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Scholars Sue American Studies Association Over Boycott of Israel

[Updated (4/20/2016, 2:57 p.m.) with a statement from the association.]

Four professors have sued the American Studies Association over its boycott of Israel’s academic institutions, saying the move exceeds the scope of the organization’s charter, according to a news release issued by the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law.

The association’s 2013 vote to approve the boycott, in protest of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, provoked a backlash from scholars who said it posed a significant obstacle to the free exchange of ideas.

In the news release, Simon J. Bronner, a professor of American studies at Pennsylvania State University at Harrisburg and a plaintiff in the lawsuit, said the association had been swayed by a group of activists bent on promoting their “narrow political agenda.” The Brandeis Center describes itself as a “nonpartisan institution for public-interest advocacy, research, and education” designed “to advance the civil and human rights of the Jewish people and promote justice for all.”

The association’s executive director, John F. Stephens, said in a written statement that the lawsuit was under review by ASA lawyers. “We are open to proposals addressing the complaint to be handled within the internal processes and procedures of the ASA, to include submission of a formal resolution to the organization,” he said.

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