MESA - Middle East Studies Association

MESA Resolutions

Regarding Protection of Free Discussion on Academic Boycott of Israel (2015)

Passed by the membership at the 2014 MESA Members Meeting on Monday, November 24, 2014, and passed in a referendum vote on February 9, 2015.

Whereas, Members of various academic associations in North America have sought to organize forums for discussion and debate of the 2005 Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel; and

Whereas, A number of academic associations have held membership votes on whether to endorse the BDS call; and

Whereas, We acknowledge that members of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) have differing views on the necessity or productivity of such actions; and

Whereas, Individual scholars and academic associations organizing, participating in, or commenting on such discussions, debates, and votes have been subjected to efforts to silence and/or punish them; now, therefore be it

Resolved, That the MESA membership

Affirms that calls for institutional boycott, divestment, and/or sanctions are protected free speech and legitimate forms of non-violent political action; and

Affirms the right of MESA members to engage in open and transparent discussion of the boycott of Israeli academic institutions in the context of the Annual Meeting and other forums; and

Affirms the right of the memberships of all organizations to discuss, debate, and endorse or not endorse the BDS campaign; and

Deplores the measures of intimidation directed against the American Studies Association, the Association for Asian American Studies, the Critical Ethnic Studies Association, and the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, among other associations, and some of their individual members, as we MESA members uphold the principles of free speech that protect the expression of such views and actions; and

Strongly urges MESA program committees to organize discussions at MESA annual meetings, and the MESA Board of Directors to create opportunities over the course of the year that provide platforms for a sustained discussion of the academic boycott and foster careful consideration of an appropriate position for MESA to assume.

Regarding Academic Freedom (2002)

Adopted by MESA's Board of Directors on November 22, 2002, and passed by the membership as a "sense of the meeting resolution" at the annual business meeting on November 25, 2002.

Regarding Academic Freedom in a Time of Crisis
from The Board of Directors of the Middle East Studies Association of North America
November 25, 2002

Recognizing that this is a time of extraordinary tension in the Middle East and the Muslim world, and that public debate in North America about the policies of the US government and of other governments has grown passionate and contentious, the Board of Directors of the Middle East Studies Association of North America calls upon the leaders of North American colleges and universities to be especially resolute in fulfilling their responsibility to uphold academic freedom on their campuses.

As the representatives of the academic organization whose members are most intimately associated with the issues that stir these passions, and as scholars and advocates ourselves, we are acutely aware of the necessity of maintaining the university as an arena in which unfettered debate takes place.

We believe that critical analysis and argument should infuse university life. We believe that individuals should be accorded equal access to that arena for debate without regard to their personal status, country of origin, religious persuasion or policy preference. Education and analysis require discriminating, thoughtful and provocative debate; competent citizenship demands that we be prepared to reflect on and refine our arguments and our beliefs.

Therefore, to nurture this capacity among our students and colleagues and thereby create more capable citizens,

BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Directors of the Middle East Studies Association of North America calls upon the leaders of North American colleges and universities to steadfastly defend academic freedom and to champion freedom of expression—even when the ideas and opinions expressed are unorthodox or unpopular.

Regarding MESA Board of Directors Statement on NFLI-P

Submitted by a MESA member in good standing, with 26 supporting signatures of MESA members in good standing and with voting rights, and was passed by the membership as a "sense of the meeting resolution" at the annual business meeting on November 25, 2002.

Resolved, it is the sense of the meeting that the final paragraph of the MESA Board of Directors’ Statement of April 27, 2002, concerning the National Flagship Language Initiative-Pilot Program, should be excised from the statement.

Regarding NSEP (1996)

NSEP Resolution, adopted by MESA's Board of Directors on December 6, 1995; presented to the membership at the annual business meeting on December 8, 1995; presented to the membership for referendum vote in February 1996; passed by the membership on April 26, 1996.

The Board of Directors of the Middle East Studies Association of North America:

REAFFIRMS its resolution of 1992 in which the Association expressed "serious concerns about the administration of the [National Security Education] Act, in particular its administrative location in the Department of Defense, and the involvement of the CIA on the National Security Education Board."

DEPLORES the requirements in the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 1996 that all recipients of fellowships or scholarships must be eligible for employment by the Department of Defense or the Intelligence Community, must engage in a course of study critical to those agencies, and must serve at least two years with either of those agencies or else reimburse the US Treasury for the total cost of the scholarship or fellowship.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF MESA:

CALLS upon the Senate and House of Representatives to ensure that there is a separation of foreign area studies scholars, students and their institutions from military and intelligence organizations and priorities.

Specifically, there should be peer and merit review independent of the defense, intelligence, and foreign policy agencies of the US government; and alteration of the terms of the service requirement to include any employment that makes use of the training to benefit the nation's international educational, diplomatic, defense, or economic roles, irrespective of the employer.

URGES that its members and their institutions not seek or accept program or research funding from NSEA unless the above-stated concerns are fully addressed.

Regarding NSEP (1993)

NSEP Resolution, adopted by MESA's Board of Directors on October 28, 1992; presented to the membership at the annual business meeting on October 30, 1992; presented to the membership for referendum vote in January 1993; passed by the membership on March 31, 1993.

The Board of Directors of the Middle East Studies Association of North America:

JOINS the African Studies Association and the Latin American Studies Association in expressing appreciation to Senator Boren for his leadership in developing the National Security Education Act. We also share their serious concerns about the administration of the act, in particular its administrative location in the Department of Defense, and the involvement of the CIA on the National Security Education board.

DEPLORES the location of responsibility in the US defense and intelligence community for a major foreign area research, education, and training program of students and specialists. This connection can only increase the existing difficulties of gaining foreign governmental permissions to carry out research and to develop overseas instructional programs. It can also create dangers for students and scholars by fostering the perception of involvement in military or intelligence activities, and may limit academic freedom.

REAFFIRMS its resolution of 1985 in which the Association called upon "university-based international studies programs to refrain from responding to requests for research contract proposals from the Defense Academic Research Support Program or from other intelligence entities and calls upon its members to reflect carefully upon their responsibilities to the academic profession prior to seeking or accepting funding from intelligence sources."

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF MESA:

CALLS upon Senator Boren and the administrators of the act to ensure that the priorities, criteria, and funding goals of the program are developed from within the academic community; are consonant with the integrity of the scholarly process; and, further, that there is a separation of foreign area studies scholars, students and their institutions from military and intelligence organizations and priorities.

Specifically, there should be a peer and merit review independent of the defense, intelligence, and foreign policy agencies of the US government; specification of terms and timing of the service requirement and expansion of the concept "eligible service" to include any employment that makes use of the training to benefit the nation's international educational, diplomatic, defense, or economic roles, irrespective of the employer; separation of the selection process for fellowships from the process of monitoring and enforcement of the service requirement; balance between training of scholars and teachers and training of practitioners; and broad identification of critical disciplines, countries and areas by university-based foreign area studies experts who have a wide-ranging and long-term view of national needs.

URGES that its members and their institutions not seek or accept program or research funding from NSEA until the above-stated concerns are addressed.



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