The Community Relations Committee of Greater MetroWest NJ is hailing defeat by the Modern Language Association of a resolution that would have criticized Israel.
A vote by the influential academic group fell short of passing the measure, which called on the U.S. State Department to “contest Israel’s denials of entry to the West Bank by U.S. academics who have been invited to teach, confer, or do research at Palestinian universities.”
The CRC was one of many such groups around the country urging professors to visit the scholars’ rights website to learn about the issues and sign the petition to ensure that the measure did not pass, said CRC director Melanie Roth Gorelick.
She called the resolution part of the overall Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign aimed at Israel.
“We brought our Jewish Faculty Network — some 80 professors from eight universities in the Greater MetroWest area — together for a meeting to do an updated briefing on the BDS efforts in academic associations,” said Gorelick. “We asked the professors we have relationships with to reach out to other members of the MLA and encourage them to vote. Very few faculty members vote in academic associations, but we wanted to assure that our professors know about the BDS movement, voted against it, and encouraged others to do so.
“We are very pleased that this did not pass,” she said.
The on-line vote conducted by the MLA fell short of the 10 percent of the 23,900 members whose support was needed in order for it to pass. There were 1,560 votes in favor of ratification of the resolution and 1,063 votes against it.
The resolution, passed in January by the MLA’s delegate assembly, asserted that restrictions placed by Israel on academics “violate international conventions on an occupying power’s obligation to protect the right to education.” Opponents said the resolution unfairly singled out Israel and ignored its legitimate security concerns.
“Israel does not violate academic freedom, but rather implements reasonable security measures expected of any country,” said Geri Palast, managing director the Israel Action Network, in a statement praising the MLA’s membership for refusing to ratify the resolution.
“Reason and truth have triumphed over the hatred and hypocrisy at the core of the BDS movement against Israel,” the American Jewish Committee’s executive director, David Harris, said in a statement. “The MLA’s repudiation of the BDS effort is yet another failure of those who have maliciously tried to use the American campus to delegitimize the State of Israel.”
JTA contributed to this article.