On June 14, 2017, the Modern Language Association announced the results of polling on Delegate Assembly Resolution 2017-1, which calls on the association to “refrain from endorsing the boycott” of Israeli academic institutions. Despite the effort to defeat Resolution 2017-1, it was ratified by a vote of 1,954 to 885. For a resolution to be ratified, at least 10 % of MLA members must vote in favor of it. In 2017, “[t]he number of eligible voters was 18,279, so 1,828 votes were required for ratification of the resolutions.”
David Palumbo Liu’s “The Language of Oppression” (Jacobin July 16, 2017) provides an insightful report on the vote results.
After a series of successes, this result represents an unfortunate, but not dispiriting, setback for the academic boycott movement within the MLA. Setbacks are not uncommon for Palestinians or anyone committed to advocating Palestinian rights. Palestinians have suffered an almost endless series of defeats at the hands of the Israeli military, but affirm their right to exist in Palestine, forging a remarkable culture of resistance that stands in opposition to Israel’s ruthless colonialism.
MLA Members for Justice in Palestine remains committed to promoting Palestinian literature and culture, advocating Palestinian human rights, and working with other academics in opposing injustice. The group is exploring how best to respond to this setback and will soon be issuing a public statement.
The struggle continues . . .