New York State Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz joined with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in co-sponsoring legislation that would prohibit the use of state aid to fund academic entities that engage in discrimination.
The legislation follows a decision by the American Studies Association (ASA), a conglomerate of individuals, universities, libraries and other academic institutions, to boycott Israeli universities in protest of Israel’s policy towards Palestinians. Their stance has created a firestorm of controversy that is generating substantial public backlash. The newly proposed legislation would prohibit organizations that pass resolutions or undertake official actions boycotting certain countries or their higher education institutions, like the ASA, from receiving tax dollars.
“This legislation is an appropriate response to the outrageous decision by the ASA to boycott Israeli universities and cultural institutions,” Dinowitz said. “Their boycott is out-and-out discrimination based on national origin and, yes, religion. New York State taxpayers should not have to fund discrimination and anti-Semitism.”
The law would only apply to schools in countries that host a higher education institution chartered by the Board of Regents, which as of 2005 included six institutions located in Lebanon, Israel, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Colleges violating this ban would not be eligible for state aid during the academic year in which the violation occurs.
An employee of a college may still attend any event of an academic entity engaging in a boycott, and attendance at any such event shall not be used by the college with regard to employment decisions. However, colleges would be prohibited from using state aid to pay membership dues to a boycotting academic entity, or reimburse travel or lodging for an employee attending any meeting of such academic entity.