Statement in Support of Academic Boycott of Israel

Office of Communications | March 14, 2014
Statement in Support of Academic Boycott of Israel

The following is a statement from the faculty and staff members whose names follow the statement.

Many UMass Boston faculty, staff, and students support the American Studies Association (ASA) resolution to join the boycott of Israeli academic institutions. The academic boycott is part of the international BDS (Boycotts, Divestment, Sanctions) movement, a nonviolent, grassroots solidarity campaign explicitly modeled on the movement against South Africa’s apartheid system in the 1980s. It was initiated by Palestinian civil society and is supported by people of conscience all over the world. The academic boycott movement is rooted in the idea that, as institutions, Israeli universities—almost all of them state institutions—are demonstrably complicit with egregious violations of Palestinian human rights. Academic boycott means ceasing to collaborate with and support state institutions that perpetuate human rights violations. It in no way silences, censors, restricts the academic freedom of, or prevents collaboration with any individual scholar.

Like Chancellor Motley, we too are committed to academic freedom. We are urgently concerned about the routine attacks on Palestinians’ academic freedom: Palestinians are daily prevented from traveling to and from the West Bank and Gaza or Israel to attend school (and have been denied the right to travel to the United States for study); Palestinian schools and universities are often subject to prolonged closures and violent raids that make any course of study impossible; Palestinian universities have been targeted for destruction by the Israeli military; and Palestinians are prohibited by Israeli law from recognizing—much less studying—their own dispossession in 1948.

We believe that support for the academic boycott of Israel and the ASA resolution is fully in keeping with the mission and values of UMass Boston, which seeks to serve “the public good of our city, our commonwealth, our nation, and our world."

Ping-Ann Addo, Associate Professor of Anthropology; Randy Albelda, Professor of Economics; Pamela Annas, Professor Emerita of English; Anneta Argyres, Program Manager, Labor Resource Center; Paul Atwood, Senior Lecturer of American Studies and Interim Associate Director for the Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequences; Elsa Auerbach, Professor Emerita of English; Anna Beckwith, Senior Lecturer of Sociology; Ann Blum, Associate Professor of Latin American and Iberian Studies; Chris Bobel, Associate Professor and Chair of Women’s and Gender Studies; Matthew Brown, Associate Professor of English; Elora Chowdhury, Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies; Philip Chassler, Lecturer II in American Studies*; Reyes Coll-Tellechea, Professor of Latin American and Iberian Studies; Dick Cluster, Associate Director, University Honors College (ret.); Amy Den Ouden, Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies; Linda Dittmar, Professor Emerita of English; Doreen Drury, Lecturer II of Women’s and Gender Studies; Amani El Jack, Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies; Anne Erde, Senior Lecturer, ESL Center, Academic Support Programs; Leila Farsakh, Associate Professor and Chair of Political Science; Kade Finnoff, Assistant Professor of Economics; Marilyn Frankenstein, Professor of Community and Labor Studies; Christopher Fung, Lecturer of Anthropology; Tom Goodkind, Senior Research Machinist, CSM Dean’s Office; Panayota Gounari, Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics; Itai Halevi, Lecturer of English; Fadia Harik, Lecturer of Mathematics; Claudia Heske, Program Coordinator of IMSD, Biology; John Hess, Senior Lecturer of English and American Studies; Sandra Howland, Senior Lecturer of English; David Hunt, Professor of History; Arjun Jayadev, Associate Professor of Economics; Luis Jiménez, Assistant Professor of Political Science; Larry Kaye, Senior Lecturer of Philosophy; Esther Kingston-Mann, Professor of History; Steven Levine, Assistant Professor of Philosophy; Martha London, Assistant Director of Prospect Research; Arthur MacEwan, Professor Emeritus of Economics; Jeffrey Melnick, Professor of American Studies*; Askold Melnyczuk, Associate Professor of English; Susan Moir, Director of the Labor Resource Center; Nadia Nurhussein, Associate Professor of English*; Louise Penner, Associate Professor of English; Rachel Rubin, Professor of American Studies*; Emmett Schaeffer, Senior Lecturer of Sociology; Wendy Schoener, Lecturer in English; C. Heike Schotten, Associate Professor of Political Science; Jack Spence, Associate Professor of Political Science (ret.), Rajini Srikanth, Professor of English*†; Karen Suyemoto, Associate Professor of Psychology; Clark Taylor, Professor Emeritus, College of Public and Community Service; Lynnell Thomas, Associate Professor and Chair of American Studies*; Lynne Tirrell, Associate Professor of Philosophy; Susan Tomlinson, Associate Professor of English; Ann Torke, Associate Professor of Art; Joseph Torra, Lecturer II in English; Leonard von Morze, Associate Professor of English; Paul Watanabe, Associate Professor of Political Science; and Ann Withorn, Professor of Undergraduate and Human Services

