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Academics Vote to Boycott Israeli Universities

December 16, 2013 By:
JTA
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The American Studies Association passed a vote to boycott Israeli academic institutions, such as the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where students are shown in Oct. 2013. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/JTA.

WASHINGTON — The membership of the American Studies Association  endorsed its national council’s call for a boycott of Israeli universities.

Two-thirds of the 1,252 members who voted approved the boycott, according to the ASA announcement Monday, a day after the deadline for voting.

At the time of the vote, there were 3,853 eligible voters, meaning a third of the membership participated.

The membership-wide canvas was unprecedented and was undertaken in part at the behest of boycott opponents, who said at a session during the ASA annual conference in Washington last month that the matter was too sensitive to leave up to the 20-member national council, which unanimously endorsed the boycott.

“The National Council engaged and addressed questions and concerns of the membership throughout the process,” the ASA statement said. “During the open discussion at the recent convention, members asked us to draft a resolution that was relevant to the ASA in particular and so the Council’s final resolution acknowledged that the U.S. plays a significant role in enabling the Israeli occupation of Palestine.”

The resolution, which applies to ASA as an organization, is not binding on members and targets institutions, not individuals.

In its announcement, the ASA said it would invite both Israeli and Palestinian academics to its 2014 national meeting in Los Angeles. ASA describes itself as “devoted to the interdisciplinary study of American culture and history.”

The group ignored calls from the American Association of University Professors to vote against the boycott.


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