How Does an Academic Boycott of Israel Actually Work?

October 23, 2014 / Phil Lesch

The Chronicle of Higher Education
October 23rd, 2014

It’s been nearly a year since the American Studies Association passed a controversial resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions, but the group is still trying to set the record straight on what exactly that resolution means.

On Tuesday, two weeks ahead of its annual conference, in Los Angeles, the association circulated a news release dispelling rumors that it planned to bar Israeli academics from participating in the gathering. While the group hasn’t budged on the institutional boycott, it says, it never intended to alienate individual scholars.

"There will not be discrimination of any sort against anyone," the release states. "We welcome Israeli academics to attend, and in fact, several are already scheduled to participate in the conference program."

That the association felt the need to clarify its policy points to a broader question about the resolution. It’s clear that the boycott was intended to make a strong statement on Israeli policy, but there’s still quite a bit of confusion about how the boycott actually works. So it’s worth examining the nuts and bolts.

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