Anti-Israel Boycott Roils U.S. Academia


Brandeis and Penn State Harrisburg Universities have disassociated themelves from the academic boycott against Israeli universities joined recently by the American Studies Association (ASA), The Jerusalem Post reported.

“It is a with deep regret that we in the American Studies Program at Brandeis University have decided to discontinue our institutional affiliation with the American Studies Association,” a message on the university’s American Studies program said.

Brandeis rejected the ASA vote for the boycott of Israel “as a politicization of the discipline and a rebuke to the kind of open inquiry that a scholarly association should foster.”

Dr. Simon J. Bronner of Penn State Harrisburg also issued a statement, saying that the ASA resolution “curtails academic freedom and undermines the reputation of American Studies as a scholarly enterprise.”

Dr. Bronner, the chair of the American Studies program at the Pennsylvania university, is a prominent member of the ASA, and serves as the editor-in-chief of the Encyclopedia of American Studies, an ASA-sponsored publication.

The American Association of University Professors, a larger, more prestigious organization, condemned the ASA move in an open letter which said it was disappointed by support for the boycott.

However, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) also decided to join the boycott against Israel earlier this week.

A “member-generated” petition asked the group to “formally support the boycott of Israeli academic and cultural Institutions that was initiated by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.”

The Association for Asian American Studies adopted the boycott in April.

In a declaration of support for the boycott, the NAISA Council said it “protests the infringement of the academic freedom of Indigenous Palestinian academics and intellectuals in the Occupied Territories and Israel who are denied fundamental freedoms of movement, expression, and assembly, which we uphold.”

But the charge that Palestinians are being denied “fundamental freedoms of movement, expression, and assembly” are simply false, as journalist Jonathan Tobin pointed out in Commentary.

On the contrary, Palestinian academics in Yehudah and Shomron assemble, teach and publish “while working in the many Palestinian institutions of higher education that were all founded after Israel took control of the area in 1967,” Tobin wrote.

The Palestinian media operates without any restraint by Israel and, as such, continues its incessant incitement to hatred against Israel and Jews.

Also on Thursday, the outgoing EU envoy to the Middle East said there is growing support among the 28 member states for labeling Israeli products, seen by some as a possible precursor to a consumer boycott, The Associated Press reported.

Andreas Reinicke said Thursday that the number of EU states in favor of labeling has grown from two to 14 since he assumed his post nearly two years ago and that momentum is growing.