Home > What we do > US Initiatives > Hadassah Advocacy Center > Hadassah National Action Center > Action Alert Archive

American Studies Association Decision to Adopt an Israel Boycott Resolution a Violation of Academic Freedom

Action Alerts
American Studies Association Decision to Adopt an Israel Boycott Resolution a Violation of Academic Freedom

Hadassah joins with the Israel Action Network in expressing concern about the American Studies Association's (ASA) recent decision to adopt a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.  The Israel Action Network (IAN) is a strategic initiative of The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) in partnership with the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), of which Hadassah is a member. 

Hadassah is a staunch advocate against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which aims to tarnish and delegitimize the State of Israel. Hadassah maintains its long-standing policy against all forms of organized boycotts—opposing destructive actions in favor of constructive dialogue in order to pursue a future of peace in the Middle East. IAN, JFNA, JCPA and Hadassah all seek a just two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process that will allow both peoples to live in lasting peace, dignity and security. However, a boycott of academic institutions such as the one imposed by ASA only takes us further from that goal.  See below for the full statement from the Israel Action Network.

December 16, 2013 

Israel Action Network Calls American Studies Association Decision to Adopt an Israel Boycott Resolution a Violation of Academic Freedom

NEW YORK – Following an unusual and troubling process over the past few weeks, the American Studies Association (ASA) today announced its endorsement of a resolution by its National Council to institute an academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions by the organization. The decision represents a narrow fraction of overall members, approximately less than 20 percent of ASA membership took part in the vote. Further, it follows a condemnation of the boycott by eight former presidents. Geri Palast, Managing Director of The Israel Action Network (IAN), a strategic initiative of The Jewish Federations of North America in partnership with the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, issued the following statement:

“The Israel Action Network (IAN) is troubled that members of the American Studies Association (ASA) voted to support a boycott of Israeli academic institutions that directly violates the strongly held principle of academic freedom.

The resolution, which purports to support academic freedom in which scholars are free to pursue ideas without being targeted for repression, discipline, or institutional censorship, in actuality urges a sweeping boycott of Israeli academic institutions based on tortured logic, factual inaccuracies and distortions of the role of Israel’s universities, public and private, in the implementation of government policy. IAN is disappointed to see the ASA lend its name to such a counterproductive campaign. IAN strongly urges the academic community at large to follow the lead of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), an influential body of higher education professionals committed to furthering academic freedom, that came forward to unequivocally oppose academic boycotts. In an open letter, AAUP leadership expressed their disappointment over the National Council’s decision, and urged ASA members to reject the boycott and to seek alternative means to pursue their concerns.

The process of endorsing the resolution, which consisted of an electronic membership vote that closed on December 15, raised issues regarding open member discourse and transparency. The call for a membership vote followed a recommendation by the ASA National Council, a small body of two dozen people that sets policy for an organization of only 5,000 members. The resolution faced vocal opposition by eight former ASA Presidents, ASA award winners, and members that wrote an open letter condemning the resolution with 70 signatories. Until challenged, the leadership did not provide dissenting views or access to the membership to opponents of the resolution. ASA leaders who claim to champion academic freedom withheld alternate views from their colleagues, resulting in a vote where only one side of a complex conflict was formally presented. This reflected the same imbalance seen at the ASA’s recent annual meeting, where a panel discussion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict featured only panelists in favor of a boycott.

IAN commends those ASA members who actively opposed this ill-advised measure, and spoke in support of academic freedom and the perspective that academic boycotts are anathema to open debate and problem solving.

As a practical matter, this resolution will have limited symbolic significance, but it still raises a number of deeply troubling concerns. Its adoption promotes a discriminatory policy that could fuel a dangerous trend in which violating rights to academic freedom becomes a norm. It singles out academic scholars and institutions based on their nationality, without regard to the important role they play as thought leaders in evaluating and critiquing government policy. And rather than encouraging important discourse and debate, or promoting Israeli-Palestinian coexistence, this resolution will only polarize the academic world by ‘blacklisting’ alternative views, scholars and institutions.

