Dozens of American colleges and universities have rejected an academic boycott of Israeli universities by the academic American Studies Association, the Washington Post reported Monday. A few schools said they are withdrawing from the organization.
Top schools including Johns Hopkins, Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Princeton, Boston University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Connecticut and University of Texas, among others, have slammed the boycott, issuing statements similar to one by Harvard President Drew Faust that said that 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."
Kenyon College and Indiana University officially withdrew their memberships from the American Studies Association on Monday.
Indiana University president Michael McRobbie said in a statement that the ASA and similar boycotts would have a chilling effect on academic freedom: "Indiana University values its academic relationships with colleagues and institutions around the world, including many important ones with institutions in Israel, and will not allow political considerations such as those behind this ill-conceived boycott to weaken those relationships or undermine the principle of academic freedom in this way."
Penn State University at Harrisburg and Brandeis University said they are withdrawing their memberships from the American Studies Association, and other schools are considering doing the same. In addition, two major associations of institutions of higher education, the Association of American Universities and the Association of American University Professors, also issued statements rejecting the boycott.
"I am disappointed and concerned that the American Studies Association, invoking the principle of academic freedom, would vote to boycott Israeli academic institutions … It is ill-advised to make academic institutions the instrument with which to promote a political agenda by attempting to isolate students and scholars. Boston University cannot support this boycott." Boston University President Robert A. Brown said in a statement.
In an article published by the Los Angeles Times, the President of Wesleyan University Michael S. Roth: wrote "The ASA has not gone on record against universities in any other country: not against those that enforce laws against homosexuality, not against those that have rejected freedom of speech, not against those that systematically restrict access to higher education by race, religion or gender. No, the ASA listens to civil society only when it speaks against Israel. As its scholarly president declared, 'One has to start somewhere.' Not in North Korea, not in Russia or Zimbabwe or China -- one has to start with Israel. Really?"
On Sunday, former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren called on Congress to legislate a bill against academic boycotts of Israel.