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91 universities reject ASA boycott of Israel as 2013 ends

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conference of presidents logoNEW YORK (Press Release)– “As of today, more than ninety university presidents and chancellors have released statements rejecting the American Studies Association’s recent decision to boycott Israeli academic institutions,” said Robert G. Sugarman, Chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. The leaders expressed their appreciation to the presidents and chancellors from across the nation who “stood up against this discriminatory and unjustified measure and rejected the ASA boycott of Israel. This is now a clarion call to reject the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and assure that American campuses are not subverted for extremist political ends.”

Sugarman and Hoenlein highlighted some of the important statements reaffirming close ties with Israeli counterparts and calling for the rejection of the boycott initiative. President of Columbia University, Lee C. Bollinger said “…I reject the ASA’s position which would compromise an essential value of universities in an increasingly global society—and we look forward to continuing Columbia’s long history of engagement with our peers from Israel.” President Christopher L. Eisgruber of Princeton University said, “I share your dismay at the American Studies Association’s misguided boycott… and, whatever one thinks of boycotts in general, to single out Israel alone is indefensible. My personal support for scholarly engagement with Israel is enthusiastic and unequivocal… My hope is that the ASA’s more thoughtful and reasonable members will eventually bring the organization to its senses–here, too, engagement may be better than a boycott.” President William P. Kelly, Interim Chancellor of City University of New York said, “…We take this opportunity to reaffirm our long association with Israeli scholars and universities… and we repudiate any effort to foreclose productive dialogue…”  President Joseph M. McShane, S.J., of Fordham University said, “…it stands resolutely in opposition to the call for the boycott of Israeli universities recently advocated by the members of the American Studies Association. We believe that boycotts of this kind seriously undermine and hinder the efforts of any intellectual community to fulfill its mission in the service of wisdom and learning.” President John Sexton of New York University said, “We write on behalf of New York University to express our disappointment, disagreement, and opposition to the boycott advocated by your organization of Israeli academics and academic institutions…We urge your organization to overturn this boycott.” Links to the full text of their statements and others are included below.

Lee C. Bollinger, President of Columbia University:

“I have made my opposition to academic boycotts of Israel emphatically clear over the years, most prominently in my 2007 letter that was signed by some 400 of my fellow college and university presidents speaking out against the British University and College Union’s boycott of Israeli scholars and universities. I stand by that statement today when considering the recent vote by the American Studies Association for just such a boycott. To be sure, it is entirely appropriate for our campuses to provide a forum for discussion and debate about the policies of any government, including our own.  But the ASA’s vote runs counter to this essential academic and political freedom and, taken to its logical conclusion, would necessarily result in boycotts of fellow scholars and peer institutions from many nations around the world.  I reject the ASA’s position which would compromise an essential value of universities in an increasingly global society—and we look forward to continuing Columbia’s long history of engagement with our peers from Israel.”
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Christopher L. Eisgruber, President of Princeton University:

“I share your dismay at the American Studies Association’s misguided boycott. Academic boycotts are almost always bad policy–scholarly engagement helps to sustain and build liberal democratic values. For that reason, among others, I believe that Princeton should continue to work constructively with scholars and institutions throughout the world, whether one admires or dislikes the government under which they operate. And, whatever one thinks of boycotts in general, to single out Israel alone is indefensible.

My personal support for scholarly engagement with Israel is enthusiastic and unequivocal. Indeed, my latest article (currently in page proofs) emerges from a conference in Jerusalem sponsored by the Israel Democracy Institute, and it will appear in a volume published by that organization.

That said, I do not intend to denounce the ASA, make it unwelcome on campus, or inhibit the ability of faculty members to affiliate with it. My hope is that the ASA’s more thoughtful and reasonable members will eventually bring the organization to its senses–here, too, engagement may be better than a boycott. That is for individual faculty members to decide. In any event, I look forward to continued interaction with the wonderful scholars and universities in Israel.”

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William P. Kelly, Interim Chancellor of City University of New York:

“The free exchange of ideas is at the heart of the academic enterprise. Any effort to impede that flow is antithetical to the values that universities hold most dear. The City University of New York is proud of its many international collaborations and is committed to extending and deepening those relations. We take this opportunity to reaffirm our long association with Israeli scholars and universities, and we note with particular pleasure a new joint MBA program between the Zicklin School at Baruch College and the College of Management Academic Studies in Rishon LeZion. The need for global cooperation has never been more urgent, and we repudiate any effort to foreclose productive dialogue.”

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Joseph M. McShane, S.J., President of Fordham University:

“As a Jesuit university, Fordham has always been devoted to the pursuit of wisdom and learning, a pursuit that is dependent upon and advanced by spirited, principled debate between and among scholars. Therefore, although the University certainly recognizes and reveres the freedom of conscience of the individual scholars who comprise its faculty, it stands resolutely in opposition to the call for the boycott of Israeli universities recently advocated by the members of the American Studies Association. We believe that boycotts of this kind seriously undermine and hinder the efforts of any intellectual community to fulfill its mission in the service of wisdom and learning.”

