By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny (D-Coney Island-Bay Ridge) denounced a boycott of Israel organized by the American Studies Association and showed his disgust with the academic group by sponsoring legislation to prohibit colleges from using state aid to fund organizations that have passed resolutions to promote discriminatory boycotts.
The normally mind-mannered Russian-born lawmaker is hopping mad over the academic group’s boycott of Israel.
“The American Studies Association’s discriminatory boycott of Israel and its academic institutions will not be tolerated. The bottom line is taxpayer dollars shouldn’t be used to support boycotts based on a group’s hateful beliefs,” Brook-Krasny said in a strongly worded statement.
Brook-Krasny’s proposed legislation would prohibit the use of state aid by a college to fund an academic group – such as the American Studies Association – if that group passed a resolution or took official action to boycott certain countries or their higher education institutions. In addition, the bill would prohibit colleges from using state funding to pay membership dues to an association engaging in discrimination or to reimburse travel or lodging for an employee attending any meeting held by such an association.
Colleges violating the ban would not be eligible for state aid during the academic year in which the violation occurs. The measure applies to those countries hosting a higher education institute chartered by the Board of Regents.
The board charters institutions located in Israel, Lebanon, the Czech Republic and Hungary.
Late last year, the American Studies Association (ASA), an organization which focuses on the interdisciplinary study of American culture and history, called for a boycott of Israel and its academic institutions over that country’s treatment of Palestinians.
In a statement posted on the organization’s website, the group’s national council cited Israel’s “violation of international law and United Nations resolutions” as a reason for the boycott.
“We believe that the ASA’s endorsement of a boycott is warranted given U.S. 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 the support of such a resolution by many members of the ASA,” the statement read. "The council voted for an academic boycott of Israeli institutions as an ethical stance, a form of material and symbolic action. It represents a principle of solidarity with scholars and students deprived of their academic freedom and an aspiration to enlarge that freedom for all, including Palestinians.”
The New York State Assembly isn’t the only place where people disagree with the ASA’s boycott.
The New York Times reported on Jan. 6 that at least five colleges and universities, Bard College, Brandeis University, Indiana University, Kenyon College and Pennsylvania State University at Harrisburg, have withdrawn from membership in the American Studies Association.
Brook-Krasny said his legislation would not prohibit a college employee from participating with these associations or attending events. And colleges would be prohibited from making employment decisions as a result of an employee choosing to attend any event held by an academic association engaging in a boycott, he said.