* indicates membership in the American Studies Association

indicates membership in the Asian American Studies Association, the first academic association to uphold the academic boycott of Israeli universities

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Comment on this story

Comments (16)

Posted by Fatima Bagheri | July 06, 2014 - 6:23 a.m.

I support this statement with all of my power.
Please add me too.

Posted by Vonds Auguste | April 01, 2014 - 11:08 a.m.

I support this statement. Please add my name.

Posted by Gary Zabel | March 25, 2014 - 2:45 p.m.

Please add my name to this statement.

Posted by Peter Spiegler | March 21, 2014 - 12:54 p.m.

I support this statement in support of the academic boycott of Israel.

Peter Spiegler, Assistant Professor of Economics

Posted by Joseph Dyer | March 21, 2014 - 9:59 a.m.

Most of the comments posted so far start with the present-day realities of Israeli-Palestinian confrontation and draw personal (at times emotional) conclusions therefrom. A little history may put that in perspective.

I first became aware of the nature of Israeli oppression of Palestinians while travelling in Europe a few decades ago. A highly respected newspaper published a reporter’s detailed, eyewitness account of how the Israelis confiscated land they wanted for settlements. A military court was convened. It tore up deeds, lease agreements, and rent receipts, ignoring the fact that Palestinian families had owned or lived on the parcels of desirable land for generations. Then the Israeli bulldozers moved in, plowing under fields, olive groves, buildings and fences. The land, henceforth declared “abandoned,” was ripe for Jewish settlement. I do not know whether legal niceties of this sort are still being practiced, but such incidents explain how the ambitious Israeli land confiscation program works. (I have the sense that American media, unlike the European press, has tended to filter out any news that makes Israel look bad.)
No wonder there is conflict and indeed violence, when a powerful ethnic group suppresses a weaker by denying access to health care, education, jobs and job training, economic opportunity, and even access to basic necessities of life (e.g., water). The Apartheid comparison is not far off the mark. There can be no peace without justice, and a DDR-style Mauer will not protect Israel in the long run.
Fortunately, there are organizations based in America that try to supply in some (inevitably small) measure for the disadvantages of oppression: American Near East Refugee Aid, The Jerusalem Fund, United Palestinian Appeal, Catholic Near East Welfare Association, Lutheran World Relief, and many others.
I am pleased that prominent UMass Boston academics are willing to make a statement that is humanitarian (and not “political,” as one response characterized it).  Were I still a faculty member, I would have appended my signature.

Posted by Paula Gates, BA '90 | March 20, 2014 - 7:12 p.m.

As a UMass Boston alumna, there are a number of signatories to this statement whom I respect. However, to support the boycott of any nation requires, at a minimum, a visit to the place. Precisely because universities, in general, and UMass Boston, in particular, are regarded as politically liberal institutions, academic integrity requires greater inquiry into the facts and circumstances of Israel’s domestic policies, rather than going along with the party line.

Posted by Peter Tattlebaum | March 19, 2014 - 10:11 p.m.

I have NO RESPECT for the individuals who signed this statement. There is only group of people responsible for the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and this is indisputable: adults. Israeli and Palestinian adults have extended this hatred far too long. Do we not remember the television programs that documented Palestinian and Israeli children playing together joyously? Only to follow up with them years later to see the joy replaced with hate towards each other. Why? Because adults from both sides filled them with that hate.

As an American, to voluntarily support a boycott of educational institutions is unfathomable and a sign of despicable ignorance. To support a boycott of an institution yet not with the scholars in those institutions shows the lack of conviction behind your pathetic ideals. 

I am embarrassed that I work with you.

Posted by Hannah Fraley | March 19, 2014 - 10:33 a.m.

Doctoral student at UMass Boston-
I stand with Rachel Blumenthal and supporters of Israel. This academic boycott is nothing more than erroneous anti-Israeli propaganda. Israelis have a right to defend their land and prevent violence against their people. Instead, we should focus on the violence and oppression against women and children going on in Palestine. This is not apartheid—this is religious persecution of the Israeli people, who are protecting their nation against deep-rooted hatred of the Jewish faith and way of life.

