55 U.S. universities condemn ASA boycott of Israel

(JTA) — At least 55 American universities and colleges have rejected the American Studies Association membership vote in favor of an academic boycott of Israel.

The number was tracked by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

“This remarkable response is a clear declaration that American academia will not be party to the efforts to promote the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement,” Robert Sugarman, its chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, its executive vice chairman, said in a statement.

The Conference of Presidents said it wrote to each of the institutional members of the ASA outlining why the boycott call is an unjustifiable and blatantly discriminatory act.

“The response is very encouraging and we are grateful that so many took the time during a holiday week to respond,” the group’s leaders said. “We continue to urge the rest of the members to speak out against the action and to disassociate from supporting the ASA.”

Two-thirds of the 1,252 ASA members who voted approved the boycott, according to an ASA announcement on Dec. 16, a day after the deadline for online voting. At the time of the vote, there were 3,853 eligible voters, meaning one-third of the ASA membership participated.

Four universities withdrew their membership in the wake of the vote: Brandeis University, Indiana University, Kenyon College and Penn State Harrisburg.

Earlier this year, the Association for Asian American Studies announced it would mount an academic boycott of Israel. On Dec. 15, the Native American Studies Association urged its members to boycott Israeli educational institutions. The Modern Language Association next month will debate an academic boycott of Israel.

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