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August 27, 2016 / 23 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘academic boycott of Israel’

New Report: 22 Israeli Academics in the Service of BDS

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

In recent years, an increasing number of academics and student organizations throughout the world have been promoting the academic boycott of Israel. The goal of this boycott is to halt the cooperation between Israeli academics and academics abroad, an act that would cause significant harm to Israeli research as it heavily relies on international cooperation. This phenomenon could pose severe implications on the Israeli economy, and would significantly harm Israel’s standing in the world.

A new report from Im Tirtzu reveals the level of involvement of Israeli academics in the encouragement and promotion of the international effort to impose an academic boycott on Israel. The report focuses on the Israeli Anthropological Association as a case study that reflects the significant influence of Israeli academics in promoting the academic boycott on Israel. The report highlights how prominent Israeli professors, who receive salaries provided by the Israeli taxpayer, encourage, legitimize, and often promote boycott efforts, including boycotts that directly harm the institutions in which they work. It is important to note that a 2012 resolution passed by the Israeli Council for Higher Education explicitly rejects boycott efforts:

“The Council for Higher Education views the call for academic boycott on Israel by members of Israel’s institutions of higher education as an undermining action to the foundations of Israel’s higher education system” and thus “calls on institutions to consider the matter, and to formulate ways of dealing with it.”

As stated above, this report focuses on the Israeli Anthropological Association as a case study and examines its involvement with the advancement of the academic boycott on Israel, which began to intensify in 2013 after the American Anthropological Association (AAA) began to discuss the possibility of boycotting Israeli academia.

On May 31, 2016, the 10,000-member AAA will conclude its vote on a proposed resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions, regardless of where the institution is located within Israel.

The Israeli Anthropological Association has sent a letter to the AAA in August 2014 advocating against this anti-Israel initiative and calling it an unprecedented and unjustified act of boycott against Israeli academia. But while the Israeli Anthropological Association was trying to block this attempt to harm the State of Israel, another group of 20 Israeli anthropologists, many of whom teach in publicly funded Israeli institutions, sent a petition to the AAA praising this effort and urging them to continue pressing for an academic boycott on Israel. These professors grant legitimacy to the academic boycott of Israel, and to the BDS movement against Israel as a whole.

In 2015, a task force sent by the AAA to “investigate” the situation in Israel produced a biased report filled with distortions and lies against Israel. The report repeatedly quoted anonymous Israeli academics as a means of attaining legitimacy to the baseless accusations raised in the report. These Israeli academics served as the “voice from within” who “verified” all of the anti-Israel charges in the report.

Several months prior to the publication of the report in July 2015, the Israeli Anthropological Association sent another letter in which they demonstrated a complete capitulation to the amounting boycott pressure. This letter condemned and severely criticized Israel for its prolonged “occupation,” urged Israel to rehabilitate Gaza, and called for a solution for the Palestinian refugees. At the end of the letter, however, they once again urged their colleagues at the AAA to refrain from academic boycott.

Like clockwork, this second letter by the Israeli Anthropological Association was also followed by another letter – this time from a group of 22 “anonymous” Israeli anthropologists – that contained an unequivocal call for academic boycott against Israel:

“We urge all members of the AAA to join in supporting the academic boycott resolution on the spring ballot.”

Im Tirtzu’s report emphasizes that all the Israeli signatories on the first petition sent to the AAA in attempt to foil the Israeli Anthropological Association’s effort to halt the boycott are activists in radical Left organizations, which are backed by copious amounts of foreign political funding and operate within Israel against the state and against the soldiers of the IDF.

In addition, the report notes that most of the Israeli signatories do not currently reside in Israel, and the vast majority of them are directly connected to other foreign agent organizations or to the international BDS movement. These facts substantiate the claim that Israeli organizations and individuals represent the head of the spear of the BDS phenomenon and often produce the initial efforts to boycott Israel.