Posted by Steven Rudman | March 18, 2014 - 10:33 p.m.

Sorry folks just getting started.

So you want to boycott academic interface with Israel. Very clever. How do you think Israeli and Arabs will ever learn to co-exist without academic integration?

The Arab/Moslem peoples are generally good and decent folks deceived by their governments and institutions into hating a common enemy. Forget about your poverty, your despair, the horrendous treatment of women, the castration of young women, the destruction of the educated base, the ban on education, the lack of freedom. Hate the Jew—they are your problem. Sound familiar? Some jerk named Hitler preached the same story. Oh, I almost forgot, some of you Neanderthals don’t think the Holocaust happened.

Is Israel always correct? Of course not. I have no regard for zealots of any stripe. But know this, Israel had lived in a continuous state of war since 1945. If Canadians were lobbing mortars into Vermont, how long would we take it? Six hours? Seven hours?

Did we give Texas back to Mexico? Don’t we still have troops in Germany?
Why does minute Israel suffer from such an unimaginable double standard?

Posted by Steven Rudman | March 18, 2014 - 10:20 p.m.

OMG what a bucket of horse manure. I believe in free speech, so by the way does Israel. Where else in the Middle East is free speech rewarded with death, torture and imprisonment.

In Israel, Arab men and women can vote, own businesses, wear their traditional outfits.

Can you picture a Jewish man walking down the street in Teheran or even ” free” Cairo wearing a yarmulke (traditional Jewish skullcap for the ignorant buffoons amongst you)?

Let’s play a game of questions and Honest answers.

Why does the Arab world with a combined landmass almost equal to the whole of the U.S. want to partition Israel, which is the size of Massachusetts?

Why do the other Arab nations not want Palestinians on their soil?

How many countries in the history of mankind have had four wars started against them with the expressed desire of complete annihilation, won those wars, and then gave 90% of the land back that was won in blood?

Posted by Marisol Negrón | March 18, 2014 - 3:30 p.m.

I support this statement in support of the academic boycott of Israel.

Marisol Negrón,
Assistant Professor of American Studies and Latin@ Studies*

*member, American Studies Association

Posted by Dr. Nancy Murray | March 17, 2014 - 3:44 p.m.

I applaud this statement and its signatories. “Non violence is a powerful and just weapon,” the Rev. Martin Luther King wrote a half-century ago in his essay, Why We Can’t Wait.  “It is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding…It is a sword that heals.”
Together we can forge the BDS movement into Dr. King’s healing sword – and UMass Boston is showing the way. 

Posted by Aminah Pilgrim | March 17, 2014 - 1:23 p.m.

I support this important resolution and boycott.

Posted by Rachel Blumenthal | March 17, 2014 - 1 p.m.

Has anybody on the above list had fifteen seconds to run for their life to a bomb shelter? How about the hundreds of rockets from gaza into Israel on a daily basis? Does that not disrupt learning, education, peace, and quality of life? Has anybody on the above list been shot at or targeted for being Jewish? Does anybody on the above list know the fear and anger of hearing the alarms sound when you’re sitting in class? I’ve sat in class in Israel numerous times and been interrupted because Palestinians are shooting rockets filled with shrapnel, with the intent to kill me and cause as much chaos, fear, and disruption as possible. How is a blockade worse than this? Can anybody on the above list answer that? Israel doesn’t prevent education, the husbands and fathers of Palestinian women do. The terrorists using their own kids as human shields prevent education. When your teach your children to hate and use weapons at three years old, now that’s preventing an education. Has anybody on the above list been given the pleasure of having to run for your life? Having to bolt out of your desk in the middle of learning because someone is trying to kill you? No? Then sit down and shut up.

Posted by Marisol Negrón | March 15, 2014 - 1:58 p.m.

Assistant Professor of American Studies and Latin@ Studies*

*member, American Studies Association

Posted by R.J.Schork, Classics emeritus | March 15, 2014 - 11:04 a.m.

I completely disagree with the matter and the form of this statement. I am not Jewish nor do I have any personal stake in Israel or its educational-investment institutions. Rather, boycotts (especially those sponsored by groups in marginal disciplines) are a sign—not of human-rights solidarity—but of a jump-on-the-bandwagon mentality so frequently displayed by an institution insecure of its own academic integrity.