American Studies Association Posts Terms of Israeli University Boycott

Has Yet to Announce a Formal Stance

By JTA

Published December 04, 2013.
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The American Studies Association posed the terms of a boycott of Israeli universities, although it had yet to announce a formal boycott.

According to the Frequently Asked Question page posted on the ASA website, the boycott will not inhibit collaboration with individual Israeli academics.

“The ASA understands boycott as limited to a refusal on the part of the ASA in its official capacities to enter into formal collaborations with Israeli academic institutions, or with scholars who are expressly serving as representatives or ambassadors of those institutions (such as deans, rectors, presidents and others), or on behalf of the Israeli government, until Israel ceases to violate human rights and international law,” the FAQ said.

“We are expressly not endorsing a boycott of Israeli scholars engaged in individual-level contacts and ordinary forms of academic exchange, including presentations at conferences, public lectures at campuses, and collaboration on research and publication,” it said.

The boycott arises out of a resolution considered last month at the annual meeting of the group, which describes itself as “devoted to the interdisciplinary study of American culture and history” and which has more than 5,000 members.

The resolution was to have been voted on Nov. 24 by the 20-person ASA national council after it was considered at a meeting open to convention-goers the night before, but there has been no sign – except for the posting of the FAQ – that the council voted on the resolution.

A query to the ASA president, Curtis Marez, who previously told JTA that the council was still mulling the resolution, was not immediately returned.

Voices at the open meeting overwhelmingly favored the boycott, but those opposed said they were not representative of the organization’s broader membership and favored a poll of all ASA members.

The FAQ suggests that the boycott is not binding on members, meaning it would apply principally to the activities of the ASA as an organization.

“In general, the ASA recognizes that members will review and negotiate specific guidelines for implementation on a case-by-case basis and adopt them according to their individual convictions,” it said.


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