New York Times condemns repression of BDS by US lawmakers
The New York Legislature is moving to pass a bill that would bar state financing for academic groups that have taken official action to boycott higher-education institutions in Israel. The initiative, which last week passed the State Senate, is now pending before the Assembly. It should be voted down by lawmakers, or, if they prove feckless, Gov. Andrew Cuomo should veto it.
The bill was introduced after the American Studies Association, an organization of scholars, in December adopted a resolution supporting a call by Palestinians to boycott Israeli academic institutions. The group said it would refuse formal collaborations with Israeli academic institutions or with scholars who represent those institutions or the Israeli government until “Israel ceases to violate human rights and international law.” The boycott does not apply to individual Israeli scholars engaged in ordinary exchanges.
The resolution has caused waves because it reflects a growing support for the Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions movement as Palestinian and Israelis approach a critical point in American-mediated peace efforts. The United States is expected to soon reveal a framework for a peace deal that has been under negotiation for months.
The New York bill is an ill-considered response to the American Studies Association resolution and would trample on academic freedoms and chill free speech and dissent. Academics are rightly concerned that it will impose a political test on faculty members seeking university support for research meetings and travel. According to the American Association of University Professors, which opposes the association boycott and the retaliatory legislation, there is already a backlash, including in Georgia where a Jewish group compiled a “political blacklist” of professors and graduate students who supported the boycott.
Real support for Israel can be shown by promoting honest debate about the peace framework and by encouraging Israelis and Palestinians to make a sincere effort to forge a lasting agreement for a two-state solution.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily represent the policy of the BDS National Committee