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Monday, March 24, 2014

President Loh, Support the Academic Boycott of Israel!

Dear University President Dr. Wallace Loh,

The American Studies Association, the Association for Asian American Studies, and the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association have all declared their support for the Palestinian call to boycott Israeli academic institutions. These are tremendous victories for the struggle against Israeli apartheid and the settler-colonial occupation of Palestine. The members of these associations have shown their integrity and courage by calling out Israel’s human rights violations against the Palestinian people, including Israel’s chronic restriction of academic freedom imposed upon Palestinian students and academics.

It must be clear that the boycott is of institutions, not individuals. Israeli scholars have every right to research as they wish, but under the boycott they may not officially represent their universities or use their research to maintain the systematic oppression of the Palestinian people. The ASA, AAAS, and NAISA did not vote to boycott Israeli academic institutions because of the “national identity” of Israeli scholars, but because those institutions are complicit in equipping the Israeli state with the technology and false narratives necessary to sustain Israel’s ongoing violence against Palestinians.

In the words of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association: “...we strongly protest the illegal occupation of Palestinian lands and the legal structures of the Israeli state that systematically discriminate against Palestinians and other Indigenous peoples.”

And again, in the words of the American Studies Association: “The [boycott] resolution is in solidarity with scholars and students deprived of their academic freedom and it aspires to enlarge that freedom for all, including Palestinians. The ASA’s endorsement of the academic boycott emerges from the context of US military and other support for Israel; Israel’s violation of international law and UN resolutions; the documented impact of the Israeli occupation on Palestinian scholars and students; the extent to which Israeli institutions of higher education are a party to state policies that violate human rights; and finally, the support of such a resolution by a majority of ASA members.”

Academic freedom is not infringed upon by the boycott -- it is demanded.

Therefore, we call upon President Loh, Senior Vice President and Provost Mary Ann Rankin, and the united University of Maryland community to stand in solidarity with the members of the ASA, AAAS, and NAISA in calling for the academic freedom of all people regardless of race, religion, or ethnicity, and to hold Israeli universities accountable for their role in supporting the occupation and oppression of Palestine.

Students for Justice in Palestine, University of Maryland Chapter
Political Latinos/as United for Movement and Action in Society (P.L.U.M.A.S.)
Black Male Initiative
Organization of Arab Students
International Socialist Organization, University of Maryland

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