The Academic Studies Association voted Sunday by a 66 percent majority to boycott Israeli academic and cultural institutions over their “treatment of Palestinians,” drawing a strong backlash.
“The American Association of University Professors said it stands in opposition to academic boycotts as a matter of principle” which "runs counter to the commitment to the free exchange of ideas.”
"Targeting Israeli institutions solely because they are in Israel — the only democratic country in the Middle East where scholarship and debate are encouraged and flourish — is manifestly unjust," Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman said in a statement. "We commend those members of the ASA who boldly spoke out and voted against this shameful resolution. We further applaud the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) for reiterating its opposition to academic boycotts.
New York Rep. Eliot Engel, the most senior Democratic member on the House Foreign Relations Committee, said: "I simply fail to see how cutting off ties to Israeli universities furthers the interests of peace and coexistence," he said. "Ironically, many within the Israeli academic community are strong and vocal proponents of peace -- and are simply being boycotted due to their nationality and academic affiliation."
"I would note that Israel is the first country to be boycotted by this academic organization, which has chosen to stay silent on the slaughter in Syria, the continued imprisonment of democracy activists in Iran, or the scores of other dictatorships around the world," the congressman said. "Yet once again we see this unfair double standard applied to Israel.” One member ASA member repliled: "You have to start somewhere."