World Jewish News
Largest body for scholars and language in the US votes resolution opposing a boycott of Israel
16.06.2017, Israel and the World
The Modern Language Association, the largest body for scholars and language in the US, voted by a large margin to “refrain from endorsing the boycott” of Israeli universities.
A resolution rejecting the boycott of Israel was voted voted 1,954 to 885 by MLA members.
The resolution states that “endorsing the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel contradicts the MLA’s purpose to promote teaching and research on language and literature” and contradicts an earlier resolution that condemns boycotts against scholars.
Boycotting Israeli academics could also “curtail debates with representatives of Israeli universities… thereby blocking possible dialogue and general scholarly exchange,” the resolution noted.
The MLA said that there were 18,279 eligible voters, so 1,828 votes were required to ratify the resolution. The measure for the association to refrain from boycotting Israeli universities was passed by a vote of 1,954 to 885.
The move to boycott Israeli universities has for years had strong support in British academe but had been less evident in the United States. That changed in 2013, and about half a dozen U.S.-based scholarly associations, including the American Studies Association and the National Women’s Studies Association, have backed the boycott.
Those votes led many college and university presidents to issue statements opposing the boycott. The boycott movement attracted little support in the physical and biological sciences and technology fields, where ties between American and Israeli institutions have been growing.
But starting last year, the boycott movement lost significant momentum -- even in academic groups that have many members who are critical of Israel's policies.
Israel’s Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan congratulated the MLA and said the decision represented “a major blow to ongoing efforts by the BDS movement for an academic boycott of Israel.”
“Universities and academic associations are increasingly rejecting BDS as being opposed to the most basic values of academic freedom,” he said.