Shalom Life | April 21, 2014

Brandeis 2nd School to Withdraw from ASA Following Israel Boycott

Following its recent decision to boycott Israel, American University Brandeis has become the second university to withdraw its membership of the American Studies Association after Penn State Harrisburg

By: Daniel Koren

Published: December 19th, 2013 in News » World

Brandeis 2nd School to Withdraw from ASA Following Israel Boycott

Following its decision to boycott Israel, American University Brandeis has become the second university to distance itself from the American Studies Association, heeding the example of Peen State Harrisburg, who withdrew itself from the Association on Tuesday.

“We view the recent vote by the membership to affirm an academic boycott of Israel as a politicization of the discipline and a rebuke to the kind of open inquiry that a scholarly association should foster,” read a statement on Brandeis’s American Studies Department website. “We remain committed to the discipline of American Studies but we can no longer support an organization that has rejected two of the core principles of American culture–freedom of association and expression.”

This isn't the first time Brandeis has showed its solidarity with Israel recently; after a Nazi-esque demonstration from Palestiniain Al-Quds University Brandeis severed its ties with them, stating they were "obliged to recognize intolerance when we see it, and we cannot – and will not – turn a blind eye to intolerance.”

Penn State Harrisburg also released a statement regarding its decision to remove itself from the ASA. “As a prominent program in American Studies concerned for the welfare of its students and faculty, Penn State Harrisburg is worried that the recent actions by the National Council of the American Studies Association (ASA) do not reflect the longstanding scholarly enterprise American Studies stands for,” said the university's Dr. Simon Bronner, editor of the Encyclopedia of American Studies. “The withdrawal of institutional membership by our program and others allows us to be independent of the political and ideological resolutions issued by the ASA and concentrate on building American Studies scholarship with our faculty, students, and staff,” he added.

The ASA announced its official boycott of Israel earlier this week, citing the lack of “effective or substantive academic freedom for Palestinian students and scholars under conditions of Israeli occupation.” The ASA also looks to boycott Israeli academic institutions, which they've described as being “a party to Israeli state policies that violate human rights and negatively impact the working conditions of Palestinian scholars and students.”

As Slate Magazine reports, 72 ASA members have since signed a petition to object to the boycott of Israel, as did eight past ASA presidents, who stated that the boycott is "antithetical to the mission of free and open inquiry for which a scholarly organization stands.”

Whether or not the petition will garner any influence remains to be seen.

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