Recently, the American Studies Association (ASA) voted in support of a boycott of academic cooperation with institutions in Israel. As President of Pomona College, I oppose this action. The study of the liberal arts involves questioning assumptions, thinking critically, and engaging freely with scholars and students across the globe. The ASA boycott of Israeli academic institutions is an affront to the principles of academic freedom.
To discontinue valuable programs that expose faculty and students to new experiences, and that allow them to question assumptions and expand their knowledge, would be an unfortunate outcome of such a boycott. On-the-ground engagement in Israel and throughout the Middle East will yield more progress toward understanding the long and complex history of this region and its rapidly changing politics and policies. A boycott would reduce the opportunities for faculty and students to question and analyze for themselves the critical issues confronting these and other societies.
Pomona has a long history of international programs including study abroad, international internships, and scholarly research that have enabled greater capacity for cross-cultural thinking and global competence. Now is the time to continue to expand our engagement across our highly interconnected world – not to withdraw.
Pomona College endorses the recent statements on this matter by the Association of American Universities, the American Council on Education, and the American Association of University Professors.
- News Story: "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Boycott," Bloomberg News, Dec. 26, 2013
- News Story: "Breaking: Members of American Studies Association Endorse Israel Boycott," Dec. 16, 2013