Two American universities, Brandeis and Penn State Harrisburg, have decided this
week to withdraw from the American Studies Association in protest of the
organization’s decision to join the academic boycott against Israeli
“It is with deep regret that we in the American Studies
Program at Brandeis University have decided to discontinue our institutional
affiliation with the American Studies Association,” a message on the
university’s American Studies program said.
The program views the ASA
vote to affirm the academic boycott of Israel “as a politicization of the
discipline and a rebuke to the kind of open inquiry that a scholarly association
“We remain committed to the discipline of American
Studies but we can no longer support an organization that has rejected two of
the core principles of American culture – freedom of association and
expression,” the Brandeis statement continued.
Dr. Simon J. Bronner of
Penn State Harrisburg also issued a statement, saying that the ASA resolution to
boycott Israel “curtails academic freedom and undermines the reputation of
American Studies as a scholarly enterprise.”
As a result, the American
Studies program at Penn State Harrisburg announced it would drop its
institutional membership and will “encourage others to do so.”
Bronner, the chair of the American Studies program at the Pennsylvania
university, is a prominent member of the ASA, and serves as the editorin- chief
of the Encyclopedia of American Studies, an ASA-sponsored
“The withdrawal of institutional membership by our program
and others allows us to be independent of the political and ideological
resolutions issued by the ASA and concentrate on building American Studies
scholarship with our faculty, students, and staff,” Dr. Bronner said in an
additional statement to website Legal Insurrection.
In the run-up to the
vote, former Harvard University President Lawrence Summers said academic
boycotts were “abhorrent,” adding that he hopes universities reconsider their
ties to the ASA following such a vote.
“My hope would be that responsible
university leaders will become very reluctant to see their universities’ funds
used to finance faculty membership and faculty travel to an association that is
showing itself not to be a scholarly association bur really more of a political
tool,” he told Charlie Rose.
He added that the fact Israel is singled
out, despite the fact other countries are accused of having human right abuses
or inappropriate foreign policies as well, is “beyond outrageous.”
leadership of the much larger and more influential American Association of
University Professors wrote an open letter earlier this month saying it was
disappointed by the ASA decision and that it rejected boycotts.
Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) also decided to join
the academic boycott against Israel earlier this week.
Ohio State English
Prof. Chadwick Allen, president of the association and coordinator of
American Indian studies at the university, wrote on the association’s website
that the move followed a “member- generated” petition asking that the group
“formally support the boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions that
was initiated by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott
The Association for Asian American Studies adopted the
boycott in April.
Herb Keinon contributed to this report.
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