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Statement of Jonathan D. Sarna, President of the Association for Jewish Studies, Opposing All Academic Boycotts

December 20, 2013

Today, Jonathan D. Sarna, President of the Association for Jewish Studies (AJS), the preeminent international organization of Jewish Studies scholars, issued the communication below on behalf of the Board of Directors of AJS, in opposition to all academic boycotts. The Board of Directors of AJS unanimously endorsed a statement on December 17, 2013, in response to the resolution supporting an academic boycott of Israeli universities by the board and membership of the American Studies Association. In taking this stand against academic boycotts, the board of AJS adopted the position of the American Association of University Professors, which opposes academic boycotts “as a matter of principle.” 

“We oppose all boycotts of academics and academic institutions, as these actions only serve to divide thinkers from one another, stifle conversations, and stop learning,” said Sarna.

“Critical thinking and the free exchange of ideas are at the heart of scholarly achievement and intellectual inquiry at every level of education, and they are central values of any democratic society.  Posing and answering challenging questions, engaging in difficult discussions, and demanding intellectual accountability are all the more important when parties do not agree on issues of tremendous import, whether solely academic or related to pressing issues of the day. Broadening the spectrum of views in conversations and expanding the range of those who participate in them is central to the academy and to ensuring that truly engaged discourse inform both university life and civil societies worldwide.”

About the Association for Jewish Studies

The AJS is a learned society and professional association, whose mission is to advance research and teaching in Jewish Studies at colleges, universities, and other institutions of higher learning and to foster greater understanding of Jewish Studies scholarship among the wider public.  The largest organization in North America representing Jewish Studies scholars worldwide, AJS currently has over 1,800 individual members in 25 countries and 58 institutional members. AJS members include scholars of Jewish Studies working in virtually every humanities and social science discipline, researching Jewish experiences in communities around the world from the ancient period to the present.  Founded in 1969, the AJS has been a member of the American Council of Learned Societies since 1985. 

Jonathan D. Sarna, the Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University, was elected as president of AJS on December 15, 2013.

For more information, contact Rona Sheramy,
AJS Executive Director, at 917-606-8249 or ajs@ajs.cjh.org.