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Middle East Studies Association Members In “Legal Jeopardy” If Carry Out Israel Boycott On Campuses

Middle East Studies Association Members In “Legal Jeopardy” If Carry Out Israel Boycott On Campuses

“As a matter of law and principle, the State of Florida does not tolerate discrimination against the State of Israel or the Israeli people, including boycotts and divestments targeting Israel (the BDS movement)”

Our own Professor Jacobson is quoted extensively here.

The Jewish News Syndicate reports:

Middle East Studies Association’s members may face legal jeopardy over Israel boycott

Following a vote by the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) in support of BDS, a question has arisen as to whether its institutional members, mainly colleges and universities, may run afoul of state and federal nondiscrimination laws — and in some states, laws specifically discouraging BDS.

During MESA’s Dec. 2 annual business meeting, 93 percent of those present (444 members) voted in favor of advancing a resolution “endorsing the Palestinian call for solidarity in the form of boycotts, divestment and sanctions, or BDS.” The resolution will go to a full membership vote (MESA counts more than 2,800 members) in early 2022.

In its resolution, MESA claimed that its call for an academic boycott of Israeli institutions aligns with its “commitment to academic freedom.” However, Cornell Law School professor and author of the Legal Insurrection blog William Jacobson told JNS that MESA’s institutional members must “adhere to federal and state non-discrimination laws and their own institutional non-discrimination and academic freedom protections.”

Legal Insurrection reached out to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ office since Florida State University is an institutional member of MESA. The Florida legislature almost unanimously passed an anti-BDS bill in 2016. The law prevents the state from investing in, or doing business with, companies that support boycotts against Israel.

“As a matter of law and principle, the State of Florida does not tolerate discrimination against the State of Israel or the Israeli people, including boycotts and divestments targeting Israel (the BDS movement),” the governor’s office said in a statement in reply to Legal Insurrection. The statement was supplied to JNS by Christina Pushaw, press secretary for the governor’s office.

While admitting the anti-BDS law “does not explicitly address public postsecondary institutions,” the statement continued (emphasis in original), “It is our expectation that Florida State University will not permit MESA to operate a boycott of Israel through a public institution, will not accept the academic boycott of Israel, and will not allow university funds to be paid indirectly or directly to any organization that endorses BDS.”

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