American Council on Education
“In recent weeks, several scholarly associations have voted on formal motions to boycott activities involving faculty and staff at Israeli academic institutions. Such actions are misguided and greatly troubling, as they strike at the heart of academic freedom—a central tenet of the teaching, research and service that takes place every day at colleges and universities worldwide. This is why the American Council on Education has consistently opposed such boycotts throughout its nearly 100-year history.
Many of these same scholars would decry efforts by trustees, governors or state legislators to infringe on faculty teaching and research activities at their own institutions, and yet these boycotts involve more sweeping repercussions, impeding global academic relationships and the constructive exchange of ideas among countries and cultures. One could easily see such boycotts moving to other countries and scholarly pursuits, which would only lead to a further erosion of academic freedom and free thought in a world that is so desperate for it.
We hope the leadership of these organizations soon reconsiders their actions and trust that other scholarly organizations will see the troubling implications of such boycotts and avoid similar votes.”
ACE President Molly Corbett Broad
“American University joins other universities and colleges opposing the American Studies Association (ASA) resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions. Fundamentally, this is an action that contradicts academic freedom, one of American University’s core principles. A boycott of academic institutions and scholars of any nation, in response to their government’s policies, limits the free exchange of ideas among scholars, and is inherently not in keeping with our values.”
Cornelius M. Kerwin, President
Scott A. Bass, Provost
“I join my colleague presidents in the American Association of Universities (AAU) and many among liberal arts colleges who oppose the boycott of Israeli academic institutions that was recently passed by a majority of the American Studies Association (ASA) members, as well as by two other academic associations.
Amherst College is not an institutional member of the ASA nor is our Department of American Studies. Individual members of the association on our campus are obviously free to vote as they wish. On behalf of the College, I express opposition to this academic boycott for several related reasons. Such boycotts threaten academic freedom and exchange, which it is our solemn duty as academic institutions to protect. They prohibit potential collaborations among the very institutions whose purpose is to promote critical thought and the free exchange of ideas. In their public statement, the members of the executive committee of the AAU emphasize what I consider to be the most compelling reason to oppose the boycott: “[Academic freedom] is a principle that should not be abridged by political considerations.” Indeed, it is the very definition of academic freedom that freedom of inquiry should not be constrained by political pressures. In its explanation of the importance of academic freedom and tenure, the American Association of University Professors has emphasized, throughout its history, that its benefits go well beyond the protection of individual scholars and academic institutions. Perhaps its most important benefit is to the society that depends for its own well-being on freedom of thought and exchange and those institutions whose mission it is to promote them. I call on the community to consider for us all the far-reaching implications of political gestures that limit or have the potential to limit the pursuit and exchange of ideas.”
Biddy Martin, President
“Andrews University maintains numerous international educational relationships, including some in Israel, and affirms an open exchange of information without discrimination on the basis of national origin. Therefore Andrews rejects this boycott.”
Niels-Erik Andreasen, President
Arizona State University
“'We’re not boycotting anyone,' said Virgil Renzulli, ASU’s vice president of public affairs, in a phone interview with Jewish News. In fact, he said that it was an old issue for the university.
The university’s president, Michael Crow, who was traveling and could not be reached for comment, signed in July 2007 a petition drafted by Scholars for Middle East Peace that reads: 'We are academics, scholars, researchers and professionals of differing religious and political perspectives. We all agree that singling out Israelis for an academic boycott is wrong. To show our solidarity with our Israeli academics in this matter, we, the undersigned, hereby declare ourselves to be Israeli academics for purposes of any academic boycott. We will regard ourselves as Israeli academics and decline to participate in any activity from which Israeli academics are excluded.'”
Association of Public Land Grant Universities
“The Executive Committee and the President of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) today issued the following statement on the recent call by some scholarly associations for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.
The Executive Committee and President of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) strongly oppose the boycott of Israeli academic institutions supported by certain U.S. scholarly organizations.
The core mission of the academic community is to create and disseminate knowledge through research, teaching and service. Freedom of inquiry and expression are the foundational principles of this vital work, and free exchange of ideas is its lifeblood. This boycott wrongly limits the ability of American and Israeli academic institutions and their faculty members to exchange ideas and collaborate on critical projects that advance humanity, develop new technologies, and improve health and well-being across the globe.
Members of the academic community certainly have the right to express their views, but the call for a boycott in this case is severely misguided and wrongheaded. We urge others to express their opposition as well.”
Randy Woodson, Chancellor, North Carolina State University, APLU Board Chair
Sally Mason, President, University of Iowa, APLU Board Immediate Past Chair
Jim Clements, President, Clemson University, APLU Board Chair-Elect
Bernadette Gray-Little, Chancellor, University of Kansas, APLU Council of Presidents Chair
Teresa Sullivan, President, University of Virginia, APLU Council of Presidents Secretary
Peter McPherson, President, APLU
“Auburn opposes the academic boycott of Israel.”
Brian Keeter, Director, Public Affairs
“Michele Dominy, dean of Bard College, points out that Bard has even gone a step further and is now among the handful of American educational institutions who have completely severed ties with the ASA. Bard, she says, is a place that seeks dialogue on the Middle East, and she points out that the college has an exchange program with the Palestinian Al-Quds University and that its president, Leon Botstein, is a conductor laureate of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra.
'At Bard we have very strong programs in Jewish Studies, Middle Eastern Studies and human rights,' she says. 'So given my role as the chief academic officer [this trip] seemed like a wonderful opportunity to spend some time here.'”
“As President of Barnard, I stand with the Executive Committee of the Association of American Universities in my strong opposition to a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. All scholars have the right to speak out against issues or policies with which they disagree, but academic boycotts pose a threat to the intellectual exchange and open debate that sit at the very core of our educational mission. I would urge fellow scholars and their affiliated academic associations to seek alternative forms of protest that do not jeopardize academia’s crucial role as a marketplace for independent thinking and collaborative dialogue.”
Debora Spar, President
Dear Members of the Student Government Association (SGA) representative council:
I write to provide input on the referendum that the Student Government Association (SGA) recently conducted and to be transparent about the actions Barnard College will take with respect to any request related to this referendum. You are of course free to continue your discussions on this issue, but it would be misleading to not provide you with clarity on the College’s thinking prior to the SGA discussions on this topic that I understand will take place this week.
For any referendum related to Barnard’s endowment to be considered by the Board of Trustees, it should meet two exacting standards. The issue under discussion must relate directly to Barnard’s mission, and there must be a clear consensus across the Barnard community that the recommended approach is the best means to address the issue at hand.
The referendum you are currently considering does not meet these two standards. First, taking an institutional stand amid the complexities of the Mideast conflict would risk chilling campus discourse on a set of issues that members of our community should be able to discuss and debate freely. Choosing a side therefore would be inconsistent with our mission. Second, there is clearly not consensus across the Barnard community on whether or how to address the issue. While a majority of students who voted support the referendum, this is less than 30% of Barnard’s student body. Thousands of alumnae have also voiced their opposition to the referendum. For these reasons, Barnard will not take action in response to this referendum.
It is imperative that all of us at Barnard work hard to foster a community in which difficult topics can be discussed in an environment free from fear and hate. I urge you to consider how SGA can best foster civil discourse moving forward across a range of complex issues so as to allow for the highest quality education and scholarship on our campus.
I wish you continuing success with your important work.
Sian Leah Beilock, President
“On behalf of Bates College, I reject unequivocally the boycott of Israeli universities that was recently passed by a majority of the members of the American Studies Association (ASA). Academic boycotts strike at the heart of academic freedom and threaten the principles of dialogue, scholarly interchange, and open debate that are the lifeblood of the academy and civil society. Bates does not hold an institutional membership in ASA, and recognizes the rights of individual faculty members to make their own decisions regarding participation in academic associations.”
Clayton Spencer, President
“I am disappointed and concerned that the American Studies Association, invoking the principle of academic freedom, would vote to boycott Israeli academic institutions. Research, teaching, and scholarship flourish through robust exchange of ideas, across borders and among institutions in different parts of the world. Universities and their faculties can often transcend even profound political differences. It is ill-advised to make academic institutions the instrument with which to promote a political agenda by attempting to isolate students and scholars. Boston University cannot support this boycott.”
“The free exchange of knowledge, ideas, and research, and open discourse among scholars are all essential elements of education and progress. While not every society promotes or even permits open dialogue, American higher education always has and must continue to do so.
Bowdoin College does not maintain an institutional membership with the American Studies Association, but I disagree with and reject the organization’s recently announced boycott of Israeli academic institutions. Rather than stifling discussion and the free exchange of ideas, Bowdoin seeks to serve the common good through direct and open engagement with and collaboration between researchers, scientists, teachers, and artists across the globe. To do otherwise is to disavow the values on which our College was founded and on which we have built our reputation for excellence.”
Barry Mills, President
The British University Committee
“The British University Committee is committed to the free sharing of ideas between universities and in academia, regardless of nationality and place. Therefore the committee strongly opposes an academic boycott on the grounds that it is hostile to academic freedom, including academic freedom to cooperate with one another.”
Brooklyn College, CUNY
“Brooklyn College firmly rejects the recent resolution of the American Studies Association to boycott Israeli academic institutions. This resolution runs contrary to the underlying spirit and principle of academic freedom, which seeks to protect intellectual inquiry and debate across a wide range of viewpoints and human experience. Our college has a long history of positive engagement with Israeli universities and scholars. We remain fully committed to these and other institutional partnerships that help our faculty and students pursue important research and study in Israel and around the world. Efforts to curtail dialogue and academic exchange are wrongheaded and troubling.”
Karen Gould, President
“Brown University does not support academic boycotts against Israel or any other country. To do so would be antithetical to open scholarly exchange and would inhibit the advancement of knowledge and discovery. Furthermore, contrary to reports in one on-line newspaper, Brown is not a member of the American Studies Association; our institutional membership concluded June 30, 2013.
As an academic community, faculty, students and staff are free to express their own ideas and opinions on this issue. However, they do not speak for Brown as an institution.”
Brown University President Paxson
On March 22, 2019, Brown University President Christina Paxson wrote to the Brown community in response to a referendum calling for divestment:
Dear Members of the Brown Community,
I am writing in regard to a referendum conducted by the Undergraduate Council of Students that asked undergraduates if the University should “divest all stocks, funds, endowment and other monetary instruments from companies complicit in human rights abuses in Palestine and establish a means of implementing financial transparency and student oversight of the University’s investments.” The referendum was supported by 69% of the 2,810 students who voted on the question (27.5% of the undergraduate student body voted in support of divestment). Although the University is not obligated to take action on this matter, I feel it is important to respond and share my perspective.
I appreciate and respect that members of our community are concerned about the long-standing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. I would like nothing better than to see peace, prosperity and stability for all people who live in the region.
That said, I am opposed to divestment from companies that conduct business in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Brown’s endowment is not a political instrument to be used to express views on complex social and political issues, especially those over which thoughtful and intelligent people vehemently disagree. As a university, Brown’s mission is to advance knowledge and understanding through research, analysis and debate. Its role is not to take sides on contested geopolitical issues.
I have been steadfast in my view that Brown should not embrace any of the planks of the BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanctions) movement. In 2013, when a number of academic associations called for academic boycotts of Israel, I made it clear that Brown would not support academic boycotts of Israel or any other country, since doing so would inhibit the open scholarly exchange that is critical for the advancement of knowledge. The previous year, I had rejected a recommendation from Brown’s Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility in Investment Policies to initiate dialogue about possible divestment from companies that do business in the occupied territories, expressing the same view that the endowment is not to be used to assert views on contested social and political issues.
In recent weeks, I have discussed the referendum with many members of the Brown community — students, faculty, staff and alumni. It is very clear that members of our community feel strongly and deeply about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and I have been struck by the breadth of views about the best path to a just resolution. Beyond the foundational concern that divestment would be a political act, these conversations have strengthened my conviction that divestment would polarize the Brown community and detract from the inclusive, intellectually-vibrant community we aspire to be.
Many Brown students, faculty, staff and alumni have devoted themselves to the goal of a peaceful and just resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I hope that instead of polarizing calls for divestment, the Brown community can continue to engage in productive discourse on this issue through our teaching, research and contributions to diplomacy.
On the issue of financial transparency in the University’s investments, I encourage members of the community to read the recent op-ed in the Brown Daily Herald written by the leaders of Brown’s Investment Office, CEO Joseph Dowling, Chief Investment Officer Jane Dietze and Managing Director Joshua Kennedy. In the op-ed, they explain why it is not possible to make public the details of the University’s investments. We are fortunate that the professionals who work in Brown’s Investment Office are committed to maintaining the highest standards of integrity while sustaining the capacity of the endowment to serve Brown’s research and teaching mission far into the future.
Excerpts from an April 15, 2019, interview with President Paxson following her March 2019 statement:
Why did the University decide against divesting from companies that, as Brown Divest has argued, profit from Israeli human rights violations?
Divestment decisions — which are very rare — are made on the basis of a well-defined set of principles that the University has followed for a long time. (These principles) get at deep moral and ethical issues applied to the facts of the situation. We don’t do this by popular vote. … A referendum that garners the majority of whoever is voting is not the way that these types of issues are decided.
So, your response was motivated more by the process that Brown Divest advocated for than political or financial reasons?
My sense (of Brown Divest) is that what students were talking about was not the behavior of the companies in question. We don’t divest from countries, we divest from companies, and the whole campaign was much more about … ‘is there social harm being done by Israel or not?’ And that’s a really important question. But when it comes to divestment, that’s not the relevant question. The relevant question is whether (the) companies that are mentioned are engaged in morally abhorrent behavior. I don’t think that was really what the conversation on campus was about. I think it had much more to do with people’s political views about Israel’s actions.
Because Brown Divest identified specific companies and their actions, how is their argument advocating for divestment from a country as a whole, rather than these specific companies?
If you were to … apply this to the (Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility in Investment Policies) principles that we have, you’d need to say, ‘is the fact that (Hewlett-Packard) is selling (the Basel biometric control system) to Israel — is this something that constitutes really exceptionally grave social harm?’ Compared to something (we’ve divested from) like tobacco, which is a case where the company’s product itself has no redeeming social value, … it’s very hard to separate that social harm from the manufacturers. That’s a case that seems to be very different from this, where … the product is being purchased by a group that is being accused of doing something wrong. … So, what I didn’t see was a very clear articulation of the social harm caused by the companies.
The University has in the past made statements and taken action that is political in nature, such as support for students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status. What makes this different?
If the University starts taking political positions, we run the risk of undermining academic freedom on the campus. If we say we’re the university that opposes Israel, how can we have scholarship and debate on what’s happening in the Middle East? … So, we shouldn’t, in most cases, take political positions. We want members of our community to do the research and do the thinking to become really informed citizens, so they develop their own convictions and act accordingly. … You note that sometimes we’ll come out and take policy positions, and those are a little bit different than political positions. … When I take a policy position, I’m always thinking very carefully about whether the issue is core to our mission. So, when I come out in support of certain types of immigration policies, it’s because we need our international students if we’re going to be able to do what we do well. … Similarly, we have DACA students right here on campus, we have undocumented students right here on campus. It’s our obligation to try to protect them as best we can. So I see those issues as being very directly related to Brown’s mission.
You’ve said that choosing not to divest is abstaining from the political conversation, but many have argued that it is a political statement in itself. What is your response to that?
I think that is not a sound argument. People who say that are saying, ‘I want to force Brown into a yes or no choice here, and if you don’t say yes, then we’re going to say that you’ve said no. Either you’re against Israel or you’re for Israel.’ By choosing not to divest, we are not saying anything about whether we’re for or against Israel. Our obligation is to run the endowment, to have great, long-term, risk-adjusted returns … and in very rare cases to apply moral principles to how we invest. And by not acting on every human rights issue that comes to the attention of the University, that certainly doesn’t mean that we’re condoning behavior.
In your email, you express concern that divestment has polarized the Brown community. Has this issue divided the campus in a damaging way?
If we… continue to say ‘Brown’s got to take a position one way or the other,’ that could be extremely damaging and divisive. I’ve talked to a number of students, as well as faculty members, who were deeply disturbed by the campaign, who felt like they couldn’t say what was on their mind. … In a lot of people’s minds, … Israel and Jewish identity are so tightly intertwined that it’s impossible for people to think about these issues without believing that calls for divestment from Israel represent anti-Semitism. … I really appreciate the fact that the students involved in the Brown Divest campaign were very open at saying ‘this is not about anti-Semitism.’ …But, I think we have to confront the reality that anti-Semitism is on the rise in this country and around the world, and a lot of people are feeling very threatened. …The day after I wrote my letter, a large number of Corporation members got an email from somebody — I don’t know who it was, I don’t think it was anybody affiliated with Brown — that was one of the most vile, anti-Semitic emails I’ve ever seen. So, this kind of conversation has to be conducted carefully. … And the same is true on the other side. We have to guard against Islamophobia, too.
Bryn Mawr College
“Central to our mission statement is Bryn Mawr College’s belief that only through considering many perspectives do we gain a deeper understanding of each other and the world. We are a community that respects differing views and one that emphasizes learning through conversation and collaboration. Therefore, Bryn Mawr College opposes the American Studies Association’s boycott of Israel because it is in opposition to academic freedom and the open exchange of ideas that is at the core of our intellectual enterprise. We respect the fact that individual members of our community have the right to alternative views, including the right to support the positions of the ASA.
Throughout the years many members of our community - faculty, students and staff - have collaborated with peers from throughout the world, including those in Israel. Bryn Mawr College will continue to support international collaboration and to seek new opportunities with Israeli scholars, colleges, and universities.”
California State University-Northridge
“Higher education in the United States functions through a rigorous and open exchange of information, viewpoints and dialogue. Recently, several professional educational associations passed resolutions to boycott Israeli academic institutions. Such strategies do not serve our fundamental goal to enlighten and educate. Like all of us, I am deeply concerned by the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine and hope for a peaceful and equitable resolution. However, this boycott would suspend academic partnerships with Israeli universities. It would reject scholarship by Israeli academics if they acknowledged support by Israeli universities. In effect, the boycott tarnishes the gold standard of academic review and undermines academic freedom — the very heart of the academic enterprise. As president of California State University, Northridge, I strongly affirm and share CSU Chancellor White’s opposition to this boycott.”
Dr. Dianne F. Harrison, President
“Please know that Carnegie Mellon University is not a member of the American Studies Association, does not have any representation on its governing council, and provides no direct financial support to this organization. As such, CMU played no role in the ASA’s recent boycott of Israeli universities and does not condone its action in doing so. CMU concurs with a statement from the Executive Committee of the American Association of Universities, of which CMU is a member, opposing the boycott..”
Cheryl M. Hays, Secretary, Board of Trustees, Director, President’s Office
Case Western Reserve University
“As leaders of an institution of higher education, we must oppose the proposed academic boycotts of Israel in the strongest possible terms. In our 2008 strategic plan, Case Western Reserve embraced a vision where we sought to be recognized “as an institution that imagines and influences the future.” One of the ways we realize that aspiration is to exchange ideas, engage with one another and, ideally, discover concepts and deepen understandings in ways we never could have alone. In contrast, the surest way to fall short of that ideal is to withdraw and isolate, to let silence be our sole contribution to conversations and debates.
At an even more fundamental level, boycotts exemplify the converse of the concept of academic freedom. They seek to subvert one of higher education’s core values in service of other ends. One of the most admirable traits of the academe is that scholars often collaborate across borders of nationalities and governments, political and social systems. Indeed, Case Western Reserve so values the diversity of perspectives that come from global experiences that internationalization has been one of our leading priorities for the past five years. Since 2008, we have forged many new partnerships with academic institutions around the world, increased the proportion of our undergraduate classes that come from abroad, and actively encouraged our U.S. students to pursue studies in other countries.
We strongly endorse the statement opposing the boycott from the Association of American Universities, a group of the nation’s leading public and private higher education research institutions that includes Case Western Reserve. In addition, the American Association of University Professors has articulated a broad stance against academic boycotts, and more recently urged the members of the American Studies Association not to support a resolution calling for such action against Israeli universities.
By the same token, we do not consider it sufficient simply to oppose academic boycotts. Threats to academic freedom damage all of us committed to the work of higher education. We stand with those who support freedom of thought and expression for scholars and students at institutions of higher learning around the globe.
In keeping with the principle of academic freedom, individual scholars at Case Western Reserve may well choose to embrace the boycott, condemn our opposition to it, or speak in favor of other solutions. Similarly, our university Faculty Senate may choose to issue its own statement after the winter semester commences. But after receiving direct inquiries from alumni and faculty regarding our position as the institution’s leaders, we thought it appropriate to describe our thinking in a thorough and transparent manner.”
Barbara R. Snyder, President
W.A. “Bud” Baeslack III, Provost and Executive Vice President
“The American Studies Association’s recent call for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions is lamentable. The Association has appointed itself as a kind of inept volunteer fire department, aiming to put out the Israeli-Palestinian conflagration by throwing gasoline on the fire. That's not exactly right. It has decided to pour gas not on the source of the fire but on bystanders, some of whom are trying to extinguish the flames. No good can come of punishing academic institutions for the shortcomings, real and perceived, of their nations’ leaders and policies.
Rather than restricting academic freedom to advance political causes, academic organizations like the ASA should be working to foster dialogue with their foreign interlocutors, perhaps especially those they disagree with. The academy - universities, faculties, and satellite institutions - is a place where research, open discussion, and creative thought can lead to reforms and new approaches to longstanding problems. I hope the ASA's call for a boycott produces just the opposite of its intended result - a proliferation of U.S. linkages with Israeli universities and other universities in the Middle East.”
John Garvey, President
City University of New York
“The free exchange of ideas is at the heart of the academic enterprise. Any effort to impede that flow is antithetical to the values that universities hold most dear. The City University of New York is proud of its many international collaborations and is committed to extending and deepening those relations. We take this opportunity to reaffirm our long association with Israeli scholars and universities, and we note with particular pleasure a new joint MBA program between the Zicklin School at Baruch College and the College of Management Academic Studies in Rishon LeZion. The need for global cooperation has never more urgent, and we repudiate any effort to foreclose productive dialogue.”
City University of New York-Graduate Center
“The Graduate Center echoes the University in expressing its commitment to promoting open academic exchange. Across the length of its history, the Graduate Center has fostered research collaborations and educational associations with scholars and universities from across the globe, including many fruitful connections with Israeli universities and scholarly organizations. We continue to understand these partnerships as a vital part of our educational mission.
The American Studies Certificate Program at the Graduate Center has been an institutional affiliate of the ASA since the 1990s, and the decision to enter into that arrangement (and to take part in the benefits such an association has for our students) is a faculty prerogative exercised by the coordinator, the faculty, and the advisory board for that program. Like many other programs at the Graduate Center, it has a rich history of promoting academic freedom, fostering innovative interdisciplinary research, and nurturing free and open exchange. I fully expect that it will continue to honor and be guided by these commitments.”
Chase F. Robinson, Interim President
“Clark University rejects the call for an academic boycott of Israel made by the American Studies Association. Academic boycotts, whether of Israel or any other country, undermine the free exchange of thoughts and ideas that are central to academic freedom. Clark University fully supports the statement of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) against academic boycotts.”
