ADL to Association for Asian American Studies: Don't Boycott Israel

Mary Yu Danico
President, Board of Directors of Association for Asian American Studies
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
3801 West Temple Blvd.
Pomona, CA 91768

Dear Ms. Danico:

We write to you today from the Anti-Defamation League, a 100-year-old organization that has a celebrated history of advancing civil rights and fighting bigotry and discrimination of all kinds.

We are extremely concerned about reports that the Association for Asian American Studies passed a resolution endorsing a boycott of Israeli academic institutions at its annual conference last weekend in Seattle, WA. The resolution is similar to the broader Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, which seeks to isolate and unjustifiably punish Israel until the Jewish state is dismantled. The BDS movement only serves to deepen divisions between Israelis and Palestinians and does not contribute to advancing the cause of peace between the two parties.

We believe it is inappropriate for your organization to be identified with a political movement that blatantly discriminates against the state of Israel and its people.

The target of the resolution, Israeli academic institutions, is particularly worrisome. Israel is a vibrant, thriving democracy whose citizens enjoy the right to express opposition to their government and any of its policies. The views and insights of Israeli professors and academics often shape the public discourse and improve society. This is a critical component of the free exchange of ideas that is so vital to any democracy, including Israel’s. Boycotting these professors is antithetical to basic principles of academic freedom and counterproductive to the goals of peace. 

We also write to urge you to review whether the resolution and its passage followed the procedures of the Association. It appears that the author of the resolution is a University of California, Davis, professor named David Lloyd (a leader of the academic boycott campaign). However, we have been unable to find any evidence that he is a member in good standing of the AAAS, as the Association’s "Policies and Procedures" require. We also understand that the resolution was passed by only 10% of the Association’s members, which raises the question of whether all members were properly notified in advance of the resolution and given an opportunity to consider and oppose it.

We hope you will investigate whether AAAS’s polices were properly followed and look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Abraham H. Foxman
National Director