David T Brown

Federation leaders applaud positions taken on academic boycott of Israel by local universities

David T BrownDavid T. Brown, Chairman of the Board, and Steven B. Nasatir, President, have issued the following statement on the recent vote of the American Studies Association:

The resolution passed at the recent meeting of the American Studies Association (ASA) calling for a boycott of Israeli universities has raised considerable consternation. While the ASA may be a relatively small (approximately 5,000 member) organization, and while hardly more than 800 of its members voted for that resolution – which critics including ASA members claim was railroaded through – the issue is of legitimate concern to all true supporters of academic freedom, fairness, and a just resolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

As the American Association of University Professors and other groups and individuals from the world of academia have proclaimed, the very concept of academic boycotts is totally alien to the principles of academic freedom which are basic to university life. And by singling out Israeli universities, and only them, as it has done, the ASA has invited criticism of its motives as well as it methods.

In response to this repugnant act by a body which has been described as “a fringe of a fringe,” university presidents and administrators around the country have raised their voices to condemn the step taken by the ASA, to support academic freedom, and in some cases to end their own institution’s membership in the ASA.

In our own area, Northwestern University and the University of Chicago were quick to raise their voices in this way. We commend and applaud those and other universities, listed here, that have already spoken out in opposition to the ASA academic boycott resolution or gone further and retracted their membership in ASA. Our hope and expectation is that all universities will join this chorus speaking up for academic freedom and against the violation of academic standards by the ASA and any other association who use their pulpits to promote misguided political agendas.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Chicago mayor lights JUF menorah on last night of Chanukah

Mayor Rahm Emanuel
Mayor Rahm Emanuel lights the JUF Chanukah menorah with JUF President Steven B. Nasatir (left) and the Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School children’s choir

Chicago received one last gift on the last night of Chanukah this year.

On Wednesday, the eighth and final night of the holiday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel visited the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago to light the menorah (Chanukah lamp) during a ceremony co-sponsored by the City of Chicago.

JUF/JF President Steven B. Nasatir introduced the mayor. “Chanukah is all about freedom,” Nasatir said. “Here we are, thousands of years later. living in this great country, a country that has provided freedom for all Americans, in a wonderful community, in an extraordinary city that’s headed by a mayor who exhibits vigor and wisdom every single day.”

“I want to thank the Jewish United Fund not for what it’s doing today, but because the Jewish United Fund lights Chanukah [every day]!” said Mayor Emanuel. “What is Chanukah? Bringing light to those who live in the shadows and making sure that people, regardless of where they live, have light in their life. We have to contribute part of our light to helping others that are less fortunate regardless of where they live across the world or across the city. I want to thank the Jewish United Fund for your commitment to helping lift others up. This holiday should help all of us recommit to helping others who are less fortunate in our city, remember them, not just today, and not just in the holiday season, but yearlong.”

The spirited children’s choir from the Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School sang three songs during the candle lighting, including a Matisyahu song called “Miracle.”

The candle lighting came a week after the first night of the Festival of Lights, which coincided this year with Thanksgiving Day.