The decision by the American Studies Association (ASA) to boycott Israeli academic institutions has yielded a silver lining: a widespread condemnation of the decision – and the broader Boycott, Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement – by university administrators across the United States.
Since the ASA’s December 16th decision to support a boycott, which ADL decried as “intellectually dishonest and shameful,” there has been an increasing groundswell of rejection by university presidents, faculty and academic associations. These statements, which number in the dozens, have forcefully and responsibly affirmed the principles and societal benefits of academic freedom and open dialogue.
University presidents of large and small colleges and universities have made pronouncements on the topic, including:
- President Drew Faust of Harvard University, who said: “Academic boycotts subvert the academic freedoms and values necessary to the free flow of ideas, which is the lifeblood of the worldwide community of scholars. The recent resolution of the ASA proposing to boycott Israeli universities represents a direct threat to these ideals, ideals which universities and scholarly associations should be dedicated to defend.”
- President Ronald J. Daniels and Provost Robert C. Lieberman of Johns Hopkins University, who said: "The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is, of course, a complex matter on which many in our community hold passionate and competing views. We can all agree, however, that one essential ingredient to the resolution of that conflict will be the free exchange of information and open debate of ideas. This boycott is a contradiction, one that threatens what it purports to protect: the freedom of thought and expression that is the heartbeat of our academic community."
- President Mary Sue Coleman and Provost Martha Pollack of University of Michigan, who said: “The University of Michigan strongly opposes the boycott of academic institutions in Israel that was recently endorsed by several academic associations. While we affirm the right of individual faculty, faculties, and professional academic associations to hold and express different viewpoints, we believe that academic boycotts violate the principles of academic freedom and freedom of speech, which are fundamental to our missions of education and research. The University of Michigan is committed to continuing and strengthening its long-standing and productive institutional relationships with Israeli universities and institutes.”
Several American Studies departments have also resigned from the ASA.
Here’s what you can do:
Check these lists to see if officials at your alma mater have spoken out. If they have, write the president or chancellor to commend them.
If they have not, contact the office of the president or chancellor and call on them to join their colleagues around the country in condemning the academic boycott of Israel and standing firm in support of academic freedom.