Middle East Studies Association Losing Institutional Members As Anti-Israel Boycott Resolution Voting Starts

by Johanna Markind
February 9, 2022
Read the original post on the Legal Insurrection website.

As we previously reported, the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) passed a resolution at its December 2, 2021, business meeting endorsing boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. The resolution was sent out last month to MESA’s full membership for ratification. The ratification vote opened January 31 and will close March 22.

At the time of the initial MESA BDS resolution, MESA’s website listed 54 institutional members. As of February 7, MESA lists only 46 institutional members, a 14.8% drop. Six universities that formerly belonged are no longer listed. They are:

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

Besides the above universities, two research institutes listed last year are no longer included in MESA’s institutional membership list:

Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies
The Academic Research Institute in Iraq (TARII)

Florida State University previously notified LIF that it was discontinuing its MESA membership, as we reported January 16. Dennis Schnittker, FSU’s Assistant Vice President for University Communications, wrote: “The FSU Middle East Center did not renew its annual membership in MESA for the 2022 calendar year. Membership expired Dec. 31, 2021.”

On January 18, The Algemeiner reported that Anne Betteridge, Ph.D., Director of the University of Arizona Center for Middle Eastern Studies, stated her institution had also declined to renew its MESA membership. Algemeiner later revised its article to say that, according to Dr. Betteridge, Arizona hadn’t yet received its MESA dues notice.

LIF has reached out to University of Arizona, Boston College, Duke-UNC Consortium, Marquette, and University of Illinois but has received no response as of this writing.

On January 20, Amy Schlesing, former Executive Director of Strategic Communications for the University of Arkansas, emailed LIF that “The university has not renewed its institutional membership to MESA,” without explanation. As of this date, MESA does list the University of Arkansas as a member.

LIF reached out multiple times to MESA to ask for comment about the membership drop, but received no response.

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