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American Studies Association votes unanimously to endorse academic boycott of Israel

February 3, 2014 at 10:32 am

The National Council of the American Studies Association (ASA) has voted unanimously to endorse the academic boycott of Israel. ASA’s members, which number around five thousand, will have ten days to vote on the resolution.

ASA issued a statement on its website saying: “We believe that the ASA’s endorsement of a boycott is warranted given US 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.

“Our resolution understands boycott as limited to a refusal on the part of the Association in its official capacities to enter into formal collaborations with Israeli academic institutions, or with scholars who are expressly serving as representatives or ambassadors of those institutions, or on behalf of the Israeli government, until Israel ceases to violate human rights and international law.”

ASA’s Chairman, Curtis Marez further explained that: “The boycott is the best way to protect and expand academic freedom and access to education. Palestinian academics are frequently impeded by Israeli occupation authorities, schools and universities have been bombed by US-supported Israeli military forces, and the Wall blocks educational access for thousands of students. As an association of scholars and educators, the ASA has an ethical responsibility to act.”

This is the second American academic association to boycott Israeli academia following a decision by the Association for Asian American Studies, which endorsed a similar resolution in April. The ASA decision is considered a huge victory for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, a Palestinian civil society initiative which mobilises for broad boycotts, divestment initiatives, and sanctions against Israel, until Palestinian rights are recognised in full compliance with international law.

The BDS movement received significant support in May when renowned physicist Stephen Hawking decided to join the movement, cancelling a pre-scheduled visit to Israel.