Congress members blast ASA for boycott decision


WASHINGTON (JTA) — A bipartisan slate of 134 U.S. Congress members wrote a letter to the American Studies Association protesting its decision last month to boycott Israeli universities.

“Academic cooperation can be an important tool to help foster peace between Israelis and Palestinians, but you have chosen the unproductive path of isolation,” said the letter dated Jan. 17 initiated by Reps. Pete Roskam (R-Ill.), the chief deputy whip of the House of Representatives, and Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), the senior Democrat on the House Middle East subcommittee. “We hope that the ASA will learn to appreciate the mutually beneficial academic ties between the United States and Israel and work with us to promote peace and academic freedom.”

The ASA, which has fewer than 5,000 members, was the largest of three academic organizations to recommend boycotts against Israeli institutions last year, a breakthrough in the United States for the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign.

Nearly 200 U.S. universities have repudiated the boycotts. The larger academic groups, such as the American Association of University Professors, have pushed back such attempts.

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