Modern Language Association denies space to pro-Israel campus groups Refuses to allow balanced debate on Israel at Chicago Convention

This is a republication of a press release from the Israel on Campus Coalition on Thursday, January 2, 2014.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Hillel International and Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC) protest the decision by the Modern Language Association (MLA) to deny the organizations the right to present a balanced and open discussion featuring MLA members regarding academic freedom in Israel, its territories, and Gaza at MLA’s annual convention in Chicago beginning on January 9.

Earlier this week, in response to a request from ICC and Hillel, MLA said the deadline to book a meeting room at the association’s convention was April 1, 2013.

ICC and Hillel are considering holding a “balancing panel” discussion at a nearby location during the MLA convention. ICC and Hillel are pursuing this effort because the MLA’s scheduled panel discussion, which purports to “promote discussion… through the lens of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” is designed to present a one-sided and thoroughly anti-Israel perspective. The alternate balancing panel discussion would include MLA members who oppose a draft MLA resolution condemning Israel’s alleged “arbitrary denials of entry to Gaza and the West Bank by U. S. academics.”

All of the panelists, and the moderator, of the MLA-approved panel favor boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) efforts against the Jewish State.

“We believe the members of the MLA deserve to hear a far more diverse set of perspectives on the issue of academic freedom in Israel and nearby countries. The MLA members, as academics, certainly can appreciate the value of multiple perspectives on what is a very controversial issue,” said Jacob Baime, ICC executive director.

About the ICC

The Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC) was established in 2002 during the wave of anti-Israel incidents on colleges and universities across the United States associated with the Second Intifada. On many campuses during that period, anti-Israel rallies were a daily occurrence. Some universities cancelled or curtailed their study abroad programs in Israel, anti-Israel rhetoric by faculty inside and outside the classroom increased, and campus administrators seemed ineffectual and timid in their reactions to these disturbing trends. ICC strategically focuses its efforts on building strong leaders in the campus community to effectively advocate for Israel and change the campus Israel climate.