Brandeis dissociates from the Middle Eastern Studies Association
The dissociation was the result of MESA voting to endorse boycotting Israeli academic institutions.
Brandeis has dissociated from the Middle Eastern Studies Association, according to a March 24 article on BrandeisNow after MESA voted in favor of a resolution endorsing the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions of Israeli academic institutions.
Brandeis has openly and clearly stated, in the same press release on the BrandeisNow website, that “Brandeis University condemns MESA’s boycott of institutions of higher education in Israel.”
Brandeis asserted that 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.” The University made no official statement regarding its stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict, and it was stated that as a principle, Brandeis condemns academic boycotts of universities in any country. The University has stated that the disassociation from MESA is a way to reaffirm their support for academic freedom in general.
According to a press release on MESA’s website, endorsing the call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions is a way to “hold the [Israeli] government accountable for ongoing human rights violations.” The results of the vote were 768-167, a clear majority in favor of endorsing the BDS movement. In the same press release, MESA president Eve Troutt Powell stated that “MESA's Board will work to honor the will of its members and ensure that the call for an academic boycott is upheld without undermining our commitment to the free exchange of ideas and scholarship.”
The BDS resolution calls for the boycott of Israeli academic institutions because they are “complicit in Israel’s violations of human rights and international law through their provision of direct assistance to the military and intelligence establishments,” according to the BDS website. They call for the boycott of all Israeli academic institutions as a way to “end this complicity.” The resolution has expressed clearly that the boycott will not target individual scholars or students and reiterates that each member of MESA has a right to choose whether or not they participate in the academic boycott.
MESA’s website states that “since 2005, the BDS vote has been discussed among MESA members,” and that MESA members have organized a variety of conversations and debates regarding participating in BDS of Israeli institutions “and other ways of standing in solidarity with Palestinian scholars at risk under Israel’s longstanding military occupation.” Powell stated in the same press release, “We affirm our commitment to academic freedom for Palestinians, and for all scholars in all countries throughout the region.”
The boycott would not affect Brandeis, but the University has stated that the boycott goes against their values of academic freedom for all, no matter the country, and therefore they have made the decision to dissociate from MESA. MESA has, at this point, not voted to boycott academic institutions of any other country, only Israeli institutions.
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