Im Tirtzu CEO Matan Peleg stressed that the phenomenon in which a radical minority operates from within Israel in order to impose international pressure on Israel is not merely a display of ungratefulness, but an act of shamelessness. The challenge posed by the advancement of boycotts from within forces decision-makers to formulate a fitting response to this phenomenon: “Decision-makers and presidents of Israeli universities look to combat the international BDS movement, but completely ignore the boycott phenomenon from within Israel that is being led by Israeli academics. It is sad to see that those leading the boycott are cutting off the branch on which they are sitting and are working behind the scenes in order to mortally wound the future of Israeli academia.”

Peleg added that “The BDS movement is driven by blind hatred towards the State of Israel and is equipped with tremendous resources. Faced with the consistent attempt to harm the Israeli public, we as citizens need to mobilize against it. The State of Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, and the only country in the region that preserves human and civil rights.”

Peleg stated that “The Im Tirtzu movement will continue to use all the tools at its disposal to fight against this theater of the absurd in which Israeli academics are playing the leading role.”

JNi.Media

Enough With the Gratuitous Israel-Bashing – Some Profs are Fighting Back

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

Imagine this:  an organization called the American Studies Association, which was chartered by the Congress of the United States of America, and which is based in Washington, D.C., and which is composed of American scholars at American universities teaching American students about America, decided in 2013, that it should declare that it would – and all other U.S. academic institutions should – cease to deal with any Israeli academic institutions.

Got that?  Don’t you think a boycott of Israeli academics is what professors of American history, American culture, American literature should have as their organization’s mission? No?

If not, it turns out that four distinguished members of the ASA agree with you. And so does the organisation’s actual mission statement. That’s why those four members announced today that they are suing the ASA, charging that the blatant politicization of their academic association violates District of Columbia (D.C.) law governing nonprofit organizations.

“Until a handful of zealots hijacked our learned society, the ASA was the leading organization for the study of American culture,” stated Professor Simon Bronner, one of the plaintiffs. “Yet in 2013, in marched a handful of anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activists and suddenly ASA is an organization of social change pushing a narrow political agenda.”

According to the plaintiffs – all four of whom are professors who teach American Studies – the boycott adopted by ASA in December 2013 was a concerted effort by a small number of BDS activists, including founding members of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI), who used their leadership positions in ASA to make anti-Israel activism the central focus of the Association.

ASA’s stated mission – obviously and literally – has nothing to do with boycotting a foreign nation and thus the suit alleges its adoption violates the law that governs nonprofit corporations. These laws prevent organizations from engaging in activity that ignores its raison d’être, according to its own incorporating documents. An example: an organization created expressly as a charity to benefit the disabled cannot, because of these laws, take its donors’ money and decide it wants to instead promote fracking or protest animal cruelty.

The Complaint was brought against the people who are, or recently were, officers of the ASA, and who have used their positions to redirect the erstwhile scholarly organization.

In the allegations filed Wednesday, April 20, the plaintiffs explain:  “The Individual Defendants’ goals have nothing to do with the promotion of scholarship and everything to do with the advancement of their own political views, and their goal in hijacking the ASA is to use it to advance those views, not to advance the study of American culture.“

When the boycott was initiated, ASA’s constitution stated that “[t]he object of the association [is] the promotion of the study of American culture through the encouragement of research, teaching, publication…about American culture in all its diversity and complexity.”

The lawsuit charges that a boycott of another country is outside the scope of ASA’s charter and is the antithesis of promoting knowledge. ASA’s constitution goes on to say that ASA’s goal is “the strengthening of relations among persons and institutions in this country and abroad devoted to such studies.” According to the Complaint, the boycott does the exact opposite:  it affirmatively excludes an entire country and its academics.

In addition, as a tax-exempt nonprofit, ASA reports annually to the Internal Revenue Service. In its IRS documents, the Association continues to describe its mission as “the nation’s oldest and largest association devoted to the interdisciplinary study of American culture and history,” with its “exempt purpose – advancing the Study of American Culture.”  Plaintiffs allege that the academic boycott of Israel is clearly outside of this stated mission and purpose. Sounds right, doesn’t it?

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

The Pro-Israel Backlash to Anti-Israel Activity Continues

Friday, January 31st, 2014

The forces aligned against Israel have had the playing field to themselves for so long that when there was finally some pushback, it took them by surprise.

