NEW YORK (JTA) — Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, and one of the longest-serving and highest-profile American Jewish organizational leaders, is retiring from his post.
Anti-Boycott Legislation, Free Speech and Academic Freedom: A Response to Ed Beck and the International Grass Roots Faculty Committee For Academic Freedom and Integrity
Yesterday, The Algemeiner published my article on “Legislating Against BDS.” In this article, I argue that Representatives Roskam and Lipinski have done creditable service in introducing legislation that would bar federal funding of universities that boycott Israel. Although their initial bill may not be perfect, it has provoked a healthy conversation about how legislatures can be address the misuse of taxpayer funds to support discriminatory boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) policies that arguably encroach upon academic freedom. To be fully effective, I argued, an anti-boycott bill would address not only boycotts but also divestment, and it should provide a tripartite enforcement scheme consistent with other areas of anti-discrimination law. Although the article has been generally well received, it has received one critical comment from Dr. Edward Beck that is sufficiently thoughtful and serious to require a full reply.
Dr. Beck posted his reply in the comments to my article on the Algemeiner site. As Brandeis Center Blog readers may be aware, Beck is the Co-founder and Chairman emeritus of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, although he has subsequently left SPME for new ventures. Although he does not directly criticize my article, Beck posts a position paper that takes a contrary view of the legislation. “You and your readers might be interested in learning the position of some pretty thoughtful folks with whom I am now working,” he writes, “on the International Grass Roots Faculty Committee For Academic Freedom and Integrity.” Beck then posts what he calls the “IGRFCAFI Statement on Punitive Legislation For Academic Boycott Actions.” The statement is signed by twelve distinguished academics, several of whom I personally know and deeply respect.