Middle East Studies Association (MESA) overwhelmingly votes to allow support for BDS

At the MESA Members Meeting held Monday, November 24, in Washington, DC, 335 members cast votes on the 2014 Resolution that calls for free discussion about BDS. Of votes cast, 256 were in favor of the resolution, and 79 against. The resolution will now go to the full membership for a vote within the coming months. Below the full text of the resolution.

Whereas, Members of various academic associations in North America have sought to organize forums for discussion and debate of the 2005 Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel; and

Whereas, A number of academic associations have held membership votes on whether to endorse the BDS call; and

Whereas, We acknowledge that members of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) have differing views on the necessity or productivity of such actions; and

Whereas, Individual scholars and academic associations organizing, participating in, or commenting on such discussions, debates, and votes have been subjected to efforts to silence and/or punish them; now, therefore be it

Resolved, That the MESA membership

Affirms that calls for institutional boycott, divestment, and/or sanctions are protected free speech and legitimate forms of non-violent political action; and

Affirms the right of MESA members to engage in open and transparent discussion of the boycott of Israeli academic institutions in the context of the Annual Meeting and other forums; and

Affirms the right of the memberships of all organizations to discuss, debate, and endorse or not endorse the BDS campaign; and

Deplores the measures of intimidation directed against the American Studies Association, the Association for Asian American Studies, the Critical Ethnic Studies Association, and the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, among other associations, and some of their individual members, as we MESA members uphold the principles of free speech that protect the expression of such views and actions; and

Strongly urges MESA program committees to organize discussions at MESA annual meetings, and the MESA Board of Directors to create opportunities over the course of the year that provide platforms for a sustained discussion of the academic boycott and foster careful consideration of an appropriate position for MESA to assume.