PHILADELPHIA, PA—Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) congratulates the Eastern American Studies Association (EASA) chapter for rejecting the national American Studies Association boycott against Israeli academics passed by the organization’s membership in December. EASA is one of the ASA’s 13 regional chapters.
The Eastern American Studies Association (EASA) has joined its California counterpart in rejecting the ASA’s decision to boycott Israeli academic institutions. This is the second major regional chapter officially to reject the boycott, showing that many neutral scholars are distancing themselves from the anti-Israel ASA National Council and activists within the organization. Over 250 university presidents also rejected the ASA boycott on behalf of their respective universities.
SPME congratulates Professor Simon Bronner of Penn State University, who organized a panel at the recent EASA meeting entitled, “After the Resolution: The Future of American Studies,” a panel on which SPME participated. That event served as the main catalyst for rejecting the national ASA’s call for boycott.
Professor Bronner correctly explained that:
“the panel was organized to consider possible strategies for scholars and students of American Studies to take in light of the American Studies Association’s resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions. As panelists pointed out, the resolution was the tip of the iceberg. It epitomized an ideologically driven agenda that ran counter to the analytic and globally inclusive goals of most academic programs, departments, and centers in American Studies. One sign of this problem with the American Studies Association is the fact that the members of the panel had not been invited to speak at American Studies Association sponsored events, even though they include an ASA lifetime scholarly achievement prize winner, an expert on Middle East politics, and two directors of American Studies programs. Therefore, academic leaders are left to ponder the effect of a national organization that does not represent the field that has grown since the 1930s. Panelists remarked that the ASA resolution has adversely affected their academic reputation and ability to recruit students. The high-profile panel members voiced perspectives on options to address this problem ranging from reclaiming the leadership of the American Studies Association to forming an alternative organization.”
Consequently, the EASA in their statement the EASA made it clear that “above all, EASA is an inclusive organization, open to scholars from all over the world. For this reason, the Eastern American Studies Association will not comply with and does not support the American Studies Association’s Council Resolution on Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions” endorsing “a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.”
SPME is pleased that there are positive trends in academia where scholars are willing to stand up for academic integrity and true academic discourse.
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Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) is not-for-profit [501 (C) (3)], grass-roots community of scholars who have united to promote honest, fact-based, and civil discourse, especially in regard to Middle East issues. We believe that ethnic, national, and religious hatreds, including anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism, have no place in our institutions, disciplines, and communities. We employ academic means to address these issues.
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