholars who are expressly serving as representatives or ambassadors of those institutions (such as deans, rectors, presidents and others), or on behalf of the Israeli government."

“We believe that the ASA’s endorsement of a boycott is warranted given U.S. military and other support for Israel; Israel’s violation of international law and UN resolutions; the documented impact of the Israeli occupation on Palestinian scholars and students; the extent to which Israeli institutions of higher education are a party to state policies that violate human rights; and the support of such a resolution by many members of the ASA,” the national council said in a statement announcing the decision.

Boycott Israel flyers on the streets of ParisCredit: Dreamstime

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