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Another victory for Israel supporters. A resolution calling for an academic boycott has failed.  

The Modern Language Association (MLA), a prestigious American academic association, rejected a resolution calling for an academic boycott of their Israeli colleagues.

The vote, held at the MLA’s annual convention in Philadelphia last week, rejected the resolution to boycott Israeli in a 113-79 vote. A counter resolution condemning academic boycotts passed at 101 to 93.

A third resolution condemning the alleged hindering of Palestinian academic freedom by Israel was taken off the agenda after their first failure.

The MLA Members of Justice in Palestine, a group established in 2014 within the MLA Commons, proposed a resolution – titled “Endorsing the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions to the Organizing Committee of the Delegate Assembly”-  for consideration at its 2015 gathering. At the time, it was decided that the vote would be postponed until the 2017 MLA Convention to allow for further debate and discussion of the issue.

This attempt has failed too.

Founded in 1883 by teachers and scholars, MLA promotes the study and teaching of language and literature. If passed, the boycott would have extended to the Academy of the Hebrew Language.

The 24,000-member organization comprises faculty from the fields of English and other non-classical languages.

“The only path toward coexistence in this region is through direct cooperation rather than separation, and the academic boycott of Israel will hinder the prospects for peace,” the World Jewish Congress stated ahead of the vote.

“Institutions of higher education serve as one of the few forums in Israel through which Jews and Arabs are able to interact directly, express their views in an uninhibited environment, and think critically together. A boycott of these institutions will not impact Israel’s political leadership, and is simply designed to delegitimize Israel in the general public,” WJC stated.

Academic Boycotts are Failing

Academic boycotts on Israel are failing in the US, despite concerted efforts by the BDS movement to isolate the Jewish state, a recent study shows.

This positive trend progressed despite resolutions by several American academic bodies to boycott Israeli academia.

In recent years, the Association for Asian American Studies, the American Studies Association, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association and the National Women’s Studies Association approved boycott measures.

In November 2015, a meeting of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) overwhelmingly endorsed a motion supporting a boycott of Israeli universities.

However, BDS also suffered a series of failures in this realm. Earlier this month, the Association of American Universities (AAU), one of America’s largest and most prestigious academic bodies, reaffirmed its opposition to boycotts on Israel and BDS initiatives.

The president of New York University (NYU) recently assailed the BDS movement, slamming the global initiative in a recent interview as “an affront to academic freedom.”

The BDS movement promotes financial, academic and cultural boycotts against Israel, ostensibly as a nonviolent struggle against the so-called “Israeli occupation.”

Critics say its activities are a modern form of anti-Semitism and that its true objective is to destroy the State of Israel.

By: Max Gelber, United with Israel

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