December 12, 2013, New York
The President of the Jewish Labor, Stuart Appelbaum, issued the following statement:
The Jewish Labor Committee (JLC) is extremely troubled by and stands opposed to the recommendation made by the National Council of the American Studies Association (ASA) that its members vote for a resolution supporting a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. Such a resolution would be an anathema to academic freedom and is totally inconsistent with basic democratic value of free expression.
Academic boycotts assume that all Israeli academic institutions and the people associated with them – whether professors or researchers – are inherently guilty. It would essentially also hinder the exchange of important scientific research that can benefit all of humankind.
Boycotts of this nature – especially since they are directed at only one party — undermine hopes for a peaceful and just settlement between Israelis and Palestinians. These actions do not encourage compromise; rather, they hurt moderates on each side and encourage extremists and rejectionists on both sides. Ironically, such a resolution would discourage an open discussion – in Israel, Palestineand in organizations like the ASA — one that considers the behavior of all sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and ways to resolve it.
Instead, the JLC encourages organizations to be even-handed as they work to press both sides to negotiate in good faith, to support academic and other efforts that build bridges between Israelis and Palestinians, to support programs to grow democratic institutions throughout the Middle East and to support moderates on both sides to promote meaningful dialogue and exchanges.
For these reasons, we encourage the members of the ASA to vote against this resolution.
The Jewish Labor Committee, an independent secular 501(c)3 organization, is the voice of the Jewish community in the labor movement and the voice of the labor movement in the Jewish community. Whether through its national office in New York or local offices and lay-led groups across the United States, the JLC enables the Jewish community and the trade union movement to work together on important issues of shared interest and concern, in pursuit of our shared commitment to economic and social justice.