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John Sexton, President of New York University:

“We write on behalf of New York University to express our disappointment, disagreement, and opposition to the boycott advocated by your organization of Israeli academics and academic institutions.

This boycott is at heart a disavowal of the free exchange of ideas and the free association of scholars that undergird academic freedom; as such, it is antithetical to the values and tenets of institutions of advanced learning.

We urge your organization to overturn this boycott.”

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Philip J. Hanlon, President of Dartmouth College:

“President Phil Hanlon announced his opposition to the American Studies Association’s boycott of Israeli institutions in an email to campus Saturday morning. With his statement, he joins university presidents nationwide in condemning the decision of the group to block collaboration with Israeli colleges and universities.

“Collaboration, especially across significant points of tension and difference, is essential to fostering mutual understanding and solving the world’s most complex problems,” Hanlon wrote.

The association, composed of academics nationwide who study American culture and history, voted by a 2-1 margin in favor of the boycott, sparked by disapproval of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

In the weeks following the vote, however, many university presidents have condemned the boycott. Hanlon joins the presidents of Harvard University, Yale University, Brown University and Cornell University in rejecting the association’s decision.”

 

In addition, the following institutions’ American Studies programs have withdrawn their membership in the American Studies Association (ASA) following last week’s boycott vote:

Furthermore, the following institutions have flatly denied being institutional members of the ASA, though the organization lists them as such:

 

We offer special thanks to Avi Mayer, of the Jewish Agency for Israel, William A. Jacobson at Legal Insurrection and our colleagues across the country for their diligence and hard work on this issue.

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Preceding provided by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

8 Responses to “91 universities reject ASA boycott of Israel as 2013 ends”

  1. Thank you for posting this excellent information. A year ago, Mindy Stein and I (both from Teaneck, NJ) founded BeCounted4Israel, a free Israel advocacy organization which briefly summarizes information from major Jewish organizations with their permission – such as Conference of Presidents, Camera, AIPAC, NORPAC, Stand With Us, EMET, etc. – and provides a 3-4 line statement which members of congregations (Jewish & Christian), schools (parochial & public), and organizations of all kinds can phone or email to contacts we provide in order to advocate for Israel concerning political, cultural, ethical, and economic issues. This information will inspire our participants to continue their advocacy efforts.

  2. I am proud to be a graduate of Brooklyn College one of those institutions of higher learning that have condemned the ASA proposition. The latter is not just misguided but actually vicious and in conflict with the essence of American values. Coming from an organization that purports to focus on American Studies it is beyond belief that such a position could be taken by them. When asked why choose Israel when there are so many countries in constant violation eggregiously of human rights of their own and occupied nations, it is reported that the response was, “we have to start somewhere”. How much of a coward and how decitful can one be and try to maintain credibility. What not start with China or Iran?
    Good for Brooklyn College and all the other universities and colleges whose presidents and administration had the courage to boldly state their opposition to this boycott.
    Michael Gordon, MD, FRCPC, FRCPEdin
    Professor of Medicine
    University of Toronto

  3. Sigmund Silber says:

    The ASA sounds like a lovely antisemitic group. The Third Reich survives in academia.

    Congratulations to the universities who have stood up to this hateful organization.

  4. Dr. Doris Steinberg says:

    I, too, am proud of my alma mater, Northwestern University, for standing up for what is right and condemning the ASA resolution. ASA has not done its homework and actually studied the conflict, otherwise, it would know that Israel, while not perfect, is, in fact, a country of democratic, ethical and moral values, Its behavior towards the Palestinians is reasonable and justified,considering the terrorism that it has endured and its need to protect its citizens. ASA isa bunch of sheep that blindly follow political correctness without thought or reason.

    Doris Steinberg, Phd

  5. Mark Crispin Miller says:

    The San Diego Jewish World ought to reconsider its salute to NYU President John Sexton—who, while loudly deploring the ASA’s Israel boycott, quietly supports the one by Abu Dhabi.

    Abu Dhabi forbids collaboration with Israeli universities, while barring entry by Israelis (not just professors). Despite that policy, as well as Abu Dhabi’s many other human rights violations, NYU has a branch there, for which the royal family reportedly gave Pres. Sexton a check for $50 million.

    Although that regime is vastly more ferocious than the ASA (and flagrantly anti-Jewish, unlike the ASA), Pres. Sexton has not only refused to criticize its cruelties but has even actually defended them.

    His name therefore does not belong in any honor roll of college presidents who stand unwaveringly with Israel.

  6. M. Edward Triefler says:

    Why was Florida State University not listed?

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  1. […] light of the ignorant and vicious actions of the minuscule American Studies Association, which has been rejected by at least 91 university presidents to date, I am re-posting a column first published two years ago tomorrow. Some things are, if not eternal, […]


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