ASA Resolution an Assault on Academic Freedom

This letter appeared in The New York Times on December 18, 2013.


Letters to the Editor
The New York Times 

To the Editor:

The American Studies Association’s resolution to boycott Israeli universities, which was approved by more than 66 percent of the 1,252 members who voted, is a shameful assault on academic freedom and one that is based on a one-dimensional and biased perspective on Israel and the conflict.

It is manifestly unjust to single out academic institutions because they are in Israel.

Lawrence H. Summers, when president of Harvard, said it best when he was faced with a similar effort to wage an academic boycott against the Jewish state more than a decade ago: “Serious and thoughtful people are advocating and taking actions that are anti-Semitic in their effect if not their intent.”

More recently with regard to the American Studies Association, Mr. Summers rightly questioned whether university funds should be used to finance faculty membership in an association that is being used not as a scholarly association but as a political tool.

The group’s resolution blacklisting Israeli universities damages the cause of academic freedom, unfairly demonizes Israel, and certainly does nothing to advance the cause of a lasting Palestinian-Israeli peace.

Michael A. Salberg
Director, International Affairs

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