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Modern Language Assoc. features anti-Israel slurs in resolution debate

JTA

June 3, 2014 | 4:02 pm

Amid debate featuring anti-Israel slurs, the full Modern Language Association membership voted on a resolution singling out Israel for denying academics entry to the West Bank.

At least 10 percent of the full MLA membership of 30,000 was required to participate in the six-week-long voting cycle online that ended Sunday to make it official. The results have not been released to the public.

[Related: Battleground California – UCLA and Israel]

A number of resolution proponents criticized “Zionist attack dogs” and “the Zionist lobby,” which “railroads its way through Congress, universities and civil society,” according to some of the debate published on Pastebin.com. The language was leaked from an internal MLA website.

“I am pleased to see the tactfulness of the Palestinian resolution, as I’m tired of Zionists constantly carping at those who support Palestinian rights … such as this Jewish American,” wrote Richard Pressman, a communications professor at St. Mary’s University in Texas.

The full membership was voting on a resolution passed in January by the MLA’s delegate assembly. The 60-53 vote approved a measure calling on the U.S. State Department to “contest Israel’s denials of entry to the West Bank by U. S. academics who have been invited to teach, confer, or do research at Palestinian universities.”

Resolution opponents noted that countries with abysmal records on human rights and academic freedom were not singled out for condemnation like Israel.

“This resolution rightly targets only Israel given the humongous influence that Jewish scholars have in the decision making process of Academia in general,” wrote Alessio Lerro, an adjunct assistant professor of comparative literature at Temple University.

Lerro in a Facebook post on Holocaust Remembrance Day questioned the number of Jews who died in the Shoah, sparking accusations of Holocaust denial.

“6 million? mh…. we all know (or should know) that the counting of Jews is a bit controversial,” Lerro said in the post, which has since been deleted. “This said, without the death toll of The USSR, we would all speak German now.”

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