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Bill to Strip Schools Supporting ASA Boycott of Public Funding

New York State politicians to propose bill stripping public aid from colleges, universities supporting ASA boycott of Israel.
By Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 12/28/2013, 7:01 PM

Anti-Israel boycotters (illustration)
Anti-Israel boycotters (illustration)
Flash 90

Two New York lawmakers are fighting an anti-Israel boycott with a campaign of their own: to stop the flow of public funds to schools involved in the scandal. 

The New York Daily News reported Friday that Senate co-leader Jeffrey Klein and Assemblyman Dov Hikind are proposing a bill that would give colleges and universities in the state of New York 30 days to withdraw their support from groups boycotting Israel - or lose state funding. 

The bill is a specific response against the smear campaign against Israel launched by the American Studies Association (ASA), a group of roughly 5000 professors who recently singled out Israel for criticism and voted to boycott the Jewish state. 

The group stated earlier this month that the vote actualized “a refusal to enter into formal collaborations with Israeli academic institutions, or with scholars who are expressly serving as representatives or ambassadors of those institutions (such as deans, rectors, presidents and others), or on behalf of the Israeli government."

Israeli academics and American Jewish leaders expressed outrage at the boycott for violating academic freedom. Kein and Hikind echoed this sentiment - while also vowing to enact repercussions for organizations supporting the boycott. 

“Make no mistake: the ASA’s boycott is targeted discrimination against Israel that betrays the values of academic freedom that we hold dear,” Klein and Hikind said in a joint statement. 

“No other nation — even those with far worse records on human rights and academic freedom than what the ASA has accused Israel of — is subject to a similar boycott by the ASA."

The legislation would both strip the state's public universities of their funding, and also prohibit employees and staff from participating in conferences sponsored by groups that participate in discriminatory boycotts.

The bill, if passed, would also presumably affect all universities joining the wider movement against Israel - the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, which has been linked to anti-Israel incitement and violence. 

On Sunday, former Israeli ambassador to the US Michael Oren called on the US Congress to stop academic boycotts on the federal level, in a fiery editorial article in Politico Magazine

"By banning interaction with fellow scholars, the ASA is undermining the very academic freedom it purportedly represents," Oren wrote.

"Moreover, by singling out Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East and a country renowned for its liberal universities, by ignoring the Palestinian Authority's opposition to such a boycott, and overlooking vast human rights abuses in many other countries, the ASA is guilty of prejudice."

Notably, not a single university has expressed support for the boycott thus far.

Moreover, four prestigious institutions have quit the ASA in response to the announcement: Brandeis, Penn State, Indiana University, and Kenyon College.