First there was the resounding chorus of condemnation from a huge swathe of American academia, condemning a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.  Then there was the SodaStream boycott fizzle. And today there is more good news from a new corner, the Philadelphia City Council.

***

What pro-Israel person didn’t cheer when Israeli company SodaStream’s beautiful mega-movie star spokesperson Scarlett Johansson refused to back down from her job as Israel haters demanded? Then she resigned rather than continue as an ambassador to what is supposed to be a non-political, humanitarian organization like Oxfam International when it began making noises suggesting she was committing a political correctness faux pas by sticking with SodaStream?

And for those who haven’t yet seen it, a media outlet no one can suggest is biased in favor of Israel, the Christian Science Monitor, ran a story about the Palestinian Arabs employed by SodaStream who applauded Johansson’s position.

The significance of having someone from the Hollywood world which is so dominated by knee-jerk anti-Israel sentiment is huge.

So, too has been the response from academia to the American Studies Association’s decision to boycott Israeli academic institutions.

American academia has long been the restricted playground on which only anti-Israel positions and players were welcome.  But as of this week, 226 universities have condemned the ASA’s boycott.  The anti-boycott movement has had a watershed movement, but there remains much work to be done on college campuses.

Many of the same university presidents who publicly condemned the ASA boycott of Israel are still blind deaf and dumb – emphasis on the last – when it comes to distinguishing between academic freedom and inappropriate and unacceptable vilification of Israel when it is publicly accepted by, and even supported and sponsored by, the institutions themselves.  More on this next week.

Another arena in which pro-Israel, or at least anti- anti-Israel sentiment has not been in great abundance, is in municipal government. Sadly, even less likely to stand up for Israel have been the African American legislators who – or at least whose constituents – have been inclined to identify with the Palestinian Arabs. Who can fault them when national politicians as far apart as President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice explicitly and so publicly made those comparisons?

The identification between the two groups of minorities is flawed almost to the point of being obscene. Wasn’t it the African Americans who were the ones being beaten, had summary justice- i.e. summary execution – applied, and were misrepresented as the aggressors? That’s more like the Israelis than the Palestinian Arabs. Nonetheless, the flawed identification remains the view of many.

PHILADELPHIA CITY COUNCIL LEADS THE WAY

But in what appears to be the first of its kind act of municipal government, the Philadelphia City Council unanimously passed a resolution on Thursday, Jan. 30, condemning the ASA boycott.

The sponsor of the Resolution was Council member Kenyatta Johnson, an African American who has served in the Philadelphia City Council for two years. For the three years prior to joining the City Council, Johnson was a Pennsylvania state legislator.

The resolution calls on the City Council, the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the State System of Higher Education and all colleges and universities in Pennsylvania to reject the academic boycott of Israel.

Councilman Johnson issued a release stating his pride in the passage of the resolution.

“This Boycott limits the academic freedom that is an indispensable component of a free and democratic society, and should be guarded vigilantly. Furthermore, the boycott is short sighted and diminishes the opportunity of American Universities that may engage in progressive dialogues with Institutions of Higher Learning in Israel.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

NY Assembly Bill to Punish Colleges Supporting BDS

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

A bill introduced in the New York State Assembly would suspend funding to educational institutions which fund groups that boycott Israel.

The legislation, introduced earlier this month by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and first reported by Mondoweiss, an anti-Zionist news site, would ban state funding to colleges which fund groups that boycott “in countries that host higher education institutions chartered by the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York.”

A08392 “Prohibits the use of state aid by colleges and universities to fund or provide membership in academic institutions that are boycotting a country or higher education institutions of a country.”

The intent of the bill, according to its sponsors, is spelled out:

The legislature hereby finds that it is beneficial to students of this state to have access to an education that is not bound by borders and to have the opportunity to obtain a global education. The legislature further finds that it is important that New York State undertake efforts to ensure that its students succeed in a world that is continually becoming more interdependent and diverse and further that students have access to international higher education institutions. A global education allows students to connect, compete, and cooperate with their peers around the world. Therefore it is the policy of the State of New York that colleges not use state funds to support boycotts of countries, or higher education institutions located in countries, that host higher education institutions chartered by the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York.

