Friday, December 6, 2013

"American Studies leaders endorse Israel boycott..."

"American Studies Association leaders endorse boycott of Israeli universities"
Jerusalem Post
December 5, 2013


"American Studies leaders endorse Israel boycott, refer issue to members for vote:
"Boycott resolution was approved unanimously by the 20-member national council..."
December 5, 2013


"Big Win for Boycott Movement"
Inside Higher Ed
December 5, 2013

The National Council of the American Studies Association announced Wednesday that it has unanimously endorsed a boycott of Israeli universities and other Israeli institutions -- and urged its members to vote to make the boycott official policy of the association.

The move by the council, even if awaiting approval by the membership, is seen as a major victory for the movement for an academic boycott of Israel. The academic movement to boycott Israel has considerable support in Europe, but has been largely opposed by major academic associations in the United States, citing longstanding objections to countrywide boycotts as antithetical to academic freedom. But in April, the Association for Asian American Studies became the first disciplinary group to endorse the academic boycott of Israel, and the American Studies Association now appears to be the second.

Supporters of the boycott have argued that just the discussion of the idea at a meeting as large as the American Studies Association marks a significant departure for American academe. A post on the pro-Palestinian site The Electronic Intifada said that the debate over the proposal indicated that "the taboo on boycotting Israel has been broken." And a piece on the same site shortly after the American Studies Association announced its decision Wednesday declared victory, saying that "the energy, the devotion, the compassion, the vitality [of the boycott movement] – all were palpable and invigorating, as was the sense that Zionist functionaries are now whistling past the cemetery."

Academics who support the boycott movement have been working for several years to build support within the American Studies Association to make such a move. At the group's annual meeting last month, there was heated debate on the boycott proposal -- with supporters arguing that the council should not hand the decision to the full membership for a vote. But at the time, the assumption was that setting up a vote would basically involve the association's leaders avoiding taking a stand on the issue.

Since the council called for a vote, but also urged members to endorse the boycott, the boycott supporters generally applauded the move. Most of those who spoke at the annual meeting were in favor of the boycott, but the council -- which met on the issue the Sunday before Thanksgiving -- held off on making a decision.

When it announced its decision Wednesday, the council offered strong support for the boycott. "The council voted for an academic boycott of Israeli institutions as an ethical stance, a form of material and symbolic action. It represents a principle of solidarity with scholars and students deprived of their academic freedom and an aspiration to enlarge that freedom for all, including Palestinians," said the statement issued by the association...

...What's Next?

Supporters of the boycott movement have talked about taking the proposal to other disciplinary associations -- and both the American Historical Association and the Modern Language Association (both of which share some members with the American Studies Association) have meetings coming up in January..."


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