A long-awaited Modern Language Association’s vote on a resolution condemning Israel for barring entry of US academics to Palestinian universities in the West Bank has failed to meet the electoral threshold.
The ballot, which closed on June 1 after a six-week run, required 10 percent of the association’s 23,900 members — or 2,390 votes — to advance the resolution, the MLA announced Wednesday. While more supported the ratification than opposed it, with 1,560 in favor and 1,063 against, the votes nonetheless did not reach the minimum by a 830 votes and the ratification will therefore not be adopted.
The formulation of the resolution was approved by the MLA’s delegate assembly in January. The 60-53 vote approved a measure calling on the US State Department to “contest Israel’s denials of entry to the West Bank by US academics who have been invited to teach, confer, or do research at Palestinian universities.”
The measure, had it gone forward, would have urged the State Department to acknowledge “that Israel restricts the movements of American citizens of Palestinian descent,” and would have seen MLA backing for the statement that Israeli moves “violate international conventions on an occupying power’s obligation to protect the right to education.”
Discussion of the election on the resolution was fraught with anti-Israel comments.
A number of resolution proponents criticized “Zionist attack dogs” and “the Zionist lobby,” which “railroads its way through Congress, universities and civil society,” according to some of the debate published on Pastebin.com. The language was leaked from an internal MLA website.
“I am pleased to see the tactfulness of the Palestinian resolution, as I’m tired of Zionists constantly carping at those who support Palestinian rights … such as this Jewish American,” wrote Richard Pressman, a communications professor at St. Mary’s University in Texas.
Resolution opponents noted that countries with abysmal records on human rights and academic freedom were not singled out for condemnation like Israel.