New York, NY, December 16, 2013 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called a vote by the American Studies Association (ASA) to boycott Israeli academic institutions “intellectually dishonest” and in violation of the fundamental tenets of academic freedom. On December 4, the ASA’s National Council announced that it had voted to support the boycott resolution, but that it would open the vote up to the association’s 5,000 members. According to the ASA, of the 1,252 members who voted, 66.05 percent voted in support of the resolution, while 30.5% voted against and 3.43% abstained.
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:
This shameful, morally bankrupt and intellectually dishonest attack on academic freedom by the American Studies Association should be soundly condemned by all who are committed to the ideal that open exchange of ideas is the most effective way to achieve change. Targeting Israeli institutions solely because they are in Israel -- the only democratic country in the Middle East where scholarship and debate are encouraged and flourish -- is based on a myopic and fundamentally distorted perspective of Israel and the conflict and is manifestly unjust.
We commend those members of the ASA who boldly spoke out and voted against this shameful resolution. We further applaud the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) for reiterating its opposition to academic boycotts which “strike directly at the free exchange of ideas.”
Although the ASA resolution will likely have limited practical impact on Israeli academic institutions and on Israeli academics, those members of the ASA who voted in favor of this resolution should also understand the hateful message they are sending. As Lawrence Summers, who, when he was president of Harvard a decade ago said about an initiative to boycott Israel, “Serious and thoughtful people are advocating and taking actions that are anti-Semitic in their effect if not their intent.”
We call on academic institutions across the United States to enhance their existing relationships with Israeli universities and research institutions and stand resolutely in support of open exchange, dialogue and study.