David P. Angel, President
Cleveland State University
“This is a response to the recent American Studies Association’s endorsement of a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. The boycott endorsement is motivated by the concern regarding the lack of academic freedom for Palestinian scholars subject to the conditions of Israeli occupation.
Many organizations, such as the American Association of University Professors, the Association of American Universities, and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, have strongly opposed the boycott. These organizations believe that in fact the boycott itself would abridge the academic freedom of Israeli university faculty and their collaborators worldwide.
We agree with the position taken by the AAUP, AAU, APLU, and others. The proposed boycott is not a correct or effective response to a complicated situation. We believe continued dialogue with colleagues and universities in Israel and other countries is in the best interests of academic freedom for all and is part of a long-standing international academic tradition.
Cleveland State University is not an institutional member of the ASA. We speak only for ourselves in opposition to the boycott. However, we plan to bring the issue to the CSU Faculty Senate for their deliberation at their January meeting.”
“Just a few weeks ago, the membership of the American Studies Association (ASA) voted to approve resolutions calling for a boycott of Israeli institutions of higher education, aligning itself with the Association for Asian American Studies (AAAS), which approved similar measures in the spring.
While we do not challenge the right of members of the academy to voice their viewpoints, we disagree strongly with the boycott votes of the ASA and the AAAS and believe that these resolutions represent a clear and substantive violation of the principles of academic freedom upon which all scholarship must be based.
Therefore, we reject the actions suggested in the resolutions and affirm our support for the rights of all academics to fully pursue their teaching and scholarship.”
William D. Adams, President
Lori G. Kletzer, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty
“Colgate is opposed to the boycott of Israeli academic institutions. I am working with a group of New York schools to try to issue a joint statement. I would be happy to send you this statement when it is issued.”
Jeffrey Herbst, President
College of Charleston
“Earlier this month, the American Studies Association announced its support for an `academic boycott’ of Israeli universities. This boycott is inspired by criticisms of various policies adopted by the State of Israel.
Individual faculty, staff, and students have different points of view on controversial political topics, and there are many venues for the expression of opinions relevant to those topics. However, academic boycotts are inherently troubling, as they seek to prevent contacts between universities and threaten the free flow of ideas and information between faculty and students. Such boycotts pose a direct threat to academic freedom.
I join the American Association of University Professors, the Association of American Universities, and many of my fellow university presidents in opposing academic boycotts. Further, I urge the members of the American Studies Association to end their society’s participation in the academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions.”
P. George Benson, President
College of Mount Saint Joseph
“In general I am opposed to academic boycotts because they limit academic freedom. Sometimes intellectual dialogue is the best method for planting the intellectual seeds for change.”
Tony Aretz, President
College of Staten Island
“I support the statement of Interim Chancellor William P. Kelly concerning the American Studies Association’s boycott of Israel’s higher-education institutions. The College of Staten Island has a proud history of international collaboration, including those with Israeli scholars and institutions. For example, our faculty have obtained grants from the United States Israel Binational Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and from the Fulbright Program of the Institute of International Education to support collaborations with Israeli scholars. This essential dialog will continue. Academic freedom, more essential than ever in times of conflict, embraces, at its core, serious conversation involving open and civil discussion and productive dialogue. I share the Chancellor’s repudiation of an academic boycott as contrary to this vision.”
William J. Fritz PHD, President
College of the Holy Cross
“As a Catholic, Jesuit liberal arts college, Holy Cross is committed to the pursuit of excellence in teaching, learning and research. This pursuit requires a commitment to free and open dialog, an openness to new ideas, and a community marked by mutual respect and civility.
We fully support the right of individuals within the College community to make a principled decision to support or oppose a boycott, such as that recently proposed by the American Studies Association. As a Jesuit institution pledged to support the promotion of justice we recognize the concerns for justice expressed by members of the ASA. We believe, however, that academic boycotts necessarily diminish our ability to engage in fruitful dialog that would more effectively promote human rights and academic freedom across the world, including among the Palestinian people. Thus, we stand opposed to the ASA boycott of Israeli universities, as we would any academic boycott.”
Philip L. Boroughs, S.J., President
Margaret N. Freije, Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College
“Many people have asked me for my opinion on the American Studies Association's recent resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions. I am opposed to this resolution because it is a threat to academic freedom, which is the foundation of the academy. However, I recognize that there are others, including at Colorado College, who support the ASA's resolution. As always, I respect civil discourse and engagement on this issue, as that too is a hallmark of academic freedom.”
Jill Tiefenthaler, President
Colorado State University
“You may be aware that recently the American Studies Association membership has voted to initiate a ‘boycott’ of Israeli academic institutions. Colorado State University is not an institutional member of the ASA, nor is any of its Colleges or Departments. As a general rule, it is my opinion that such boycotts, essentially restricting academic communication between scholars, is not healthy or productive. Several prominent national academic organizations, including the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU) - of which we are an active member - don’t support this boycott. I want to let you all know that Colorado State University does not support the boycott, and that we will not be monitoring or in any way participating in any activity or communication that would discourage our faculty or students from appropriate international collaborations. Equally, we would not encourage any of our faculty, students, or staff to participate in any collaborations that they are not comfortable with.
We are not indifferent to the very real tensions and issues that present themselves in various forms in the Middle East, and in particular to relations between Israel and Palestine. We all look forward to a world where true justice is felt by all, where a fragile peace is not enforced by constant threats, and where freedom – political, economic, intellectual, and academic – are celebrated by all. We’re not there. This boycott is not an attractive mechanism to lead us there.”
Dr. Rick Miranda, Provost
“I have made my opposition to academic boycotts of Israel emphatically clear over the years, most prominently in my 2007 letter that was signed by some 400 of my fellow college and university presidents speaking out against the British University and College Union’s boycott of Israeli scholars and universities. I stand by that statement today when considering the recent vote by the American Studies Association for just such a boycott. To be sure, it is entirely appropriate for our campuses to provide a forum for discussion and debate about the policies of any government, including our own. But the ASA’s vote runs counter to this essential academic and political freedom and, taken to its logical conclusion, would necessarily result in boycotts of fellow scholars and peer institutions from many nations around the world. I reject the ASA’s position which would compromise an essential value of universities in an increasingly global society-and we look forward to continuing to Columbia’s long history of engagement with our peers from Israel.”
Lee C. Bollinger, President
“I want to speak about a difficult matter—about a concern I have regarding the risk of a rising anti-Semitism on our campus. Any bigotry and prejudice toward groups is intolerable, especially (for all the obvious reasons) within a university, and we should be quick to condemn its presence in any form and in any context. In my life, I have tried to do so, whether it be racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-Arab, anti-Muslim, anti-Asian, or any other kind. Over the past year, I have increasingly become concerned about anti-Semitism, and I feel it is important for me to say something now.
There is an upcoming vote among undergraduate students on a proposal to recommend that the University divest from companies doing business with Israel involving the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. There is no question that this is a highly contentious issue, both the underlying issues of Israel and the Palestinians and the idea of divestment as a means of protest about Israel’s policies.
I do not support the proposal for divestment. That is for two reasons. One is the longstanding understanding that the University should not change its investment policies on the basis of a political position unless there is a broad consensus within the institution that to do so is morally and ethically compelled. This is a necessary though not sufficient condition. I do not believe that consensus exists with respect to this proposal.
But I disagree on the merits, too. I believe this imposes a standard on this particular political issue that is not right when one considers similar issues in other countries and in other contexts around the world. To my mind that is unwise, analytically flawed, and violates my sense of fairness and proportionality. I well understand that some others whom I respect hold different views, but, if I am called upon to take a position, this is the one I have come to over the years.
My concern today, however, is not just with this proposal, but with the broader atmosphere in which this and other related issues are being debated. Feelings are charged. Divestment is a piece of a larger and controversial BDS movement. That movement is itself but a variant on a vast and ever-present debate about Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, the Middle East, the region and from there outward to the rest of the world. Critical matters are at stake, to be sure. But what must be avoided at all costs, and what I fear is happening today, is a process of mentality that goes from hard-fought debates about very real and vital issues to hostility and even hatred toward all members of groups of people simply by virtue of a religious, racial, national, or ethnic relationship. This must not happen.
No single issue is an island. When a swastika appears on campus, it is not just an isolated event. When there is a rising anti-Semitism in this country and around the world, even a single instance of it in any context is more alarming than it might otherwise be.
I plead with everyone on our campus to be careful and vigilant against legitimate debate turning into anger, then to hatred and demonization, and invidious discrimination.
I can say that Jewish students are feeling this, and it’s wrong. I feel it, and it’s wrong. We all feel it, and it’s wrong.”
Lee C. Bollinger, President (March 6, 2020)
“I become president of Connecticut College on Jan. 1, 2014 and so I have not yet had an opportunity to discuss the boycott with members of the college community. But the foundational values of free speech, civil debate, and shared governance lie at the very heart of our institution. An academic boycott is antithetical to these values. To be true to our mission of educating engaged, global citizens – of putting the liberal arts into action – the College must sustain an environment of open inquiry in which all voices can be heard.”
Katherine Bergeron, President
“From the university’s inception nearly 150 years ago, President David Skorton and Provost Kent Fuchs have indicated, Cornell and members of its faculty have had many working relationships and formal agreements with academic institutions around the world. These collaborations have been – and remain – important to our mission of teaching, research and engagement. We believe that these interactions and collaborations have been productive even in countries in which some faculty, students, and/or alumni disapprove of the policies of the government. The sharing of knowledge and the substantive results that spring from these relationships benefit people from many countries, including our own, and often contribute to the betterment of our global community.
The Association of American Universities issued the following statement in response to the American Studies Association resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions. Cornell President David Skorton signed the AAU statement as a member of its executive committee.”
In response to a call for divestment by Students for Justice in Palestine, President Martha Pollack wrote:
“Dear Cornell Students for Justice in Palestine,
Thank you for your letter and for sharing your thoughts regarding the BDS movement. While I appreciate your dedication to the issues that are outlined in your letter, I must reject your call for BDS-related divestment.
Cornell is an educational institution, and its primary purpose is to further the education of students, and the general public, through our teaching, research and engagement mission. Cornell is not primarily an agent to direct social or political action, but rather a neutral forum for analysis, debate and the search for truth. Similarly, the principal purpose of our endowment is to provide income for advancing our mission-related objectives and must not be viewed as a means of exercising political or social power.
Given that your letter shares your broader perspective on the BDS movement, I must also take this opportunity to share mine, which is a strong opposition to BDS. BDS unfairly singles out one country in the world for sanction when there are many countries around the world whose governments’ policies may be viewed as controversial. Moreover, it places all of the responsibility for an extraordinarily complex geopolitical situation on just one country and frequently conflates the policies of the Israeli government with the very right of Israel to exist as a nation, which I find particularly troublesome. And, although not mentioned in your petition, the BDS movement, consistent with its name, calls for boycott, including academic boycott, which is at odds with Cornell’s core commitment to academic freedom and the open exchange of ideas. Since its founding, Cornell has cultivated countless academic collaborations abroad, relationships that we encourage even in countries that have governments with which some faculty, students, and alumni have significant disagreements. These partnerships have supported our teaching, research and engagement mission and have resulted in outcomes that have benefitted the people of many countries, including our own.
This is a challenging time in history, with our university and the country confronting difficult matters of race, religion and politics, to name just a few, that could easily divide us. Here at Cornell, I am heartened to see an honest commitment to the hard work of respectful dialogue and mutual understanding that can help us to overcome differences and to find a way forward. I hope that instead of polarizing calls for divestment, the community can engage in productive discourse around paths forward in the Middle East, drawing on the kind of thoughtful analysis that defines us as a university. The high ideals of our students, faculty and staff are an inspiration, and I am hopeful that our nation and our university will both emerge stronger as a result.
Thank you again for reaching out to me.” (Legal Insurrection, February 28, 2019)
“President Phil Hanlon announced his opposition to the American Studies Association’s boycott of Israeli institutions in an email to campus Saturday morning. With his statement, he joins university presidents nationwide in condemning the decision of the group to block collaboration with Israeli colleges and universities.
'Collaboration, especially across significant points of tension and difference, is essential to fostering mutual understanding and solving the world’s most complex problems,' Hanlon wrote.”
“DePaul has great respect for our academic colleagues who work in Israel's prominent universities, and we will not participate in the so-called 'boycott' of their institutions.”
“... Dickinson continues to strongly oppose all academic boycotts, and we remain committed to working with Israeli institutions of higher education, including our partner programs at Hebrew University and Ben-Gurion University.
The ASA boycott silences the global dialogue in which Dickinson so actively engages. Collaboration and exchange with international universities, as well as individual scholars, is a foundational element of Dickinson’s distinctive, widely admired approach to global education. We have Israelis on our faculty, and we have hosted scholars from Israel for residencies on our campus. We will continue to do so...”
Nancy Roseman, President and Professor of Biology
A resolution to ban Sabra-brand hummus on campus was introduced recently to Student Senate and was passed during the Dec. 3, 2019, meeting. Sabra is a U.S.-based company, partly owned by Strauss Group, an international food company headquartered in Israel. Pepsi Co. is also a part owner.
The college issued this statement:
“Dickinson encourages students to voice their opinions and affect change through our governance structure. We are pleased that the discussion about this issue at the Student Senate meeting was civil and that competing opinions were articulated.
As an institution that deeply values global diversity and civil discussion and debate, Dickinson opposes this boycott. In 2014, we rejected the call from the American Studies Association to boycott Israeli universities and instead maintained our ongoing relationships with three Israeli institutions. We reject the current call for boycott on the same grounds.
Students have committed to continue with the open dialogue and active listening that they demonstrated during the discussion. We are confident that as they grapple with this and other complex issues they will continue to seek out and consider multiple perspectives and draw on the critical thinking and analysis skills they are developing here at Dickinson.”
Regarding a student proposal to boycott Sabra Hummus in December 2019, Provost Neil Weissman said on February 27, 2020: “we think boycotts interfere with the free flow of exchanges of ideas and peoples, and so we oppose them.” He added theschool’s current policy “confirms our ongoing relationship with Israeli academic institutions.”
He said that the college recommitted to the policy in 2014, “in response to a resolution by the national American Studies Association to join the BDS movement.” The policy he said “applies to the College and its employees in their institutional capacities.”
Asked if the school would support students in their own boycott, Weissman said, “If students or anyone choose not to buy Sabra hummus, it’s their choice. But as far as I know, we are not intending to take it off the shelves.”
“I wholeheartedly endorse the American Association of University Professors' strongly worded opposition to the recent vote by the American Studies Association (ASA) to boycott Israeli institutions of higher education. As the AAUP indicates, academic boycotts are antithetical to the fundamental principles of academic freedom. An academic boycott, in essence, impinges on the University’s ability to fulfill its most fundamental scholarly, intellectual, cultural, and societal responsibilities in a civil society.
Drake University's Statement of Principles, created by the University’s Faculty Senate 20 years ago, states:
Drake University upholds freedom of thought and freedom of expression as central to its educational mission. Drake therefore carefully refrains from restricting the exchange of ideas or regulating the content of speech. . . We affirm the principle that thoughts and opinions should be subject to the crucible of debate and be judged only in the free marketplace of ideas. Ideas will not be suppressed because they are presently viewed as unpopular or inappropriate by current authorities, nor will expression of those ideas be infringed because it may be perceived as harmful to a particular group or organization. Although the frank and open discussion of social, cultural, artistic, religious, moral, scientific, and political issues may be disturbing and even hurtful for some individuals, the principle of free exchange and inquiry takes precedence, as it is so fundamental to the educational enterprise.
Further, the lessons of recent history (e.g., Soviet-American academic exchanges) suggest that academic engagement—both institutional and individual—as opposed to isolation, is a powerful force in catalyzing and informing significant political and social change. From this perspective, not only is the ASA’s boycott contrary to the fundamental values of the academy, but it has the potential to prolong and exacerbate the very issues that it is intended to address.
Finally, I would suggest that a boycott of this nature inherently undermines the academy’s most powerful tools in effecting change—our thoughts, our ideas, our voices and, ultimately, our relationships. The complex global web of intellectual relationships that we have collectively created is one of our most powerful assets in fulfilling our respective missions as institutions of higher education; to sever a portion of those relationships for political reasons is ultimately self-destructive.”
David Maxwell, President
“Drexel University is committed to a spirit of free inquiry, and to the clash of ideas which represents true critical engagement. These ideas form the core of academic freedom. The recent action by the American Studies Association to boycott Israeli Universities threatens to undermine this core commitment and the collaborations and intellectual inquiry through which it operates. We oppose it in spirit and in practice and encourage our faculty to range freely in their scholarship and creative work. In particular, our long-standing commitment to working with colleagues and academic institutions in Israel remains important to us as a community of scholars and to those for whom this research may present life-saving solutions. Open discourse, intellectual skepticism, and deep engagement rather than exclusion remain the surest ways to advancing knowledge and understanding..”
John A. Fry, President
“One hesitates to respond to anything as silly as an academic boycott. For one academic institution to alienate another is antithetical to any notion of academic freedom, or frankly, education. Academic freedom is a great symbol of a true democracy, and there is no better place than the academy for the discussion of ideas that challenge prevailing views, incite emotion and promote understanding. That makes it ever more confounding as to why the American Studies Association, a professional organization for scholars, would lead the charge to boycott Israeli colleges and universities.
As the enrollment of Jewish students at Eckerd College has grown, we have observed a surprising and inspiring impact on our students, Jew and non-Jew. At a recent Shabbat, which attracted more than a hundred students, I talked with a young Jewish student who admitted she was there because her non-Jewish roommate had encouraged her to attend. Though she hadn’t been particularly devout before coming to college, she said her attendance at Shabbats, her Birthright trip and relationships with faculty and students at Eckerd had revealed to her important lessons about her history and herself. Those opportunities to explore, engage in self-discovery and share knowledge are fundamentally what an educational community – at Eckerd and beyond – should encourage.
The ASA boycott is discouraging and sadly familiar. In 2007, Britain’s University College Union’s boycott resulted in a legion of colleges and universities standing with their Israeli colleagues. And here we stand again.”
Dr. Donald R. Eastman III, President
Elon University American Studies Department
“In December 2013, members of the American Studies Association (ASA) voted to approve a boycott of Israeli academic institutions in order to support Palestinian rights. While the statement supports “the protected rights of students and scholars everywhere to engage in research and public speaking,” it is unclear how such engagement will be possible since most Israeli faculty members are not independent scholars. If you boycott the institution and its money, you in effect also boycott the faculty’s ability to participate in any international conversation. We, the members of the American Studies Program at Elon, in company with a great number of American Studies practitioners, over one hundred university and college presidents across the nation, eight former Presidents of the ASA, the American Association of University Professors, the American Association of Universities, and nine major Jewish organizations, reject this boycott. We consider such a boycott an attack on academic freedom, civil liberties, and the noble cause of free inquiry and association. In our collective judgment, such an undifferentiated sanction against Israeli institutions degrades the nature of genuine scholarship. We also hold that the boycott is neither an effective mechanism to accomplish the ostensible goal of a just resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict nor a workable precedent for the resolution of similar conflicts around the world. Israeli institutions and scholars are no more complicit or responsible for the political policies of their government than public and private American institutions (e.g., UC-Berkeley, UCLA, or MIT) are complicit or responsible for the American government’s domestic or foreign policies. On the contrary, such institutions promote critical thinking that may challenge such policies. The American Studies Program at Elon welcomes Provost House’s statement that rejects the ASA boycott and restates Elon’s continuous support of academic engagement with Israeli Universities. The statement underscores Elon's aspired commitment to genuine pluralism, free dialogue, and open intellectual engagement across borders, arbitrary personal and social demarcations, or political partisanship.”
“Recently, members of the American Studies Association (ASA) proposed a boycott of Israeli academic institutions as a form of protest against policies related to Palestinians. Elon University is not an institutional member of the ASA. Below is a statement by Steven House, provost and vice president for academic affairs, explaining Elon University’s position on these issues.
Elon has strong programs in international education and is among the nation’s leaders in providing study abroad opportunities for students. Elon also stands on bedrock principles of academic freedom and liberty of conscience.
Elon’s programs include partnerships with the University of Haifa and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem that currently allow about a dozen students to study in Israel taking language courses in both Arabic and Hebrew, as well as courses in a variety of fields. Elon students live in apartments with other international students and local roommates, Arab and Israeli. In addition, Elon has relationships and working agreements with many other universities in countries around the world, allowing our students to see the world through many different perspectives and understand the complex relationships among the world’s people, cultures and environments.
We will maintain our academic partnerships in Israel. International study collaborations are vital for our students to gain firsthand knowledge of challenging issues facing societies around the world. We believe that sharing knowledge plants the seed for peace and understanding and prepares Elon students to be global citizens and forces for good in the world.
Continuing our international study partnerships is also in keeping with Elon’s Academic Freedom Statement, which affirms the principles of free inquiry and respect for the right of each person to her or his convictions (http://www.elon.edu/docs/e-web/academics/facultyhandbook/2013-2014/Done_A012_2013_Sect_2_Chap_5_Academic_Freedom%20blue.pdf).
In the spirit of free inquiry, Elon remains committed to open dialogue and global partnerships, affirming the university’s mission to develop the mind, body and spirit of each student.”
Steven D. House, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
“Over the past seven years, Emory has been approached repeatedly by groups from off campus requesting that Emory commit to an academic boycott of Israeli scholars and scholarly institutions. Those seeking to organize such an action claim to do so as an expression of dissent concerning certain Israeli government policies and actions with which they disagree. Most recently, three academic professional organizations have endorsed such an action.
Emory’s own and newly-penned policy on Respect for Freedom of Expression is clear about the need to protect the rights of others. An academic boycott would clearly violate the right of university faculty to academic freedom and so cannot be supported. The statement of the Association of American Universities (AAU), of which Emory is a member, states well Emory’s position, when it says that it ‘strongly opposes a boycott of Israeli academic institutions... Any such boycott of academic institutions directly violates academic freedom, which is a fundamental principle of AAU universities and of American higher education in general.’ In agreement with our AAU colleagues, Emory also opposes an academic boycott.”
James Wagner, President
“Individual faculty members are protected by the customs and policies of academic freedom of their institutions to pursue research and to teach their disciplines without fear of censorship or reprisal should their positions be unpopular or their research troubling. Learned societies similarly have the right, as voluntary associations, to take public positions on important questions of the day.
As a Jesuit and Catholic institution, Fairfield University lives out the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, which positioned the Church in dialogue with the whole world for the service of faith and the promotion of justice. Cutting off conversation and exchange with a whole nation through a boycott seems to go against this spirit of dialogue and service. It also seems to go against the freedom of individual faculty members and of institutions that would seek the ways of peace and healing, especially where such engagement is most needed.”
Rev. Paul J. Fitzgerald, S. J., Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
Farleigh Dickinson University
“The American Studies Association recently resolved to participate in a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. This move has generated debate and controversy with many weighing in on the merits of such a stance. Fairleigh Dickinson University joins those that reject a boycott.
