Palestine Legal staff attorney Radhika Sainath made the following statement in response to a legal threat against the Modern Language Association (MLA) in advance of its upcoming vote on a resolution supporting the academic boycott of Israel. The vote will be held this weekend in Philadelphia.
“The MLA’s academic boycott resolution challenges U.S. support for a system that denies academic freedom to Palestinian students and scholars. The resolution falls squarely within the educational purposes for which the MLA was established. The notion that the “ultra vires” doctrine – a corporate law theory – could limit the MLA’s First Amendment right to endorse the academic boycott is meritless. The MLA is well within its rights and powers to issue this resolution.
Rather than debate this issue on the merits, pro-Israel advocacy groups are once again resorting to legal bullying in an attempt to scare professors from taking a principled stance in support of their colleagues in Palestine. Indeed, the irony of Israel advocacy groups resorting to such measures to shut down academic debate in the U.S. about Israel’s denial of academic freedom in Palestine is not lost on us.”