Responses to Middle East Studies Association’s BDS Endorsement

Project Details

Party(ies) Involved

Middle East Studies Association; Hon. Dr. Miguel Cardona, Secretary of Education, U.S. Department of Education


Washington, DC/Tucson, AZ

Time Frame

December 2, 2021-March 22, 2022; April 20, 2022

Project Overview

At its December 2, 2021, business meeting, the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) approved a resolution endorsing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) call against Israel. Per MESA’s rules, the resolution was then sent to its membership for ratification. After the vote (which occurred January 31- March 22, 2022), MESA announced that the resolution had been ratified. LIF has worked to oppose this by publicizing MESA’s politicization into an anti-Israel advocacy group.


(MESA’s degeneration from an academic organization with the highest standards into a rabidly anti- Israel political advocacy group occurred over a period of several years. In 2017, MESA amended its bylaws to remove the word “non-political” from its nature and objectives, thereby paving the way for more explicit anti-Israel advocacy.)

Our Involvement

LIF exposed MESA’s degeneracy to its institutional members, asking whether they accepted the academic boycott of Israel and whether they planned to continue their MESA membership. Following the publicity LIF helped generate, at least seven universities announced they would not renew their membership in MESA or pay for their faculty members to belong to it. The seven are:

Boston College
Brandeis University
Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies
Florida State University
Marquette University
University of Arizona
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

LIF also co-signed a letter organized by The AMCHA Initiative addressed to the U.S. Secretary of Education: the letter asked the federal government not to fund Middle East studies programs boycotting Israel, on the grounds that the boycott violated the legislative intent of Title VI of the Higher Education Act that recipients of federal funding equip university students and faculty with a full and unbiased understanding of regions and countries vital to U.S. national security.

Case Documents

Letter from Amcha Initiative, LIF, et al., to Hon. Dr. Miguel Cardona, Secretary of Education, U.S. Department of Education (April 20, 2022).

Media Coverage

Johanna Markind, 87 Groups To U.S. Dept. Education: Middle East Studies Programs Boycotting Israel Shouldn’t Get Federal Funds, LEGAL INSURRECTION (April 24, 2022).

Johanna Markind, Breaking With Past, American Association of University Professors Refuses to Condemn Boycott of Israel By Middle East Studies Ass’n, LEGAL INSURRECTION (April 6, 2022).

Johanna Markind, Israel-Boycotting Middle East Studies Association Loses Another Institutional Member, Takes Down Membership List, LEGAL INSURRECTION (March 31, 2022).

Johanna Markind, Academic Ethnic Cleansing: Middle East Studies Association Signs Onto Boycott of Israel, LEGAL INSURRECTION (March 24, 2022).

Johanna Markind, Middle East Studies Association Defends Terror-Infused Palestinian University, While Moving To Boycott Israeli Academia, LEGAL INSURRECTION (February 13, 2022).

Johanna Markind, Middle East Studies Association Losing Institutional Members As Anti-Israel Boycott Resolution Voting Starts, LEGAL INSURRECTION (February 9, 2022).

Johanna Markind, Membership Voting To Ratify Anti-Israel Academic Boycott Starts At Middle East Studies Association, LEGAL INSURRECTION (January 31, 2022).

Johanna Markind, Will George Washington U Let Middle East Studies Ass’n Operate International Anti-Israel Academic Boycott From Its HQ On GWU’s Campus? LEGAL INSURRECTION (January 25, 2022).

Mike LaChance, Middle East Studies Association Members In “Legal Jeopardy” If Carry Out Israel Boycott On Campuses, LEGAL INSURRECTION (December 31, 2021).

William A. Jacobson, Florida State Drops Middle East Studies Association Membership As Group Moves Towards Israel Boycott, LEGAL INSURRECTION (January 16, 2022).

William A. Jacobson, Middle East Studies Association Boycotting Israel “Is Basically the Old Anti-Jewish Boycott”, LEGAL INSURRECTION (December 25, 2021).

William A. Jacobson, DeSantis Office: Florida Opposes Middle East Studies Association Conducting BDS Anti-Israel Academic Boycott Through FSU, LEGAL INSURRECTION (December 22, 2021).

William A. Jacobson, Middle East Studies Association Moves Toward Endorsing BDS Academic Boycott Against Israel, LEGAL INSURRECTION (December 12, 2021).

William A. Jacobson and Johanna E. Markind, Middle East Studies Association’s anti-Jewish BDS backing is a frontal attack on academic freedom, NEW YORK POST (December 10, 2021).