The Modern Language Association ratified a resolution opposing academic boycotts of Israel in a vote by its members, drawing praise from the Jewish state, which called it a major blow to boycott efforts.
Voting on MLA resolution 2017-1 concluded at midnight June 1 and the results were posted on the MLA website on Wednesday.
In January the annual MLA Delegates Assembly rejected a resolution calling for a boycott of Israel and also approved a call to refrain from boycott activities. To be accepted as policy, the latter resolution required approval by at least 10 percent of the MLA’s 18,279 eligible voters.
The proposal eventually squeezed by with 1,954 in favor and 885 against.
Established over a century ago, the MLA is the principal US body for scholars of literature and language, and has some 24,000 registered members.
Resolution 2017-1 states that “endorsing the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel contradicts the MLA’s purpose to promote teaching and research on language and literature” and contradicts an earlier resolution that condemns boycotts against scholars.
Boycotting Israeli academics could also “curtail debates with representatives of Israeli universities… thereby blocking possible dialogue and general scholarly exchange,” the resolution noted.
Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan congratulated the MLA and said the decision represented “a major blow to ongoing efforts by the BDS movement for an academic boycott of Israel.”
“This victory is a major blow to the BDS campaign in the academic arena,” added Erdan, who is also public security minister, in a statement early Thursday. “Universities and academic associations are increasingly rejecting BDS as being opposed to the most basic values of academic freedom.”
Erdan’s Strategic Affairs Ministry deals with boycott efforts against Israel.
Pro-Palestinian groups campaign around the world for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel in what is known as the BDS movement. The activities include calls for academic boycotts that have had mixed success with universities and other institutes stressing the importance of academic freedom and dialogue.