The decisive, two to one, vote on December 15th by the members of the US American Studies Association to support the academic boycott of Israel is without question a game-changer. ASA is a significant disciplinary academic organisation, which conducted an impeccable year-long process of discussion and debate ahead of the vote. BRICUP applauds the ASA’s conviction and courage in facing up to the predictable broadsides of those who struggle to maintain the status quo in Palestine/Israel.
Along with recent decisions and impending discussions in other academic associations, it is clear that boycott is now becoming an accepted mainstream feature of academic life. This reflects a growing awareness of the legitimacy of Palestinian rights, and recognition of boycott as an appropriate method of supporting their attainment. The high profile attention devoted to these developments by the Israeli government and Israeli media can be seen as a tribute to the effectiveness of this non-violent strategy: boycott.
The ASA decision is only one of a number of recent developments which show how the tide is turning. The withdrawal was announced last week of 2 international keynote speakers from what was intended to be a prestige conference on Oral History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. This follows on from physicist Stephen Hawking’s boycott of Israel’s Presidents Conference earlier in the year.
BRICUP will work with its partners in other countries to ensure that the lead given by the ASA’s members is mirrored in boycott decisions across the spectrum of national and international academic associations.

BRICUP sent a letter of support to the American Studies Association Executive, ahead of the decisive membership vote.

12 December 2013

For the Attention of the Executive of the American Studies Association

I am writing to you on behalf of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP) to express our admiration and support for the thorough, courageous and principled debate which your Association has organised over the question of an academic boycott of Israel.

BRICUP is an organisation of British academics committed to an equitable resolution of the wholly unacceptable situation in Israel/Palestine. Given that Palestinians have endured serious human rights violations for half a century, during which time successive Israeli governments have remained immobile and Western governments have failed to act, the responsibility to exert pressure clearly devolves upon world civil society. As speakers in your debate have explained, academic boycott is a principled, non-violent means of indicating to Israeli society that their actions (and inaction) have consequences. The institutional rather than individual basis of this boycott ensures that it does not conflict with the principle of academic freedom.

We are sure that as you conduct your membership poll on the issue you will experience intense opposition from a well-organised and well-funded pressure group. We want you to know that your courage in confronting and withstanding this pressure will be very much appreciated both here in Britain and we are sure round the world.

Yours sincerely

(Professor) Jonathan Rosenhead