BDS fail: American scholars reject Israel boycott

Modern Language Association rejects resolution calling for academic boycott of Israel.

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Ben Ariel,

Posters calling to boycott Israel
Posters calling to boycott Israel
Flash 90

The U.S. Modern Language Association on Saturday rejected a resolution calling for an academic boycott of Israel, Haaretz reports.

113 members of the delegate assembly voted against the resolution, with 79 voting in favor.

The vote on the resolution took place during the four-day MLA convention underway in Philadelphia.

Had the resolution passed, it could have dealt a significant blow to Israeli academics and students working in departments of language, literature, and related fields across the U.S., as well as to collaborations and research involving Israeli academic institutions.

The resolution was proposed by a group called MLA Members for Justice in Palestine, according to Haaretz.

In addition to rejecting the a boycott against Israel, the 300 members of the MLA's delegate assembly also adopted a resolution to oppose all boycotts, and voted to indefinitely postpone a motion to condemn suppression of academic freedom in Palestinian universities in Gaza and Palestinian Authority-assigned areas of Judea and Samaria.

In recent years there have been several attempts by pro-Palestinian organizations, some of them successful and others not, to impose an academic boycott against Israel.

A year ago, in January of 2016, the American Historical Association (AHA) rejected a resolution condemning Israel’s alleged “restriction of Palestinians right to education”.

The resolution, which was submitted by a group calling itself Historians Against the War, was voted down 111-51 during the association’s annual convention in Atlanta, Georgia.

In November, the American Anthropological Association (AAA) endorsed an academic boycott of Israel, a decision which was blasted by AJC - Global Jewish Advocacy.

In 2013, the American Studies Association (ASA) voted to boycott Israeli institutions. The head of the ASA, Curtis Marez, later admitted to the New York Times that many nations, including many of Israel’s neighbors, have human rights records that are worse than Israel’s but said that “one has to start somewhere.”

The ASA's boycott decision was controversial even among its members. No universities actually came out in support of the boycott and at least four universities subsequently quit the organization in protest of the boycott.