Press Release

ADL: MLA Has Given its “De Facto Imprimatur of Legitimacy” to Anti-Israel Boycott Campaign

New York, NY, January 9, 2014 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today expressed outrage and disappointment over the one-sided roundtable discussion convened at the annual convention of the Modern Language Association (MLA), which supported an academic boycott against Israel.

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement: 

We are outraged that a leading academic association has given its de facto imprimatur of legitimacy to the campaign to boycott Israeli academics and academic institutions by providing a platform to a panel of ideologues who addressed a largely partisan group which applauded their biased perspectives.  It is particularly disappointing that the MLA allowed this panel on its program since the views of all the panelists directly contravene a 2002 MLA delegate assembly resolution stating that the ‘MLA condemns boycotts and blacklists against scholars or students on the basis of nationality, ethnic origins, and religious background as unfair, divisive, and inconsistent with academic freedom.’

Based on reports from MLA members who attended the discussion, the presentations by the roundtable participants took an entirely non-academic approach to the subject - repeatedly vilifying Israel while uniformly and proudly serving as polemical and political mouthpieces for the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

We applaud those members of the MLA, particularly MLA Members for Scholars’ Rights, who have publicly countered the one-sided panel and stood up as committed advocates for academic freedom and open exchanges between scholars and academic institutions.

The roundtable, entitled “Academic Boycotts: A Conversation about Israel and Palestine,” featured Omar Barghouti, a long-time anti-Israel activist and founding committee member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, who was described euphemistically as an “independent scholar,” along with three American academics who have a history of support for the fringe BDS movement against Israel.

The MLA delegate assembly is set to vote on January 11 on a resolution calling for condemnation of Israel for arbitrarily barring American academics of Palestinian origin from entering the West Bank of Gaza Strip.

In December 2013, ADL condemned a vote by the American Studies Association (ASA) to boycott Israeli academic institutions calling it “intellectually dishonest and shameful.” Since that time, over 150 university presidents and chancellors have rejected the academic boycott of Israel.