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      Brandeis, Penn State Quit ASA over Israel Boycott

      Boycotting the boycotters, universities say ASA 'rejected core principles of freedom of association and expression.'
      By Gil Ronen
      First Publish: 12/19/2013, 10:22 PM

      Ariel University campus
      Ariel University campus
      Flash 90

      Brandeis University and Penn State Harrisburg on Wednesday announced they have withdrawn from the American Studies Association (ASA) following the ASA membership’s Dec. 15 vote to endorse a boycott of Israel, reported JNS.org.

      “We view the recent vote by the membership to affirm an academic boycott of Israel as a politicization of the discipline and a rebuke to the kind of open inquiry that a scholarly association should foster,” the Brandeis American Studies Department said in a statement. “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.”

      Dr. Simon Bronner, the head of the American Studies department at Penn State Harrisburg, said in a statement, “In the wake of the passage of the resolution by the ASA to boycott Israeli institutions, which programs and departments such as Penn State Harrisburg’s program in American Studies consider to curtail academic freedom and undermine the reputation of American Studies as a scholarly enterprise, the chair of the American Studies program at Penn State Harrisburg plans to drop its institutional membership and will encourage others to do so.”

      Former Harvard University President Lawrence Summers also condemned the ASA's move, in a PBS interview earlier this month. 

      "I think academic boycotts, on principle, are abhorrent," Summers stated. "The way to change behavior if you don't like it is to talk to people, not to isolate them."

      Israeli academic officials reacted sharply to the boycott. “We oppose all types of academic boycotts, and we ask our colleagues members of academic staff at institutions around the world, to act against these boycotts,” the Israel Academic Association said. 

      “Academic research is based on cooperation between institutions, untarnished by politics or ideology. Imposing an academic boycott on any academic institution has serious consequences for academic freedom,” the group added.