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NGO threatens to sue US academic group which boycotts Israel

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NGO threatens to sue US academic group which boycotts Israel

By YONAH JEREMY BO, jpost.com, Jan.9, 2014

The American Studies Association announced in December that it was boycotting Israel and its universities.

In the wake of the American Studies Association (ASA) December-announced boycott of Israel and Israeli universities, Shurat Hadin has threatened to sue the ASA for unlawful discrimination.

Shurat Hadin – Israel Law Center on Thursday sent a letter to the ASA threatening to sue initiate a lawsuit on behalf of various Israeli academics, arguing that the ASA boycott violates both international, federal and state laws.

The distributed letter specifically mentioned a number of New York state laws against discrimination which make it unlawful discrimination “for any person to boycott or blacklist, or to refuse to buy from, sell to or trade with, or otherwise discriminate against any person, because of the race, creed, color, national origin.”

It also mentions Article 1.1 of the international Anti-Racism Convention, which was ratified by the US, as prohibiting discrimination of the kind that it accuses ASA of.

The NGO then expounded on its claim that according to the Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign which the ASA has joined is at its core not merely anti-Israel, but also anti-Semitic.

Further, Shurat Hadin made the case that BDS is not “protected free speech” as it is “action” and not mere speech, adding that BDS infringes on the free speech of other academics.

The NGO said that “as of January 8th, 2013, over 100 college presidents have gone on record as opposing the ASA boycott and at least five universities have withdrawn or plan to withdraw as institutional members of the association.”

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, director of Shurat Hadin said, “It is quite simple, the law in the United States prohibits discrimination on the basis of any protected characteristic, faith, ethnicity, sexuality or disability.”

She continued, “The ASA boycott which targets Israelis because they are Israelis and Jews is illegal. We commend those professors and academic institutions who have distanced themselves from this blinkered and hateful boycott.”

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