Four schools cut ties with American Studies Association over Israel boycott

Four universities are leaving the American Studies Association (ASA) after the group called for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

Indiana University, Kenyon College, Brandeis, and Penn State Harrisburg have all announced they will discontinue their membership with the ASA, the self-described “oldest and largest association devoted to the interdisciplinary study of American culture and history,” on the grounds that the boycott infringes on academic freedom.

Earlier this month, the ASA launched the boycott after it was approved by 66.05 percent of a member vote. The ASA stated that the boycott, which had been brought before the group’s Executive Committee by its Academic and Community Activism Caucus, was “ in solidarity with scholars and students deprived of their academic freedom and it aspires to enlarge that freedom for all, including Palestinians.”

“The ASA’s endorsement of the academic boycott emerges from the context of US military and other support for Israel; Israel’s violation of international law and UN resolutions; the documented impact of the Israeli occupation on Palestinian scholars and students; the extent to which Israeli institutions of higher education are a party to state policies that violate human rights; and finally, the support of such a resolution by a majority of ASA members,” the ASA said.

Critics of the boycott argue that it will harm academic freedom but the ASA insists that it only applies to Israeli institutions and does not cover “collaboration on research and publications between individual scholars.”

According to Legal Insurrection, those four schools are the only ones to end their memberships with the ASA but 57 others are rejecting the boycott.

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