New York, NY, January 9, 2017 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today welcomed the rejection of a resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions by the Delegate Assembly of the Modern Language Association (MLA).
In addition to voting down the boycott resolution by a 113-79, the MLA Delegates, meeting at their annual conference in Philadelphia, backed an alternate resolution 101-93 calling on the association to “refrain from endorsing the boycott, which it said “contradicts the MLA’s purpose to promote teaching and research on language and literature” and could “curtail debates with representatives of Israeli universities … thereby blocking possible dialogue and general scholarly exchange.” That anti-boycott resolution must now be voted on by the entire MLA membership.
“It is highly significant that the leaders of the MLA, one of the country’s largest and most influential scholarly associations, resoundingly rejected the boycott of Israeli academic institutions,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “While there will likely be those who continue to advocate for such discriminatory and biased action, this decision by the MLA, following so soon after the defeat of such a resolution by the American Anthropological Association, sends a strong message that American scholars support academic freedom and the open exchange of ideas.
“We send our congratulations to those MLA members – particularly the MLA Members for Scholars Rights – who so vigorously and effectively showed their colleagues how boycotts undermine scholarship and educational opportunities.”
The MLA is an association for scholars in languages and scholars which has a membership of nearly 25,000 in 100 countries. In 2014, the Delegate Assembly did approve an academic boycott resolution, but the resolution did not become policy when later that spring, fewer than the required 10 percent of members of the MLA voted.