HIKIND CALLS ON AG SCHNEIDERMAN TO ADDRESS ASA’S ILLEGAL BOYCOTT OF ISRAEL

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DERSHOWITZ JOINS HIKIND IN CONDEMNING ‘BIGOTED BOYCOTT’ WHICH VIOLATES NEW YORK STATE HUMAN RIGHTS LAW

Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) called upon New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman today to address a violation of New York State’s Human Rights Law by the American Studies Association (ASA). On December 16, the ASA—an association of American professors with nearly 5,000 members—voted to endorse an academic boycott of Israeli colleges and universities, calling on American schools and academic groups to ban collaboration with Israeli institutions. Renowned legal expert Professor Alan M. Dershowitz joined Hikind in condemning the ASA’s bigoted boycott.

“This action by the ASA is a flagrant violation of New York State’s Human Rights Law,” said Assemblyman Hikind in a letter to Schneiderman, citing section Executive Law Article 15, 296.13, which addresses unlawful discriminatory practices. “This flagrant act of discrimination on the part of the ASA singles out only one of the 192 member nations of the United Nations. It seems clear that it does so not because of Israel’s U.N.-condemned disputes with its geographical neighbors, as such disputes are common. Moreover, Curtis Marez, the ASA’s president and an associate professor of ethnic studies at the University of California, admitted to the New York Times that ‘many nations, including Israel’s neighbors, are generally judged to have human rights records that are worse than Israel’s.’ Syria’s use of chemical weapons against its own citizens, including children, was condemned by all.

“So why did the ASA single out Israel for a boycott? Because Israel is the Jewish nation,” said Assemblyman Hikind.

“Academic freedom is destroyed by academic boycotts,” added Professor Dershowitz, “and the academic boycott against Israel is particularly bigoted because Israel has more academic freedom for all its citizens—Jewish, Christian, Muslim—than almost any other country in the world.”

New York State Executive Law Article 15, 296.13, states: “It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice (i) for any person to boycott or blacklist, or refuse to buy from, sell to or trade with, or otherwise discriminate against any person, because of the race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex, or disability of such person, or of such person’s partners, members, stockholders, directors, officers, managers, superintendents, agents, employees, business associates, suppliers or customers, or (ii) for any person willfully to do any act or refrain from doing any act which enables such person to take such action.”

“Boycotting Israel and Israelis—many of which hold dual citizenship with the United States, and many of which are New York residents—punishes scholars simply because of their nationality,” said Hikind. “If that’s not a violation of the Human Rights law, what is?”

Attachment: Letter to Attorney General Schneiderman

December 24, 2013

Honorable Eric Schneiderman
Attorney General
The Capitol
Albany, NY 12224

Dear Attorney General Schneiderman:

I am writing to request immediate action regarding a violation of New York State’s Human Rights Law by the American Studies Association (ASA). On December 16, the ASA—an association of American professors with nearly 5,000 members—voted to endorse an academic boycott of Israeli colleges and universities. The boycott called on American schools and academic groups to ban collaboration with Israeli institutions.

This action by the ASA is a flagrant violation of New York Executive Law Article 15 (Human Rights Law) section 296.13 (Unlawful discriminatory practices), which states: “It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice (i) for any person to boycott or blacklist, or refuse to buy from, sell to or trade with, or otherwise discriminate against any person, because of the race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex, or disability of such person, or of such person’s partners, members, stockholders, directors, officers, managers, superintendents, agents, employees, business associates, suppliers or customers, or (ii) for any person willfully to do any act or refrain from doing any act which enables such person to take such action.”

Academic boycotts are not only illegal, they are antithetical to the mission of free and open inquiry—the foundation of scholarly pursuits. This flagrant act of discrimination on the part of the ASA singles out only one of the 192 member nations of the United Nations. It seems clear that it does so not because of Israel’s U.N.-condemned disputes with its geographical neighbors, as such disputes are common. Moreover, Curtis Marez, the group’s president and an associate professor of ethnic studies at the University of California, admitted to the New York Times that “many nations, including Israel’s neighbors, are generally judged to have human rights records that are worse than Israel’s.” To wit, Syria’s use of chemical weapons against its own citizens, including children, was condemned by all.

Why did the ASA single out Israel for a boycott? Because Israel is the Jewish nation.

The proposed boycott against Israel and Israelis—many of which hold dual citizenship with the United States, and many of which are New York residents—will punish scholars not just because of what they might believe (which is bad enough) but simply because of their nationality.

I believe that an investigation by your office is necessary to protect the rights of all students, professors and New York residents otherwise associated with Israeli colleges and universities.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Dov Hikind
Member of Assembly

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