MLA convention delegates vote down resolution endorsing academic boycott of Israel

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — The Delegate Assembly of the Modern Language Association voted down a resolution endorsing an academic boycott of Israel.

The resolution was rejected on Saturday by a vote of 113 against to 79 in favor at the MLA’s annual convention in Philadelphia.

Following the voting down of the Israeli boycott resolution, the convention delegates approved a proposal that calls for the rejection of all academic boycotts, including of Israel, by a vote of 101 in favor and 93 against.

The text of the anti-boycott resolution said that endorsing the boycott of Israeli academic institutions “contradicts the MLA’s purpose to promote teaching and research on language and literature” and could “curtail debates with representatives of Israeli universities … thereby blocking possible dialogue and general scholarly exchange.”

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The anti-boycott resolution will go to the MLA executive council for review and then will pass it on to the full MLA membership for a vote. The resolution must receive the support of 10 percent of members to pass, under a bylaw that went into effect in 2012.

MLA, one of the largest and most respected language associations in the United States, has about 24,000 members.

The delegate assembly also voted 83 to 78 to indefinitely postpone consideration of a resolution that condemns attacks on academic freedom in Palestinian universities by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.

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