US Professors Join Scarlett Johansson in Rejecting Israel Boycotts

Tuesday, February 18, 2014 |  Yossi Aloni

Scarlet Johansson is not alone. At least 248 major colleges and universities in the US have outright rejected any boycott of Israel

 Hollywood star Scarlett Johansson is not alone in her principled stance against boycotts targeting Israel. Following intense activity by Jewish organizations, Israeli consulates and various friends of Israel, the heads of no fewer than 248 major American universities and colleges have in recent weeks openly stated their rejection of an academic boycott against the Jewish state.

This impressive mobilization came in response to the American Studies Association’s attempt to impose a nation-wide academic boycott on Israel as punishment for the “Israeli occupation.”

And though the ASA’s decision placed no direct obligations on any schools associated with it, the move nevertheless aroused great concern among Israel’s friends in the US due to the precedent it sets.

Officially, Israel has maintained a low media profile over the decision so as to deny the ASA and fellow boycotters much-desired media attention. Most Israeli officials have instead focused solely on the aspect of academic freedom.

This new initiative to put a halt to the attempted boycott is something of a reversal of that earlier policy, with Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs leading the charge. And the success of the ministry’s efforts surpassed all expectations.

One hundred and thirty-four members of Congress from both parties signed a joint letter condemning any academic boycott of Israel, while 248 university presidents penned individual letters taking the ASA to task for its decision.

Among the universities that rejected the Israel boycott are Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, Columbia, NYU, Duke, MIT, Florida, Alabama, John Hopkins, Brandeis, Georgetown, Berkeley, Brooklyn College, Brown, Indiana, Utah, Iowa, George Washington, Texas, Miami, California, Michigan, Yeshiva University, and more. Several major academic unions also opposed the decision of their colleagues at the ASA.

The Committee of University Presidents in Israel sent a letter to every one of the universities who opposed the boycott to express their gratitude.

With efforts to marginalize and harm Israel ever increasing, it is comforting to realize that there are other voices who refuse to bow to the pressure to boycott the Jewish state.

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