December 17, 2013
By Stuart Appelbaum, JLC President
New York, NY – The Jewish Labor Committee (JLC) is extremely troubled by and stands opposed to the recommendation made by the National Council of the American Studies Association (ASA) that its members vote for a resolution supporting a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. Such a resolution would be an anathema to academic freedom and is totally inconsistent with basic democratic value of free expression.
Academic boycotts assume that all Israeli academic institutions and the people associated with them – whether professors or researchers – are inherently guilty. It would essentially also hinder the exchange of important scientific research that can benefit all of humankind.
Boycotts of this nature – especially since they are directed at only one party — undermine hopes for a peaceful and just settlement between Israelis and Palestinians. These actions do not encourage compromise; rather, they hurt moderates on each side and encourage extremists and rejectionists on both sides. Ironically, such a resolution would discourage an open discussion – in Israel, Palestine and in organizations like the ASA — one that considers the behavior of all sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and ways to resolve it.
Instead, the JLC encourages organizations to be even-handed as they work to press both sides to negotiate in good faith, to support academic and other efforts that build bridges between Israelis and Palestinians, to support programs to grow democratic institutions throughout the Middle East and to support moderates on both sides to promote meaningful dialogue and exchanges.
For these reasons, we encourage the members of the ASA to vote against this resolution.