An editorial in the NY Times condemns anti-academic boycott legislation, but not the anti-Israel academic boycotts themselves.  That legislation was passed by the NY State Senate and is pending in the Assembly (although the status in the Assembly is unclear — see  update below).  Similar legislation has been introduced in Maryland.

The academic boycott of Israel passed by the American Studies Association and two smaller groups has been condemned as a severe infringement of academic freedom and anti-educational by over 200 University Presidents, major academic groups such as the American Association of University Professors and the Association of American Universities, by 134 members of the House of Representatives, and by a wide range of commentators.

In response, the NY State legislature is working on legislation to protect academic freedom by denying state funding to groups that engage in academic boycotts.   The legislation does not punish thought, it protects academic freedom.  It may not be a perfect tool, and the wording needs to be extremely careful since it involves the state, but there is no right to state funding for any group.

Yet the Editors of the Times reserve their ire solely for the legislation while soft-peddling the academic boycott:

The New York Legislature is moving to pass a bill that would bar state financing for academic groups that have taken official action to boycott higher-education institutions in Israel. The initiative, which last week passed the State Senate, is now pending before the Assembly. It should be voted down by lawmakers, or, if they prove feckless, Gov. Andrew Cuomo should veto it.

The bill was introduced after the American Studies Association, an organization of scholars, in December adopted a resolution supporting a call by Palestinians to boycott Israeli academic institutions. The group said it would refuse formal collaborations with Israeli academic institutions or with scholars who represent those institutions or the Israeli government until “Israel ceases to violate human rights and international law.” The boycott does not apply to individual Israeli scholars engaged in ordinary exchanges.

The resolution has caused waves because it reflects a growing support for the Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions movement as Palestinian and Israelis approach a critical point in American-mediated peace efforts. The United States is expected to soon reveal a framework for a peace deal that has been under negotiation for months.

The Times Editors pick up on a lie about the boycott, that it doesn’t affect individual scholars.  As I have demonstrated, the actual Resolution adopts the full sweep of the international boycott, which includes individuals.

Moreover, notice how the Times frames the opposition to the boycott merely in terms of the effect on the peace process, when in fact the hundreds of university statements against the boycott decry the threat to education and academic freedom.

There is not a word of condemnation for the academic boycott by the Editors of the Times.

That tells you everything you need to know about the anti-Israel bias at The Times, something we document here frequently.

Update:  The anti-Israel Mondoweiss website reports that the NY Assembly bill “will be reworked, so it could come back in a different form.”  That makes sense, and ultimately may be a good thing, because worse than no bill is an unconstitutional bill.  The legislature can craft a bill that both achieves the objective while also being constitutional, it just needs to take care and not rush through sloppy language.  Whether it should do that, and allow the villains to play victim, is another question entirely.


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