Israel-Boycotting Middle East Studies Association Loses Another Institutional Member, Takes Down Membership List
Seven institutional members have left MESA due to the Israel boycott resolution, including Brandeis University: “The resolution attacks the fundamental principles of academic freedom and association…. In light of this vote and the boycott, Brandeis dissociates from MESA and reaffirms our support for academic freedom.”
Last Thursday, March 24, 2022, Brandeis University announced it was leaving the Middle East Studies Association (MESA). Sometime between Friday, March 25, and Monday morning, March 28, MESA removed its list of institutional members from its website. Coincidence?
As we’ve previously reported, MESA passed a resolution at its annual business meeting endorsing the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, the world’s sole Jewish nation-state; and ratified it by an institutional membership vote that ended March 22.
LIF’s prior coverage of MESA’s BDS vote has included the following:
- Middle East Studies Association Moves Toward Endorsing BDS Academic Boycott Against Israel
- Florida State Drops Middle East Studies Association Membership As Group Moves Towards Israel Boycott
- DeSantis Office: Florida Opposes Middle East Studies Association Conducting BDS Anti-Israel Academic Boycott Through FSU
- Middle East Studies Association Boycotting Israel “Is Basically the Old Anti-Jewish Boycott”
- Middle East Studies Association Members In “Legal Jeopardy” If Carry Out Israel Boycott On Campuses
- Will George Washington U Let Middle East Studies Ass’n Operate International Anti-Israel Academic Boycott From Its HQ On GWU’s Campus?
- Membership Voting To Ratify Anti-Israel Academic Boycott Starts At Middle East Studies Association
- Middle East Studies Association Losing Institutional Members As Anti-Israel Boycott Resolution Voting Starts
- Academic Ethnic Cleansing: Middle East Studies Association Signs Onto Boycott of Israel
Universities Formerly Affiliated with MESA as Institutional Members
The day after MESA announced its ratification of BDS, Brandeis dissociated itself from the association. Brandeis issued a statement explaining its decision:
The Middle Eastern Studies Association’s (MESA) announced on March 23, 2022, that a majority of its members voted in favor of a resolution calling for an academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions. Brandeis University condemns MESA’s boycott of institutions of higher education in Israel. The resolution attacks the fundamental principles of academic freedom and association to which MESA specifically refers in its mission statement, and to which Brandeis is committed. As a matter of principle, Brandeis University opposes academic boycotts of universities in any country. In light of this vote and the boycott, Brandeis dissociates from MESA and reaffirms our support for academic freedom.
Brandeis is the first institutional member known to have cut its ties after MESA ratified the BDS decision. As LIF has reported previously, it is not the first university to have cut its ties since MESA passed the December BDS resolution. The following universities were listed as institutional members of MESA as of November 2021, before MESA passed the BDS resolution, but have since left MESA:
1. Boston College
2. Brandeis University
3. Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies
4. Florida State University
5. Marquette University
6. University of Arizona
7. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
On March 28, LIF learned that MESA had eliminated its institutional membership list from its website. (The former link to the list now redirects to a message reading, “404 – Not Found.”) LIF reached out to MESA asking why, and whether the webpage had been or would be restored to a different location. MESA has not responded to our inquiry.
Universities Still Affiliated with MESA as Institutional Members, as of March 25
Thirty American and Canadian universities remain institutional members of MESA. They are:
1. Bridgewater State University
2. Brown University
3. California State University, San Bernardino
4. Columbia University
5. Cornell University
6. Dartmouth College
7. George Washington University
8. Georgetown University (through 3 separate centers)
9. Harvard University
10. Indiana University Bloomington
11. McGill University
12. New York University
13. Ocean County College
14. Portland State University
15. Princeton University
16. Simon Fraser University
17. Stanford University
18. Syracuse University
19. University of Arkansas
20. University of California, Berkeley
21. University of California, Los Angeles
22. University of California, Santa Barbara
23. University of Chicago
24. University of Michigan
25. University of Pennsylvania
26. University of Southern California
27. University of Toronto
28. University of Washington
29. Vanderbilt University
30. Yale University
The AMCHA Initiative has put together contact information for the American universities, and it is available online. AMCHA has also prepared an email template urging the universities to revoke their MESA membership.
Three of the universities belong to the University of California (UC) system. On March 29, the Academic Engagement Network (AEN) wrote to the UC system president, Michael V. Drake, MD, suggesting that MESA’s boycott strategy makes continued UC membership in the association untenable in light of the 2018 UC chancellors’ joint statement against boycotting Israel. That statement “forcefully and unequivocally denounced the boycott of Israeli academic institutions and/or individual scholars as a ‘serious threat’ to the academic freedom of UC faculty and students.” AEN also suggested that continued membership in MESA might be inconsistent with continued receipt of federal funding under Title VI. Finally, AEN explained how BDS poses a threat to academic freedom:
Firmly committed to the free flow of ideas and intellectual engagement across national, religious, and cultural divides, AEN opposes the BDS academic boycott against Israel even as we recognize that, as individuals, faculty have the right to endorse and advocate for BDS and to support its call for an academic boycott of Israel’s universities and colleges. But University of California centers do not have the right to violate the academic freedom of UC faculty or to deny educational opportunities to UC students.
We will continue to monitor and report on MESA’s activities, and on which institutional members will continue membership in an organization devoted to the destruction of Israel.DONATE
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