President Clayton Spencer’s statement on the boycott of Israeli academic institutions

On behalf of Bates College, I reject unequivocally the boycott of Israeli universities that was recently passed by a majority of the members of the American Studies Association (ASA). Academic boycotts strike at the heart of academic freedom and threaten the principles of dialogue, scholarly interchange, and open debate that are the lifeblood of the academy and civil society. Bates does not hold an institutional membership in ASA, and recognizes the rights of individual faculty members to make their own decisions regarding participation in academic associations.

4 Responses to “President Clayton Spencer’s statement on the boycott of Israeli academic institutions”

  1. Professor Cristina Malcolmson says:

    I am writing to register my disagreement with President Spencer’s statement on the American Studies Association resolution to support a boycott of academic institutions in Israel. It is important to recognize that the Association for Asian-American Studies and the leadership council of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association have also endorsed the boycott. President Clayton’s statement does not speak for individuals at Bates College, and incorrectly asserts that the main issue at stake is the suppression of academic freedom. The main purpose of the boycott is to bring to light the oppressive policies against Palestinians by the Israeli government and military, which includes severe restrictions on Palestinian students and academics. I refer you to the statement of solidarity with the American Studies Association by Bowdoin students, etc. which does the job much more effectively than I could:

    See also the ASA’s statement:

    I would only add that criticism of the government and military of Israel is not the same as anti-semitism. See Judith Butler, “No, It’s Not Anti-Semitic,” in *Reframing Anti-Semitism,* Jewish Voice for Peace Publication, 2004.

  2. Jack says:

    Dear Ms. Spencer,

    I acknowledge the fact that the Israeli boycott is limiting a freedom this country was founded on. This boycott is symbolic and does not represent the wrong intentions of closing on the freedom for education. When you see what Israelis do to Palestinians, to say, when you look at refugee camp Palestinians who are not able to get education, you will then know what it means to boycott Israel. I hope you look at this issue from both sides and without bias as the President of one of the best colleges in the US.


  3. Randy Tritell says:

    As a Bates parent, I am pleased and proud to be associated with an educational institution whose President speaks out against misguided and biased actions such as the vile boycott by the American Studies Association. The boycott violates academic freedom, perversely targeting the one nation in the region in which such freedom exists. In standing with the AAUP, the AAU, and a lengthy list of leading academic institutions, you make it more difficult for ideologues to hijack other professional organizations and wield the boycott weapon to suppress scholarly interchange. Your courageous action is in the finest tradition of Bates College.

  4. Neil Becker says:

    Praise to the Tennessee General Assembly for just passing a resolution, virtually unanimously, that declares that BDS is “one of the main vehicles for spreading anti-Semitism and advocating the elimination of the Jewish state,” and that BDS activities “undermine the Jewish people’s right to self-determination, which they are fulfilling in the State of Israel.”