The bill, which currently has 48 sponsors out of 150 members, would cut funding to institutions that pay dues to groups such as the ASA or which subsidize travel to its conferences.

A number of New York-based universities have Israel branches, and Silver made clear in a statement that the target was groups that boycott Israel. According to Mondoweiss, while the word “Israel” is not mentioned in the bill, New York’s Regents board has certified institutions located in Israel, Lebanon, the Czech Republic and Hungary—and one of these states are obviously not like the others.

Also, Assembly Speaker Silver—my representative from the Lower East Side, may God grant him health and many long years, has made clear that he introduced the bill “in response to the American Studies Association’s boycott of Israel and its academic institutions.”

“Colleges should not use funds to support boycotts, resolutions or any similar actions that are discriminatory and limit academic opportunities,” Silver said in the statement.

The ASA was one of three U.S. academic groups to boycott Israeli academic institutions last year.

The legislation was criticized by Dima Khalidi, Director of the Palestine Solidarity Legal Support group as unconstitutional. Khalidi wrote MW that, in her view, boycotts are speech, and that the First Amendment also prohibits public officials from denying public benefits as a way of censoring speech activities.

She would have had a point, had the protections of the First Amendment clearly included Hate Speech. Should the case go all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, it would be interesting to see if they extend the BDS the same rights they did corporations. I welcome comments from the legal professionals in our crowd.

The teeth of the new bill are in this segment: “Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, no college shall be eligible for state aid during the academic year that such college is in violation…”

It means, I believe, that while the school is struggling through the appeals process, grounds worker Willie must go without pay. It’s kinda’ thuggish, and, for once, It’s fun to be on the side of the thugs…

Yori Yanover

Congressional Letter: Academic Boycott of Israel is ‘Thinly Veiled Bigotry’

Friday, January 10th, 2014

PLEASE NOTE TWO UPDATES AT THE END OF THIS ARTICLE

Dozens of members of the U.S. House of Representatives are busily circulating a request to their colleagues, asking them to sign on to a letter to the leadership of the American Studies Association. That letter condemns the ASA for singling out Israel as the focus of its wrath and for instituting an academic boycott of the Jewish State.

The bi-partisan letter, written and signed by two Democrats and two Republicans, is addressed to Prof. Curtis Marez, current president of the ASA. Marez is a member of the ethnic studies department at the University of California, San Diego.

Marez was famously caught by surprise when a reporter asked him why the ASA was singling out Israel, when there are so many other countries involved in far more serious allegations of human rights abuses. Perhaps the questioner was picturing some countries where the very lives of academics are endangered simply for their thoughts or writings. Oh, places like China, North Korea, Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia spring quickly to mind.

But Marez simply answered: “We have to start somewhere.” Right.

The congressional representatives taking the lead on this initiative are House members Peter Roskam (IL-6)(R), Ted Deutch (FL-21)(D), Doug Collins (GA-9)(R) and Bradley S. Schneider (IL-10)(D). Members of Congress from nearly 20 states have already signed on.

The letter itself is strong and unquivocal. It starts out by informing the ASA that the congressional members – as of the time this article was written, representatives from 17 states had already affixed their names – “write in strong opposition” to the ASA’s decision “to blacklist Israeli academic institutions for Israeli government policies with which the ASA disagrees represents a blatant disregard for academic freedom.”

The congressional letter not only condemns the ASA’s boycott of Israel on the grounds of academic freedom, it also denounces it for singling out a single country – Israel, the only Jewish state – for punishment by the ASA when there are so many states engaging in brutal repression of its citizens, including its students and academics, yet about which the ASA remains silent.

Even more concerning is the singular targeting of Israel for boycott. Like all democracies, Israel is not perfect. But to single out Israel, while leaving relationships with universities in autocratic and repressive countries intact, suggests thinly-veiled bigotry and bias against the Jewish State. This morally dishonest double standard has already been rejected by well over 100 university presidents, with several member universities even withdrawing from the organization in protest.

