In yet another illustration of the outrage stirred by the American Studies Association’s largely symbolic boycott of Israeli universities, U.S. Reps. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) and Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) on Thursday announced the introduction of a bill that would amend the Higher Education Act to block federal funding for universities that boycott Israeli institutions or scholars. Student financial aid funds would be unaffected.
“This bipartisan legislation seeks to preserve academic freedom and combat bigotry by shielding Israel from unjust boycotts. It is ludicrous for critics to go after our democratic friend and ally Israel when they should be focusing on the evils perpetrated by repressive, authoritarian regimes like Iran and North Korea,” Rep. Roskam, the Chief Deputy Whip and co-chair of the House Republican Israel Caucus, said in a statement.
Anti-boycott legislation has also been introduced in the Maryland and New York State legislatures, in the latter case passing the New York Senate before stalling in the Assembly. The American Association of University Professors has argued that legislative attempts to squash boycotts pose a greater danger to academic freedom than boycotts themselves (which the AAUP also opposes).