FDU President Sheldon Drucker said, “The University fully embraces the right of all faculty, students and staff to freely express their beliefs and opinions and collaboratively participate in scholarly endeavors across borders. We reject the notion of academic boycotts because they challenge the value of academic freedom by restricting dialogue and the free exchange of ideas.”
Sheldon Drucker, President
Florida Atlantic University
“We support academic freedom and the freedoms of speech and association it entails, and we reject the boycott passed by the American Studies Association in the strongest terms. Their decision contradicts the very foundation of higher education in our society—to serve as a place where the civil exchange of ideas is fostered. We call on the American Studies Association to rescind their disturbing decision immediately.”
Florida International University
“Last week the American Studies Association (ASA) approved a resolution calling for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. FIU opposes this resolution.
Our Board of Trustees has adopted the following statement with respect to academic freedom:
'Florida International University is dedicated to the transmission and advancement of knowledge and understanding. Academic freedom is essential to the achievement of these purposes. The University therefore supports and encourages freedom of inquiry for faculty members and students, to the end that they may responsibly pursue these goals through teaching, learning, research, discussion and publication, free from internal or external restraints that would unreasonably restrict their academic endeavors.'
The resolution of the ASA would impose restrictions on the academic freedom of Israeli scholars and of scholars from FIU and elsewhere who interact with them. Such restrictions are antithetical to the freedom of inquiry identified by our Board as essential to an engaged university seeking solutions to global problems.
Scholars have a wide range of views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We support research and scholarly dialogue among all scholars including full participation of Palestinian as well as Israeli academics. Academic freedom is a touchstone of the modern university and critical to the research, teaching and engagement of our faculty. Progress toward solving difficult issues such as this one will be achieved only when the academic freedom of all scholars is preserved and enhanced.”
Florida State University
“The Administration and Faculty Senate of Florida State University oppose the use of academic boycotts, including that of the American Studies Association in 2013. The free search for truth and the ability to debate and explore ideas are at the foundation of democratic societies. Society is best served when universities and their faculties work with scholars and institutions worldwide. Our University draws considerable strength from its diverse, multicultural campus and the free exchange of ideas with scholars across the world.”
Eric J. Barron, President
“As a Jesuit university, Fordham has always been devoted to the pursuit of wisdom and learning, a pursuit that is dependent upon and advanced by spirited, principled debate between and among scholars. Therefore, although the University certainly recognizes and reveres the freedom of conscience of the individual scholars who comprise its faculty, it stands resolutely in opposition to the call for the boycott of Israeli universities recently advocated by the members of the American Studies Association. We believe that boycotts of this kind seriously undermine and hinder the efforts of any intellectual community to fulfill its mission in the service of wisdom and learning.”
Joseph M. McShane, S.J., President
Franklin & Marshall College
Franklin & Marshall College rejects the call of the American Studies Association for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. Boycotting colleges and universities based on national affiliation or alleged government transgressions arbitrarily and unfairly penalizes students and faculty. It limits academic freedom, scholarly inquiry and scientific research, cross-cultural discourse, political discussion, the growth of knowledge, and the free exchange of ideas in every field.
Franklin & Marshall will continue to work with Israeli institutions of higher learning, including Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University, where our students have recently studied abroad. Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University stand for academic excellence. Our faculty and students have enjoyed productive collaborations with these distinguished institutions of higher learning and we look forward to continuing these partnerships.
Franklin & Marshall College is not an institutional member of the American Studies Association. We support the rights of members of our community to form and express their own opinions and to participate in professional academic associations.”
Daniel R. Porterfield, President
Joseph Karlesky, Provost and Dean of the Faculty
George Mason University
“Several colleagues have asked what I think about the American Studies Association’s resolution to boycott Israeli universities. My short answer: it is a terrible idea.
As I wrote in this blog last month, I believe the world is made better by engaging with all peoples, even when doing so can put us in between peoples in conflict.
As I expressed in the Washington Post yesterday, universities exist to build bridges of understanding, not to blow them up. As scholars we seek truth by engaging not with those who share our views but with those who do not.
The Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, of which George Mason University is a member, issued a statement, which I endorse. The free exchange of ideas is the lifeblood of a university. Boycotts of the kind supported by the ASA would threaten our ability to exchange ideas that can ultimately help us build a more peaceful, just and prosperous world.
But, just like I oppose ASA's proposed boycott to Israeli universities, I also oppose the suggestion made by some that we boycott ASA. Boycotting the boycotter would not undo a wrong. It would double it up. Nonsense.”
George Washington University
Responding to criticism of the appointment of BDS advocate Ilana Feldman as interim dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs:
“The university’s policy on the BDS movement is very clear — GW does not support divestment or other actions called for by BDS.” Blake tried to reassure critics that all “members of the administration — including those in an acting or interim capacity — are required to comply with all University policies or actions, including those on BDS, and foster an atmosphere that allows all voices to be equally heard. As vice dean, and now as interim dean, Dr. Feldman has and will adhere to all of our policies and specifically committed to adhering to GWU’s policy regarding freedom of expression.”
University Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs M. Brian Blake (May 18, 2020)
“... The university has multiple academic, research and programmatic relationships with Israeli institutions and plans to continue these relationships as well as explore new ones. We continue to believe that academic exchanges and conversations lead to better understanding between nations and people of differing views...”
Michelle Suarez, Office of the President
Last night, the university’s student senate passed a resolution calling for divestment from certain companies because they do business with Israel. While I support the student senate’s right to express their views in the form of a resolution, I want to be clear to our university community that this does not represent the university’s views, and the university will not implement such a proposal.
Our university is home to many people who are deeply engaged on the issues inherent to this conflict. We have hosted a range of programming, representing a wide variety of viewpoints and ideas. The university prioritizes the safety and security of all our students and our campus community. I encourage the GW community to foster an inclusive environment and to continue to engage in open, respectful dialogue.
Thomas LeBlanc, University President
Message Regarding the Decision of the American Studies Association to Support an Academic Boycott of Israel
“The George Washington University’s American Studies department is a member of the American Studies Association. Consistent with our culture of academic freedom, we leave decisions about membership in scholarly societies to faculty members.
The university has multiple academic, research and programmatic relationships with Israeli institutions and plans to continue these relationships as well as explore new ones. We continue to believe that academic exchanges and conversations lead to better understanding between nations and people of differing views.”
“The recent resolution of the American Studies Association endorsing a boycott of Israeli universities undermines the academic freedom that is essential to the mission of the Academy.
In 2007, when confronted with an earlier proposed boycott of Israeli universities, I stated the following:
I believe that scholars and researchers must be allowed to engage in their work without threat–regardless of the policies of their governments. This freedom is absolutely essential to the mission and fundamental values of the Academy. The most fruitful way for the Academy to promote human rights is not to diminish the dialogue between scholars and societies-but to promote free expression and exchange.
This statement still captures my deep conviction that the logic of the Academy is one of engagement.
I recognize these are matters on which colleagues can disagree. While the position of our University remains opposed to any boycott, we will certainly defend the rights of those who disagree.
As an academic institution, it is Georgetown’s responsibility to deepen engagement and foster dialogue between scholars and societies to enhance the entire global academic community.”
John J. DeGioia, President
Georgia Institute of Technology
“During its January meeting, the Board of Regents (BOR) for the University System of Georgia (USG) announced strong opposition to a boycott against Israeli scholars and academic institutions.
The boycott is being led by the American Studies Association and two other organizations. However, organizations including the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and the Association of American Universities (AAU) have announced their opposition.
As part of the USG, as well as AAU and the Association of Public Land Grant Universities, Georgia Tech fully supports the statements issued by the BOR and these professional organizations.
According to the BOR, 'The call for this boycott directly violates academic freedom, which is the fundamental principle of American higher education essential to the research, teaching, and public service activities of our institutions.'”
“As per your story posted on Dec. 22<http://legalinsurrection.com/2013/12/list-of-universities-rejecting-academic-boycott-of-israel/>, I’m writing to confirm that Gettysburg College, a private liberal arts college in Pennsylvania, rejects the academic boycott of Israel passed by the American Studies Association.
Jamie Yates, Director of Communications & Media Relations
“We are writing to express our strong concern about, and outright disapproval of, the recent vote by the American Studies Association to boycott Israeli academic institutions, apparently as a result of some of its members’ disapproval of certain policies of the Israeli government.
Goucher College, as we try to make clear by our words and actions daily, stands for open discussion, research, and inquiry about all issues, international or domestic, in every intellectual and political domain. The free exchange of ideas and opinions is essential to liberal arts education and to our very existence as an academic community. We would, of course, be outraged if any such boycott were launched against all American colleges and universities by any association of alleged scholars anywhere in the world, out of disagreement with a US military engagement or other element of American foreign or domestic policy. Hence, without taking any particular position on Middle East issues, we must invoke a strong and unequivocal stand against this outrageous and peculiarly selective move by the ASA, which seems far outside the scope of “American Studies.”
Our college will not abide by this measure, through which, in our view, the American Studies Association completely discredits itself. On the contrary, in the great tradition of academic freedom, we will proudly continue to associate with all colleges and universities in Israel and everywhere else around the world where discussion is robust and open, and where Goucher students are welcomed for their study abroad.”
Sanford J. Ungar, President
Marc Roy, Provost
“Gratz College condemns the American Studies Association’s (ASA) resolution adopting a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. The ASA’s action violates academic freedom, a valued principle of our higher education system. Gratz College stands with the Association of American Universities and all institutions of higher learning that oppose the ASA’s boycott, believe that political issues should not interfere with the pursuit of scholarship and inquiry, and recognize that exclusion does not advance knowledge or promote understanding.”
Joy W. Goldstein, President
“Hamilton College is not a member of the ASA and we do not support the boycott.”
Patrick Reynolds, Dean of Faculty
“Academic boycotts subvert the academic freedoms and values necessary to the free flow of ideas, which is the lifeblood of the worldwide community of scholars. The recent resolution of the ASA proposing to boycott Israeli universities represents a direct threat to these ideals, ideals which universities and scholarly associations should be dedicated to defend.”
“Although Haverford College is not an institutional member of the American Studies Association, we write to express our opposition to their proposed boycott of Israeli academic institutions because such an action is antithetical to the full expression of academic freedom. We fully support the statement issued by the Executive Committee of the Association of American Universities in opposition to the boycott, which holds that 'Efforts to address political issues, or to address restrictions on academic freedom, should not themselves infringe upon academic freedom.'
We also acknowledge that individual members of our community have the right to their own opinions, including the right to support the actions of the ASA.”
Daniel Weiss, President
Kimberly Benston, Provost
Martha Denney, Dean of the College
“Once again the academic community is debating a group’s call for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. The boycott approved last month by the American Studies Association against Israeli institutions of higher education to signal the ASA’s support of Palestine urges American colleges and universities to cease all dealings with their Israeli counterparts. For anyone working at a University where academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas is the cornerstone of all we do, a scholarly boycott – refusal to have dealing with other scholarly institutions – is anathema to the principle of academic freedom. Boycotts undermine the free exchange of ideas that is fundamental to the creation, nurturing, and preservation of a global community of scholars. Rather than promoting academic freedom and the open exchange of ideas in the scholarly community, boycotts create a closed and perhaps even hostile culture, an unnatural division of 'us' and 'them,' and ultimately, scholars who are unable to freely share information, discuss opinions or debate the issues of the day.
The concept of a boycott raises the question of who decides which state policies should be universally condemned by academics. Certainly there are differing opinions on the Israeli/Palestinian issue yet the ASA resolution ignores contrary views. And why is Israel the only nation whose policies are under scrutiny by the ASA?
As I said in a 2007 editorial, when members of the University and College Union, the United Kingdom’s largest trade union and professional association of academics, researchers and lecturers, considered imposing a boycott on Israeli universities in order to assist the Palestinian cause: 'The mere idea of one group of scholars boycotting any other group of scholars, in any country, among any religious or ethnic group, is antithetical to the purpose, history and core principals of scholarship and academic freedom. Academic institutions play a singular and unique role in all disciplines – they foster innovation and research across all national boundaries, they encourage discussion and debate among educated people of every ethnic background, and they are often at the forefront of change in international policy.'
As President of Hofstra University, I continue to oppose and condemn any boycott of academic institutions, and specifically this boycott against Israeli institutions. When scholars stop working together and the free exchange of ideas is discouraged, no one is helped, and something important is lost.”
Stuart Rabinowitz, President
“As president and provost of Hunter College, one of the most diverse and inclusive institutions of higher learning in the United States, we join with the American Association of American Universities and the City University of New York in unequivocally opposing the academic boycott of Israeli universities endorsed by the American Studies Association (ASA). Although Hunter is not a member of the ASA, we believe it is essential to speak out against academic boycotts of any kind, as they violate the fundamental values of academic freedom and open inquiry and dialogue that are essential to the life of the academy. Limiting opportunities for partnerships and the exchange of ideas by isolating and stigmatizing groups of scholars because of judgments about their nations’ foreign or domestic policies is a tragically misguided way to address political issues. With faculty and students from all over the globe, Hunter College will proudly continue to broaden understanding and opportunity by encouraging rich research collaborations, scholarly exchanges and programmatic initiatives with great institutions in Israel and around the world, without constraint.”
Jennifer Raab, President
“... As you may know, President McRobbie has publicly voiced his opposition to any boycott of Israeli institutions. The AAU and the AAUP have both voted to oppose any such boycotts and we fully support both actions. We are investigating the nature of the IUs institutional membership in the ASA and will continue to monitor this situation closely...”
Kelly A. Kish, Ph.D., Deputy Chief of Staff
“Indiana University joins other leading research universities in condemning in the strongest possible terms the boycott of institutions of higher education in Israel as proposed by the American Studies Association and other organizations. Boycotts such as these have a profound chilling effect on academic freedom, and universities must be clear and unequivocal in rejecting them. Indiana University strongly endorses the recent statement on this matter by the Association of American Universities and the long-standing position in this area of the American Association of University Professors.
Indiana University values its academic relationships with colleagues and institutions around the world, including many important ones with institutions in Israel, and will not allow political considerations such as those behind this ill-conceived boycott to weaken those relationships or undermine the principle of academic freedom in this way. IU stands firmly against proposals that would attempt to limit or restrict those important institutional relationships or this fundamental principle.
Indiana University will contact the ASA immediately to withdraw as an institutional member. We urge the leadership of the ASA and other associations supporting the boycott to rescind this dangerous and ill-conceived action as a matter of urgency.”
Michael A. McRobbie, President
Iowa State University
“Iowa State University supports the positions of the Association of American Universities (AAU) and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) in opposition to any such boycott.”
John McCarroll, Executive Director University Relations
“In mid-December, the American Studies Association voted to boycott Israel’s higher-education institutions to protest the country’s treatment of Palestinians. I have subsequently been asked by some members of the Ithaca College community to articulate my position on the boycott.
Ithaca College has a history of standing for academic freedom. We also have a history of supporting the underlying practices that make academic freedom effective: freedom of scholars to conduct their research, to associate with each other to share and refine their ideas, and to publish the findings and conclusions of their scholarly work. Academic boycotts, whatever their motivation may be, infringe on these central tenets of higher learning. Several scholarly associations, including the American Studies Association, have recently resolved to boycott Israeli universities. Although Ithaca College has no institutional relationship with those scholarly associations and therefore no venue for communication directly with them, the principles for which we stand lead us to conclude that such boycotts are antithetical to the constructive exchange of ideas in the global communities of scholarship..”
Thomas R. Rochon, President
Johns Hopkins University
“The American Studies Association voted recently to boycott Israeli academic institutions. Two other organizations of scholars have announced similar boycotts. We are writing to express our views on this issue.
Johns Hopkins stands for the belief that we will advance the human condition through dialogue rather than isolation and the dissemination of knowledge rather than its restriction. An academic boycott is, thus, an affront to principles that this university cherishes. To curtail the freedom of institutions to participate in the exchange of ideas because of the policies of the government of the country where they reside is to strike at the very mission of our university. The ASA tries to defend the boycott on the ground that it applies formally to Israeli universities rather than individual faculty, but of course, this neglects the profound impact such a ban will have on the scholars who form the intellectual heart and participate actively in the academic life and governance of those universities.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is, of course, a complex matter on which many in our community hold passionate and competing views. We can all agree, however, that one essential ingredient to the resolution of that conflict will be the free exchange of information and open debate of ideas. This boycott is a contradiction, one that threatens what it purports to protect: the freedom of thought and expression that is the heartbeat of our academic community.
We, therefore, reject the ASA’s efforts to impose a boycott on institutions of higher education in Israel or any other nation. For the same reasons, although Johns Hopkins is not an institutional member of the American Studies Association, we also reject calls to boycott the boycotters, or to dissociate from the association or other organizations of scholars as an expression of protest against their votes.
We fully expect that members of our community will, in the finest traditions of our university, continue to give voice to their ideas and convictions. We oppose closing off avenues for fellow scholars in another nation to do the same.”
Ronald J. Daniels, President
Robert C. Lieberman, Provost
“The ASA is, first and foremost, an academic society aimed at the promotion of interdisciplinary studies of American culture and history. This commitment to scholarship, teaching, and learning is what drew Kenyon to participate in ASA activities in the past. But, as the president of a College with an unwavering commitment to the liberal arts and the concept of academic freedom, I reject the notion of a boycott of academic institutions as a geopolitical tool. I concur with the decision of our American Studies program to withdraw as an institutional member of the ASA.”
Mark S. Wrighton, Ph.D., Chancellor and Professor of Chemistry
“Over the last ten days a number of college and university presidents have released statements regarding the American Studies Association’s recently announced boycott of Israeli institutions of higher education. Some members of the Lafayette community have asked where we stand on this issue.
Our mission statement begins, “In an environment that fosters the free exchange of ideas, Lafayette College seeks to nurture the inquiring mind.” I am proud that the principle of academic freedom is central to our institutional ethos. I believe that any form of academic boycott is contrary to that ethos. An economic boycott expresses opposition by withholding financial support. Such boycotts can be effective by putting a price tag on important values. Restraining the free exchange of ideas, however, and treating intellectual discourse as a commodity, cheapens the value of those ideas.
Lafayette’s distinctive combination of liberal arts and engineering demands that students master the intellectual challenges of open-ended inquiry, as well as the concrete skills of complex problem-solving. We would not be modeling those qualities very effectively if we supported a strategy of cutting off dialogue about difficult issues. The world’s problems will not be solved that way.
I do not know if any Lafayette faculty supported the ASA boycott, and I do not intend to ask. Academic freedom means that individual faculty are entitled to hold their own views. I hope that many members of the community will feel, however, that the personal perspective I have expressed here is consistent with the spirit of Lafayette College, and its commitment to promoting the free exchange of ideas across all differences and boundaries.”
Alison Byerly, President
“A central principle of a liberal arts education is the ability to discuss differing opinions in an environment that supports the exchange of ideas and the learning that comes from that exchange. At Lawrence we have supported this value of discourse since our founding 167 years ago.
“The longer we live and work within an academic community, the more deeply we are convinced that our most precious possession is the freedom to speak what we think, and to listen thoughtfully to one another. Whatever our political commitments, whatever the nature of any government’s policies, no boycott should interfere with this freedom of academic discourse either here or at universities elsewhere in the world. So we have joined the officers of other American universities, the American Association of University Professors, the Executive Committee of the Association of American Universities, and the President of the American Council on Education - all of whom oppose the call by the Association of American Studies to boycott Israeli academic institutions.”
Mark Burstein, President
Dave Burrows, Provost and Dean of the Faculty
“Lehigh University strongly opposes the American Studies Association’s (ASA) boycott of Israeli academic institutions, and we are disappointed that a portion of the ASA’s membership chose to take this action. We also believe that one cannot effectively impact a boycott by the ASA with a boycott of the ASA. It would be more productive for our faculty members who belong to that organization to express their displeasure to the leadership, and advocate for a change in policy. We will call upon our faculty to make their opinions known to the ASA. This would apply as well to any academic organization that might vote to adopt the same position as the ASA.
The boycott of an academic community is antithetical to the mission of academia. The essence of the academic enterprise is to advance the exchange of knowledge and ideas. This mission necessarily calls us to be open and receptive to intellectual discourse with others. There is no room in the pursuit of this mission for the isolation of any group of academics. A boycott of any group is harmful to all. International collaboration and exchange have never been more important than they are today. Through collaboration across disciplines – and across borders – we will continue to live up to our responsibilities to our nation and our world.”
“In response to the boycott of Israel called by the American Studies Association (ASA), Liberty University has reaffirmed its strong support of Israel.
Last December, the ASA, an association comprised of faculty members of American colleges and universities, called on American universities to sever formal collaborative agreements with academic institutions in Israel.
Since the ASA called for the boycott, about 200 universities have condemned the action.
“Liberty University strongly opposes these boycotts,” said Liberty President Jerry Falwell, Jr. “Since its founding in 1971, Liberty University has supported Israel. Scores of Liberty students and faculty have visited Israel and collaborated with Israeli academic institutions. We consider these boycotts as nothing more than thinly veiled attempts to delegitimize the state of Israel and to pressure Israel to capitulate to America’s enemies in the Middle East.”
Dr. Randall Price, director of the Center for Judaic Studies at Liberty, recently completed a 10-year archaeological dig with Hebrew University in Qumran. Liberty University School of Law has an Israeli visiting professor on its faculty and sponsors an annual tour of Israel for students. The Stand with Israel student organization has been recognized by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee as the most active club in the country.
“Liberty University’s support for Israel is longstanding. We continue to stand with Israel,” Falwell said.”
Los Angeles Community College District
“The Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees adopted a resolution at its Wednesday meeting urging the American Studies Association to rescind its boycott of Israeli universities.
'We stand up loud and clear to say it is not okay to stand in the way of academic freedom,' said Trustee Scott Svonkin, vice?president of the LACCD board. 'What the American Studies Association did was repugnant and unacceptable. Freedom of thought and the intellectual exchange of ideas have long been core values of this district. They are values that benefit the students we serve.'
The resolution, co?sponsored by LACCD board president Miguel Santiago and former board president Steve Veres, says the boycott is 'even more objectionable given that many other nations in the region and around the world have much more troubling records when it comes to academic exclusion, including many nations that bar large numbers of their nation's residents from educational inclusion due to race, class, gender, national affiliation, or sexual or religious status.'
The resolution asks the University of California Board of Regents, the California State University Board of Governors and the California Community Colleges Board of Governors to join in opposing the ASA boycott.”
Louisiana State University System
“I would like to express our support of the APLU's rebuke of the ASA boycott of Israeli academic institutions. The resolution is not only counter to the very principles of academic institutions - that of academic freedom and the values of open and free intellectual exchanges - but also the principles it is trying to highlight are being infringed upon.
Universities must always think about their missions to serve students and to promote research as well as creative scholarship. It is a global mission, requiring global participation. A boycott of any nation infringes on international dialogue and undermines universities goals of pushing the bounds of knowledge.
I agree with the APLU's views that the mission of the academic community is to produce and share knowledge through research, teaching, and service. The boycott wrongly limits the ability of American and Israeli academic institutions and faculty members to exchange ideas and collaborate.
