A Resolution passed yesterday by the Philadelphia City Council is a good reflection of how deeply the pushback against the American Studies Association academic boycott of Israel has reached in American civil and political society.  (Full Resolution embedded at bottom of post.)

Condemning the American Studies Association’s academic boycott against Israeli academic institutions and urging the Department of Education, the State System of Higher Education and all colleges and universities in Pennsylvania to reject the academic boycott.

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WHEREAS, The academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions, including colleges and universities, serves to restrict academic freedom and hinders the collaboration and free flow of information between academics all over the world; and

WHEREAS, Academic freedom, the free flow of information and ideas and international academic collaboration are crucial factors in promoting progress in all areas of study from the hard sciences and technology to the humanities; and ….

WHEREAS, Academic freedom is an indispensable component of a free and democratic society and should be guarded vigilantly; and

WHEREAS, The American Studies Association’s call for an academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions threatens academic freedom and should therefore be rejected; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, That the City Council condemns the American Studies Association’s academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions and urges the Department of Education, the State System of Higher Education and all colleges and universities in Pennsylvania to reject the academic boycott.

The Philadelphis Resolution was proposed by Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, who made the announcement on his Facebook and Twitter pages.

https://www.facebook.com/CouncilmanKenyattaJohnson#!/CouncilmanKenyattaJohnson/posts/574424249299048?stream_ref=10

I spoke with Johnson’s press secretary, who told me that the Councilman “felt the need to discuss” the boycott when learning of it, and the Resolution was based on concern for academic freedom, without taking sides in the underlying Middle East dispute.

Johnson’s office issued the following press release regarding the introduction of the Resolution:

Councilman Johnson Offers Resolution Condemning the American Studies Association’s Academic Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions

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Councilman Kenyatta Johnson will offer a resolution at the opening session of the 2014 Philadelphia City Council calling on the Council, the Department of Education, the State System of Higher Education, and all colleges and universities in Pennsylvania to reject the academic Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions by the American Studies Association.

“I am calling for City Council to condemn the American Studies Association’s academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions and urge the Department of Education, the State System of Higher Education, and all colleges and universities in Pennsylvania to reject the academic Boycott. 

This Boycott limits the academic freedom that is an indispensable component of a free and democratic society, and should be guarded vigilantly. Furthermore, the boycott is short sighted and diminishes the opportunity of American Universities that may engage in progressive dialogues with Institutions of Higher Learning in Israel. 

Institutions of Higher Learning are the foundation for the exchange of ideas, and should be an open floor for discussions of philosophical and political thought. This boycott stifles all of this and goes against the very essence of free speech.” – Councilman Kenyatta Johnson….

This is not the first time the City Council has weighed in on the boycott of Israel. It did so in 1965 as well (circle added to image):

Philadelphia city council condemns Arab boycott Israel 1965 - marked

The Philadelphia City Council joins over 200 university presidents, the major academic organizations, 134 Congressmen, and a wide cross-section of American society refusing to allow our academic institutions to be undermined by the Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement.

Philadelphia City Council Resolution Condemning Academic Boycott of Israel