Jewish Voice for Peace Responds to ASA's Vote on Academic Boycotts
[December 16, 2013, New York] The passage of a resolution stating that the American Studies Association (ASA) will not enter into formal collaborations with Israeli academic institutions until Israel ends it human rights violations represents a significant milestone in the growth of the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement in the United States. At a time when the world is remembering the legacy of Nelson Mandela, this membership vote reminds us that peoples’ movements can have a decisive role to play in working towards justice and peace.
With its endorsement, the members of the ASA have voted to hold Israeli institutions accountable for their participation in human rights violations, bringing into sharp focus Israeli policies that severely limit the academic freedom of Palestinians within the occupied Palestinian territory and inside Israel. The resolution specifies that it does not prohibit collaboration on research and publications between individual scholars, nor does it prohibit Israeli scholars from attending international conferences.
Additionally, the resolution helpfully responds to efforts to chill and stifle debate about Israel and Palestine on campus. "The ASA supports the protected rights of students and scholars everywhere to engage in research and public speaking about Israel Palestine and in support of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement.” JVP appreciates the ASA’s position that these issues should be considered openly, and stands with the ASA against all attempts to shut down debate on campus. The open discussions that preceded the ASA vote and the ones it will generate are a welcome trend in academic discourse in this country.
While Jewish Voice for Peace takes no position on academic boycotts, we do not believe that boycotts to pressure Israel to abide by international law are inherently anti-Semitic. Like the grape boycott by the United Farmworkers Union and the Nestle boycott, such boycotts employ nonviolent tactics in the service of liberation. They are among the tools that Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress employed to topple Apartheid in South Africa. In particular, the ASA resolution was clearly a sensitively written and thoughtfully argued effort that targets Israel’s policies, not Jewish people.
Jewish Voice for Peace is a national human rights group with 35 chapters, a rabbinic cabinet and 130,000 online supporters. We are the largest organization of Jews and allies in the US advocating for an end to the Israeli occupation and working for peace with justice in the Middle East. Our active Advisory Board includes academics like Noam Chomsky, Judith Butler and Daniel Boyarin.###