LSU values the freedom of our faculty and students to further knowledge, adn I feel it is necessary to publicly oppose the resolution of the American Studies Association to boycott Israel.”
F. King Alexander, President and Chancellor
“Louisiana Tech University opposes any academic boycotts of Israel or any other entity that might impinge upon academic freedom.”
Leslie K. Guice, President
“While I understand and sympathize with the concerns of the members of ASA for the need for justice for the Palestinian people, boycotting Israeli universities and research centers is not the way to proceed. Open, respectful dialogue is essential to the life of the academy and the insights derived from such dialogue are necessarily weakened if persons are excluded for ideological reasons alone. Given that American universities are rapidly developing international campuses in states with clear histories of systematic human rights violations and severe limits on academic freedom, I am more than a little concerned that ASA has singled out Israeli institutions for censure. As others have stated the effect if not the intention seems anti-Semitic.
Loyola University Maryland is opposed to this boycott and urges the members of ASA to rescind it.”
Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J., President
Maryland Independent College and University Association
“On December 4, 2013, the American Studies Association (ASA) passed a resolution endorsing a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. As the Presidents of Maryland’s independent colleges and universities, we believe that such a boycott is antithetical to the principles of academic freedom, intellectual inquiry, and the open exchange of ideas to which we as educators have dedicated our professional careers and on which our institutions rest. Indeed, one of the primary responsibilities of the Academy, based on a long and honorable tradition, is to provide an opportunity and a venue for all voices to be heard in a respectful manner.
Further, the curtailing of discussion and dialogue, as this boycott demands, will not resolve any of the difficult challenges facing the Israeli and Palestinian peoples as they strive for a peaceful and just resolution of their differences.
In support of academic freedom, we the undersigned reject the ASA boycott of institutions of higher education in Israel and academic boycotts in general.”
Dr. Michael T. Wood, President, Capitol College
Mr. Sanford J. Ungar, President, Goucher College
Dr. Ronald J. Volpe, President, Hood College
Mr. Ronald J. Daniels, President, Johns Hopkins University
Rev. Brian Linnane, S.J., President, Loyola University Maryland
Mr. Fred Lazarus, IV, President, Maryland Institute College of Art
Dr. Roger Casey, President, McDaniel College
Dr. Thomas H. Powell, President, Mount St. Mary’s University
Rabbi Sheftel M. Neuberger, President, Ner Israel Rabbinical College
Dr. Joan Develin Coley, President, Notre Dame of Maryland University
Mr. Christopher B. Nelson, President, St. John’s College
Rev. Thomas R. Hurst, S.S., President-Rector, St. Mary’s Seminary and University
Dr. Kevin J. Manning, President, Stevenson University
Dr. Weymouth Spence, Ed.D., R.T., President, Washington Adventist University
Dr. Mitchell Reiss, President, Washington College
Ms. Tina Bjarekull, President, Maryland Independent College & University Association
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
“At MIT, our mission directs us to advance knowledge and educate students in service to the world. We best serve this mission through our longstanding practice of fostering active engagement with international academic institutions and open dialog among people from all nations. Just as MIT faculty engage extensively with colleagues around the world, we encourage our students to broaden and deepen their thinking through experiences across the globe.
Our MISTI program immerses students in the work cultures of other nations (18 at present, including Israel) through intensive internships. This strategy of active engagement and open dialog also inspires MIT students, faculty, and alumni who participate in MEET, the Middle East Education through Technology program, which teaches advanced computer skills to Palestinian and Israel youth side-by-side and gives these students the shared experience of solving complex problems in teams: this can help prepare them to be leaders together in the future.
As a community of scholars and educators, we are best equipped to fight for intellectual freedom with the tools of openness and outreach.”
L. Rafael Reif, President
“I join other presidents of Assoc of Public and Land-grant Univ opposing boycotts of Israeli academic institutions.”
David Hodge, President
Michigan State University Jewish Studies Department
“MSU Jewish Studies hails MSU’s decision to honor Archbishop Tutu for his important contributions to the freedom struggle in Africa, his Nobel Prize (1984), and his continued activism on behalf of the oppressed – in Sudan (Darfur), Zimbabwe, Timor, and elsewhere. He is a deserving candidate.
However, MSU Jewish Studies also speaks against Archbishop Tutu`s contemporary position on Israel, which rests on a false analysis of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, is antagonistic to academic freedom and the values of the university, and is counterproductive in the search for an end to occupation and the establishment of peace.
First, in his speech some time ago, “Israel Should Heed The Lessons of Scripture – and Apartheid,” given at Old South Church in Boston, November 27, 2007, Tutu expresses his affinity with the Hebrew people, their bible, and their tradition. This tradition that aligns with the oppressed and downtrodden was an inspiration, he says, in the freedom struggle against apartheid. It is a prophetic tradition and a tradition of kindness, compassion, and caring.
But, Archbishop Tutu charges, it is a tradition from which Israel today is truant in dealing with Palestine. It is this tradition that Israel ignores in creating checkpoints, an “illegal wall,” and things even South Africa didn’t do, like “collective punishment.”
Subtly shifting focus back and forth between Israel the Jews and Israel the state, Tutu says: Israel should be on the side of the God of Exodus, Israel should be with the oppressed – this is “your calling” – to remember “what happened to you in Egypt and much more recently in Germany” – Israel should behave differently.
For Tutu, a Christian cleric, the Jews have a “divine calling” and Israel should act in accord with it in dealing with the Palestinians.
But while we share some of Tutu’s view, especially his desire for negotiations leading to peace and a two state solution, what sort of affinity and commitment to kindness and compassion, we ask, is it that constructs the Jewish people as having a calling for justice when they suffer but derides them when they take defensive measures or fight back against suicide bombing and terror?
What kind of felt affinity and kindness is it that acknowledges Israel’s suffering as its calling, but identifies not at all with Israel’s yearning and aspiration (like Palestinians’ yearning and aspiration) for self-determination and security?
Why is it that Archbishop Tutu does not acknowledge that Israel has seriously negotiated for years at Oslo, Wye, Camp David, Taba, and since, and that Israelis have consistently demonstrated that Israel would leave the West Bank if they will no longer be attacked.
Why is it that Archbishop Tutu does not acknowledge that a serious obstacle to peace is the drift among Palestinian leadership to viewing the conflict as a religious one?
Second, the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel calls on people and institutions to one-sidedly boycott Israeli academic and cultural institutions until Israeli occupation ends, Israeli Arabs achieve equal rights, and the right of return for all Palestinian refugees and their descendants, wherever born, is recognized.
In this boycott campaign, it is only Israel and it is Israel alone that is targeted -no other nation in the world, no other academic or cultural institutions, no other people. The Israel-Palestinian conflict is central but only Israel is seen as an actor – not Fatah, not Hamas, not others. Who opposes negotiations for a two-state solution? Israel or Hamas?
The conflict is also likened to the earlier conflict over apartheid in South Africa and Israel is demonized as evil by the false analogy. Israel is not an apartheid or racist state and the Israel-Palestinian conflict is a conflict between rival national movements for national self-determination, not a conflict between colonizers and the colonized. That is why the UN voted partition for Palestine and called for two states and the self-determination of two peoples in 1948.
The campaign for boycott also seeks to impose an embargo on academics and performers based completely on their national origins, and to limit academic freedom in American universities to hear all sides of the conflict from representatives of all viewpoints. It represents an attack on the idea of the university, as President Lou Anna Simon earlier emphasized, and would reduce a complex conflict between two peoples to a slogan.
The campaign for boycott also threatens what we do in MSU Jewish Studies, where among other things we study Israel and its region, have exchange relations with Israeli universities, send students to study there, administer scholarships to support students to study at Israeli universities, and regularly invite and host Israeli speakers, performers, filmmakers and films at MSU to inform about the conflict and about Israel (and Palestine) also beyond the conflict.
Finally, the call for boycott evokes the feel of similar boycotts in modern Jewish history, blaming the Jews and only the Jews (Israel) for complex issues in public life and spreading a discourse in which Zionism and the Jewish state are especially vilified. True efforts for peace should and would do otherwise.”
Kenneth Waltzer, Director-MSU Jewish Studies Department
“Last week the American Studies Association (ASA) announced that a majority of its members voted in favor of a resolution calling for an academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions. Middlebury College unequivocally opposes that resolution. In supporting the boycott, the ASA is attacking the fundamental principles of academic freedom and association that all colleges and universities should hold dear. In addition, the singling out of Israel for this action is astounding given the rationale for the resolution.
While the vote is a sad reflection of an extreme and hateful ideology of some members of the academy, it is important to note that the Executive Committee of the Association of American Universities quickly condemned the ASA’s resolution, along with a number of colleges and universities. The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) last week affirmed its longstanding opposition to academic boycotts by stating: “The American Association of University Professors is disappointed in the vote announced this morning by the membership of the American Studies Association (ASA) to endorse an academic boycott of Israel. While the AAUP takes no position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we have opposed all academic boycotts in principle since 2005...” I urge others in the academic community to condemn the ASA boycott and reaffirm their support for academic freedom.”
Mississippi State University
“As a globally relevant research university, MSU joins over 180 other institutions of higher learning in organizations like the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities in rejecting the boycott.”
Sid Salter, Chief Communications Officer
“As President of Montclair State University, I express my strong opposition to the boycott of Israeli universities by certain scholarly associations and, in so doing, I join our peers in the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities. Such boycotts constitute a gross violation and interference with the free exchange of knowledge and ideas among the universities of the world. Montclair State University has had and will continue to seek successful collaborations with Israeli institutions of higher learning that contribute to the education of students and the scholarly work of faculty. While members of an academic community in the United States have the right to hold and to express political views, the boycott of academic institutions generates only darkness precisely from the very source that should be generating light.”
Susan A. Cole, President
“Many academic institutions have expressed their opposition to the American Studies Association (ASA) boycott of Israeli colleges and universities. For those members of the Muhlenberg family who are concerned about this issue, I would like to say first, that Muhlenberg is not a member of the ASA. Individual members of our community are, of course, entitled to their own views on this matter, but as President of Muhlenberg College I emphatically and categorically oppose the ASA boycott. Issues of peace, justice, and security in the Middle East and elsewhere are of fundamental importance and merit robust consideration and debate. I regard the arguments for the boycott as specious, and the idea of boycotting other academic institutions as repugnant. The world needs more discussion, not less, and academic institutions must exemplify this commitment to civil and reasoned debate.”
Randy Helm, President
New Jersey Institute of Technology
“Boycotts of universities are antithetical to the fundamental values and principles of scholarship and academic freedom that form the basis of American higher education. I stand, therefore, with a great many of my colleagues throughout American colleges and universities in opposing the call of the American Studies Association (ASA) to boycott the academic institutions of the State of Israel.
The recent resolution of the ASA that calls for a boycott against Israeli academic institutions not only violates the ideals of academic freedom and free exchange of ideas, but also singles out one country for discriminatory treatment and hurts the cause of peace and reconciliation.
It is the policy of NJIT that its faculty, students, and staff must remain free to enter into academic relationships with colleges and universities of other countries. NJIT has linkages with Israeli universities and intends to maintain these relationships in order to strengthen opportunities for study, research, and joint programming for the benefit of the academic community. Any boycott that restricts the free flow of information between universities because of national identity is inconsistent with the values upon which American higher education rests.”
New Jersey Senior Public Colleges and Universities
“We, the presidents of the New Jersey State Colleges and Universities, join colleagues across the nation in opposing the boycott of Israeli institutions of higher education recently endorsed by the American Studies Association and other academic organizations.
Any such boycott denies the free exchange of knowledge and ideas and repudiates academic freedom, cherished values of our universities and colleges.
While we oppose and will not comply with any such boycott, on the grounds of our commitment to institutional values, we support the academic freedom of our faculty and students to make their own decisions and express their opinions regarding the boycott on the very same grounds.”
R. Barbara Gitenstein, President, The College of New Jersey
Herman J. Saatkamp Jr., President, The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey
Dawood Farahi, President, Kean University of New Jersey
Ali Houshmand, President, Rowan University of New Jersey
Susan A. Cole, President, Montclair State University
George A. Pruitt, President, Thomas Edison State College
Susan Henderson, President, New Jersey City University
Kathleen Waldron, President, William Paterson University
Peter Phillip Mercer, President, Ramapo College of New Jersey
New York Medical College
“Recently the Association of American Universities (AAU) Executive Committee issued a statement strongly rejecting a call by three US academic organizations for a boycott of Israeli universities. The AAU said, “Any such boycott of academic institutions directly violates academic freedom, which is a fundamental principle of AAU universities and of American higher education in general.”
The New York Medical College community holds academic freedom to be a cherished principle that advances the interests of society. The proposed boycott of Israeli academic institutions by the American Studies Association and two other academic organizations violates the academic freedom of Israeli and American scholars. We strongly endorse the AAU Executive Committee statement rejecting the proposed boycott.”
Edward C. Halperin MD MA, Chancellor of the College/Chief Executive Officer
New York Six Liberal Arts Consortium
“We the presidents of the six schools that make up the New York Six Liberal Arts Consortium (Colgate University, Hamilton College, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Skidmore College, St. Lawrence University, Union College) reject the call for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions recently announced by the American Studies Association.
We agree with the American Association of University Professors that the ASA resolution is “a setback for the cause of academic freedom.” We have found that interaction and collaboration are by the best way for schools to investigate the most significant problems our society faces.
We will continue to encourage our colleagues to engage with faculty and institutions in Israel and across the world to promote scholarship and the free exchange of ideas, and to provide additional opportunities for our students.
The New York Six Liberal Arts Consortium facilitates collaboration among its member institutions in fulfilling their educational missions and serving the public good. Through the sharing of expertise and resources, the consortium enhances options for students, faculty, and staff, while reducing colleges’ individual and collective operating and capital costs.”
New York University
“To the Executive Committee of the American Studies Association:
We write on behalf of New York University to express our disappointment, disagreement, and opposition to the boycott advocated by your organization of Israeli academics and academic institutions.
This boycott is at heart a disavowal of the free exchange of ideas and the free association of scholars that undergird academic freedom; as such, it is antithetical to the values and tenets of institutions of advanced learning.
We urge your organization to overturn this boycott.”
John Sexton, President
David McLaughlin, Provost
The University opposes any kind of boycott or official refusal by some student groups to interact with other student groups because of differing points of view. It is at odds with our traditions and values, especially our core belief in the free exchange of ideas. We would suggest that student groups proposing the boycott to find a pathway forward to engage in constructive dialogue. The University, as always, stands ready to facilitate this.
John Beckman, University Spokesperson
Statement by NYU spokesman John Beckman on the student government BDS resolution:
“President Hamilton's opposition to boycotts of Israel is long-standing and well-known.
“The resolution passed by the Student Senators Counselor asks that NYU divest and do no business with GE, Lockheed Martin, Caterpillar, and Boeing because they do business with Israel.
“The University opposes this proposal.
“It is at odds with the Trustees' well understood position that the endowment should not be used for making political statements.
“In addition, on an operational level, this would be a challenging proposal to enact given how we invest our endowment. Our endowment assets are invested through independent financial managers who operate funds in which our assets are co-mingled with others'. NYU cannot unilaterally direct those fund managers not to select certain companies' stock. Our only choice - potentially a very costly one - would be to liquidate assets in a time of considerable market volatility, which would be incompatible with the endowment's primary purpose: generating income to support NYU's academic mission now and in the future.”
“For the foregoing reasons, the University will not move forward with these measures.”
Statement by NYU President Andrew Hamilton (Algemeiner, May 23, 2019):
“NYU rejects academic boycotts of Israel, rejects calls to close its Tel Aviv campus, and denounces efforts to ostracize or exclude those in the University community based on their location in Israel, their Israeli origin, or their political feelings for Israel.”
Northeastern Illinois University
“Northeastern Illinois University upholds the principle and practice of academic freedom, and, therefore, opposes boycotts of academic institutions or scholars in any region of the world. We strongly endorse the Association of American Universities’ (AAU) statement opposing a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.”
Sharon Hahs, President
“Academic boycotts are antithetical to the core values of educational institutions, which are committed to the free exchange of ideas. Political differences indeed heighten, not diminish, the importance of unfettered discourse among scholars.
At Northeastern, we are proud of our research and experiential learning collaborations with universities around the world. Currently, faculty at Northeastern have strong research partnerships with Israeli universities. These collaborations will continue unabated.”
Northern Arizona University
“I wish to inform you that Northern Arizona University stands with its sister institutions in Arizona and with numerous major U.S. universities and scholarly organizations. NAU is opposed to an academic boycott of Israel. Such a boycott is discriminatory and a threat to academic freedom.
Thomas P Bauer, Director, Office of Public Affairs
Northern Illinois University
“On Behalf of Northern Illinois University I am sending this letter in support of the APLU Statement in Opposition to Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions. We concur that to solve the vexing and complex problems of society we need more, not less, dialog. Thank you for your efforts to promote that dialog and help us all address these very difficult issues.”
Doug Baker, President
“Recently the membership of the American Studies Association approved a resolution calling for a boycott of Israeli higher education institutions. Two other U.S. academic associations have also advocated that stance. While we support the right of academicians to voice their viewpoints, Northwestern University disagrees strongly with the boycott vote of the ASA. Northwestern also rejects the actions suggested in the resolution. In fact, we believe the ASA resolution directly contradicts the values of academic freedom and advancing scholarship for which Northwestern stands.
Northwestern University faculty and students should have the ability to pursue academic collaborations with their colleagues at institutions around the world, including Israel. Northwestern for years has had highly successful and valued joint degree programs and extensive partnerships with Israeli institutions and scholars. We intend to maintain and strengthen relationships such as these.
Furthermore, the Executive Committee of the Association of American Universities, the organization of the most prominent research universities in North America and of which Northwestern is a member, has opposed the position of the three academic organizations. We concur with the statement of the AAU’s Executive Committee... ”
Morton Schapiro, President
Dan Linzer, Provost
“Northwestern as an institution unequivocally rejects BDS. To the contrary, we value our many relationships with a variety of universities and research centers in Israel.”
Morton Schapiro, President and Professor of Economics
Jonathan Holloway, Provost and Professor of History and African American Studies (Northwestern Now, May 24, 2019)
Nova Southeastern University
“Academic freedom knows no boundaries — whether political, social, economic or religious in nature. It should be the goal of every academic institution or group to open barriers to education and not limit access to knowledge in protest of policies. The best way to achieve social or political change is to engage in further academic discourse, not limit it. We should encourage more dialogue between Israel, Palestine and our richly diverse South Florida community.”
“In recent weeks academic freedom has been a much-discussed topic in the wake of calls for an academic boycott of Israeli institutions of higher learning. I believe academic freedom is the cornerstone of higher education. The current debate has highlighted that academic freedom must not only be valued and protected; it must be supported so that all who wish to enjoy academic freedom have the opportunity to do so. I agree completely with this goal. However, the question that remains is whether an academic boycott is an appropriate strategy for achieving this goal. I oppose the boycott, and I agree with the position taken by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) in its 2005 report On Academic Boycotts, that “Academic boycotts . . . strike directly at the free exchange of ideas even as they are aimed at university administrations.”
I have given this matter a great deal of thought. Much as I recognize that supporters of the academic boycott have engaged this issue with discussion and deliberation, I believe that this or any academic boycott inevitably undermines academic freedom. Even when academic freedom is imperfectly realized it must be protected for it is a fundamental condition that enables students, teachers, researchers and scholars to pursue ideas and inquiries beyond the confines of academic departments or disciplines, politics, national boundaries or social strictures.
Oberlin’s belief in academic freedom and the transformative power of higher education led to creation of the American Democratic Culture Project. This innovative program, which ran from 2009 to 2012, was based on parallel partnerships between Oberlin College, Al-Quds University, and Tel Aviv University. It brought students and faculty from those institutions together on our campus and in Washington D.C. during the summer months to study American democracy.
Constructive efforts such as the American Democratic Culture Project exemplify Oberlin’s commitment to higher education as a means to social change, but they require the kind of institutional cooperation that the academic boycott would not permit.
While my commitment to academic freedom causes me to oppose academic boycotts, it also allows me to respect those among us who may hold other views. For that reason, Oberlin is not joining those who have called for institutional bans on the American Studies Association.
I take pride in Oberlin College’s history of inclusion, diversity, and stalwart support for academic freedom, and believe that academic boycotts violate the spirit and substance of academic freedom.”
Marvin Krislov, President
“Last month, the American Studies Association (ASA) voted in favor of a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. As president of Occidental College, I oppose this move. Occidental College will not participate in this or any other action that violates the fundamental principles of academic freedom. Members of the Occidental community must have the unfettered ability to engage freely with their counterparts anywhere if we are, in keeping with Occidental’s mission, to prepare our students for leadership in an increasingly complex, interdependent and pluralistic world. Debates on complex political and human rights issues require the active engagement of all parties. A boycott makes that impossible.
I stand with the American Association of University Professors, the American Council on Education, the Association of American Universities, and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities in condemning the ASA’s resolution. Legitimate efforts to address important political issues should not themselves infringe upon academic freedom.”
Jonathan Veitch, President
Ohio State University
“We join with the Association of American Universities and others in strongly opposing any boycott of Israeli higher education. The principle of academic freedom includes the unfettered capacity to partner with other scholars and students around the world, and this proposed boycott is the antithesis to academic freedom. Put simply, we believe that to limit the exchange of ideas is to limit human potential. As a public research and land-grant university, Ohio State was founded with a fundamental and abiding commitment to free and open inquiry, and our opposition to this proposed boycott underscores that commitment.”
Penn State University
“Academic freedom is a cornerstone of higher education, whereby faculty and students seek and exchange knowledge and understanding through scholarly activities, research, teaching and service without undue restraint or coercion. Academic boycotts can weaken academic freedom by restricting the ability of faculty and universities to work and interact with their colleagues, whether in this country or around the world. For this reason, we — as leaders of Penn State — support the recent stands taken by the Association of American Universities (AAU) and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) opposing such academic boycotts. We concur with the statements issued by AAU at: http://aau.edu/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=14859 and by APLU at: http://www.aplu.org/page.aspx?pid=2857”
Rodney A. Erickson, President
Nicholas P. Jones, Executive Vice President and Provost
Brent Yarnal, Chair, University Faculty Senate
“Academic freedom and the scholarly exchange of ideas and research are core principles of higher education, principles that are firmly supported by Philadelphia University. Therefore, as President of Philadelphia University, I fully reject the recent call by the American Studies Association to boycott Israeli academic institutions.
This boycott, or any such boycott of academic institutions anywhere in the world, undermines exactly that which it claims to support: the free and open sharing of ideas. As such, it has no place in higher education, where the ability to share ideas between disciplines, across campuses and around the globe are central to the ideals of the academy.
Philadelphia University will continue to support our colleagues at institutions throughout the world in their missions to teach, learn and do research. It is this very mission that can do much to help make the world a better place for all.”
