Jewish Voice for Peace Responds to ASA's Resolution on Academic Boycotts
Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) supports right of American Studies Association's National Council to consider boycott of Israeli academic institutions complicit in the violation of Palestinian human rights
A groundbreaking boycott resolution, endorsed by the ASA leadership, is now open to a referendum through December 15.
[December 3, 2013. New York] Jewish Voice for Peace, a national human rights group with 35 chapters, a rabbinic cabinet and 130,000 online supporters, is encouraged by the healthy, respectful, and substantive conversation in support of Palestinian human rights undertaken by the American Studies Association.
The leadership of the ASA, the country's oldest and largest association devoted to the interdisciplinary study of American culture and history, has endorsed a groundbreaking resolution aimed at pressuring Israel to abide by international law, and expressing solidarity with Palestinians who are systematically deprived of academic freedom.
The resolution states that the ASA "in its official capacities" will not enter into formal collaborations with Israeli academic institutions until Israel ends it human rights violations. Five thousand members will be able to vote on the resolution through December 15.
While Jewish Voice for Peace has no position on academic boycotts, we categorically reject the assertion that boycotts to pressure Israel to abide by international law are inherently anti-Semitic. On the contrary, these boycotts use nonviolent tactics to further human rights.
The resolution recommended for passage by the ASA leadership would not target Jews, Jewish studies or individual Israeli academics. Academic boycott is about the institutional academic connections that support Israeli policies of occupation and oppression of Palestinians.
Such a seemingly extreme move must be understood in context: Israel is responsible for severe restrictions to academic freedom imposed against Palestinians. Jewish Voice for Peace organized a Right to Education tour in the US in 2011 highlighting those restrictions. In effect, Israel has imposed an academic boycott on Palestinian students.
For example, JVP has stood in support of Palestinians and more than 1,000 Israeli academics who opposed and fought the establishment of the first settler university in the Occupied West Bank.
“While settlers will be able to attend classes with ease, Palestinians are barred from attending the university. Meanwhile, Palestinian students at Birzeit University, and other institutions in the West Bank, face countless barriers to achieving their education, including daily check-points, road blocks, and harassment by Israeli soldiers. Not only are students living in Gaza forbidden from attending schools in the West Bank and Jerusalem but since Israel will not provide exit visas for residents of Gaza, the United States has withdrawn Fulbright grants to students hoping to pursue advanced degrees at U.S. institutions. Palestinians with Jerusalem residency rights who choose to travel abroad to study, return to find their right to return to their home revoked. Professors and faculty, like their students, also face academic barriers. Without freedom of movement it has become difficult to access necessary research materials and to communicate with one another and the international community of scholars with which they are a part. In the face of these barriers, students and faculty continue to learn, create new avenues for research, and produce first-rate scholarship.”
Jewish Voice for Peace is 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.