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Delegates to the Modern Language Association’s annual convention upheld a resolution accusing Israel of keeping Palestinian academics from entering Judea and Samaria, but rejected another expressing solidarity with academics that boycott Israel.

After an hour or so of acrimonious debate in Chicago on Saturday, the MLA’s delegate assembly in a 60-53 vote approved a resolution calling on the U.S. State Department to “contest Israel’s denials of entry to Judea and Samaria by U. S. academics who have been invited to teach, confer, or do research at Palestinian universities.”

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The resolution goes to the MLA’s executive committee for consideration next month. If the executive committee approves it, it goes to the full membership.

Another resolution referred to a vote last month by the American Studies Association to boycott Israeli universities, and its aftermath, in which over 180 American universities have rejected any such boycott.

That resolution, defeated 59-41, “condemns the attacks on the ASA and supports the right of academic organizations and individuals, free from intimidation, to take positions in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle against racism.”

The resolution did not specify what intimidation the ASA had suffered as a result of its vote.

“Academic freedom guarantees the right of academics to debate issues with passion,” said Geri Palast, the director of the Israel Action Network, which helped lead pro-Israel activities around the conference. “Statements made in the public sphere attracting public debate and controversy is not the equivalent of attacks and intimidation.”

The MLA convention this year featured, among about 800 events, a panel of scholars who favor the boycott; another panel opposing the boycott, convened too late to be included in the official program, was held in a nearby hotel.

The Israel Action Network and the Israel on Campus Coalition organized the pro-Israel panel.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. The Modern Language Association is as bogus as its panel. Led by J. Kēhaulani Kauanui who has tried to set herself up as an authority on American Indians and is pushing something called “Redwashing: Israeli Claims to Indigeneity and the Political Role of Native Americans,” she has inserted herself as a speaker for Native Americans on the subject of Israel/Palestinian relations.

    It has caused a lot of anger among the Indians in the US who disavow her as any kind of talking head for the Tribes. She knows nothing of Native Americans and her goal appears to be promoting anti-Semitism.

    I am American Indian. My personal opinions are my own and I speak for no Tribe or Nation but…
    any organization banning Israeli scholars deliberately sets themselves to lag behind behind those who do not. Their loss.

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