Letter on behalf of the Middle East Studies Association of North America calling on the Biden administration to support an immediate, unconditional, and permanent ceasefire in — and lifting of the siege on — Gaza.
Letters and Statements from the Board
The MESA Board of Directors is heartbroken by the loss of Israeli and Palestinian lives over the last week. There can be no justification for the targeting of civilians. We join our members directly affected in grief, and we join all who are committed to a political solution that offers safety, dignity, and equal rights for Palestinians and Israelis. We are deeply concerned about the cumulative effect of the Israeli siege and bombardment of Gaza, resulting in massive death, displacement and destruction — including the bombing of schools and universities — imperiling, among many other things, the possibility of access to education for generations of Gazan students indefinitely. We also reaffirm the right and ability of students, faculty, and staff at universities across North America (and elsewhere) to express their viewpoints free of harassment, intimidation, and threats to their livelihoods and safety. MESA calls on university leaders and administrations to oppose all forms of discrimination, including anti-Arab and anti-Muslim racism and anti-Semitism, and to affirmatively assert and protect the right to academic freedom and freedom of speech on their campuses.
The Italian Society for Middle East Studies (SeSaMO), the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES) and the Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA) have written to express concern for the detained Italian-Palestinian student Khaled El Qaisi. SeSaMO, BRISMES and MESA call upon the relevant authorities to intervene to ensure his immediate release.
MESA has endorsed a statement from the ACLS emphasizing a continued commitment to diversity in American higher education, after the Supreme Court of the United States recently ruled against race-conscious admissions programs at colleges and universities.
In response to a Notice by the Office of Management and Budget regarding Initial Proposals for Updating Race and Ethnicity Statistical Standards, MESA submitted a formal comment wholeheartedly supporting the inclusion of the new Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) category as a checkbox on the United States Census questionnaire.
MESA has endorsed a statement from the ACLS regarding a new bill proposed in the Florida legislature (HB 999), which is a frontal attack on the principles of academic freedom. If it passes, it would effectively end academic freedom in the state’s public colleges and universities, with dire consequences for their teaching, research, and financial well-being.
MESA has endorsed a statement from the AAUP regarding Florida HB 999, which poses a dire threat to higher education and to academic freedom.
MESA has endorsed a statement from the ACLS in support of the New College community as well as faculty and students at other institutions of higher education experiencing similar political interventions.
The Board of Directors of the Middle East Studies Association of North America condemns the ongoing and intensified Iranian government repression of protests. Pursuant to our commitment to promoting high standards of scholarship and teaching as well as defending academic freedom and the right to education, the Board declares its support of Iranian students, teachers, and scholars who have been risking (and giving) their lives to peacefully protest their government’s policies. We express our solidarity with our Iranian colleagues in Iran and the world over.
Joint Statement from the Association for Iranian Studies and MESA in support of protests at Sharif University of Technology in Tehran
MESA and the Association for Iranian Studies have issued a joint statement in support of the peaceful protests by students and professors at Sharif University of Technology in Tehran. We express our grave concern over the violations of the academic rights of university students and professors. We condemn in the strongest terms the systematic assaults on university campuses and communities. We call for a full and transparent investigation of these crimes, and information regarding the fates of those killed, injured, missing, and detained.
Statement in solidarity with the Iranian academics’ petition in response to the unfolding events in Iran
MESA has endorsed a statement by the Association for Iranian Studies and its Committee on Academic Freedom expressing solidarity with the Iranian academics who have signed a petition in response to the unfolding events in Iran. The petition stresses the right of Iranian women to freely choose their own dress code; calls for abolishing the morality police; and supports the protection of citizenship rights for all Iranians.
Statement on Discriminatory Treatment meted out to Africans, including Scholars and Students, fleeing the war in Ukraine
MESA has endorsed a statement from the African Studies Association condemning the discriminatory treatment of Africans fleeing Ukraine as a violation of international law. MESA joins the ASA and others in calling on Ukrainian and authorities in neighboring countries to treat all those fleeing the conflict equally, with dignity, and without discrimination based on race or status.
MESA joins 37 other associations in endorsing a statement by the American Historical Association historicizing and condemning the numerous bomb threats, received by at least 17 Historically Black Colleges and Universities in early 2022, as crimes against Black institutions of higher education and as threats to the Black community.
22 ACLS member organizations and 26 other associations or institutions of higher education join MESA, the American Institute for Afghanistan Studies, and Scholars at Risk in urging the Biden Administration to take immediate action to enable the safe and speedy relocation of Afghanistan’s students and scholars.
MESA has endorsed a statement from Academia for Equality concerning the designation by the Israeli defense minister of six Palestinian civil society organizations as "terrorist" groups.
The Board of Directors of the Middle East Studies Association of North America calls for the cessation of state-directed cyber surveillance attacks against members of the academic community. Digital violence, such as hacking, is inimical to academic freedom and basic rights.
MESA has endorsed a statement by the American Historical Association condemning the harassment and intimidation of participants, organizers, and university sponsors of the virtual conference “Dismantling Global Hindutva: Multidisciplinary Perspectives.”
On 18 August 2021, the BRISMES Committee on Academic Freedom and the Board of Directors of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) sent a joint letter to Professor Toope, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, to express our concern about the proposed academic deal between the University of Cambridge and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and to urge the University of Cambridge to reconsider the proposal.
MESA joins a letter amongst 61 NGOs to call on President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi to quash Ahmed Samir Santawy’s verdict.
MESA has endorsed a letter by the American Association of University Professors, the American Historical Association, the Association of American Colleges & Universities, and PEN America stating “firm opposition” to legislation, introduced in at least 20 states, that would restrict the discussion of “divisive concepts” in public education institutions.
MESA’s Board of Directors condemns the ongoing Israeli government assault on the Palestinian people. It views the damaging and targeting of educational facilities and violence toward students and teachers as part of a systematic domination of Palestinians. We recognize there can be no academic freedom and adequate access to education, so long as there is apartheid.
MESA's Board of Directors calls on university administrators in Florida to support their faculty and speak out against the threat that a new bill poses to academic freedom and free speech rights of both faculty and students, as well as to proper governance and independence of Florida’s colleges and universities.
MESA Board Statement regarding the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism (and “Contemporary Examples”)
MESA expresses its grave concern about a number of the “Contemporary Examples of Antisemitism” that accompany the working definition of antisemitism formulated by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). MESA therefore encourages the federal, state, provincial, and local governments of the United States and Canada, as well as university and college administrations, to refrain from adopting or making policy based on IHRA's accompanying examples.
MESA joins a letter with 15 NGOs, led by Reporters Without Borders and Free Press Unlimited, to Josep Borrell and Eamon Gilmore of the European Union concerning the case of the Moroccan historian and journalist Maâti Monjib, which MESA's Committee on Academic Freedom (MENA wing) has followed with growing urgency.