A total of 134 Members of the House of Representatives have signed a letter, organized by the offices of Reps. Peter Roksam (R) and Ted Deutch (D) condeming the academic boycott of Israel passed by the American Studies Assoction. The effort was truly bipartisan, with 65 Republicans and 69 Democrarts signing.  The full list of signatories is at the bottom of this post.

As previously reported, the congressional organizers were hoping for 50 signatures, so the response was better than expected. Gathering signatures on short notice was difficult, one of the staffers explained to me, because of the press of House business before members left today on break.

In a Press Release by the Office of Rep. Peter Roksam, the background of the letter was explained:

Today, a bipartisan coalition of House lawmakers condemned the American Studies Association’s (ASA) academic boycott of Israel. 134 Members of Congress, led by Reps. Peter Roskam (R-IL), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Doug Collins (R-GA), and Brad Schneider (D-IL), sent a letter to ASA President Curtis Marez opposing ASA’s boycott as bigoted and an affront to academic freedom.

“We come together—Democrats and Republicans alike—to strongly condemn the ASA boycott, which undermines academic freedom and exhibits flagrant prejudice against the Jewish State of Israel,” said the House lawmakers. “This boycott doesn’t advance peace between Israelis and Palestinians, but only reinforces dangerous stereotypes that limit mutual understanding and cooperation—two things that should be at the very heart of our academic endeavors. We therefore cannot tolerate these ignorant smear campaigns to isolate Israel and deteriorate the historic U.S.-Israel relationship.”

The letter reads, in full:

January 17, 2014

Mr. Curtis Marez
President
American Studies Association
1120 19th St NW, Suite 301
Washington, DC 20036

Dear Mr. Marez:

We write in strong opposition to the American Studies Association’s (ASA) recent decision to boycott Israeli universities and academic institutions. While ASA has every right to express its views on policies pursued by any nation or government, we believe that the decision to blacklist Israeli academic institutions for Israeli government policies with which ASA disagrees demonstrates a blatant disregard for academic freedom.

The ASA claims that the boycott “is in solidarity with scholars and students deprived of their academic freedom and it aspires to enlarge that freedom for all, including Palestinians.” We believe that this boycott accomplishes just the opposite. The university is an institution intended to foster, encourage, and inspire constructive dialogue and original thought. However, this boycott undermines academic freedom by prohibiting educational and cultural exchanges with Israeli universities and academic institutions.

Even more concerning is the singular targeting of Israel for boycott. Like all democracies, Israel is not perfect. But to single out Israel, while leaving relationships with universities in autocratic and repressive countries intact, suggests thinly-veiled bigotry and bias against the Jewish State. This morally dishonest double standard has already been rejected by well over 100 university presidents, with several member universities even withdrawing from the organization in protest.

Some higher education organizations—including the American Association of University Professors, the American Council on Education, and the Association of American Universities—have denounced the boycott as unjust and harmful to the goals of academic freedom. Even Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas rejects boycotts of Israel, stating: “No, we do not support the boycott of Israel…We have relations with Israel, we have mutual recognition of Israel.”

Academic cooperation can be an important tool to help foster peace between Israelis and Palestinians, but you have chosen the unproductive path of isolation. We hope that the ASA will learn to appreciate the mutually beneficial academic ties between the United States and Israel and work with us to promote peace and academic freedom.

Sincerely,

[names listed below]

Cc:
Ms. Lisa Duggan
President-elect
American Studies Association
1120 19th St. NW, Suite 301
Washington, DC 20036

Here is the list of signatories:

Roskam, Peter J.
Bachmann, Michele
Bachus, Spencer
Bentivolio, Kerry L
Bilirakis, Gus M.
Braley, Bruce L.
Bridenstine, Jim
Broun, Paul C.
Brown, Corrine
Brownley, Julia
Campbell, John
Castor, Kathy
Chabot, Steve
Cicilline, David N.
Coffman, Mike
Cohen, Steve
Collins, Doug
Connolly, Gerald E.
Cook, Paul
Costa, Jim
Crowley, Joseph
Davis, Rodney
Delaney, John K.
DelBene, Suzan K.
Dent, Charles W.
DeSantis, Ron
Deutch, Theodore E.
Duncan, Jeff
Engel, Eliot L.
Fleming, John
Foster, Bill
Frankel, Lois
Franks, Trent
Gabbard, Tulsi
Garcia, Joe
Gardner, Cory
Gerlach, Jim
Gohmert, Louie
Grayson, Alan
Green, Al
Green, Gene
Griffin, Tim
Grimm, Michael G.
Hastings, Alcee L.
Heck, Denny
Higgins, Brian
Holding, George
Holt, Rush
Hudson, Richard
Hultgren, Randy
Israel, Steve
Johnson, Bill
Joyce, David P.
Keating, William R.
Kelly, Mike
Kennedy III, Joseph P.
Kilmer, Derek
King, Peter
Kinzinger, Adam
Kuster, Ann M.
Lamborn, Doug
Lance, Leonard
Langevin, James R.
Lankford, James
Larson, John B.
Latham, Tom
Latta, Robert E.
Levin, Sander M.
Lipinski, Daniel
Loebsack, David
Lowenthal, Alan S.
Lowey, Nita M.
Lynch, Stephen F.
Maloney, Carolyn B.
Marino, Tom
Matsui, Doris O.
McCarthy, Carolyn
McCollum, Betty
McGovern, James P.
Meadows, Mark
Meehan, Patrick
Meeks, Gregory W.
Meng, Grace
Messer, Luke
Murphy, Patrick
Nadler, Jerrold
Nunes, Devin
Nunnelee, Alan
Pascrell Jr., Bill
Pearce, Steve
Peters, Gary C.
Peters, Scott H.
Pierluisi, Pedro R.
Pocan, Mark
Polis, Jared
Pompeo, Mike
Quigley, Mike
Reed, Tom
Rokita, Todd
Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana
Royce, Edward R. Royce
Salmon, Matt
Scalise, Steve
Schakowsky, Janice D.
Schiff, Adam B
Schneider, Bradley S.
Schock, Aaron
Schwartz, Allyson Y.
Schweikert, David
Sensenbrenner, Jim
Sessions, Pete
Shea-Porter, Carol
Sherman, Brad
Shimkus, John
Sires, Albio
Smith, Christopher H.
Stivers, Steve
Swalwell, Eric
Tiberi, Patrick J.
Titus, Dina
Upton, Fred
Van Hollen, Chris
Vargas, Juan
Veasey, Marc A.
Walberg, Tim
Walorski, Jackie
Wasserman Schultz, Debbie
Waxman, Henry A.
Weber Sr., Randy K.
Wilson, Frederica S.
Yarmuth, John A.
Yoder, Kevin
Yoho, Ted S.
Young, Todd. C

Congressional Letter Re Israel Academic Boycott – Jan 17 2014