NEW YORK – Opposition mounted against the American Studies Association this week as over three dozen American universities publicly rejected the organization’s boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

Yale, Wesleyan, Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Cornell, Duke, Stanford, Harvard, Brown, the University of Chicago, New York University and Washington University in St. Louis, among others, have all condemned the boycott in recent days, distancing themselves from the organization.

The ASA is a group of loosely affiliated university departments and individual professors devoted to the study of the United States. The group voted on December 4 to protest Israeli universities, as well as some Israeli cultural institutions.

The executive committee of the Association of American Universities, which represents 62 schools across the US and Canada, has rejected the boycott.

Congressman Eliot Engel (D-New York), ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, sent a letter to ASA president Curtis Marez on Monday with State Department’s yearly Country Reports on Human Rights Practices attached for a litany of nations that fail to respect academic freedom or the rights of their citizens.

“Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas himself made clear that his government does not support boycotts of the institutions that the ASA is now targeting,” Engel wrote.

“Israel is the first country formally subject to a boycott by the ASA ,” he continued, “which curiously has chosen to stay silent on China’s suppression of independent academic voices critical of the Communist Party, the Venezuelan government’s retaliation against opposition-oriented universities or Zimbabwe’s denial of foreign academics from countries critical of Robert Mugabe’s dictatorial government from assuming academic residencies at the University of Zimbabwe.”

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