Peace for both Israelis and Palestinians depends on both parties working together towards a negotiated, two-state solution. Even Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has rejected boycotts of Israel as counterproductive. Divisive measures such as academic boycotts will only serve to further deflect attention away from serious moral and political issues. These one-sided attacks based on falsehoods should embarrass their proponents, and we move our community to condemn this action.”


For additional information about BDS or for Hadassah's How to Talk About Israel program please contact advocacy@hadassah.org.

Register for the Email Action Networkto receive public policy updates, timely information about critical national and international issues, and suggestions for taking action.

Date: 12/17/2013

Stand With Pregnant Workers Day of Action

Hadassah Supports Senate Passage of Child Care Act for Working, Low-Income Families

Hadassah Concerned by Unilateral Actions for Palestinian Statehood

Bring Alan Gross Home From Cuba!

Hadassah Deeply Concerned by Act of Violence against Jewish Student at Temple University

Urge Congress to Affirm Support for Israel

Hadassah Disappointed by Supreme Court Hobby Lobby Decision

Hadassah Responds to Presbyterian Church Divestment Decision

Advocate for Return of Kidnapped Israeli Teens

Hadassah Congratulates Israeli President-Elect Reuven Rivlin

Hadassah Deeply Concerned about Palestinian Unity Government

House Passes Major Sex Trafficking Legislation

Hadassah Expresses Disappointment over Continued Calls for Israel Boycotts

Hadassah Expresses Outrage about Nigerian Kidnappings and Urges Action

Hadassah’s Response to Kerry’s Use of Apartheid Term

Slavery: A Modern-Day Reality

Support Fair Pay for Women & Families

The Peace Process: Updates & Uncertainty

Advocate for Israel's Security

Stand Up For Israel

Take Action for Human Trafficking Prevention Month

Reproductive Rights after Roe v. Wade

Urge Congress to Prevent a Nuclear Iran

Support Israel & Academic Freedom

American Studies Association Decision to Adopt an Israel Boycott Resolution a Violation of Academic Freedom

Advocate for Gun Control in Memory of Sandy Hook

International Human Rights Day 2013

Buy Israeli Goods for Hanukkah

Interim Agreement on Iranian Nuclear Program

Urge Senate to Support Fair Minimum Wage Act

Hadassah Pledges Relief and Aid to Victims of Typhoon Haiyan

Senate Passes LGBT Employment Non-Discrimination Act

Women's Rights Update

Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America Mourns Passing of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef

Hadassah Welcomes Women of the Wall Announcement Regarding Prayer at Kotel

2013 United Nations General Assembly Speeches

Women's Equality Day 2013

Hadassah Celebrates 20 Years of Family and Medical Leave Act, Advocates for Expanding Paid Leave Opportunities

Hadassah Approves New Policy Statements

Hadassah Reaffirms Support for LGBT Equality

Hadassah Reaffirms its Resolution on a Woman's Right to Choose

Hadassah Welcomes New Rabbinical Judges Law

50 Years of the Equal Pay Act

Support Moving U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem

Hadassah Welcomes Continued Progress Toward Expanding Egalitarian Prayer at Western Wall

Hadassah Congratulates Sharansky, Netanyahu for Progress Toward Expanding Egalitarian Prayer at Western Wall

Equal Pay Day 2013

Advocate for Comprehensive Gun Control Legislation

Support Contraceptive Coverage Mandate

Gay Rights at the Supreme Court

Support Gun Violence Prevention

Hadassah Condemns Turkish Prime Minister’s Comments on Zionism

Hadassah Applauds House Reauthorization of Inclusive, Bipartisan Violence Against Women Act

Tomorrow House Votes on VAWA

Buy Israel Week 2013

Women's Rights Update

2013 Israeli Elections Results

Support Pay Equity!

