MLA members do not pass resolution critical of Israel

(JTA) — Members of the Modern Language Association did not pass a resolution criticizing Israel for denying academics entry to the West Bank.

The numbers of those who voted in favor of the measure fell short of the at least 10 percent of the full MLA membership of 23,900 whose support was needed in order for it to pass.

There were 1,560 votes in favor of ratification of the resolution and 1,063 votes against ratification, meaning that the vote fell short of ratification by 830 votes, the MLA announced on Wednesday. The six-week-long voting cycle ended June 1.

The full membership was voting on a resolution passed in January by the MLA’s delegate assembly. The 60-53 vote approved a measure calling on the U.S. State Department to “contest Israel’s denials of entry to the West Bank by U. S. academics who have been invited to teach, confer, or do research at Palestinian universities.”

The Israel Action Network applauded the MLA’s membership for refusing to ratify the resolution, which it called “baseless and discriminatory.”

Geri Palast, the Israel Action Network’s managing director, praised “the academic community for coming together to uphold principles of academic freedom and fairness, and for setting the record straight on this complex issue. Israel does not violate academic freedom, but rather, implements reasonable security measures expected of any country.”

“Reason and truth have triumphed over the hatred and hypocrisy at the core of the BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) movement against Israel,” the American Jewish Committee’s executive director, David Harris, said in a statement. “The MLA’s repudiation of the BDS effort is yet another failure of those who have maliciously tried to use the American campus to delegitimize the State of Israel.”

In December, the membership of the American Studies Association endorsed its national council’s call for a boycott of Israeli universities.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article mistakenly stated that at least 10 percent of the MLA’s total membership needed to participate in the vote on the resolution in order for the measure criticizing Israel to pass. In fact, at least 10 percent of the MLA’s membership needed to vote in favor of the resolution for it to pass.

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