Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Modern Language Association Votes on Resolution Condemning Israeli Discrimination Against Palestinan Schools and Academics

The Delegate Assembly of the Modern Language Association approved a resolution critical of Israeli discrimination against Palestinian academics at its meeting on 11 January 2014 in Chicago.

There has been a discussion period from March 17 to April 16, 2014, during which members commented on the resolution on the MLA webpage.

From April 21st through June 1st MLA members will vote to accept or reject the resolution. Below is wording of the resolution and my comments (as a language teacher, I'm an MLA member).

There were a lot of good comments that laid out the history and depth of the Israeli government's oppression of Palestinians concerning education and other topics, so I confined my remarks to why educators in the USA should speak out.

Resolution 2014-1
Whereas Israel has denied academics of Palestinian ethnicity entry into the West Bank;

Whereas these restrictions violate international conventions on an occupying power’s obligation to protect the right to education;

Whereas the United States Department of State acknowledges on its Web site that Israel restricts the movements of American citizens of Palestinian descent;

Whereas the denials have disrupted instruction, research, and planning at Palestinian universities;

Whereas the denials have restricted the academic freedom of scholars and teachers who are United States citizens;

Be it resolved that the MLA urge the United States Department of State to contest Israel’s denials of entry to the West Bank by United States academics who have been invited to teach, confer, or do research at Palestinian universities.

My Comments

This resolution is a very narrowly focused one that deals with a clear injustice. It ought to be adapted by a large majority.

Opponents of the resolution say Israel is being singled out, and why not condemn other nations that practice ethnic or nationality-based discrimination regarding educational opportunities?

It's fine to expose human rights violations universally, but Israel's systematic ethnic discrimination is enabled by our government's uncritical support and massive funding of billions of dollars per year.

It's our tax dollars that perpetuate unjust policies directed against Palestinian schools and students.
Posted 15 Apr 10:32 pm by Richard Congress

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