Hadassah National Board Votes on Policy Issues

40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

Hadassah Applauds Netanyahu’s Plan to Evaluate Prayer at Kotel

Hadassah Reaffirms Support for Assault Weapons Ban

A Capitol Event: Hadassah Takes the 113th Congress by Storm

Protect Charitable Giving Incentives

Palestinians Granted Statehood Status

Middle East Update: Palestinians at the UN

Ceasefire Reached

Show Support for Israel: Operation Pillar of Defense

Middle East Update: Today, Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defense

Get Out and Vote! - Election Day 2012

Women's Rights Update

2012 United Nations General Assembly

National Voter Registration Day

Attacks on U.S. Diplomats

Women's Equality Day 2012

Munich Moment of Silence at Maccabi Games

Jonathan Pollard Update

Diplomacy & Security: Israel and its Neighbors

Hadassah Welcomes Court's Decision to Uphold Affordable Care Act

Continue Support for Contraception Access

Hadassah Urges Peace Over Divestment

The Fight for Pay Equity Goes On

Senate Votes on Pay Equity Tomorrow

UNESCO holds "Question of Palestine" Meeting

U.S., Israel and Iran: A Legislative Update

Support an Inclusive VAWA, Oppose H.R. 4970

Support Women's Employment Rights

Petition to Honor the Munich 11

60 Minutes Report: Christians of the Holy Land

Happy Birthday Israel & Hadassah

Reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act

April 17th is Equal Pay Day!

International Criminal Court Rejects Gaza War Investigation

Israel & the UN Human Rights Council

Israeli Security Update

Iran Center Stage at AIPAC, White House

Middle East Updates: Impact on Israel & Regional Balance of Power

Update: Protect Women's Preventive Health Access

UN Security Council Condemns Attacks on Israeli Diplomats

Hadassah Joins Jewish Energy Covenant Campaign

Reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act

39 Years after Roe v. Wade

White House Supports Women’s Preventive Health Coverage

Protecting Women's Rights in Israel

Hadassah Thanks Ambassador Killion

International Human Rights Day

Iran Sanctions Update

Buy Israel Week

Speak Out Again for Preventive Health Services

Increase Sanctions on Iran

Hadassah Joins HERvotes Coalition

UNESCO Approves Palestinian Membership

Urge HHS to Protect Women's Healthcare Access

Update: Palestinian UNESCO Membership

Welcome Home Gilad Shalit

Reports: Deal Reached for Shalit Release

Jonathan Pollard Petition

Palestinians Win Preliminary Vote for UNESCO Membership

UDI Recap & Update

Update: Today at the UN Palestinians Submit Application for UN Membership, Netanyahu Extends Hand in Peace

Unilateral Declaration of Independence Update

Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery Address to the United Nations General Assembly

Protect Charitable Giving Incentives

Petition: Release Alan Gross from Cuba

Solidarity with Israel Letter

Update: Attacks on Southern Israel

Hadassah Condemns Attacks in Israel

Hadassah Continues Women’s Health Advocacy

Petition Against a Unilaterally Declared Palestine

Israel Action Network:
Community Response to UDI-UN Recognition of Palestinian State

Final Attempt to Renew Mid-East Peace Talks

Supreme Court Decision Underscores Need for Paycheck Fairness Act

Hadassah Calls for Compassion for Pollard

Conference of Presidents Lauds Prime Minister Netanyahu's Commitment to Peace and U.S.-Israel Relationship

Netanyahu Addresses AIPAC, Congress

Update: U.S. - Israel Relations

Hadassah Responds To Abbas Op-Ed In New York Times

Demonstrations and Violence at Israel's Borders

Urge Congress to Oppose H.R. 3

Urge Your Senator to Support Rescinding the Goldstone Report

Wear Red for Equal Pay Day Tomorrow!

Stand Up for Women's Health Lobby Day

Hadassah Condemns Terror Attacks in Israel

Women's History & Women's Rights

Stem Cell Action Coalition Doubles in Size to 62 Affiliated Organizations

Unrest In Egypt

Update: Durban III Conference, September 2011

Hadassah Welcomes the 112th Congress

Combat Sex Trafficking in the United States

   |  Who We Are  |  What We Do  |  Where We Do It  |  Read About It  |  Join Now  |  Donate  |
  |  Login  |  Contact Us  |  Careers  |  Terms & Conditions  |  
Copyright ©2014 Hadassah is a registered trademark of Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America