JFFS Lauds UCI for Opposition to ASA Academic Boycott of Israel

JFFS Lauds UC Irvine for Opposition to American Studies Association Academic Boycott of Israel

December 23, 2013

Media Contact: Lisa Armony, lisa@jffs.org, (o) 949-435-3484; (c) 949-435-3484

UCI scholars attend joint symposia in Israel while ASA votes to boycott

Irvine, Calif., Dec. 23, 2013 – The University of California, Irvine (UCI) today strongly condemned a resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions endorsed on December 16 by the American Studies Association (ASA). UCI's statement followed a similar one issued on December 20 by 11 university presidents comprising the Executive Committee of the Association of American Universities, of which UCI Chancellor Michael V. Drake is a member.

Less than 20 percent of the 5,000-member ASA voted for the boycott following an improper vetting process that limited the expression of dissenting views. Based on falsehoods and gross distortions of the role of Israeli universities in the implementation of government policy, the resolution singles out Israeli academics for rebuke based solely on their nationality by boycotting formal collaborations with Israeli academic institutions or their representatives.

UCI's statement made clear that while it supports the right to free expression, it strongly opposes academic boycotts and believes the ASA resolution interferes with academic freedom.

Shalom Elcott, President and CEO of Jewish Federation & Family Services (JFFS), issued the following statement:

"Jewish Federation & Family Services applauds Chancellor Michael V. Drake and the UCI administration for their strong opposition to the ASA boycott. Their statements are an unequivocal avowal of the hypocrisy of the ASA's selective and discriminatory boycott and the threat to academic freedom and integrity it entails. In the face of highly politicized discourse disguised as academic debate, Chancellor Drake and his colleagues have taken a reasoned and moral stand that makes clear that those who seek to single out Israel do not speak for the academic community.

JFFS is proud of the partnership it has developed with the university through the work of the Rose Project, and of UCI's continued engagement with Israeli academia. It is not surprising that while boycott proponents were readying for a vote, Chancellor Drake and distinguished faculty from UCI's Henry Samueli School of Engineering and School of Medicine were in Israel participating in shared learning experiences and research collaborations with Israeli academics that will empower the next generation of scholars and leaders. International conflicts can only be resolved through open discourse and the sharing of ideas like the kind UCI invests in, not through pernicious attempts to ostracize individuals and polarize the academic world."

The ASA boycott has been condemned by a growing list of academic associations, university presidents and scholars including the Associations of University Presidents; former presidents of the ASA; Harvard; Brandeis; Northwestern; Cornell; Yale; Penn State – Harrisburg; and Princeton universities and the universities of California, San Diego; Chicago; and Maryland