The international academic organization Society for the Study of Social Problems voted down an anti-Israel BDS resolution at its recent annual meeting in New York.
The website Inside Higher Ed reported on Tuesday that “Members of the Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP) introduced a resolution calling for the boycott of ‘complicit Israeli academic institutions’ at its annual meeting in New York this month… which ultimately failed.”
The resolution aimed to “foster support for our Palestinian academic colleagues, whose basic human rights, including the right to education and academic freedom, have been denied for decades under Israel’s military occupation and racist policies,” supporters wrote, according to Inside Higher Ed.
The SSSP vote tally was 37 against and 34 in favor, with seven abstentions.
The online educational site noted that, “In response to outstanding concerns about the voting process, several leaders of the society said in a joint statement that only certified votes were counted. ‘We cannot know the motives behind every member’s vote, but we can say with certainty that individuals who voted against the resolution voted as they did for a variety of reasons,’ the leaders said. Numerous voting members reported that they disagreed with Israeli policies regarding Palestinians but also did not think an academic boycott was the solution, for example.”
According to the website of SSSP, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions resolution was introduced by Melissa Weiner and Johnny E. Williams. Weiner is an associate professor of sociology at the College of Holy Cross, a private Jesuit college in Worcester, Massachusetts. Williams is a professor of sociology at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. He has faced criticism for his Facebook posts.
Inside Higher Ed wrote in May that, “Williams has again caught flak for new Facebook posts about race. In one, he wrote: ‘White kneegrows [sic] really need a lot of therapy and a good ol’ ass kicking.’ He later clarified that he was talking about black Republican commentator Candace Owens, but also ‘other and less brazen but more insidious dangerous “white” kneegrows like Barry and Michelle Obama.’”
Williams has tweeted that “Whiteness is terrorism.”
The SSSP wrote on its website that its “stated purpose is to promote and protect sociological research and teaching on significant problems of social life and, particularly, to encourage the work of young sociologists; to stimulate the application of scientific method and theory to the study of vital social problems; to encourage problem-centered social research; and to foster cooperative relations among persons and organizations engaged in the application of scientific sociological findings to the formulation of social policies.
“Fulfilling this purpose requires both a strict adherence to the highest principles of academic freedom, freedom of speech and due process, as stated in the AAUP’s 1940 statement on academic freedom and tenure and 2014 statement on academic freedom and electronic communications; and the protection of the right to engage in intellectual debates of all types without fear of censorship or retaliation,” the statement continues.
The rejection of BDS by SSSP comes on the heels of a large German student group opposing the movement.
In July, the student parliament for the University of Münster in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia passed a resolution against the BDS campaign targeting Israel.
“We clearly position ourselves against any form of antisemitism and reject the boycott efforts against Israel,” read a Facebook post of the Green Party group (CampusGrün Münster) at the university. “In particular, we are positioning ourselves against the BDS movement and oppose any cooperation with this.”