Stephen Spinelli, Jr., Ph.D., President
This evening, our College Council, composed of faculty, students and staff, met to consider the faculty-originated motion to suspend Pitzer’s direct-enroll program at the University of Haifa in Israel. This discussion produced passionate arguments and debates on several sides of the issue. Ultimately, a majority of College Council’s eligible voters (faculty, students and staff) passed an amended motion that, among other things, requires the suspension of Pitzer’s study abroad relationship with the University of Haifa in Israel. Under the College’s system of shared governance, the motion is a recommendation to the president of the College. As president of Pitzer College, I have determined that I will not implement this recommendation.
I fully respect the actions of the College Council, thus I do not make this decision lightly. I have had several months to consider my position on this matter, should the College Council pass a motion that suspends our direct-enroll program at the University of Haifa in Israel. While my decision not to implement the recommendation is being communicated immediately, it is a decision that I have reached in a careful and deliberate manner. It is informed by multiple conversations over the past several months with our elected representatives on the Faculty Executive Committee (FEC), individual faculty, trustees, students, parents and a range of other constituents. The community has read my statement I presented at the previous College Council and discussed and written about it extensively. Having reached my decision, I believe it is proper that I communicate that decision at my earliest opportunity.
My responsibility as president is always to do what I believe to be in the best interests of Pitzer College, and I have concluded that to implement the Council’s recommendation would not meet that test for the following reasons:
- The recommendation would effectively cause the College—not some of its constituent members, but the College itself—to take an unavoidably political position on one of the most controversial issues of our time. It is rarely, if ever, the role of the College to be taking such positions. It is the College’s job, through its educational process, to help its students determine their own positions and understand what actions each can then take to effect the change they seek.
- In the very rare instance that Pitzer College does take such a position, common sense dictates that there must be a consensus across all the College’s internal and external constituencies in support of the position. This recommendation fails that test.
- The recommendation curtails the academic freedom of those students who wish to study at the University of Haifa. Among Pitzer’s core values is the promotion of intercultural understanding, much of that achieved through our vibrant study abroad program that enables our students to reach their own conclusions about some of the world’s most vexing challenges through on-the-ground, face-to-face, people-to-people experience. The recommendation runs directly counter to Pitzer’s core value of intercultural understanding.
- Although some claim that this is not an academic boycott of Israel, I disagree. The recommendation puts in place a form of academic boycott of Israel and, in the process, sets us on a path away from the free exchange of ideas, a direction which ultimately destroys the academy’s ability to fulfill our educational mission. I categorically oppose any form of academic boycott of any country. We cannot allow our objections to the policies of any nation’s government to become a blanket indictment of the nation itself and, by extension, its citizens.
- By singling out Israel, the recommendation itself is prejudiced. We do not solve one injustice by committing another. If implemented, the recommendation would unnecessarily alienate a large cross section of the College’s constituencies. The reputational harm to the College would be irreparable and as president of this institution, I cannot permit that to happen.
Some will say that I am taking my own position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in choosing not to implement the recommendation of the College Council. I am not. Instead, I am refusing to permit Pitzer College to take a position that I believe will only harm the College.
Some will say that while I am within my authority to make this decision, it nonetheless conflicts with Pitzer’s culture of shared governance. I am truly saddened to find myself in a position where I feel compelled not to implement a recommendation of the College Council. Nonetheless, just as the College Council exercised its right to make this recommendation, I, too, exercise my prerogative and make this decision squarely within our existing structure of shared governance. That authority is vested in me precisely so that I can make this kind of difficult, contentious, and surely with many, unpopular decision when faced with a situation that I believe puts at risk the long-term best interests of Pitzer College.
The College’s mission is first and foremost to educate our students. Social responsibility is a core value of the College and we hope social justice becomes the life’s mission of many of our graduates and a guiding principle for all our students and alumni. But social justice is not, and in itself cannot be, the mission of the College, or our mission would become political and not educational.
I have written here about what will not happen at Pitzer College. Let me now talk about what can happen—a way for us to move forward as a community and address as best we can many of the issues raised in the College Council’s recommendation.
To that end, I will work with the Faculty Executive Committee (FEC) to examine our study abroad program, with a focus on how it can better reinforce in our students the core values of the College. Consistent with that goal, we will consider ways to ensure that our students attain a deep understanding of the key social justice issues in the countries where they study. Likewise, we will seek to expand our students’ opportunities for study abroad in the Middle East and around the world. Our goal must be greater engagement, not less, in the world our students will one day lead.
To both those who agree with my decision and those who do not, I ask you to remember that we are all of one community, the Pitzer community. Indicative of that community spirit was the extension of the franchise to all student senators and staff council representatives at today’s College Council meeting. In this vein, we must now and always find ways to rise above even our most vehement disagreements so that we may work together, collegially and respectfully, to make Pitzer College the very best it can be.
Melvin L. Oliver
Message to the Pitzer College Community from President Melvin L. Oliver, March 14, 2019
“Recently, the American Studies Association (ASA) voted in support of a boycott of academic cooperation with institutions in Israel. As President of Pomona College, I oppose this action. The study of the liberal arts involves questioning assumptions, thinking critically, and engaging freely with scholars and students across the globe. The ASA boycott of Israeli academic institutions is an affront to the principles of academic freedom.
To discontinue valuable programs that expose faculty and students to new experiences, and that allow them to question assumptions and expand their knowledge, would be an unfortunate outcome of such a boycott. On-the-ground engagement in Israel and throughout the Middle East will yield more progress toward understanding the long and complex history of this region and its rapidly changing politics and policies. A boycott would reduce the opportunities for faculty and students to question and analyze for themselves the critical issues confronting these and other societies.
Pomona has a long history of international programs including study abroad, international internships, and scholarly research that have enabled greater capacity for cross-cultural thinking and global competence. Now is the time to continue to expand our engagement across our highly interconnected world – not to withdraw.
Pomona College endorses the recent statements on this matter by the Association of American Universities, the American Council on Education, and the American Association of University Professors.”
David Oxtoby, President
Portland State University
“As the president of Portland State University, I join with many colleagues (as I already did through the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities) in condemning the call of the American Studies Association for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. As academics, we are committed to the free and open exchange of ideas and knowledge. Thus, in principle, organizational attempts to stifle such exchange are antithetical to our beliefs. Even if a nation’s politics or policies were abhorrent, it would be extremely rare for an academic boycott to be appropriate or useful. In the case of Israel, while reasonable people can certainly debate the merits of any number of specific policies and programs, the totality of the practices and beliefs of the country does not even come close to meriting a boycott. Indeed, the ASA action has encouraged me to strengthen my pursuit of academic exchanges between Portland State University and Israeli institutions.”
Wim Wiewel, President
“I strongly commend President McRobbie’s statement and action, as well as those of the Association of American Universities Executive Committee and many other universities.
This is as clear a violation of academic freedom as one can imagine.
We (Purdue) do not appear to have any institutional relationship with the American Studies Association, but are checking to see whether any of our departments do.”
Mitch Daniels, President
“Ramapo College deplores the decision by the American Studies Association to recommend that its members boycott Israeli academic institutions. Such a recommendation undermines the principle of academic freedom that is integral to the academic enterprise and to the ASA itself.
Accordingly, Ramapo College will not comply with the call to boycott. We will for the time being maintain our institutional membership, but will reconsider if ASA does not heed the call to rescind the boycott resolution.”
“I vehemently oppose the attempt by the organization known as the American Studies Association to lead a boycott against the State of Israel.
I personally have an intimate knowledge of the area and the issues involved. Without question, the State of Israel is America’s most valuable ally in the war against terrorism.
Israel upholds the cherished freedom of speech, religion, assembly, and individual initiative.
Why, at a time when the United States is being threatened by the extremist mullahs that control Iran and fanatical Jihadists who delight in the wanton slaughter of innocent civilians, would any thinking American participate in a boycott of a nation that stands for academic and personal freedom?”
Dr. Pat Robertson, President
Rhode Island College
Rhode Island College, which is not a member of the ASA, has “close ties” with two colleges in Israel, Oranim College and Beit Berl College.
“We firmly believe that these relationships are valuable to the college, our students and our faculty,” RIC said in a statement, “and we would consider it counterproductive to engage in a boycott over political issues.”
“Rice University highly values the free exchange of ideas and points of view, and we fully support the statement of the Association of American Universities (AAU), of which Rice is a member. The open exchange of ideas, especially those with which we may disagree, is essential to an academic institution and the learning experience. A critical part of our role is enabling scholars from all backgrounds and countries to collaborate, exchange ideas and explore controversies. For this reason, we do not support the boycott of Israeli academic institutions, and we condemn the attempts of some American academic organizations to organize and support such boycotts. As the AAU noted, the principle of academic freedom should not be compromised by political agendas or differences. We cannot advocate that scholars anywhere be deprived of the academic freedom that we so strongly encourage on our own campus.”
David W. Leebron, President
“As the son of Holocaust survivors, I join the Association of American Universities and the American Association of University Professors in strongly rejecting the ASA boycott of Israeli universities. I consider it antithetical to our core principle of academic freedom and contrary to the free exchange of ideas so essential to the advancement of scholarly activities.”
Mordechai Rozanski, President
“Three U.S. scholarly associations have announced their intention to support a proposed boycott of academic institutions in Israel. Such academic boycotts contradict a core principle of academic freedom by restricting free and open communication within the academic community.
The key principles have been well articulated by the Executive Committee of the Association of American Universities in its statement opposing the proposed boycott: “Efforts to address political issues, or to address restrictions on academic freedom, should not themselves infringe upon academic freedom. Restrictions imposed on the ability of scholars of any particular country to work with their fellow academics in other countries, participate in meetings and organizations, or otherwise carry out their scholarly activities violate academic freedom.”
Marc Tessier-Lavigne, President
Roger Williams University
“In December, the nearly 5,000 members of the American Studies Association were asked to vote on a resolution calling for U.S. universities to boycott Israeli universities, based on a request for such a boycott by Palestinian academics. Just over 1,250 ASA members voted, and those voting supported the resolution by a two to one margin. Roger Williams University’s Department of History and American Studies has an institutional membership in the ASA, and some of our faculty are officers in the regional chapter of the ASA. RWU is committed to the freedom of members of our academic community to discuss and debate often-controversial matters without fear of reproach or interference by the administration of the university, or, for that matter, interference by the external community. Consistent with our culture of academic freedom, we leave to our faculty decisions regarding membership in scholarly societies. However, we believe that institutional boycotts impinge upon academic freedom because they have the effect of stifling the free exchange of information. We find antithetical to our university’s core values any restrictions on the exchange of ideas and opinions. For that reason, we wish to go on record as opposing any boycott of other universities, inside this country or external to it.”
“As we approach our 250th anniversary, Rutgers celebrates a long tradition of global intellectual and cultural exchange, and it deeply values academic collaboration with scholars and institutions around the world.
While Rutgers affirms the right of faculty, students, and associations to express their own political and intellectual viewpoints, we believe that academic boycotts fundamentally violate the principles of academic freedom and the free exchange of knowledge and ideas.
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, joins peer institutions - including fellow members of the Association of American Universities (AAU) - in rejecting the American Studies Association’s boycott of Israeli institutions of higher education.”
San Francisco State University
“I strongly support the following statement from CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White regarding the ASA’s boycott resolution.
'The California State University denounces the resolution calling for an academic boycott of the higher education institutions in Israel, which was issued by the American Studies Association and has been supported by other organizations. Academic boycotts violate the basic tenets of higher education including academic freedom and scholarly dialog. Boycotts attempt to limit the unfettered creation, discovery and dissemination of knowledge vital to our tripartite mission of research, teaching and service. These characteristics are essential to preparing students with the analytical and critical thinking skills to lead in business, community, educational and civic organizations.'”
Sarah Lawrence College
“I oppose this boycott. Academic boycotts have the effect of stifling dialogue vital to academic freedom; indeed, Israeli academics themselves are crucial voices in debating the policies of their government. To declare their institutions barred from academic exchange unfairly curtails their academic freedom and limits the possibilities for dialogue to contribute to understanding, affect policy, and even change minds.”
Karen Lawrence, President
Seton Hall University
“Seton Hall does not support the boycott of Israeli academic institutions endorsed by the members of the American Studies Association (ASA) in December. Our University mission statement speaks of a Catholic university operating in a 'diverse and collaborative environment' developing 'leaders in their professional and community lives in a global society.' The University's various institutes have been, for many years, a source of interreligious and intellectual engagement for students and scholars. This boycott stands in direct contrast to the seriousness with which we pursue such commitments in a democratic society and in the spirit of academic freedom. Seton Hall therefore opposes such efforts, and concurs with the statement from the Association of American Universities (AAU) on the boycott.”
Dan Kalmanson, Associate Vice President for Public Relations & Marketing
Sewanee: The University of the South
“The University of the South emphatically does not support the American Studies Association’s call for an academic boycott of Israel. In so doing we join the Association of American Universities, the American Association of University Professors, and a growing number of our sister institutions in condemning this attempt to abridge academic freedom.”
John M. McCardell, Jr., Vice-Chancellor and President
“As everyone surely knows by now, in December the American Studies Association — an academic member organization dedicated to the field of American Studies — voted to boycott Israeli academic institutions, an action they have defined as refusing to 'enter into formal collaborations with Israeli academic institutions, or with scholars who are expressly serving as representatives or ambassadors of those institutions, or on behalf of the Israeli government, until Israel ceases to violate human rights and international law.' Numerous college and university leaders have denounced the organization for doing so. Several other academic associations have discussed the possibility of a similar boycott, though none have announced one as of this date.
I believe it is regrettable that the ASA chose to adopt a boycott for this purpose, especially in light of human rights violations around the world that are not addressed by this specific attention to Israel. Because the boycott is clearly intended to function as a public expression of the ASA’s values, which include “the right of students and scholars to pursue education and research without undue state interference, repression, and military violence, and in keeping with the spirit of its previous statements supports the rights of students and scholars to intellectual freedom and to political dissent as citizens and scholars,” I do not believe that their action infringes on the academic freedom of individual scholars here or abroad.
The ASA believes it should use its organizational platform to raise awareness about the effects of state policies in Israel that the ASA claims deny academic freedom to Palestinians. Certainly, awareness has been raised, while great confusion has also resulted. Some read anti- Semitism into the content, while others assert that there is no anti-Semitism there because theASA’s statements focus on the government of Israel and not on any specific group of people. Not being Jewish, I am sympathetic to the many Jewish people of goodwill who do indeed experience this as an anti-Semitic attack given the fact that Israel is the only Jewish state in the world; separating the Jewish heritage from the Israeli government seems to me a parsing only Jewish people can do for one another. I do encourage you to read the ASAstatements in their original form , rather than relying on public summaries of them. I believe that analyzing the primary source -that is, the actual words of the ASA- is the most reliable way for each of us to come to our own intellectually honest conclusions.
The ASA resolution can be found at: http://www.theasa.net/american studies association resolution on academic boycott of israel. As Americans, we all understand that the ASA has a Constitutionally protected right to such expressions.
Simmons College has no institutional affiliation with the ASA. Simmons College faculty, who may or may not hold individual ASA memberships, will exercise their individual academic freedom in making choices about their affiliation with ASA or other organizations similarly inclined in their beliefs. I speak as one individual who leads Simmons College and respects thoroughly the diversity and inclusiveness of our community.”
Helen G. Drinan, President
“Smith College upholds the ideals of academic freedom and engagement with global scholarship, scholars, research and ideas. The college rejects the American Studies Association’s proposed boycott of Israeli universities and will continue to support our students and faculty in pursuing opportunities in Israel and with their Israeli counterparts. In recent years, such opportunities have included hosting Israeli scholars on our campus for residencies in the U.S.; hosting summer Global Engagement Seminars for our students in Jerusalem; and running a thriving Jewish Studies program. Additionally, we are actively exploring the possibility of faculty and student exchanges with Israel.”
South Carolina State University
“South Carolina State University does not support a boycott of Israel in any shape or form.”
Thomas J. Elzey, President
Southern Methodist University
“In recent weeks, several national education associations have called for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. SMU joins other colleges and universities nationwide in opposing the proposed boycott.
Since its founding a century ago, SMU has been committed to academic freedom and open inquiry. Academic freedom is fundamental to SMU’s mission to create, expand and impart knowledge through teaching, research and service. SMU agrees with the Association of American Universities that the proposed boycott would impose restrictions on those institutions and their faculties in violation of academic freedom.
While SMU declines to join the boycott, it also supports the right of individual faculty members to express their perspectives on this matter, as well as their right to participate in academic organizations, although the views expressed by these associations may not necessarily be endorsed by SMU.”
Kent Best, Executive Director, News & Communications
“Stanford University does not support an academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions. Stanford agrees with the position taken by the Association of American Universities on Dec. 20: 'Efforts to address political issues, or to address restrictions on academic freedom, should not themselves infringe upon academic freedom.'”
State University of New York (SUNY) System
“As a leader in higher education, SUNY opposes academic boycotts – and we strongly oppose the boycott of Israel.
Boycotts are the antithesis of the very notion of academic freedom – where you don’t erect barriers to learning, collaboration and knowledge, you break those barriers down.
At SUNY, we believe strongly in the power of collaboration, and we seek every day to open new doors of opportunity for our students, faculty, and staff to learn from and contribute to the work of their peers and colleagues around the globe. SUNY’s support of their academic freedoms throughout SUNY’s history has been an important factor in their widespread success, and we will continue to support their collaborations here in the U.S. and globally, without interruption.
Individuals at SUNY may embrace the boycott or attempt to find other solutions and that is their choice. We, however, fully support the Association of American Universities, a consortium of higher education institutions nationwide including the University at Buffalo and Stony Brook University, in opposition to the boycotts.”
Nancy L. Zimpher, Chancellor
State University of New York-Buffalo
“The University at Buffalo strongly opposes academic boycotts on the grounds that they are antithetical to academic and intellectual freedom and diversity of opinion. These core values are all central to American higher education in general and to our institution in particular. As an academic community, UB is committed to upholding the principles of scholarly dialogue and collaboration across geographic and ideological borders.
The University at Buffalo is an inclusive scholarly community dedicated to bringing the benefits of its research and scholarship to global and local communities in ways that positively change the world. The free and open exchange of ideas is intrinsic to our tripartite mission as a public research university.”
Satish K. Tripathi, President
“The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey strongly condemns the resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions recently passed by the American Studies Association (ASA) and two other academic organizations. An academic boycott sets a dangerous precedent by restricting the free exchange of people and ideas, which is at the core of academic freedom. It furthermore unjustly singles out one nation’s universities and scholars for punishment. Accordingly, Stockton joins with many other academic institutions and endorses the Association of American Universities’ (AAU’s) statement criticizing the recent boycott of Israeli academic institutions as well as the American Association of University Professors’ (AAUP’s) longstanding opposition to all academic boycotts.
Stockton firmly believes that this boycott undermines the basic principle of academic freedom and global perspectives. We will continue to seek collaborations with academic institutions and scholars across diverse boundaries, including in Israel. We believe that academic exchanges and dialog improve understanding and empathy among nations and people, especially those who hold opposing points of view. Whereas academic boycotts shut down discussions, academic collaborations may foster social justice and peace. Thus, Stockton seeks to expand and strengthen rather than restrict its international relationships, including those with Israeli academic institutions and scholars.
Stockton will not comply with the ASA’s call to boycott. We are referring a discussion of continued institutional membership in the ASA to our faculty for their review and opinion. We support the academic freedom of our faculty and students to make their own decisions regarding individual participation in professional associations, including the ASA, and to express their personal opinions on the boycott.
Stockton advises that the ASA and other associations supporting academic boycotts of such institutions and scholars to immediately revoke such discriminatory policies. Should this not occur, we will re-visit the issue of institutional membership.”
Herman Saatkamp, President
“Academic freedom is the most cherished of all principles within the academy and the foundation stone of what makes the academy invaluable in a democratic society. I strongly oppose the recent resolution of the ASA proposing to boycott Israeli universities, which represents a direct threat to that freedom.”
“In light of the resolution by the American Studies Association (ASA) and other groups to boycott Israeli academic institutions, I have received numerous communications from members of the SU extended community inquiring about the University’s position on the boycott, despite the fact that we are not an institutional member of the ASA.
“I understand from recent on-campus conversations that not all members of our community are in agreement on this matter, and out of respect for the differences that exist, and consistent with the concept of academic freedom, I support the right of individual faculty members and others to express their thoughts and opinions on both sides of this issue.
“At an institutional level, however, Syracuse University does not support the boycott of Israeli academic institutions. I believe that such a boycott is fundamentally counter to the free and open exchange of knowledge, ideas and perspectives, which is the cornerstone upon which, ultimately, common understanding will be reached and peaceful progress will be made in the Middle East. It is clear that scholars and academic institutions on all sides, in all countries and territories, and of all viewpoints are central to this discussion and debate, and we hope that all will be welcomed and encouraged to engage in this dialogue. I encourage continued discussion and debate at Syracuse University around the important and complex issues concerning peace, security, and justice for all individuals in the Middle East.”
Eric F. Spina, Interim Chancellor and Provost
“Temple University has a long history as an advocate for academic freedom. While Temple University is not an active member of the American Studies Association (ASA), we strongly oppose the ASA’s boycott of Israeli academic institutions.
Indeed, rather than limiting its association with other institutions, Temple University calls upon the ASA to remain true to academic inquiry by engaging with those who have divergent views. In this stand, Temple University supports the American Association of University Professors’ position on this issue.
Only by engaging with one another can we build a deeper level of understanding and live up to the highest ideals of the worldwide academic community.”
The California State University System
“The California State University denounces the resolution calling for an academic boycott of the higher education institutions in Israel, which was issued by the American Studies Association and has been supported by other organizations. Academic boycotts violate the basic tenets of higher education including academic freedom and scholarly dialog. Boycotts attempt to limit the unfettered creation, discovery and dissemination of knowledge vital to our tripartite mission of research, teaching and service. These characteristics are essential to preparing students with the analytical and critical thinking skills to lead in business, community, educational and civic organizations.”
The College of William & Mary
“William & Mary rejects the American Studies Association’s proposed boycott of academic institutions in Israel. Colleges and universities need to engage one another to expand the frontiers of human understanding, not shun one another. The free exchange of ideas has been central to William & Mary for centuries.”
W. Taylor Reveley III, President
Michael R. Halleran, Provost
Touro College and University System
“The American Studies Association’s (ASA) boycott seeks to censor professors and researchers from prestigious universities in an Orwellian display of political bullying that demeans the academic integrity of ASA’s members. I am dismayed that men and women engaged in education and scholarship claim they are serving the public good by obstructing academic interaction with a country that has demonstrated one of the highest per capita rates for publishing scientific papers and filing patents. Moreover, Israel’s scientists and innovators have created many of the technological and lifesaving medical advances we enjoy today.
The Jewish intellectual tradition has long recognized the necessity of promoting free and open discourse between diverse populations with different world views. Can we envision Maimonides without having access to Arab scholarship or Greek philosophy? Can we imagine the texts of Sa’adya Gaon, Ibn Ezra, or Isaac Abrabanel without the impact of their secular contemporaries?
Allowing universities to fall prey to political battles demeans our collective mission of promoting a free exchange of ideas, providing access to quality education to all people, and furthering the cause of human knowledge and collective exploration.”
