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US academic body votes to boycott Israeli universities

17th Dec 2013

The US-based American Studies Association overwhelmingly voted in favor of a resolution to sever ties with Israeli universities in solidarity with the pro-Palestinian boycott movement, the group announced on its website Monday.

Two-thirds of ASA members who voted, chose to “honor the call of Palestinian civil society for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions” in support of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS).

“In an election that attracted 1,252 voters, the largest number of participants in the organization’s history, 66.05% of voters endorsed the resolution, while 30.5% of voters voted no and 3.43% abstained,” the statement read.

ASA’s National Council announced on December 4 its support for the boycott, calling on its 5,000 members to support the resolution. Voting, which took place online, ended Sunday night.

The resolution, while largely symbolic as the association does not decide university policy, is a victory for BDS, launched eight years ago to oppose Israel’s discriminatory policies towards Palestinians and its illegal occupation and settlement building.

It encourages international companies and other organizations to refuse dealing with Israel. It aims to end the violent occupation of Palestine in a tactic borrowed from the movement to blacklist South Africa’s apartheid regime.

Supporters of the resolution hoped a yes vote would help draw attention to the plight of Palestinian students and scholars whose mobility and access to academic institutions are severely disrupted by Israeli checkpoints, raids and arbitrary arrests.

“Israel’s settler colonial policies have created conditions for Palestinians that bear close comparison with those meted out by the apartheid regime in my homeland,” wrote Ashley Dawson, a New York-based professor originally from South Africa who voted in favor of the resolution.

“These conditions directly impinge on the academic freedom, as well as the life possibilities, of Palestinian intellectuals,” she said in a statement on the ASA’s website.



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