AJC, ADL oppose anti-boycott measure

Two national Jewish organizations are opposing a Maryland bill that would financially penalize colleges involved in some academic boycotts.

The American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League said in statements that while they do not support the American Studies Association’s call for a boycott of Israel, which occasioned the measure being considered by Maryland legislators, they also do not support any attempt to stifle academic freedom.

“Maryland’s proposed legislative action, which itself raises academic freedom questions, is not the answer to discriminatory acts against Israeli academics,” said Alan Ronkin, the director of AJC’s Washington office, in a March 5 statement. The AJC and ADL have objected to similar bills under consideration in other state legislatures.

The Maryland bill would prohibit public universities from paying for its employees to attend conferences or use public funds if they participated directly or indirectly in support of specific academic boycotts. The measure also reduces state funding to the boycotting universities by 3 percent. — jta