“As an institution of higher education, Towson University is firmly opposed to the proposed boycott presented by the American Studies Association. The proposed boycott of Israeli academic institutions is in direct opposition to the standards of academic freedom to which we subscribe.
We do not support the boycott of an academic institution that could impede the flow of knowledge and ideas, which is critical to a healthy intellectual exchange. Any institutional or association censorship should not be tolerated as it is disruptive to both teaching and research.
At Towson, we have learned that controversy and unpopular opinions often shed light on the academic principles we teach and create a powerful dialogue that adds to the educational discourse of our institution. These discussions are capable of coalescing the campus community and provide an opportunity for real and significant change to occur.
While Towson University is not an institutional member of the American Studies Association, we are strongly committed to defending academic freedom, not only on our campus, but at all institutions across the country. We will continue to oppose any efforts that do not support the tenets of these freedoms or are in conflict with our institution’s core academic values and those of American higher education.”
Maravene Loeschke, President
Timothy Chandler, Provost
“Our Dean of the Faculty, Thomas Mitzel, and I wish to go on record renouncing the boycott of Israel on the part of the ASA.
Trinity once years back was an institutional member (we were then advertizing for an open position), and apparently some members of our faculty are individual members. Were we still an institutional member, we would not be any longer after the misguided and unprincipled announcement of the boycott of the only democracy in the Middle East. The Dean and I oppose academic boycotts in general because they can so easily encroach upon academic freedom.
In this strange case, why the ASA would propose an academic boycott of Israel and not, for example, of Syria, the Sudan, North Korea, China, Iran, Iraq, or Russia escapes rational thought. Trinity has participated in the Rescue Scholar program since its inception; we have welcomed scholars from some of the most repressive countries on the planet, and it is inconceivable to us that we would ever be welcoming a Rescue Scholar fleeing Israel for political reasons.
As President of the ASA, you have tarnished a once distinguished association.”
James F. Jones, Jr., President and Trinity College Professor in the Humanities
“Tufts University strongly opposes the resolution of the American Studies Association (ASA) to boycott Israeli academic institutions. As an institution of higher education, Tufts University is deeply committed to the principles of academic freedom and educating students to be active citizens throughout the world. Boycotting academic institutions in response to government policies would undermine the academic freedom of scholars around the world. We recognize the right of individual members of our community to participate in professional academic associations such as the ASA. Tufts University is not an institutional member of the ASA.”
University of Akron
“As an active member of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, The University of Akron supports the organization’s opposition to the boycott of Israeli institutions of higher learning. We strongly endorse the principles of academic freedom and collaboration in the interest of inventing a better future for humanity. We believe that more, rather than less, interaction, dialogue and exchange of ideas are the surest means of promoting peace and prosperity among the peoples of the world.”
Luis M. Proenza, President
University of Alabama System and Birmingham Southern College
“The action by the group greatly distorted the reality of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and quickly drew significant criticism from many in academia including Dr. Robert Witt, Chancellor of The University of Alabama System, and General Charles Krulak, President of Birmingham Southern College.
The American Studies Association’s decision to endorse a boycott of Israeli academic institutions is very disappointing,” said Dr. Witt in an e-mail to The BJF. “The core values of academia are academic freedom and open dialogue, and the American Studies Association’s endorsement (of a boycott) is antithetical to both,” he added.
General Krulak echoed these sentiments. “From an academic standpoint, the American Studies Association vote is a vote against academic freedom which is at the heart of every great institution of higher learning,” he said.”
University of Arizona
“Three U.S. scholarly organizations (AAU, APLU, ACE) and a number of their member institutions have opposed a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. The University of Arizona agrees with the position taken by AAU and APLU and stands in support of academic freedom.”
University of California - Riverside
“UC President Janet Napolitano was one of many university leaders to respond to the resolution. In a press release, Napolitano condemned it, stating, “An academic boycott goes against the spirit of the University of California, which has long championed open dialogue and collaboration with international scholars.”
The Highlander also contacted the UCR chancellor’s office for further comment on the matter. A statement from the university read: “Janet Napolitano’s statements represent the UC administration.”
University of California - Santa Barbara
“As you know, UC Santa Barbara is committed to maintaining a free and open academic environment. We encourage all members of our university community to participate in the vigorous exchange of ideas. This is a vital part of our mission as a public institution of higher education.
UC President Janet Napolitano has stated, “The University of California prides itself on a rich tradition of free speech and diversity of thought. Universities depend on the unrestrained exchange of ideas, and it is our role to defend academic freedom and our scholars’ ability to pursue research of their choice. An academic boycott goes against the spirit of the University of California, which has long championed open dialogue and collaboration with international scholars.”
UC Santa Barbara is a member of the Association of American Universities. The Executive Committee of AAU has also issued a statement, which reads in part, “The Executive Committee of the Association of American Universities strongly opposes a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. Three U.S. scholarly organizations have now expressed support for such a boycott. Any such boycott of academic institutions directly violates academic freedom, which is a fundamental principle of AAU universities and of American higher education in general.” The full statement can be found at www.aau.edu/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=14859.
I join with President Napolitano, our AAU colleagues, and other academic leaders around the world in strongly supporting academic freedom and opposing academic boycotts.”
Henry Yang, Chancellor
University of California - Santa Cruz
“At UC Santa Cruz, our scholars develop and share ideas with academic colleagues from around the world. As UC President Napolitano has stated, a boycott could impede the free and open exchange of these ideas. As such, it is inconsistent with the principles that are the hallmark of the University of California.”
George Blumenthal, Chancellor
University of California System
“The University of California prides itself on a rich tradition of free speech and diversity of thought. Universities depend on the unrestrained exchange of ideas, and it is our role to defend academic freedom and our scholars’ ability to pursue research of their choice. An academic boycott goes against the spirit of the University of California, which has long championed open dialogue and collaboration with international scholars.”
Steve Montiel, Media Relations Director, UC Office of the President
Statement signed by all 10 chancellors of the UC system (December 2018):
“As chancellors of the University of California campuses, we write to reaffirm our longstanding opposition to an academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions and/or individual scholars. Our commitment to continued engagement and partnership with Israeli, as well as Palestinian colleagues, colleges, and universities is unwavering. We believe a boycott of this sort poses a direct and serious threat to the academic freedom of our students and faculty, as well as the unfettered exchange of ideas and perspectives on our campuses, including debate and discourse regarding conflicts in the Middle East.”
University of California, Irvine
“Members of the American Studies Association recently approved a resolution calling for a boycott of Israeli higher-education institutions. This action spurred debate within the academic community, with some scholars supporting the resolution and others withdrawing their ASA membership in protest.
UC Irvine strongly opposes any boycott of academic institutions. While we support the right to free expression, we believe the ASA resolution interferes with academic freedom. We stand behind the position recently announced by the Association of American Universities (http://www.aau.edu/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=14859), which was signed by Chancellor Michael Drake as a member of AAU’s Executive Committee.
In recent years, UC Irvine has formed partnerships with educational institutions throughout the world, including those in the Middle East. Our students, representing a mosaic of diverse cultures, religions and political perspectives, established bonds with students in Israel and Palestine through the Olive Tree Initiative. These first-hand relationships lead to greater understanding and empathy, helping us break through the barriers of prejudice and highlight the power of education for all people. A boycott, on the other hand, narrows our world view and stifles the intellectual exchange that is central to our mission.
As we enter the new year, we will continue to value our international partnerships – in the Middle East and throughout the world – and encourage other scholars to do so as well.”
University of California, San Diego
“UC San Diego was founded by scholars dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge through collaboration, unfettered discussion and open inquiry. The collaborations forged with scholars around the world contribute to our prominence as an international leader in public higher education.
We affirm the right of the faculty to advance their scholarship and research through open dialogue with academic colleagues in all countries. UC San Diego faculty collaborations draw on richly diverse ideas and views around the globe, including in the Middle East. Excluding scholars limits discussion and conflicts with the University of California’s highest aspirations.”
University of California-Berkeley
“A recent decision by the American Studies Association, ASA, to impose an academic boycott on Israel is a regrettable step that subverts academic freedom. Any limit on the open exchange of knowledge and ideas stands in direct opposition to the scholarly values and goals we uphold as an institution. UC Berkeley fully supports the position taken by the Association of American Universities, AAU, against this academic boycott.”
Nicholas Dirks, Chancellor
University of California-Davis
“We strongly oppose the boycott of Israeli academic institutions that has been endorsed recently by the American Studies Association. Academic boycotts are inimical to the principles of free speech and academic freedom that are the bedrock of teaching and scholarship. UC Davis and its scholars collaborate with peers and academic institutions around the world. These relationships not only advance important research and scholarship, but also create better understanding and respect among people with different backgrounds, and provide more opportunities to advocate for democracy and for the freedoms of people to express their opinions openly.
Beyond the matter of this boycott, we affirm that the principle of academic freedom should guarantee free access to students and faculty at all Israeli and Palestinian universities. Moreover, we draw attention to serious violations of academic freedom in other countries that do not allow students to study in their own languages, penalize students and faculty for voicing their opinions, and use violence to suppress dissent on university campuses.
In order to foster an atmosphere of academic freedom, UC Davis as an institution does not take positions on matters of political controversy. For the same reason, holding academic institutions, and by extension their faculties, responsible for the actions of their governments punishes the institutions where critical discourse and thoughtful engagement take place and limits the academic freedoms of the faculty who engage in such discourse. It seems to us, then, that a boycott against Israeli universities is aimed at the wrong target and will further limit the ability of academics in all nations to interact freely with colleagues in Israel in promoting dialogue in educational and research collaborations of all sorts.”
Linda P.B. Katehi, Chancellor, UC Davis
Ralph J. Hexter, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, UC Davis
University of California-Los Angeles
“As one of the world’s leading public research universities, UCLA has a steadfast commitment to the principles of academic freedom and open dialogue. In their pursuit of knowledge, our faculty and students must be free to collaborate and communicate with scholars around the world. Institutions throughout the Middle East are no exception, providing a valuable and essential range of ideas and perspectives that should not be excluded. Limiting academic debate and research violates our principles of independent inquiry and does a disservice not only to scholars here and abroad but also to the state, nation and world we are dedicated to improving. We affirm the rights of our scholars and join with the Association of American Universities (AAU) and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) in strongly opposing the boycott of Israeli academic institutions.”
Gene Block, Chancellor
University of California-San Francisco
“Thank you for your inquiry. UC San Francisco is one of 10 campuses of the University of California system. Janet Napolitano is the president of the UC system. UCSF Chancellor Sue Desmond-Hellmann strongly supports the following statement by President Janet Napolitano regarding the endorsement of a boycott of Israeli academic institutions by the American Studies Association and other higher education associations.
“The University of California prides itself on a rich tradition of free speech and diversity of thought. Universities depend on the unrestrained exchange of ideas, and it is our role to defend academic freedom and our scholars’ ability to pursue research of their choice. An academic boycott goes against the spirit of the University of California, which has long championed open dialogue and collaboration with international scholars.”
Barbara J. French, Vice Chancellor, Strategic Communications & University Relations
University of Central Florida
“President Hitt joined university and college presidents from across the United States, as well as the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), in opposing an Israeli boycott.
“An academic boycott of Israel is an anathema to the very principle universities hold most precious — the free and open exchange of ideas in a civil environment,” President Hitt said. “One of the five goals I set for UCF when I arrived nearly 22 years ago was for the university to ‘become more inclusive and diverse.’ An academic boycott would run counter to our university’s DNA.”
Earlier in January, the APLU issued the following statement, which President Hitt endorses, in opposition to the idea of a boycott.
“The Executive Committee and President of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) strongly oppose the boycott of Israeli academic institutions supported by certain U.S. scholarly organizations.
“The core mission of the academic community is to create and disseminate knowledge through research, teaching and service. Freedom of inquiry and expression are the foundational principles of this vital work, and free exchange of ideas is its lifeblood. This boycott wrongly limits the ability of American and Israeli academic institutions and their faculty members to exchange ideas and collaborate on critical projects that advance humanity, develop new technologies, and improve health and well-being across the globe.
“Members of the academic community certainly have the right to express their views, but the call for a boycott in this case is severely misguided and wrongheaded. We urge others to express their opposition as well.”
University of Chicago
“The University of Chicago has from its founding held as its highest value the free and open pursuit of inquiry. Faculty and students must be free to pursue their research and education around the world and to form collaborations both inside and outside of the academy, encouraging engagement with the widest spectrum of views. For this reason, we oppose boycotts of academic institutions or scholars in any region of the world, and oppose recent actions by academic societies to boycott Israeli institutions.”
University of Cincinnati
“I do not support the American Studies Association boycott of universities and research institutions in Israel. Any such action runs counter to the intellectual freedom that lies at the very heart of the academy and the free exchange of ideas that build bridges across humanity.”
Santa Ono, President
University of Colorado - Boulder
“I wish to add my voice to those of the Executive Committee of the Association of American Universities (AAU) and other organizations, media organizations, and individuals around the world in voicing opposition to any proposed boycott of Israeli academic institutions. This is a violation of academic freedom for American, global and Israeli scholars, an unnecessary injection of politics into the research process itself, and an obstruction to the spirit and substance of academic inquiry.”
Philip P. DiStefano, Chancellor
University of Colorado System
“University of Colorado leadership is stating its strong opposition to a national association’s recent call for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.
The American Studies Association last month voted to boycott Israel’s higher-education institutions as a protest of Israeli treatment of Palestinians, a resolution that prompted outcries from many U.S. universities, including CU.
'The University of Colorado community values open inquiry, vigorous debate and the free exchange of ideas,' CU President Bruce Benson said in a statement. 'The boycott of Israeli academic institutions proposed by the American Studies Association is not only antithetical to our university’s mission and values, but also limits the dialogue that is so critical to understanding and common ground.'
Said CU-Boulder Chancellor Philip DiStefano in a statement, 'This is a violation of academic freedom for American, global and Israeli scholars, an unnecessary injection of politics into the research process itself, and an obstruction to the spirit and substance of academic inquiry.'
The CU Board of Regents also issued a statement, which expressed endorsement and support of the statements from Benson and DiStefano.
'One of the board’s guiding principles is to promote diversity ‘… to ensure the rich interchange of ideas in the pursuit of truth and learning, including diversity of political, geographic, cultural, intellectual, and philosophical perspectives.’ The boycott runs counter to that ideal, and to the entire notion of why the university exists,' the board’s statement reads.'”
University of Connecticut
“The recent votes of two scholarly societies — the American Studies Association and Association for Asian American Studies — to endorse the Palestinian boycott of Israeli academic institutions is contrary to both academic freedom and the international exchange of ideas. The University of Connecticut joins the American Association of University Professors in firmly opposing all such boycotts. Choosing one nation for a boycott is patently unfair and represents a disturbing philosophy among some segments of the academy.
As a university with global reach and prominence, UConn seeks research and educational partnerships with people of all nations, and is proud to serve as a force for political conversation, inter-ethnic exchange, and the pursuit of scholarly excellence.
Academic leaders at UConn will continue to visit Israel and Arab nations, invite Israeli and Arab scholars to our campuses, encourage our students and faculty to study in these nations, and pursue research collaboration with the many outstanding Israeli universities. We do this with pride and a productive focus on social justice, to forge the very critical dialogues that will someday lead to the peace we all seek.
That is the true essence of a university — to foster dialogue and develop solutions to problems without regard to political, racial, and cultural differences.”
Susan Herbst, President
University of Delaware
“The University of Delaware rejects the decision of the American Studies Association to endorse an academic boycott of Israel. Such a boycott is fundamentally incompatible with the principle of academic freedom, which is central to the mission of this University and to that of American higher education as a whole. It is imperative that the University’s scholars be able to freely associate with colleagues and institutions around the world, and we will not suppress the rich research collaborations, faculty exchanges and program agreements with Israeli universities that have enlarged the breadth and enhanced the quality of our scholarship, nor will we discourage the formation of new partnerships.”
Patrick T. Harker, President
University of Denver
“I am sure that many of you are aware that this past month the membership of the American Studies Association voted to support a boycott of academic institutions in Israel. This was done in an effort to protest the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians within that country. The University is not an institutional member of the ASA, although there may be individual members among our faculty and staff. Nonetheless, I’ve received a number of letters and messages from alumni and other members of the DU community asking that I take a stand on this matter on behalf of the University, as have the leaders of other colleges and Universities. I will do so now.
Whatever one’s opinion of issues in the Middle East, an academic boycott is wholly inappropriate as a means of expressing that opinion as it presumes that the academic bonds that bind scholars together should somehow be used to apply political pressure. Such a boycott is completely counter to the academic freedom that undergirds higher education in the United States and the world. In truth, it is only the free, unencumbered flow of ideas that leads to progress, whether in politics, culture, science, or any other pursuit.
DU is an institution that is proud of its many international programs. The Cherrington Global Scholars program, the international programs in our undergraduate and graduate disciplines, the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, and the many international students that we welcome to our campus are important parts of our institutional character. International education of our students and the pursuit of international scholarship and research are central to our mission. An academic boycott of any part of the world runs counter to that mission.
Consequently, the University of Denver will not support the ASA boycott, and we will continue to vigorously pursue academic interactions with Israeli scholars and institutions, as we do with those of any other nation.”
Robert D. Coombe
University of Florida
“University of Florida President J. Bernard Machen also blasted the boycott on Thursday, releasing a statement that 'I believe the entire University of Florida community holds academic freedom to be a cherished principle that advances the interests of society.'”
University of Georgia System
“Georgia’s board of regents has joined other national higher education leaders in opposing a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.
Last month members of the American Studies Association endorsed the boycott to protest Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.
“The call for this boycott directly violates academic freedom, which is the fundamental principle of American higher education essential to the research, teaching and public service activities of our institutions,” said a resolution approved by the Georgia regents on Wednesday.
Chancellor Hank Huckaby added the item to the board’s agenda, he said, after being asked several times about the state university system’s position on the issue.”
University of Hartford
“The University of Hartford opposes the boycott of academic institutions in Israel that was recently endorsed by the American Studies Association and the Association for Asian American Studies. We believe that open scholarly exchange among universities is essential to the advancement of knowledge, discovery, and international understanding.
The University is proud of its long history of international exchanges, joint programs, and faculty and student involvement with Israel. Our University has been enriched by the presence of Israeli faculty and students on our campus, and many of our faculty and students are involved in research and scholarly pursuits in Israel.
As is the case with all universities, our faculty members hold a wide range of opinions on this and many other subjects, and I acknowledge and cherish their right to do so. But a boycott of Israeli institutions, in my opinion, would be harmful to this free exchange of opinions and would be antithetical to the advancement of knowledge, which is the principle on which all colleges and universities around the world should stand.”
Walter Harrison, President
University of Hawai'i-Manoa
“The administration of the University of Hawai'i at Manoa is in strong opposition to the recent announcement by the American Studies Association of an Academic Boycott of Israel.
We have two reasons for this opposition.
We respect the right of all individuals to express opposition to the actions of any government, and we understand that many members of the ASA oppose actions of the Israeli government. However, we would assume that this is true of the actions of virtually every government in the entire world, including our own. Israel is the only country, to the best of our knowledge, which has been singled out by the ASA as deserving such a boycott. On what basis, as a result of what investigative process, on the basis of what values, has the ASA come to the conclusion that the actions of Israel are more worthy of condemnation than, say, North Korea, or, to move closer to the region, other US allies such as Saudi Arabia? Surely, a scholarly organization should exemplify scholarly research and inquiry, and we fail to see the ASA living up to this ideal.
The second reason is that no matter what judgment one might want to make concerning the actions of a given government, how can one treat all the citizens of that country as if they represent the actions of that government? It is probably safe to assume most members of the ASA oppose current US practices in Guantanamo Bay. Should ASA boycott itself because it considers those actions objectionable? The implicit notion that we represent our governments regardless of our own beliefs or actions is chilling, indeed Orwellian. The focus of the resolution is on Israeli universities, not individual Israelis, but surely the point is the same: universities should be and are places for open inquiry and a variety of viewpoints, and there is no more unanimity among the members of the Israeli academic community about the actions of their government than there is among the American academic community about our policy in the Middle East.
Surely, our commitment as intellectuals and scholars should be to engage in dialogue with everyone, not to shun the citizens of one nation alone as pariahs. The Executive Committee of the AAU has already argued that this action of the ASA is a violation of academic freedom, not just of Israeli academics but just as clearly of academic freedom in the United States as well, while political activists such as Noam Chomsky have opposed the action of the ASA. We urge the ASA to reconsider this action.”
Tom Apple, Chancellor
University of Houston
“On behalf of the University of Houston, I write to express my strong opposition to the American Studies Association's proposed boycott of Israeli universities.
Any effort to limit the free exchange of ideas between institutions of higher learning in Israel and their counterparts in the United States, and around the world, is to be condemned and rejected as intrinsically contrary to the very foundations of the academy’s mission – to foster the free-flow exchange of diverse views, opinions, and ideas. We unequivocally oppose such a boycott and reject as offensive and objectionable any such move.
In these dangerous times, when the clash of ideologies and beliefs often results in violence and warfare, it is more necessary than ever to maintain and nurture dialog between the world's peoples, organizations, and institutions, despite any differences nations might have.
We call upon universities around the nation and throughout the world who still have not done so, to denounce this attempt to isolate Israeli institutions of higher learning, and we commend those who have already endorsed the rejection of the proposed American Studies Association’s boycott.”
Renu Khator, President
University of Illinois
Chancellor Robert Jones’ denunciation came after SJP at UIUC equated Zionism with white supremacy and fascism.
“All of us at the University of Illinois are concerned about the growing national instances of intolerance, especially on college campuses. Painted swastikas, chalked epithets on sidewalks, KKK costumes and anti-Semitic attacks hidden under the guise of anti-Zionist rhetoric are all too common. Members of our Jewish, African American, Latino/a and many other residents of our diverse community find themselves asking whether they are welcome and safe here. The answer to that – whether in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago, or any place in this country – must be a clear and resounding: “Yes, you are.”
Discrimination against an individual based on race, color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion or other characteristics will always be in absolute opposition to our core values of inclusivity and respect. We will always recognize the rights of those on the campus to safely and freely express their perspectives and opinions. We will also be ready to condemn statements and actions that violate our shared values and seek to demean, intimidate or devalue others in our community.
Bigotry, racism and hate will never be tolerated here at Illinois. It is our common responsibility to work together to see that this is a university where ALL can live, learn and thrive.”
Robert J. Jones, Chancellor
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne
“The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign opposes the boycott of Israeli academic institutions and endorses the statement made by the AAU. At Illinois, we value academic freedom as one of our core principles and cherish the critical importance of the ability of faculty to pursue learning, discovery and engagement without regard to political considerations. Our institution opposes any efforts to limit the ability of our faculty to work with scholars from other institutions around the world, and we encourage such connections, as collaboration is one of our core values in the pursuit of knowledge.
Individual faculty are free to express their personal opinions on the proposed resolution, however, they are not acting on behalf of the university.”
Phyllis Wise, Chancellor
Following approval of a divestment resolution in February 2020, the university issued this statement:
Illinois Student Government (ISG) is an independent organization that can pass non-binding resolutions on any topic it chooses…but does not represent the university administration…and the university has no plans to act on this one.”
