Roskam says education group 'anti-Semitic' for boycotting Israel

Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) on Tuesday accused an education group of anti-Semitism for its December decision to boycott Israeli educational groups.

Roskam said the vote by members of the American Studies Association (ASA) was "shameful," and said he as pleased to join more than 100 other members of the House to protest what he said was an "anti-Semitic" decision.

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"I know that's a very harsh thing for me to say, but there's no other way to describe it," he said. "It is anti-Semitic."

The ASA says it's an association "devoted to the interdisciplinary study of American culture and history," and it includes teachers, researchers, museum directors and others as members. In December, its members voted by a more than two-to-one margin to boycott Israel.

"The resolution is in solidarity with scholars and students deprived of their academic freedom and it aspires to enlarge that freedom for all, including Palestinians," the group said on its website on Monday. "The ASA's endorsement of the academic boycott emerges from the context of US military and other support for Israel; Israel's violation of international law and UN resolutions; the documented impact of the Israeli occupation on Palestinian scholars and students; the extent to which Israeli institutions of higher education are a party to state policies that violate human rights; and finally, the support of such a resolution by a majority of ASA members."

In response to that vote, Roskam said he would soon introduce legislation to deny federal funds to any university that boycotts Israeli academic institutions. He said taxpayers should not have to fund entities that make these sorts of decisions.

"Said another way, these organizations are clearly free to do what they want to do under the First Amendment," he said. "But the American taxpayer doesn't have to subsidize it."