Several dozen universities have issued rejections of the academic boycott of Israel passed by the American Studies Association, many with forceful statements.

Among the most forceful was Trinity College in Connecticut, whose President and Dean of Faculty issued a stinging rebuke in a letter to the ASA President (emphasis added):

To The Immediate Attention of the President of the American Studies Association:

Our Dean of the Faculty, Thomas Mitzel, and I wish to go on record renouncing the boycott of Israel on the part of the ASA.

Trinity once years back was an institutional member (we were then advertising for an open position), and apparently some members of our faculty are individual members. Were we still an institutional member, we would not be any longer after the misguided and unprincipled announcement of the boycott of the only democracy in the Middle East. The Dean and I oppose academic boycotts in general because they can so easily encroach upon academic freedom.

In this strange case, why the ASA would propose an academic boycott of Israel and not, for example, of Syria, the Sudan, North Korea, China, Iran, Iraq, or Russia escapes rational thought. Trinity has participated in the Rescue Scholar program since its inception; we have welcomed scholars from some of the most repressive countries on the planet, and it is inconceivable to us that we would ever be welcoming a Rescue Scholar fleeing Israel for political reasons.

As President of the ASA, you have tarnished a once distinguished association.


As mentioned last week, a group of 21 professors issued a highly pejorative letter excoriating the President. The letter was reported as reflecting faculty opposition to the boycott opposition.

Apparently other professors, however, are pushing back against the narrative that the faculty supports the boycott, issuing its own letter of support for the President and Dean of Faculty.

A Trinity faculty member just forwarded to me a letter signed onto by a growing group of Trinity faculty and emeriti faculty (28 34 as of this writing) supporting the college’s strong statement against the boycott:

Dear President Jones and Dean Mitzel,

We, the undersigned members of the faculty of Trinity College, write to express our gratitude and support for the position you, the two senior academic officers of the College, have taken against the recently adopted call for an academic boycott of Israeli institutions of higher education by the American Studies Association. In taking this clear-throated position against the ASA’s condemnable boycott proposal, you align yourself with the broad consensus of academicians and leading institutions in American higher education. From the American Association of University Professors to the Association of American Universities, to eight former ASA presidents – the message is crystal-clear: academic boycotts are anathema to our undertaking, because – whatever their intent – they encroach upon academic freedom. Thank you for affirming this essential principle at this time.

Sincerely,

[updated list of 37 signatories as of 1/1/2014]

David Ahlgren, Karl W. Hallden Professor of Engineering
Barbara Benedict, Charles A. Dana Professor of English Literature
Miller Brown, Professor of Philosophy
William Butos, George M. Ferris Professor of Corporation Finance and Investments
Ned Cabot, Adjunct Professor of Public Policy and Law
Ward Curran, Distinguished Professor of Economics, Emeritus
Henry DePhillips, Vernon K. Krieble Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus
Leslie Desmangles, Professor of Religion and International Studies
Judy Dworin, Professor of Theater & Dance
Francis Egan, Associate Professor of Economics
Jonathan Elukin, Associate Professor of History
Ellison Banks Findly, Scott M. Johnson ’97 Distinguished Professor of Religion
Renny Fulco, Associate Professor of Legal and Policy Studies
Andrew Gold, Professor of Economics and Public Policy, Emeritus
Adam Grossberg, Professor of Economics
Karl Haberlandt, Professor of Psychology, Emeritus
Sam Kassow, Director, Jewish Studies Program and Charles H. Northam Professor of History
Dori Katz, Professor of Modern Languages & Literature, Emeritus
Ariela Keysar, Associate Research Professor, Public Policy and Law Program
Ronald Kiener, Chair, Department of Religion and Professor of Religion
Frank Kirkpatrick, Ellsworth Morton Tracy Lecturer and Professor of Religion
Bob Kirschbaum, Professor of Fine Arts
Barry Kosmin, Director, Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture and Research Professor, Public Policy & Law Program
Michael Lestz, Associate Professor of History
Ralph Morelli, Professor of Computer Science
Beth Notar, Associate Professor of Anthropology
Borden Painter, Professor of History, Emeritus
Mitch Polin, Associate Professor of Theater and Dance
Katharine Power, Associate Professor of Theater and Dance
Richard Prigodich, Dean of Academic Planning and Professor of Chemistry
Milla Riggio, James J. Goodwin Professor of English
Martha Risser, Associate Professor of Classics
Michael Sacks, Professor of Sociology, Emeritus
Mark Silk, Director, Leonard Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life and Professor of Religion in Public Life
Greg Smith, Professor of Political Philosophy
Ron Spencer, Lecturer of History, Emeritus
James Wen, Professor of Economics and International Studies

As with the letter attacking the President, most of the signatories are from the Social Sciences and Humanities. Together, the two groups (as of this writing) represent about 20% of the faculty.