University of Illinois System
“The University of Illinois leadership strongly endorses the Association of American Universities (AAU) statement opposing a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. The AAU statement, issued on Dec. 20, 2013, and signed by the organization’s executive committee, says that:
“Any such boycott of academic institutions directly violates academic freedom, which is a fundamental principle of AAU universities and of American higher education in general. Academic freedom is the freedom of university faculty responsibly to produce and disseminate knowledge through research, teaching, and service, without undue constraint. It is a principle that should not be abridged by political considerations. American colleges and universities, as well as like institutions elsewhere, must stand as the first line of defense against attacks on academic freedom.”
We are in agreement with the AAU statement, which has been endorsed by numerous higher education leaders.”
Robert A. Easter, President, University of Illinois
Phyllis M. Wise, Chancellor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Paula Allen-Meares, University of Illinois at Chicago
Susan J. Koch, University of Illinois at Springfield
Jorge Villegas, Chair, University Senates Conference
Don Chambers, Vice Chair, University Senates Conference
University of Kentucky
“A college campus – perhaps more than anywhere else – is a cherished crucible for the free exchange of ideas and beliefs.
This is a fundamental characteristic when you consider that our faculty and staff are charged with developing new scholarship, and our students are at an age when their civic and personal philosophies are evolving. Over time, these necessary attributes of a campus have been challenged, debated and protected. Though honoring it can be demanding at times, our commitment to academic freedom, fostered in a safe and respectful environment, is at the core of our work in a university community. It is who we are.
Recently, I was reminded again of that fundamental tension as members of the American Studies Association (ASA) endorsed a resolution boycotting Israeli academic institutions for that country’s policies toward Palestine. The proposed boycott has elicited strong responses from other professional organizations in the academy — ranging from the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) to institutional organizations such as the Association of American Universities (AAU) and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU). Administrators and faculty — individually and collectively — at several colleges and universities also have engaged in the debate.
Their statements clearly indicate a national dialogue, one happening on college and university campuses like ours. I disagree with the ASA’s resolution to boycott academic institutions in Israel.
The values of inquiry and discourse in American academia – applied within a scholar’s responsibilities as an academic – reflect the foundation and principles of our system of higher education.
As institutions of higher learning, in particular, we are tasked with producing independent, testable scholarship, while educating the next generation of civic and business leaders. If we hope to advance our own understanding of the world around us, a scholar’s capacity to build a body of work in his or her field must run unimpeded by politics and external forces. At the heart of that process is the idea that many voices — sometimes in harmony, sometimes discordant — are critical to education and community.
Since I arrived at UK nearly three years ago, a central tenet of my leadership philosophy has been to empower people.
I have strived to be accessible, opening the University’s home — Maxwell Place — to staff and faculty groups for intimate discourse, while regularly visiting campus constituents and students in their classrooms, offices, laboratories, and community spaces. It is this openness and accessibility to each other, sharing a collegial dialogue about our future, which guides me in the important decisions we confront.
Our capacity to foster constructive dialogue is at the core of what we do at the University of Kentucky. We should resist at all times temptations — or voices — that call on us to circumscribe or inhibit that dialogue. No matter where such temptation comes from, or however well-intentioned it may be, it is a self-defeating proposition.
We are better than that.”
University of La Verne
“Recently, three U.S. academic organizations, as a stance against Israeli politics, supported resolutions declaring their boycott on intellectual exchange with Israeli universities, and, by implication, Israeli scholars. They are protesting Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and what one organization described as the involvement of Israeli universities in supporting government policy.
Irrespective of political views, as a scholar, an educator and university president, I am a member of the community of academicians committed to advancing intercultural communication as well as identifying strategies, attitudes, beliefs and values that bridge human differences, rather than creating further division. That some of my fellow academics (such as the American Studies Association, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association and Association for Asian American Studies) have chosen to take a stand against the very intellectual exchange that we are committed to by definition as academics, I find hard to understand. It is contradictory to our scholarly code of conduct.
Universities are one of the few places in the world where all students are encouraged to seek opportunities for intercultural interaction, to enter into debate, to increase critical thinking, and to become informed citizens. As an institutional leader, part of my responsibility is to ensure that faculty, staff and students interact with and learn from scholars and students from around our globe. If we, as administrators, educators, and scholars, choose to strategically curtail our own intellectual interactions because we do not support the politics of a government, we are not modeling what we espouse: broadening our students’ minds, encouraging debate and dialogue, and seeking strategies for increasing global awareness. Effective communication, across, between and among individuals from diverse cultures is a critical strategy for increasing global competencies, understanding and mutual respect. The very act of boycotting intellectual exchange undermines our own professional commitments and our students’ growth.”
University of Louisville
“The University of Louisville is committed to diversity and to ensuring the free exchange of ideas on our campus. We promote the ability of our faculty to share knowledge, research, and ideas with university faculty throughout the world. Because of our view that the free exchange of ideas is paramount to academic freedom, we oppose any effort to boycott academic institutions regardless of the political systems in which they operate.
We appreciate the position of the APLU that any boycott could limit the ability of UofL professors and researchers to collaborate with faculty whose institutions are targeted by the boycott. This could hinder not only UofL’s efforts but those of colleges and universities across the United States to find new cures for diseases, to develop new sources of energy, or to bridge cultural divides.”
Dr. James R. Ramsey, President
University of Maryland
“We firmly oppose the call by some academic associations—American Studies Association; Asian-American Studies Association—to boycott Israeli academic institutions. Any such boycott is a breach of the principle of academic freedom that undergirds the University of Maryland and, indeed, all of American higher education.
Faculty, students, and staff on our campus must remain free to study, do research, and participate in meetings with colleagues from around the globe. The University of Maryland has longstanding relationships with several Israeli universities. We have many exchanges of scholars and students. We will continue and deepen these relationships.
In the United States, we can disagree with the governmental policies of a nation without sanctioning the universities of that nation, or the American universities that collaborate with them. To restrict the free flow of people and ideas with some universities because of their national identity is unwise, unnecessary, and irreconcilable with our core academic values.”
Wallace D. Loh, President
Mary Ann Rankin, Senior Vice President and Provost
In response to student government decision to vote on a divestment measure during Passover in April 2019, the university spokesperson said:
While [the university] “respects our students’ right to debate and act on the question of Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) of the nation of Israel,” the university “regrets the student government’s scheduling of a vote on a BDS resolution during the Passover holiday. It limits the full participation by all students in voting on the measure—itself inconsistent with the free exchange of ideas.”
Additionally, both University of Maryland President Wallace Loh and Provost Mary Ann Rankin have denounced the BDS movement as restricting “the free flow of people and ideas with some universities because of their national identity is unwise, unnecessary, and irreconcilable with our core academic values,” the spokesperson added.
University of Maryland, Baltimore County
“A recent vote by members of the American Studies Association (ASA) endorsed a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. We oppose academic boycotts because they are inconsistent with the tenets of academic freedom and open scholarly inquiry. We agree with the position of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), as stated in a 2006 report, that such boycotts are antithetical to academic freedom. We are committed to protecting the rights of our faculty and students to express freely their beliefs and to engage in debate as they examine complex issues.”
University of Massachusetts - Amherst
“The University of Massachusetts Amherst is opposed to academic boycotts of any kind. The current boycott of academic institutions in Israel by several academic associations is no exception. While individuals have the right to express their views, we believe that academic boycotts undermine the fundamental principles of free expression and inquiry that are central to our mission of teaching, research and service.”
Kumble Subbaswamy, Chancellor
Responding to criticism of pro-BDS event being held on campus, the chancellor explained the First Amendment required the university to allow it:
“However, while UMass Amherst is firmly committed to the principles of free speech and academic freedom, the University remains firmly opposed to BDS and to academic boycotts of any kind. Academic boycotts are antithetical to academic freedom and it is ironic that individuals, who rely upon that very freedom to make their case, should advocate for a movement, in BDS, that seeks to suppress it.
It is troubling that such a one-dimensional, polarizing event should take place on our campus. A panel discussion where only one perspective is shared does little to increase the understanding of such a complex topic like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Furthermore, because the BDS position in general fails to acknowledge the humanity on the Israeli side of the conflict and is considered by many as anti-Semitic, the upcoming event could very well alienate many of our Jewish students and other members of our campus community.”
Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy (October 21, 2019)
University of Massachusetts-Boston
“The University of Massachusetts Boston strongly opposes the boycott of Israeli academic institutions announced by the American Studies Association. Higher education is built upon a free and respectful exchange of ideas. Any action that seeks to inhibit this flow of knowledge, or to prevent academic collaborations, stands in direct contrast to our mission.
Part of our duty as educators is to address topics that are uncomfortable or provocative, which is only possible when we are protected by the principles of academic freedom.
Some members of our community may have different opinions on the ASA's decision. We endorse the right of our students, faculty, and staff to advocate for their views in a respectful way. As an institution, however, we are resolute in our opposition to the boycott.”
J. Keith Motley, Chancellor
University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth
“I feel compelled to address the recent and troubling vote by the American Studies Association to boycott Israeli academic institutions. This action, punishing one nation’s intellectual community to advance a geopolitical agenda, is an assault on the academic freedom that we so cherish. At a time when our planet faces a host of perilous and complex threats, we must do everything possible to protect and nurture, rather than obstruct, the flow of ideas.
As the American Association of Universities Executive Committee stated in reference to the ASA boycott: 'Restrictions imposed on the ability of scholars of any particular country to work with their fellow academics in other countries, participate in meetings and organizations, or otherwise carry out their scholarly activities violate academic freedom. The boycott of Israeli academic institutions therefore clearly violates the academic freedom not only of Israeli scholars but also of American scholars who might be pressured to comply with it. We urge American scholars and scholars around the world who believe in academic freedom to oppose this and other such academic boycotts.'”
Divina Grossman, Chancellor
University of Massachusetts-Lowell
“The University of Massachusetts Lowell strongly disagrees with the resolution of the American Studies Association, which calls for a boycott of Israeli universities. We believe that international issues are best resolved through engagement and not by means of a boycott that stifles communication and fosters resentment. Historically, scholars and higher education institutions have led the world in bridging differences.
At UMass Lowell, we have strived to connect with institutions around the globe and our faculty and students look for ways to bridge minds and cultures. Since 2009, UMass Lowell has forged partnerships with more than 100 international colleges and universities, promoting collaboration on faculty research and student exchanges.
Our international partners include Israeli institutions such as the University of Haifa, Shenkar College of Engineering and Design, and Ben-Gurion University. Together, we have vowed to use our combined intellectual resources and research capabilities to tackle challenges facing both the Middle East and United States.
UMass Lowell's Center for Middle East Peace, Development and Culture, launched with the announcement of our partnership with the University of Haifa, fosters collaborations and partnerships with educational institutions in the Middle East across an interdisciplinary spectrum. Our Greeley Scholar for Peace program in 2010 recognized Prof. Gavriel Solomon, director of the University of Haifa’s Center for Research on Peace Education, for his efforts, including the use of sports to bring Israeli and Arab players and fans together to transform animosity into cooperation. Similarly, Prof. Wagdi Zeid, a Cairo University scholar, taught a course for UMass Lowell honors students on 'Bridging Minds for Peace.'
These partnerships and programs illustrate our conviction that international communication and understanding are only possible when unfettered dialogue is both encouraged and cultivated. This philosophy has guided our efforts in connecting with universities around the world just as we will continue to connect with our colleagues in Israel. Boycotts such as those recommended by the ASA will only serve to deepen the divides that already in the region and the world.”
Ahmed Abdelal, President
University of Massachusetts Medical School
“Chancellor Collins joins the other chancellors and college presidents in opposing the boycott due to its impact on academic freedom.”
James B. Leary, Esq., Vice Chancellor for Community and Government Relations
University of Miami
“The University of Miami resolutely opposes academic boycotts of any kind. We join with other higher education institutions in rejecting the actions of the American Studies Association as misguided, inappropriate, and hostile to the larger purposes of learning, academic freedom, and intellectual exchange— which are fundamental missions of American higher education.”
Donna Shalala, President
University of Michigan
“The University of Michigan strongly opposes the boycott of academic institutions in Israel that was recently endorsed by several academic associations. While we affirm the right of individual faculty, faculties, and professional academic associations to hold and express different viewpoints, we believe that academic boycotts violate the principles of academic freedom and freedom of speech, which are fundamental to our missions of education and research.
The University of Michigan is committed to continuing and strengthening its long-standing and productive institutional relationships with Israeli universities and institutes. Many of our faculty and students have exciting and productive collaborations with counterparts there. For example, we have student exchanges with The Technion Israel Institute of Technology, an alliance with Ben Gurion University in renewable energy, and a groundbreaking collaboration in the biomedical sciences called the UM/Israel Partnership for Research that involves the Weizmann Institute of Science, The Technion and Tel Aviv University.
At the University of Michigan we are committed to global engagement at all levels and believe the free exchange of ideas is essential to advancing knowledge and strengthening mutual understanding.
We stand with and endorse the statement opposing the boycotts made by the Executive Committee of the American Association of Universities, the leading association of research universities in North America, of which the University of Michigan is a member as well as the statement of the Association of American University Professors.”
Mary Sue Coleman, President
Martha Pollack, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost
University of Minnesota
“The American Studies Association’s recent resolution boycotting Israeli higher education institutions is troubling. While the ASA’s action appears to limit only the association’s professional activities, and not the scholarly activities of individual faculty members, I believe that such boycotts undermine academic freedom, which is a fundamental value of American higher education.
Both the Association of American Universities and the American Association of University Professors have opposed this boycott and I support those actions. The AAU, of which the University of Minnesota is a member, issued the following statement that also reflects my views on the matter.”
At the University of Minnesota we promote a climate of open, thoughtful and civil debate among our students, who bring great passion and energy to their positions, causes and elections. That is important to me, and I respect the right of our students to express their opinions through ballots or other initiatives. All in our community have the right to do that regardless of their points of view.
But I also have a point of view on this issue. The outcome of the non-binding referendum on the All-Campus Election ballot demanding the Board of Regents, among other things, “divest from companies that are . . . complicit in Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights,” is one of those times. Two years ago, when a similar resolution was proposed on our Twin Cities campus, I expressed my opposition to it.
I think the form of the ballot is flawed because it convolutes three issues, but I want to focus on the first part of the referendum. I want to state clearly that the University does not endorse — and I personally oppose — the action advocated in the referendum, which echoes, in part, the language and sentiment of the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement. The BDS Movement, while not directly mentioned in this referendum, has called for a comprehensive academic, cultural, economic and consumer boycott of Israel. In general, our University should be extraordinarily wary about such boycotts, given our core values of academic freedom and our commitment to the free exchange of ideas, uncertainty about the impact of such efforts, and concerns that we may be unfairly singling out one government and the citizens of the country in question.
My concerns are heightened by the fact that the global BDS movement does not seem to distinguish between opposition to the policies of the government of Israel and opposition to the existence of Israel.
We live in divisive times, both in our country and internationally. This referendum, while narrowly approved, exacerbates those divisions and thus may damage our ability to come together as a University community in common efforts as we hope for — and work for — peace and reconciliation in the Middle East. We won't solve this problem alone, but surely we can be better than a place where unhelpful rhetoric is hurled from side to side.
I urge all members of our University community to seek to find common ground. In the past, I have stood firmly and vocally against anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic incidents on our campuses. I stand now against the results of this referendum and its potential harmful impact to our campus climate. We must work at civil dialogue and mutual self-respect, and I encourage those on both sides of this issue to engage in precisely those conversations.
Eric W. Kaler, University President
University of Mississippi
“The University of Mississippi is not an institutional member of the American Studies Association (ASA) and should not have been listed in ASA publications as an institutional member. We have notified the organization accordingly, asking that the university’s name be removed. It appears that an individual membership was recorded incorrectly as an institutional membership.
Had the university been a voting member of ASA, we would have opposed a boycott, as it conflicts with several pillars of our university Creed, among which are the values of academic freedom, fairness and civility and respect for the dignity of each person. The University of Mississippi is a member of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU), and we support the Jan. 2 statement issued by APLU, which opposes the ASA boycott.”
University of Missouri System
“The University of Missouri System strongly disagrees with the American Studies Association’s vote to boycott higher education institutions in Israel. The position taken by the ASA contrasts with the cherished ideals of academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas, which are critical to the missions of higher education institutions in the United States. The UM System joins with higher education leaders at other universities, along with the members of the Association of Public Land Grant Universities, in opposing this uninformed position.”
John Fougere, Chief Communications Officer, University of Missouri System
University of Nebraska
“The leadership of the University of Nebraska rejects the call to boycott Israeli institutions of higher education. We support the unfettered pursuit of knowledge, the open exchange of ideas, and the robust engagement of faculty and students among institutions around the world.
“We believe the call to boycott Israeli higher education institutions is misguided, and if successful would hinder the open pursuit of knowledge and exchange of ideas and threaten the very institutions that stand for these principles.
“U.S. universities and scholarly associations have long encouraged and supported the very academic freedom universities in Israel offer. We urge our colleagues to adopt policies that encourage dialogue rather than those that threaten the institutions and communities that are founded on free and open inquiry and discourse.”
James B. Milliken, President
University of Nevada-Las Vegas
“The administration of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas opposes the boycott of Israeli universities endorsed by the American Studies Association. Any boycott of any academic institution would violate the principles of academic freedom and inclusiveness, which are aims of all higher education in America. No academic institution should be of limits because of nationality.
Faculty and students should be able to research and obtain knowledge without constraint from political concerns. All faculty and students have a right to feel safe expressing their beliefs at institutions of higher learning.
Academic institutions should not promote political concerns if it comes at the expense of students and faculty. Meaningful research and scholarship can come from the expression of ideas and knowledge across borders and over political differences.
Although the resolution in support of the boycott states that 'the American Studies Association is dedicated to the right of students and scholars to pursue education and research without undue state interference,' any boycott would harm that right for both Israeli and American scholars.
We urge universities and scholars in America and around the world who are committed to the ideas of academic freedom to oppose this boycott and all other boycotts.”
John Valery White, President and Provost
University of New Hampshire
“You may have heard in recent weeks that a small number of scholarly organizations, including the American Studies Association, have called for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. I find this effort to be extremely troubling, indeed noxious, as I know do many of you.
Boycotts of this nature strike at the heart of academic freedom and threaten the open exchange of ideas that constitute the core of the academy. Accordingly, I want you to know that UNH is joining with some 100 major higher education institutions across the country, including the American Council on Education, the Association of American Universities and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, in rejecting the boycott.
I would also note and applaud the strong statement in opposition to the boycott issued by the UNH chapter of the American Association of University Professors. While those of us in academe, as elsewhere, have strong and contending views about many things, including the Middle East, we must hold fast to our common commitment that colleges and universities ever remain places of robust, civil and open conversation.”
Mark W. Huddleston, President
University of New Mexico
“The University of New Mexico prides itself on cultivating vibrant dialogue and a diversity of ideas among our students, faculty and community both on our campus and beyond its physical boundaries.
We join more than 150 universities in our refusal to support academic boycotts, as they limit the free exchange of ideas and intellectual collaboration, which are fundamental to our mission as a flagship university.”
Robert G. Frank, President
Chaouki Abdallah, Provost
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
“Recently, a majority of the membership of the American Studies Association approved a resolution calling for a boycott of Israeli education institutions. Two other higher education associations in the United States also support the boycott. The executive committee of the Association of American Universities has issued a strong rebuke of the ASA proposal (http://www.aau.edu/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=14859) and we felt it was important to make clear that the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s oldest public university, also opposes the resolution and is calling for ASA member institutions to reconsider this move. Our position is very clear: For more than 220 years, UNC-Chapel Hill has nurtured and promulgated the concept of open access to higher education. As a leading public research university, the faculty and students at Carolina have built long-term partnerships around our nation and the world, including a rich array of scholarly and academic collaborations with both Israeli and Palestinian faculty members and universities. The ASA resolution directly opposes the principles of access that encourage collaborations among our faculty and students, important research that benefits North Carolinians, our nation and the global community. For that reason, UNC-Chapel Hill strongly rejects both the boycott and the actions called for in the resolution. We steadfastly and fundamentally believe in the rights of academicians here and abroad to engage and express their viewpoints, and resolve differences in scholarly debate. Ultimately, we feel strongly that the ASA resolution would not only reduce access to intellectual collaborations, but is- at its core- diametrically opposite of the values expressed in our motto: Lux libertas. Light and liberty.”
Carol L. Folt, Chancellor
James W. Dean, Jr., Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost
University of North Dakota
“This letter serves as notification to your office that the University of North Dakota (UND) supports the executive committees of both the Association of American Universities and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities in condemning the proposed boycott of Israeli academic institutions called for by the American Studies Association.
It is vital to the best interests and principles of the American University, and UND, to maintain free and open interaction with Israeli scholars in all disciplines.”
Robert O. Kelley, President
University of Notre Dame
“The American Studies Association's recent vote to boycott Israeli academic institutions is an infringement on academic freedom, and I join with other university presidents in condemning it. From a hill overlooking Bethlehem to the south and Jerusalem to the north, the University of Notre Dame's Institute for Ecumenical Studies has been for decades a place where scholars and students of all faiths the world over have gathered to better understand religious traditions, including relationships among Christians, Jews and Muslims. However intractable the conflict among Israelis and Palestinians may appear, dialogue - not boycott - is more likely to produce understanding. Institutions of higher education, in particular, as well as those associated with them, should champion the free exchange of ideas, and not seek to impede it.”
Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., President
University of Oregon
“The University of Oregon is committed to the pursuit of knowledge, freedom of inquiry and exchange of ideas as core principles of our mission as a leading public research university. Academic freedom is the cornerstone of our research, teaching and service to society. An academic boycott violates this fundamental principle. While we support the right of individuals to express and advocate for their own views, we oppose any organizational effort that undermines the ability of members of our academic community to collaborate in support of research, teaching and scholarship. We join the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and Association of American Universities (AAU) in strongly opposing a boycott of Israeli academic institutions and organizations.”
Michael Gottfredson, President
While I wholeheartedly support the right of our students individually and as members of a student organization to express their First Amendment-protected opinions, I feel it is important to briefly comment on the ASUO action because it contradicts the ASUO mission to support the interests of all students in a diverse community. The University of Oregon is committed to the principle of inclusion, and over the last three years each school, college and administrative unit on our campus has focused — through the IDEAL framework and Diversity Actions Plans — on efforts to enhance and strengthen policies and practices that make this campus welcoming and inclusive to all. I believe the ASUO resolution is inconsistent with these values. It is important that all of us make every effort we can to avoid dividing our community along the lines of ideology, religion or national origin.
Michael Schill, President
University of Ottowa
For the third time in five months, the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) has defeated a motion to support the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) campaign against Israel. Last night at its Board of Administration meeting, the SFUO failed to reach the two-thirds threshold to pass the vote and the motion was defeated.
