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Open Letter To NYU's President: Why The American Studies Assn.'s Israel Boycott Makes Me Ashamed To Be An Alumnus

A letter from acclaimed journalist Richard Behar on the BDS movement against Israel, particularly, the ASA and Modern Language Association's decisions to join

By: Richard Behar, Forbes
Published: January 14th, 2014 in Business » Local
New York University

Dear NYU President John Sexton,

I’m a journalism graduate of New York University. Over the course of a three-decade career, I’ve been invited numerous times to speak to NYU students who are studying for masters degrees in business and economics reporting. That program, known as BER, is arguably the best in the nation, and I was honored to have served years ago on a BER advisory panel.

This letter is lengthy, and I can only hope that you may find the time from your busy schedule to stick with it – or at least most of it. Thanks for your consideration.

Delegates of the 130-year-old Modern Language Association of America (MLA) on Saturday adopted a preliminary resolution that – if approved by its 28,000 members – will denounce Israel for controlling its own borders. It will call on the State Department to “contest Israel’s denials of entry… by U.S academics” who have been “invited to teach, confer, or do research” at Palestinian universities on the West Bank.

Hillel, the largest Jewish campus organization in the world, has mounted a counter-campaign, and Hillel knows the facts – such as how much easier it is for Americans to enter Israel and the Palestinian territories than for Israelis to enter the U.S. (The refusal rate in 2012 was just 0.023% for the former, versus 5.4% for the latter.)

John Sexton

(NYU President John Sexton/Photo: NYU photo bureau)

This singling out of Israel by the MLA comes, as you do know, on the heels of a similar announcement in mid-December by another academic group, the 62-year-old, American Studies Association (ASA). In that case, the membership voted to endorse an academic boycott of Israeli colleges and universities. ASA’s reasoning is that Israel is responsible for curtailing the academic freedom of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. While the resolution is not binding on its members, ASA’s list of institutional members includes more than 90 universities and colleges across the country, among them NYU.

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Via Forbes

Related articles: Boycott Israel, BDS, ASA, Modern Language Association, Forbes, Israel News, Op-Ed
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