BDS as a Threat to Academic Freedom and Campus Free Speech in the United States, written by Miriam Elman, AEN’s executive director, and Michael Atkins, a lawyer and AEN’s former deputy director, is part of a special issue first presented at the Michigan State University College of Law’s International Law Review 2020 symposium on Free Speech Around the World. This 2021 article examines the most significant ways that the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement undermines and threatens to erode academic freedom and free space on a growing number of U.S. colleges and university campuses.
Israel Denial: Anti-Zionism, Anti-Semitism, & the Faculty Campaign Against the Jewish State, written and edited by Professor Cary Nelson of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is a co-publication of AEN and Indiana University Press. Nelson has been a leading voice in speaking and writing against BDS influence in the academy and against anti-Israel boycotts on campus. In his book, Nelson marshals a tremendous amount of evidence to refute charges made against Israel and Israeli academic institutions by faculty proponents of the BDS movement. The book addresses the shoddy scholarship, questionable concepts, false analogies, and sometimes outright fraudulent claims advanced by BDS faculty activists. Nelson discussed his book during an evening roundtable at AEN’s May 2019 National Conference in San Diego. In addition to providing financial support to make the publication of the volume possible, AEN staff members helped edit and proof and volume and offered feedback to the author which was well received. AEN has distributed the volume at no charge to more than 200 faculty members in the AEN network and plans on further disseminating it this coming year. AEN members David Mikics and Monica Osborne reviewed Israel Denial for Tablet and the Jewish Journal, respectively.
Word Crimes: Reclaiming the Language of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, is a Summer 2019 special issue of the journal Israel Studies, which will be reprinted as a book by Indiana University Press. Co-edited by Miriam Elman, Donna Robinson Divine, and Asaf Romirowsky (and featuring contributions by several other AEN members), the publication focuses on how Israel’s detractors in academia have manipulated vocabulary over the decades to advance their cause. In March 2019, AEN extensively publicized a webinar, in which the three co-editors discussed their work. AEN also distributed copies of the journal at its National Conference in San Diego, and the three co-editors participated in an evening roundtable about the book. The full introduction to “Word Crimes,” by Donna Robinson Divine, is available to read here.
Poisoning the Wells: Antisemitism in Contemporary American Culture, Politics, and Education, co-edited by Corinne Blackmer and Andrew Pessin, two AEN members who have long been involved in combatting BDS on their campus and within academia. This collection of essays focuses on identifying and analyzing anti-Zionist and antisemitic currents within different groups (such as the media, academia, the LGBT community, religious groups, and the far left and far right) and includes contributions by six AEN members, in addition to Blackmer and Pessin. Among these are essays by Ken Waltzer and Miriam Elman.
Anti-Zionism on Campus: The University, Free Speech, and BDS, co-edited by AEN members Andrew Pessin and Doron Ben-Atar. The volume, which was subvented by AEN, includes essays by several AEN members describing the adverse impacts the BDS movement has had on both faculty and students on campus. Pessin and Ben-Atar wrote about the book for Tablet and did an interview in the Algemeiner. The book was also reviewed by AEN member Jarrod Tanny in the Jewish Review of Books.
Guide and Resource Book for Faculty: In Fall 2017, AEN published Academic Freedom, Freedom of Expression, and the BDS Challenge: A Guide and Resource Book for Faculty. This text, written to facilitate faculty engagement with some of the more troubling trends and issues on contemporary college and university campuses, was a companion volume to our earlier work for administrators and university leaders.
The guide addressed the ways the BDS movement and its proponents adversely affect three different areas of academic life: support for the academic boycott on campus and in professional associations, support for divestment campaigns and other initiatives that rile and influence student bodies, and the impact of BDS supported activities, including planned disruptions, on campus life. Each section offered practical advice and suggested actions that faculty members can consider.
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Guide and Resource Book for University Leaders: In Fall 2016, AEN published Academic Freedom, Freedom of Expression, and the BDS Movement: A Guide and Resource Book for University Leaders, directed at university leaders, namely presidents, chancellors, provosts, and deans. The aim of this publication was to inform these leaders about the challenges that the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement poses to the academy, and to offer constructive guidance and a range of suggestive examples about effective responses to such challenges when they appear.
The Guide is organized in two parts: the first part is titled “BDS, Academic Freedom, Free Speech, and the University,” and includes sections on the rise of BDS, on BDS campaigns for boycott and divestment, and also on BDS-inspired efforts at the disruption of free expression by others on campus. The second part is titled “Student Conduct Codes and Procedures,” and explores the many ways in which well-constructed codes of conduct and thoughtful protocols for enforcing them at difficult moments can help universities and colleges protect freedom of expression.
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