JNS.org – At the Modern Language Association (MLA) convention in Chicago on Friday, an MLA caucus introduced an “Emergency Resolution in Support of the American Studies Association,” JNS.org has learned. The American Studies Association (ASA) recently voted to endorse an academic boycott of Israel.
“Whereas ASA members have been threatened for upholding the vote [to boycott Israel]; Whereas MLA resolution 2012-1 affirms that academics involved in social justice movement should not fear reprisals, Be it resolved that the MLA condemns the attacks on the ASA and supports the right of academic organizations and individuals, free from intimidation, to take positions in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle against racism,” states the resolution by the MLA’s Radical Caucus. “Be it further resolved that the MLA encourages robust discussions of issues regarding the academic freedom of Palestinians.”
Seventy-five percent of MLA convention delegates need to approve the resolution before it can be debated and voted on. On Saturday, the MLA delegates are already scheduled to vote on Resolution 2014-1, which condemns Israel for “arbitrary denials of entry to Gaza and the West Bank by U.S. academics who have been invited to teach, confer, or do research at Palestinian universities.”
About 100 American university presidents, provosts, and campus officials spoke against the ASA boycott of Israel. MLA’s emergency resolution in support of the ASA “exemplifies yet again the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of the boycott movement,” said Roz Rothstein, CEO of the pro-Israel education group StandWithUs.
“The ASA has every right to make statements or enact resolutions, no matter how stupid or intellectually dishonest. But opponents have the same right to critique and take action to ensure they are not complicit with positions that violate their principles,” Rothstein said.
In a recent letter, the leaders of the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC) and Hillel International asked the university officials who publicly opposed the ASA boycott of Israel to take the same approach to the MLA’s Resolution 2014-1.
“I think that the same university presidents who spoke out about the ASA boycott should feel comfortable speaking out against the MLA resolution because it holds Israel to the same double standard,” ICC Executive Director Jacob Baime told JNS.org.
A report issued by MLA members opposing Resolution 2014-1 states that in 2012, only 142 Americans were denied entry to Israel and the disputed territories out of 626,000 who wanted to enter, a refusal rate of about 0.023 percent. The U.S. restricts entry to its own borders at a much higher rate—5.4 percent in 2012 for Israeli applications for “B” visas, as reported by both the Israeli embassy in the U.S. and the U.S. State Department.
“The chance of an Israeli wanting to come to America and being refused by the American authorities for getting a visa is 200 times greater than that of an American trying to enter Israel,” Ilan Troen, director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University and professor at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, told JNS.org.