December 2, 2021
Middle East Studies Association Members Vote to Advance BDS Resolution to Full Membership Vote in Early 2022
Resolution Endorses Palestinian Civil Society’s Call for Solidarity As They Work to Safeguard Their Human Rights, Including the Right to Education and Academic Freedom
During their annual meeting, members of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) voted to advance a resolution endorsing the Palestinian call for solidarity in the form of boycotts, divestment and sanctions, or BDS, to a full membership vote in early 2022. 93% of the 444 voting members present at the business meeting approved of sending the resolution out to the entire membership for a referendum next year. The resolution had been proposed by 36 MESA members based in the United States, Canada and Europe. If ratified next year, the resolution would direct MESA to find ways of upholding the call for an academic boycott of Israeli institutions in alignment with the association’s mission to defend academic freedom, and in a manner consistent with MESA’s bylaws as well as relevant U.S. federal, state, and local laws.
“Since Palestinian civil society first called on the international community to engage in boycotts, divestment, and sanctions in order to pressure Israel to end its military occupation and other rights violations, our members have been engaged in thoughtful discussions about what it means to participate in academic boycotts, and other ways of showing solidarity with fellow scholars whose lives and livelihoods are under attack,” said MESA President Dina Rizk Khoury. “Today’s vote clears a path for our full membership to collectively determine how we can do our part to support the academic freedom and education rights of Palestinian scholars and students, not to mention Israeli scholars facing attacks from their own government for criticizing its policies.”
The BDS resolution outlines ways that the Israeli government systematically violates Palestinians’ right to education. Some of the violations cited in the resolution include restricting the freedom of movement for Palestinians, attacking Palestinian educational institutions, harassing Palestinian students, teachers, and professors, and destroying Palestinian archival material.
The call for an academic boycott extends to Israeli institutions, which the resolution states, are complicit in Israel’s violations of human rights and international law through their provision of direct assistance to the Israeli military and intelligence establishments. The resolution also states that the boycott will not target individual students or scholars, and reiterates the right of individual MESA members to choose whether or not they wish to participate in an academic boycott.
The full text of the resolution can be found here.
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The Middle East Studies Association (MESA) is a non-profit association that fosters the study of the Middle East, promotes high standards of scholarship and teaching, and encourages public understanding of the region and its peoples through programs, publications and services.