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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘William A. Jacobson’

Cornell Students Firmly Reject Anti-Israel Divestment Resolution

Friday, April 11th, 2014

In yet another failure of the anti-Israel divestment movement, the Cornell University student government voted on Thursday, April 10, against a Resolution to recommend that the school divest its holdings in Israeli companies.

The vote was 15 in favor of indefinitely tabling the Resolution, eight against tabling the Resolution and one abstention.

William A. Jacobson, a clinical professor of law at Cornell Law School, followed the student efforts closely. He writes an authoritative blog on campus activity regarding Israel, Legal Insurrection. His blog was the source of the most up-to-date and complete information regarding the American Studies Association’s vote to boycott Israeli academic institutions last year, as it is of so many other fast-paced and ever-multiplying threats against Israel on U.S. campuses.

“I’m very proud of the way the pro-Israel students were able to mobilize so quickly. Now they all can enjoy their Passover holiday,” Jacobson told The Jewish Press by email.

The Cornell professor was referring to the way in which the Divestment Resolution was brought to the Cornell Student Assembly for a vote. As he detailed in a post two days ago, the students, led by the nefarious campus group Students for Justice in Palestine, in a surprise move, inserted the Resolution onto the calendar just two days before,so that it came up for a vote Thursday, April 10, at 4:30 p.m.

Because the Passover holiday begins on Monday, most Jewish students ordinarily would leave for home during the day on Thursday. If the initial Resolution passed, it would mean that the substantive vote would take place the following Thursday, smack in the middle of the Passover holiday.

That cheap and dirty strategic trick, as Jacobson noted in his blog post describing it, was “reminiscent of the exploitation of the Yom Kippur Jewish holiday in 1973 to launch an attack on Israel.”

And just as effective. They lost. By a lot.

WHAT THE RESOLUTION SAID

Cornell Student Assembly Resolution is titled: Resolution Urging Cornell University to Divest from Companies Profiting from Israeli Occupation and Human Rights Violations.  That Resolution includes the usual panoply of distortions of truth regarding the situation and hyperbole regarding the “crucial role of students and scholars in finding and advocating for solutions to humanity’s various crises” (but not regarding Syria, Sudan, Eritrea, China or any other genocides or true humanitarian disasters currently taking place around the globe).

As always, the “Occupation” is the root of the only evil they recognize. The students point to the “Occupation,” the Separation Barrier and the Israel Defense Forces as the reasons for the misery of the lives of the Palestinian Arabs.

Sadly, most of the clauses cited in the Cornell Divestment Resolution cites United Nations Security Council and General Assembly Resolutions and International Court of Justice rulings.

Specific companies named in the Resolution include SodaStream, IngersollRand and Raytheon.

The students authors are outraged that “Cornell University has portfolio and direct investments in corporations that profit  Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, thereby making Cornell a complicit third party in human rights abuses and violations of international law.”

The Resolution concludes like this:

Be it further resolved, that Cornell University will make information about all of its assets public, pertaining especially to its investments;

And be it finally resolved, that Cornell University will end its complicity with the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and divest its holdings from the aforementioned companies and any other companies that profit directly from Israeli military occupation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Moreover, Cornell University will not make further investments in companies that materially support or profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory.

Just to be sure everyone understands, this is the student government of Cornell University. Even if the Resolution passed, the student government has absolutely no power to require the university to follow its directives.

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)

Israel Academic Boycott Group’s Tax Status Challenged

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

Just as he said he would, and as The Jewish Press reported in December, Cornell Law professor William A. Jacobson has filed a challenge to the American Studies Association’s tax exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service.

Jacobson filed his challenge on Monday, Jan. 6. The essence of the 36 page challenge is that the boycott of Israeli academic institutions is inconsistent with the only purpose for which the ASA was granted tax exempt status, i.e. education.  In addition, the boycott itself constitutes discrimination on the basis of national origin, and therefore it is a violation of American public policy.

According to the 36 page legal document, filed under the federal “Tax Whistleblower Act,” the ASA’s boycott was taken on behalf of “Palestinian civil society” and will impact all Israeli academic institutions and all faculty representing or acting on behalf of Israeli academic institutions or the Israeli government.

But, Jacobson challenges, the ASA’s academic boycott is not consistent with the bases upon which its tax exemption was granted.  The challenge and Jacobson’s explanations can be found at his blog, Legal Insurrection.