William A. Jacobson, a professor at Cornell Law School, wrote about the congressional letter at Legal Insurrection.  Jacobson said that the members of congress intended to send the letter once they obtained approximately 50 signatures, evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans.

In an email to The Jewish Press, Jacobson explained that those taking the lead on the ASA letter intend to gain as many signatures as possible. He also noted that people were signing on very quickly, “they gained six more names in the space of one-half hour as I was communicating with them.”

“It is not surprising that Congress has taken note given the discriminatory and factually baseless nature of the boycott,” Jacobson wrote. “We will see if Congress takes any action beyond a denunciation.”

Within hours of the letter being circulated, 32 additional members of congress asked to have their names included on the letter.

As of the time this article was published, the signatories included:

Michele Bachmann MN-6 (R), Corrine Brown FL-5 (D), Doug Collins GA-9 (R), Ted Deutch FL-21 (D), Jeff Duncan S-C3

 (R), Eliot Engel NY-16
 (D), Trent Franks AZ-8

 (R), Richard Hudson  NC-8 (R), David Joyce  OH-14 (R), Mike Kelly  PA-3 (R), Peter King NY-2 (R), Doug Lamborn  CO-5 (R), Leonard Lance NJ-7
 (R), Sander Levin MI-9 (D), Tom Marino PA-10

 (R), Betty McCollum MN-4 (D), Grace Meng NY-6

 (D), Patrick Murphy FL-18 (D), Gary Peters MI-14
 (D), Mike Quigley IL-5

 (D), Peter Roskam
 IL-6 (R ), Matt Salmon AZ-5 (R), Adam Schiff  CA-28
 (D), Brad Schneider
 IL-10 (D), Brad Sherman CA 30 (D), Steve Stivers  OH-15

 (R), Eric Swalwell CA-15
 (D), Patrick Tiberi  OH-12

 (R), Dina Titus NV-1 (D), Juan Vargas CA-51
 (D), Tim Walberg  MI-7
 (R), Jackie WalorskiR IN-2 (R), Debbie Wasserman Schultz FL-23, (D) Henry Waxman CA-33 (D), Randy Weber Tx-14 (R), Kevin Yoder  KS-3 (R)

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

55 US Universities Condemn ASA Boycott of Israel

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

At least 55 American universities and colleges have rejected the American Studies Association membership vote in favor of an academic boycott of Israel.

The number was tracked by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

“This remarkable response is a clear declaration that American academia will not be party to the efforts to promote the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement,” Robert Sugarman, its chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, its executive vice chairman, said in a statement.

The Conference of Presidents said it wrote to each of the institutional members of the ASA outlining why the boycott call is an unjustifiable and blatantly discriminatory act.

“The response is very encouraging and we are grateful that so many took the time during a holiday week to respond,” the group’s leaders said. “We continue to urge the rest of the members to speak out against the action and to disassociate from supporting the ASA.”

At the time of the Dec. 15 vote, only 1,252 ASA members out of 3,853 eligible voters were present, and two-thirds of them, about 825 members, approved the boycott.

JTA

More US Universities Withdraw from ASA over Boycott

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013

Two more American institutions of higher learning officially withdrew their memberships from the American Studies Association after its membership voted in favor of an academic boycott of Israel.

Kenyon College and Indiana University on Monday joined Brandeis University and Penn State Harrisburg in canceling their memberships in the association. Dozens of other universities also have condemned the ASA boycott, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown, Cornell, the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, the University of Maryland and New York University.

The executive committee of the Association of American Universities, composed of 60 public and private U.S. colleges and universities and two Canadian universities, issued a statement Dec. 20 opposing a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

Earlier this year, the Association for Asian American Studies announced it would mount an academic boycott of Israel. On Dec. 15, the Native American Studies Association urged its members to boycott Israeli educational institutions. The Modern Language Association next month will debate an academic boycott of Israel.

JTA

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/more-us-universities-withdraw-from-asa-over-boycott/2013/12/25/

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