Resolution Critical of Israel Gets No Backing From MLA Academics

Measure did not win required support from at least 10 percent of its 23,900 members.

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Campus of Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., Aug. 30, 2012.
Campus of Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., Aug. 30, 2012. Credit: AP

A prominent scholars' group has failed to pass a resolution critical of Israel and travel restrictions in the West Bank.

The Modern Language Association announced Wednesday the measure did not win the required support from at least 10 percent of the 23,900 members.

The resolution urged the U.S. State Department to challenge Israeli restrictions on travel by some American academics of Palestinian descent who wanted to work with Palestinian universities.

Earlier this year, the association's Delegate Assembly narrowly approved the resolution, then sent the measure to the membership for a vote. Supporters said denial of entry violated academic freedom. Opponents argued the resolution would open the door to a boycott of Israel.

The final tally was 1,560 votes in favor and 1,063 votes against. The measure failed by 830 votes.

Reason and truth have triumphed over the hatred and hypocrisy at the core of the BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) movement against Israel, American Jewish Committee Executive Director David Harris said in response. The MLA's repudiation of the BDS effort is yet another failure of those who have maliciously tried to use the American campus to delegitimize the State of Israel, said Harris.

The Israel Action Network applauded the Modern Language Association of America for choosing to honor academic freedom and integrity by refusing to ratify this baseless and discriminatory resolution," it said in a statement. IAN Managing Director Geri Palast said that "Israel does not violate academic freedom, but rather, implements reasonable security measures expected of any country."

IAN, she added, supports "the principle of unrestricted scholarly travel," but said that "peace and reconciliation for Israelis and Palestinians will come through a negotiated agreement and constructive engagement between the parties."

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