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Indeed, a very sensitive issue – after long ongoing discussions the Council of The American Studies Association (ASA) endorsed a boycott of Israel, which was confirmed by its members on 15 December. ASA’s decision to boycott Israel will result in the disbandment and refusal of any form of academic cooperation between ASA itself and Israeli academic institutions as well as with scholars serving as representatives of those institutions or the Israeli government.
The boycott was called for by Palestinian academics and civil society representatives who want to draw attention to Israel’s violation of international law and human rights. By adopting a resolution on academic boycott of Israel, ASA publicly denounces Israeli academic institutions as a central part contributing to the denial of – as stated by ASA – Palestinian basic rights. Although the adoption of the resolution on academic boycott of Israel has drawn significant attention from media in the US and Israel, the actual extent of boycott measures will remain rather limited. Deliberately targeting boycott measures at an institutional and representative level, individual scholars will be permitted to participate in ASA conferences and engage with ASA as such. More importantly, ASA members are absolutely free in continuing and starting cooperation between their own institution and Israeli universities.
ASA’s newly endorsed resolution is mostly likely to have some repercussions, as opponents aim at challenging the boycott. ASA’s anti-Israeli resolution may in the worst case put at stakes its tax exemption status under Internal Revenue Service guidelines. Even internally within ASA, some members strongly resent that ASA had refused to publish an opposing view concerning the resolution on academic boycott of Israel. Whether or not the boycott resolution will have a sequel, it is considered as an important victory for advocates of the anti-Israeli Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement which has had traditionally less success in the US.