The remedy sought by Jacobson’s challenge is the revocation of the ASA’s tax exempt status because, as the result of its decision to pursue the boycott of Israeli academic institutions, the ASA is “no longer ‘organized and operated exclusively for charitable or educational purposes’ and does not primarily serve a public purpose” as required under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

 

Growing Number of Schools Blast Academic Group Boycotting Israel

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

It has been exactly a week since the American Studies Association ratified its vote to boycott Israeli academic institutions.  Since that vote, an ever-growing number of individual professors, American Studies departments, academic associations and universities have come out with statements rejecting the ASA boycott.

Within a day of the ratification, the American Studies Departments of both Penn State University and Brandeis University announced their intent to withdraw from the ASA because of the boycott vote.

Since that time, the Association of American Universities, the umbrella organization for 62 major universities and university-systems, and the Association of American University Professors, which has multiple chapters in more than 35 states, have both firmly rejected the boycott.

In addition to those academic institutions, an additional 23 universities have officially rejected the ASA boycott.

Professor William A. Jacobson, clinical professor at Cornell Law School, has been collecting the information at his website, Legal Insurrection. He has been covering the ASA boycott extensively and continuously. His site is the virtual treasure trove of information regarding responses to the ASA boycott. He gives the reason for his focus in a poignant note he posted on Dec. 17, calling for a boycott

The schools joining Penn State and Brandeis include Harvard University, Princeton University, New York University, Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania.

Jacobson notes that neither he nor anyone else has been able to find a single institution of higher learning in the United States which has endorsed the ASA’s boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

Members Flee Academic Group Boycotting Israel, May Form New Group

Friday, December 20th, 2013

When the American Studies Association decided to spurn Israel because it disagrees with some of its policies, it should have anticipated that some of its own members might do the same and that it would be on the receiving end.

When a majority of the voting members (only one quarter of those eligible voted) of the American Studies Association voted to ratify a resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions, elation broke out amongst the advocates of the economic warfare movement against Israel known as BDS.  BDS stands for the Boycott of, Divestment from and Sanctions against Israel.

Given the vagueness of the actual terms of the boycott (it doesn’t apply to most individual Israeli professors and it doesn’t apply to American professors who wish to teach in Israel), and of the goal it seeks to achieve (the resolution talks about ending the “Occupation,” but it cites as its inspiration a Palestinian Arab organization which sees the entire Jewish State as the occupier, not just some towns beyond an imaginary Green Line), perhaps the only thing the ASA boycott may achieve is a dissolution of the American Studies Association.

Already two universities have formally withdrawn their membership from the ASA.

PENN STATE’S AMERICAN STUDIES DEPARTMENT WITHDRAWS FROM ASA

Penn State University, whose American Studies Department is located at its Harrisburg campus, was the first to walk out the door.  Dr. Simon J. Bronner chairs his school’s American Studies Department. He was the editor in chief in 2011 of the Encyclopedia of American Studies – an ASA publication. Bronner  issued a statement announcing his department’s withdrawal from the ASA.

The ASA boycott decision, Bronner wrote, will act to “curtail academic freedom and undermine the reputation of American Studies as a scholarly enterprise.” Bronner went further.  He said that not only will his department drop its ASA membership, he “will encourage others to do so.”

BRANDEIS UNIVERSITY’S AMERICAN STUDIES DEPARTMENT SECEDES FROM ASA

The Brandeis University American Studies Department was the second school to secede from the ASA.

Professor Stephen Whitfield has taught American Studies at Brandeis for more than forty years. He is the Max Richter Professor of American Civilization and the author of eight books dealing with the field of American Studies, along with dozens of scholarly articles, as well as ones of public interest.

The Jewish Press asked Whitfield about his department’s response to the ASA boycott. He responded by email that the vote by the ASA

defies the very purposes of the American Studies Association, which is a scholarly organization–not (as the boycott vote suggests) the conscience of humanity.  The members of the ASA are free–as citizens, as individuals–to take any position they wish on the vexing issues of the Middle East and elsewhere.  But the deepening politicization of the ASA, which ought to ensure that its members feel at home as Americanists regardless of their politics, is deeply offensive, indeed repugnant.

The statement on the Brandeis American Studies Department website announced it will discontinue its affiliation with the ASA. It condemns the boycott vote as a “politicization of the discipline,” and scolded that it was “a rebuke to the kind of open inquiry that a scholarly association should foster.”

We remain committed to the discipline of American Studies but we can no longer support an organization that has rejected two of the core principles of American culture– freedom of association and expression.

ALTERNATIVES TO AMERICAN STUDIES ASSOCIATION TO FORM?

In an exchange between Penn State’s Bronner and Prof. William A. Jacobson of Cornell Law School, Bronner hinted that alternative organizations for serious scholars in the discipline who want to concentrate on American Studies rather than contemporary politics may be forming.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/members-flee-academic-group-boycotting-israel-may-form-new-group/2013/12/20/

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