The backlash against the American Studies Association’s academic boycott of Israel is growing among the top universities in the country. Both Harvard and Yale have now condemned and rejected the Association’s boycott.
Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust stated, “Academic boycotts subvert the academic freedoms and values necessary to the free flow of ideas, which is the lifeblood of the worldwide community of scholars. The recent resolution of the ASA proposing to boycott Israeli universities represents a direct threat to these ideals, ideals which universities and scholarly associations should be dedicated to defend.” He was joined by Yale President Peter Salovey, who asserted, “Any attempt to close off discussion or dialogue among scholars is antithetical to the fundamental values of scholarship and academic freedom. I stand with the Executive Committee of the Association of American Universities in my strong opposition to a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.”
The ASA claims a membership of 83 universities, but eleven universities have either withdrawn from the organization over the boycott or stated they were mistakenly listed as members. Those universities withdrawing include Brandeis, Penn State Harrisburg, Kenyon College, and Indiana University; those stating they are not members include Northwestern, Brown, Tufts, University of Alabama, Temple, Willamette and Hamilton. There are scattered college presidents who condemned the boycott but refused to withdraw from the ASA, claiming that the decision to withdraw had to be made by their American Studies departments.
America’s ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, stated on Facebook, “The United States rejects all attempts to boycott or delegitimize Israel. I’m pleased to see many of our leading universities sharing this stance.” The Washington Post echoed his sentiments, editorializing that the ASA boycott is “terribly misguided” and “fundamentally wrong.” Of course, the Post couldn’t support Israel without taking the time to slam the Jewish state, adding, “This is not to ignore the plight of the Palestinians. They suffer indignity and human rights violations for which Israel cannot escape responsibility.”