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September 21, 2014 / 26 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘academic boycott of Israel’

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…

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)

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.

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.

Native American Academics Join Boycott of Israeli Universities

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

A Native American studies association is the third U.S. academic body this year to recommend its members boycott Israeli universities.

The Native American and Indigenous Studies Association in a Dec. 15 announcement said it “encourages NAISA members to boycott Israeli academic institutions because they are imbricated with the Israeli state and we wish to place pressure on that state to change its policies.”

The statement encouraged “generous dialogue” on the issue and said the boycott was open to discussion at the group’s national conference in May in Austin, Texas.

Like the American Studies Association, which announced its own boycott this week, the NAISA boycott does not target individuals and is not binding on members.

The Asian American Studies Association approved a similar boycott in April.

Tel Aviv Group Threatens Australian BDS Professors with Legal Action

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

A Tel Aviv-based civil rights group warned Australian supporters of a proposed boycott against Israel on Thursday that their activities were racist, and in violation of Australian Federal anti-discrimination laws. Recently, faculty and students at Sydney University called for the severing of links with Israeli institutions.

In letters sent to Associate Professor Jake Lynch, Professor Stuart Rees and others, Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center threatened to take legal action if they did not immediately discontinue their boycott campaign.

This past semester, the university’s student body endorsed Associate Professor Jake Lynch’s academic boycott of Israel. Lynch had publicly announced his refusal to work with Dan Avnon, an Israeli professor from the prestigious Hebrew University in Jerusalem, which promotes Israeli-Arab coexistence, and also called for a boycott of Technion University in Haifa.

Professors’ Lynch and Rees’ actions, although widely condemned by mainstream politicians and community figures, have also been supported by NSW Labor MP Lynda Voltz and Mary Kostakidis.

According to NSW Solicitor Andrew Hamilton of Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has been recognized as antisemitic by leading authorities such as Anti-Defamation League in the United States, and in a report recently released by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

In the letters Hamilton pointed out that the Racial Discrimination Act of 1975 made it “unlawful for a person to do any act involving a distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, … national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of any human right or fundamental freedom in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.”

Hamilton also warned that any “successful” boycott of Israel was illegal under the Competition and Consumer Act of 2010 if they damage the businesses they target, and that as a result parties could be investigated by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and face legal action for damages.

“Lynch, Rees, Voltz and others like them seek to impose restrictions on those having Israeli and Jewish national, racial or ethnic origins, whether these are goods, services, persons and organizations. The participants of the BDS movement clearly seek to violate freedoms guaranteed by Federal law,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton added out that “these individuals act with the clear purpose of nullifying or impairing the recognition and equal footing of those persons and organizations whom they seek to boycott, divest from and sanction.”

Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center is an organization dedicated to enforcing basic human rights through the legal system and represents victims of terrorism in courtrooms around the world. Its clients include American, European, and Israeli citizens. It is a fully independent non-profit organization, unaffiliated with any political party or governmental body.

Read a copy of the letter to Lynch.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/tel-aviv-group-threatens-australian-bds-professors-with-legal-action/2013/06/13/

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