The SFUO is an independent body from the University of Ottawa. Out of respect for its governance process, the University usually refrains from commenting on SFUO’s business. However, I firmly believe that this issue is divisive and a detriment to an open and welcoming campus environment. By definition, boycotts limit the free exchange of ideas and perspectives and, therefore, run contrary to the core values that guide our University’s core academic mission. Moreover, boycotts create an environment where some members of our community may feel insecure and ostracized. I encourage members of our University community to work together to ensure we have a campus where mutual respect and freedom of expression flourish.
The University of Ottawa will have no part of the BDS movement nor any movement that boycotts academic institutions. We have actively pursued mutually beneficial relationships with leading institutions around the world and will continue to do so to further the advancement of knowledge and the free circulation of ideas, students and faculty members.
As a bilingual and multicultural institution, the University values and encourages freedom of expression, freedom of religion and equality for all. We welcome and embrace open dialogue and the free exchange of ideas from every member of our diverse community.
Jacques Frémont, University President and Vice-Chancellor
University of Rhode Island
“The University of Rhode Island (URI) firmly supports academic freedom for scholars at academic institutions throughout the world. URI opposes a boycott of Israeli academic institutions based on this overarching principle. As an institution of higher education, academic freedom and opportunities for collaborative learning and discovery are core to our mission and values. Measures such as boycotting academic institutions can be counterproductive and pose a significant threat to the freedom of expression and pursuit of knowledge and its dissemination that we value as critical in carrying out our work. As the late Senator Fulbright wrote in 1983, 'Educational exchange can turn nations into people, contributing as no other form of communication can to the humanizing of international relations.' We at the University of Rhode Island are firmly committed to the principle that educational exchange is the most powerful means for building a more understanding and just world.”
University of Rochester
“The University of Rochester fully endorses the recent Association of American Universities (AAU) statement in opposition to the American Studies Association boycott of Israeli academic institutions. Academic freedom is a core value of our University and of the AAU, of which the University of Rochester is a member.
The AAU statement reads in part: “Academic freedom is the freedom of the university faculty responsibly to produce and disseminate knowledge through research, teaching and service, without undue constraint. It is a principle that should not be abridged by political considerations. American colleges and universities, as well as like institutions elsewhere, must stand as the first line of defense against attacks on academic freedom. Efforts to address political issues, or to address restrictions on academic freedom, should not themselves infringe upon academic freedom.”
We further agree that academic freedom, among other things, is inconsistent with “restrictions imposed on the ability of scholars of any particular country to work with fellow academics in other countries, participate in meetings and organizations, or otherwise carry out their scholarly activities. The boycott of Israeli academic institutions therefore clearly violates the academic freedom not only of Israeli scholars but also of American scholars who might be pressured to comply with it.”
Joel Seligman, President
University of South Carolina
“The essence of academic freedom is the free exchange of diverse ideas and opinions. I am in agreement with the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities that, “Freedom of inquiry and expression are the foundational principles of [this] vital work, and free exchange of ideas is its lifeblood.” For these reasons, I stand with colleagues throughout the country in strong opposition to a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.”
Harris Pastides, President
University of South Dakota
“The University of South Dakota opposes the American Studies Association boycott of Israeli institutions of higher learning and supports the Association of American Universities position.”
James W. Abbott, President
University of South Florida
“The boycott recently proposed by the American Studies Association (ASA) is antithetical to the core values of academic freedom and the open exchange of knowledge and ideas across institutions of higher education. Accordingly, I stand with the Association of American Universities, the American Council on Education, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the American Association of University Professors and esteemed colleagues everywhere who oppose this improper call for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.”
Office of the USF System President
University of Southern California
“Over the past several years, the University of Southern California has been asked to join academic and cultural boycotts or other sanctions against Israel and/or Israeli universities, and to consider divestment of investments in firms that have certain business operations in Israel.
As I stated in December 2010 when our university took a strong stand against academic boycotts or similar actions directed against Israel, we continue to believe such actions would be a betrayal of our values as a pluralistic university whose students, faculty, and alumni come from more than 115 countries, and who represent a diversity of political, cultural and religious beliefs.
USC is deeply committed to providing the intellectual environment for cooperative and tolerant discourse, respecting the diversity of moral, political and religious views held by its members and working together to better understand the most challenging issues of our time.
Recently, USC was erroneously identified as an institutional member of the American Studies Association, an organization that calls for academic boycott of Israel. We confirmed with that organization that we are not currently a member and have requested they immediately remove any reference to the University of Southern California as an institutional member of that association.
USC supports the statement of the Association of American Universities that strongly opposes a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. We agree with the AAU that any such boycott directly violates academic freedom, which is a fundamental principle of AAU universities, including USC, and of American higher education in general.”
C. L. Max Nikias, President
University of Texas - Austin
“William C. Powers, President of The University of Texas at Austin, supports and has signed the following statement by the Executive Committee of the Association of American Universities.
The Executive Committee of the Association of American Universities strongly opposes a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. Three U.S. scholarly organizations have now expressed support for such a boycott. Any such boycott of academic institutions directly violates academic freedom, which is a fundamental principle of AAU universities and of American higher education in general.
Academic freedom is the freedom of university faculty responsibly to produce and disseminate knowledge through research, teaching, and service, without undue constraint. It is a principle that should not be abridged by political considerations. American colleges and universities, as well as like institutions elsewhere, must stand as the first line of defense against attacks on academic freedom.
Efforts to address political issues, or to address restrictions on academic freedom, should not themselves infringe upon academic freedom. Restrictions imposed on the ability of scholars of any particular country to work with their fellow academics in other countries, participate in meetings and organizations, or otherwise carry out their scholarly activities violate academic freedom. The boycott of Israeli academic institutions therefore clearly violates the academic freedom not only of Israeli scholars but also of American scholars who might be pressured to comply with it. We urge American scholars and scholars around the world who believe in academic freedom to oppose this and other such academic boycotts.”
University of Texas - Dallas
“The University of Texas at Dallas' School of Interdisciplinary Studies cancelled its institutional membership in the ASA.
UT Dallas does not endorse the boycott of Israeli academic institutions by scholarly organizations. We join the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities and other organizations in asserting that this boycott wrongly limits the ability of American and Israeli academic institutions and their faculty members to exchange ideas and collaborate in scholarly and research endeavors. Individual members of the academic community have every right to express their views, but the University regards this action as misguided and ill-considered.”
Susan Rogers, Vice President for Communications
University of the Incarnate Word
“Let me take this opportunity to add my voice to those organizations opposing an academic boycott of Israel and Israeli academic institutions.
It’s been my experience as president of the University of the Incarnate Word, a Catholic college in San Antonio, Texas, that the only way to bridge cultural differences is for people of diverse backgrounds to engage in constructive dialogue.
Isolating Israel and its academic institutions would have a detrimental impact on this process, particularly in advancing the exchange of ideas. More than ever, what is needed now is continuing, open dialogue.”
Dr. Louis J. Agnese, Jr., President
University of Tulsa
“The University of Tulsa is strongly opposed to the American Studies Association’s boycott of Israeli universities and the premise on which it was conceived.
The boycott curtails the very activity – academic freedom – that it claims to protect. The ASA effort impedes scholarly debate and intellectual exchange, which are among the most valuable of instruments when bridging differences and improving relationships among people and nations.
Effective, successful institutions of higher learning are founded upon the fundamental principle of academic freedom. As it has for more than a century, The University of Tulsa will continue to preserve and bolster spirited discourse surrounding ideas that sustain a vital and robust educational environment.”
Steadman Upham, President
Roger Blais, Provost
University of Vermont
“As you may know, the American Studies Association voted recently to boycott Israeli academic institutions, and by implication Israeli academics. I am writing to articulate my views on this unfortunate decision.
I am joining the leaders of major research institutions across the nation, as well as the American Association of University Professors, in expressing opposition to this academic boycott. I believe that such boycotts endanger intellectual inquiry and discovery that are the very foundation of the higher education enterprise. Further, the ASA’s position undermines our shared commitment to create and nurture environments conducive to learning, research, and the open exchange of ideas, regardless of the differing perspectives that may be voiced on complex geopolitical issues.
It is my hope that members of our UVM community and those of other institutions of learning will be able to continue to express and share freely their ideas and opinions. Academic boycotts and other actions that attempt to chill or foreclose such opportunities have no place in a global community of engaged scholars.”
Tom Sullivan, President
University of Washington
“As provost and president of the University of Washington, Ana Mari Cauce and I fully endorse the statement from the Association of American Universities (AAU), the 62 leading public and private universities in North America and of which the University of Washington is a member, opposing a proposed boycott by American higher education institutions of universities and their faculties in Israel. We believe such a boycott of academic institutions and their faculties has no place in higher education institutions founded on the premise of the free exchange of ideas. The AAU statement, issued by its executive committee Dec. 20, 2013, affirms that:
Any such boycott of academic institutions directly violates academic freedom, which is a fundamental principle of AAU universities and of American higher education in general. Academic freedom is the freedom of university faculty responsibly to produce and disseminate knowledge through research, teaching, and service, without undue constraint. It is a principle that should not be abridged by political considerations. American colleges and universities, as well as like institutions elsewhere, must stand as the first line of defense against attacks on academic freedom.
We are proud to align with the position enunciated by the AAU to oppose in any way any constriction of the free flow and exchange of ideas among the world’s scholars, teachers, scientists and intellectuals.”
Michael K. Young, President
University of Western Ontario
“Let me begin by pointing out that while individual faculty members from our University may have had some interaction with the ASA in the past, Western has no formal institutional affiliation or membership with this organization. More importantly, I wish to emphasize that Western strongly upholds the principles of academic freedom, including the right of all in our academic community to free association and the right to speak and write freely. Further, Western expects all who study, teach and do research here to uphold the highest ideals of scholarly responsibility.
Our campus community welcomes and includes thousands of students, faculty and staff from more than 100 countries around the world, including Israel, as well as many individuals of Jewish faith. Western also pursues a wide range of collaborative partnerships with countless international institutions, including those in Israel, to advance the goals of education, teaching and research across the full spectrum of disciplines. As such, it is clearly evident the ASA resolution is one that runs counter to the values of our own institution. Contrary to the ASA boycott, Western actively promotes the benefits of belonging to a global academic community, and our campus culture is one that embraces diversity, inclusiveness and collegiality.”
Malcolm Ruddock, Exec. Asst. to the President and Provost
University of Wisconsin-Madison
“If you’ve spent time at UW, you probably know of the bronze plaque near the front doors of Bascom Hall. It calls for the “continual and fearless sifting and winnowing” of ideas.
The Class of 1910 donated the plaque in 1915 as a class memorial. It commemorates the wording from the Board of Regents meeting of September 18, 1894 supporting Professor Richard Ely, who was accused of socialist, pro-union activities.
Our sifting and winnowing plaque is as relevant today as it ever was.
In recent months, the American Studies Association has generated a great deal of media attention for passing a resolution calling for a boycott of Israeli higher education institutions. Though we have some faculty who belong to the American Studies Association, the University of Wisconsin at Madison does not have a traditional American Studies program.(Instead, we have a globally-focused cluster called Comparative U.S Studies.) We do not hold an institutional membership with the ASA.
Nonetheless, I have also heard from many alumni and concerned members of the community asking if I supported or opposed the ASA’s action. Rather than debating the details of the ASA resolution, let me share my personal view of academic boycotts in general.
I am a firm believer that faculty exchange and the free flow of ideas between higher education institutions is essential, and those principles have long transcended political disagreements or boundaries. Even at the height of the Cold War, scientific exchanges between the U.S. and the Soviet Union continued to occur.
I further believe that it is never appropriate to punish scholars over political differences. As always, individuals should be free to express their personal views and any healthy academic community should tolerate (and even celebrate) the presence of people with widely divergent intellectual perspectives.
I believe we should continue to encourage connection and collaboration in the pursuit of knowledge and oppose any efforts to restrict the ability of our faculty to work with scholars from other institutions around the world.
Indeed, UW–Madison has active programs that promote exchange and study abroad with Israel involving our faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates, as it does with many other countries around the world.
I stand with the American Association of Universities, which represents the major research universities in North America, of which UW-Madison is a member. The AAU statement, signed by the organization’s executive committee and issued on Dec. 20, 2013 states:
“Any such boycott of academic institutions directly violates academic freedom, which is a fundamental principle of AAU universities and of American higher education in general. Academic freedom is the freedom of university faculty responsibly to produce and disseminate knowledge through research, teaching, and service, without undue constraint. It is a principle that should not be abridged by political considerations. American colleges and universities, as well as like institutions elsewhere, must stand as the first line of defense against attacks on academic freedom.”
So, I disagree strongly with the ASA boycott approach. Political disagreements with the government of a country should not limit our ability to reach out to and collaborate with academic institutions and scholars from that country on projects that we consider valuable. Here at UW-Madison, academic freedom continues to be our tradition and one of our defining values.”
Rebecca Blank, Chancellor
“In December, the American Studies Association passed a resolution calling for an academic boycott of universities in Israel in protest of that country’s abridgement of Palestinian freedoms. But it is a contradiction to advocate for freedom by suspending academic freedom. Such boycotts contravene an essential purpose of the academy: to promote free thought and expression through dialogue and scholarly exchange. Criticism, whether of Israel or the American Studies Association, has a place in campus discourse. It is through dialogue with those whom one disagrees that we can forge understanding and change. As a college committed to critical thinking and the cultivation of judgment, Ursinus College rejects the ASA resolution and affirms the place of untrammeled inquiry on campus and scholarly collaborations and exchanges between academic institutions.”
Bobby Fong, President
Utah State University
“Utah State University joins with the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the American Association of University Professors and the Association of American Universities to strongly oppose any boycott of Israeli academic institutions.
As a major research university with projects in countries around the world, one of our core principles is the belief that the free exchange of ideas will lead to new and better understanding of issues at every level of engagement. It is fundamental to our mission as an academic institution that we are in the business of discourse. That idea is the foundation for all academic institutions and is, in fact, at the very heart of education itself. No academic institution should be in the business of boycotting dialogue, collaboration or the free flow of ideas and information.
We lend our voice to chorus that says conflict will be resolved best through dialogue and respect for differences. It is by crossing bridges – not blocking those bridges – that we will meet to reach resolutions.”
Stan L. Albrecht, President
“Vanderbilt University stands with its Association of American Universities colleagues in opposing a boycott of Israeli academic institutions as proposed by the American Studies Association. There are few principles more central to our mission as a university than an unwavering commitment to academic freedom and the open exchange of ideas across the globe. We believe this boycott, by its very nature, is incompatible with this principle. Vanderbilt faculty can and have taken their own positions on this issue, which is their right and indeed their responsibility as scholars, just as it is our duty to protect their freedom to do so. As a university, we promote spirited and intense debate on the most intractable problems facing our society, with the belief that this coming together of often opposing viewpoints leads to better understanding and progress. We believe that shutting out an entire nation’s universities and academic organizations only stands to prolong and perpetuate the problems the framers of the boycott wish to address.”
Nicholas S. Zeppos, Chancellor
“Recently several academic associations, including the American Studies Association, have called for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. Vassar College is firmly committed to academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas. We are opposed to boycotts of scholars and academic institutions anywhere in the world, and we strongly reject the call for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. We endorse the statements opposing the boycott issued by the American Association of University Professors, the Executive Committee of the Association of American Universities, and the President of the American Council on Education.
Vassar’s commitment to academic freedom not only leads us to reject the call for a boycott, it helps ensure that our faculty and students may pursue their academic interests wherever they may lead, engage in unconstrained discussions, and express their views freely.”
Catharine Hill, President and Professor of Economics
Jonathan Chenette, Dean of Faculty and Professor of Music
Virginia Commonwealth University
“Virginia Commonwealth University and I are fundamentally committed to the protection of academic freedom and although VCU is not an institutional member of the American Studies Association, the boycott is inconsistent with the university’s stated policy on academic freedom.
Individual members of the university community may hold diverse perspectives on the boycott, and as an institution, we support their right to do so with the full recognition that they do not speak for the university.
These issues generate important exchanges within higher education. I will keep you updated on such conversations at VCU as they emerge.”
“As President of Virginia Tech, I endorse the Statement in Opposition to Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions issued by the President and Executive Committee of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) on January 2, 2014.”
Charles W. Steger, President
Wake Forest University
“Wake Forest University does not support an academic boycott of Israel or any similar measure that limits academic freedom.”
Katie Neal, Executive Director, News & Communications
Washington University in St. Louis
“Washington University is deeply troubled and dismayed that the American Studies Association (ASA) , among others, has engaged in a boycott of Israeli academic institutions We believe strongly that a boycott of academic institutions directly violates academic freedom, which is not only one of our university’s fundamental principles but one of American higher education in general. This boycott clearly violates the academic freedom not only of Israeli scholars but also of American scholars who might be pressured to comply with it. We have made this position clear to the ASA... Washington University is a member of the Association of American Universities which issued a statement today. I completely endorse their statement...”
Mark S. Wrighton, Ph.D., Chancellor and Professor of Chemistry
Wayne State University
“With regard to the American Studies Association’s call for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions, Wayne State University strongly supports the principles of academic freedom and freedom of speech, which are fundamental to our missions of education and research. We thus support the position of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), the Association of American Universities (AAU), the American Council on Education (ACE) and other higher education organizations as well as numerous colleges and universities nationwide in denouncing the boycott. While we understand that the stated “goal of the academic boycott is to contribute to the larger movement for social justice in Israel/Palestine that seeks to expand, not further restrict, the rights to education and free inquiry,” it is our view that academic boycotts are not appropriate means to achieving such desired ends or to resolving deep and complex human issues plaguing the Middle East. For the sake of all people involved, many of whom face ongoing hardship or have suffered great loss, the complex and long-standing conflicts in the Middle East need to be addressed. But this boycott, we fear, may have the opposite effect. By their very nature, academic institutions are places where difficult issues are raised, discussed, debated, and hopefully resolved. We value our relationships with universities throughout the Middle East, including in Israel. These universities all contribute to the creation and dissemination of knowledge, and we believe they deserve the respect and support of the international academic community, as we would wish to be respected and supported in turn.”
M. Roy Wilson, President
“At Webster University, members of our university community have, of course, been following and discussing the events in which three academic associations (most recently the American Studies Association) voted to support the boycott of Israeli universities.
There are questions and issues at two levels – on one level, some reaction and commentary is focused specifically on the root of the issue, the relationship of Palestine and Israel in all of its complexity and controversy. At this level, these are ongoing questions which have been, and will continue to be, debated in a multitude of forums.
At another level, there is the question of whether a blanket boycott is an effective or appropriate means to communicate one’s viewpoint or opinion about an issue – and, especially, whether such means are effective in academic settings.
We affirm the right of all to express their opinions freely and encourage, as institutions of higher education should and must, a diversity of viewpoints. We encourage continued conversation, research, and debate – all of which require that people on all sides of the issue can connect, engage and interact.”
Elizabeth (Beth) J. Stroble, President
“As I indicated in response to a proposed boycott in 2007, I believe such actions to be misguided and contrary to fundamental academic values.
Boycotts attack the very core of the academy and, in important ways, subvert the academy’s principal reason for being. To exclude universities or scholars because of their nationality or beliefs is to violate the values that make the academy a bastion of free inquiry and one of the best remaining hopes of the world. The free flow of ideas and argumentation, and the open exchange among scholars—encouraging both collaboration and dissent—are essential components of our common quest for understanding and discovery.
These central values are not open for dispute or amendment, and cannot be subject to the political whims of the moment.”
H. Kim Bottomly
“... the [ASA] boycott is a repugnant attack on academic freedom, declaring academic institutions off-limits because of their national affiliation.
The ASA has not gone on record against the universities in any other country in the world: not against those that enforce laws against homosexuality, not against those that have rejected freedom of speech, not against those that systematically restrict access to higher education by race, religion or gender. No, the ASA listens to civil society only when it speaks against Israel. As its scholarly president declared, “One has to start somewhere.” Not in North Korea, not in Russia or Zimbabwe or China - one has to start with Israel. Really?”
Michael Roth, President
West Virginia University
“In December 2013, the membership of the American Studies Association (ASA), a non-profit organization dedicated to interdisciplinary study of American culture and history, passed a resolution to boycott Israeli institutions of higher education out of concern for human rights. This action has spurred a sharp debate among scholars within and outside of ASA focused on freedom of speech and the most appropriate ways to examine, analyze, debate, and resolve social conflict. As a land-grant institution, West Virginia University firmly believes in the fundamental mission of providing access to all. Access not only to education and opportunity, but also to differing opinions and vigorous debate. Lively and varied discussions often lead to innovation, discoveries, and leadership. Therefore, we strongly oppose the boycott issued by the American Studies Association of Israeli academic institutions. We urge all academic institutions and associations to remain places where divergent ideas are encouraged and exchanged freely.”
E. Gordon Gee, President
Western Kentucky University
“As a University President I cannot condone or support a boycott of Israel or any nation's higher education enterprise. Academic freedom is a core value of higher education and must be sustained. At WKU we have opened our doors to all nationalities and continually work to encourage our students and faculty to study in other nations. Such a boycott is counterproductive and impedes the very thing that must occur to create peace among nations - conversation, understanding and respect. So indeed, I will join the nearly 200 college and university presidents who have rejected the idea of this boycott...”
Gary Ransdell, President
“We are glad to have had strong collaborations with academics in Israel in the past, and we will continue to do so in the future. Despite your concerns about American academics “policing” compliance with a boycott, I have never received any request from any faculty member here (or at my previous institutions) asking me to support a boycott of Israel, nor would I be receptive to such a request.”
“There is currently a vigorous discussion in some segments of higher education about academic boycotts of various kinds.
To anyone wondering about my own thoughts on the subject, free academic exchange is something to which I am fundamentally committed. I oppose all academic boycotts, whether of nations, of associations, or of individuals. Such boycotts violate my most deeply held values as a scholar and educator.
I also understand that a variety of opinions on the subject will exist in our community. Open discussion of such matters is an important part of the academic freedom we all cherish.”
Adam Falk, President
Wright State University
“As President of Wright State University, I am honored to stand with the leaders of our sister institutions in opposition to any boycott of Israeli higher education. In our mission statement, we assert our commitment to diversity. To us, diversity goes beyond race and ethnicity to embrace age, religion, gender, economic status, education background, sexual orientation, mobility and, most important to a university, thought. At our core, we believe in the value and power of the individual.”
David R. Hopkins, President
“As a university grounded in the Jesuit, liberal arts tradition, Xavier’s mission is to form our students to become people of learning, reflection, integrity, achievement and solidarity. That requires academic freedom, global collaboration and an unrestricted pursuit of truth,” Graham said in an emailed statement. “Therefore, and on behalf of Xavier University, I oppose the American Studies Association’s recent endorsement of a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.”
Fr. Michael Graham, President
“Any attempt to close off discussion or dialogue among scholars is antithetical to the fundamental values of scholarship and academic freedom. I stand with the Executive Committee of the Association of American Universities in my strong opposition to a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. At the same time, I acknowledge that individual faculty members have the right to their own opinions and beliefs, even if I disagree with those beliefs.”
Peter Salovey, President
“I have always rejected academic boycotts of any kind & of course YU, as it has & always will, stands w/ Israel.”
Richard Joel, President (via Twitter)
Source: Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, universities and news sources.