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Public Statements

Protect Academic Freedom Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. ROSKAM. Mr. Speaker, in December of last year, the American Studies Association did a shameful thing. They decided to call an academic boycott of one nation, and that is the State of Israel. Think about that. They looked over every other country of the world and they said basically by omission: Oh, you're fine, and you're fine, and you're fine. It doesn't matter what is happening there or what is happening there, but we are going to go after one country, Israel, and we are going to call upon a boycott.

The former Israeli Ambassador, Michael Oren, after that happened, he asked this question:

Will Congress stand up for academic freedom?

And the answer is, yes.

I was pleased, Mr. Speaker, to join with 134 colleagues, myself included, to send a letter to the American Studies Association to admonish them on what is clearly an anti-Semitic effort on their part. I know that is a very harsh thing for me to say, but there is no other way to describe it. It is anti-Semitic.

I intend to move forward in the coming weeks to offer legislation called the Protect Academic Freedom Act which will prevent these campaigns by prohibiting Federal funds to universities that boycott Israeli academic institutions. Said another way, these organizations are clearly free to do what they want to do under the First Amendment, but the American taxpayer doesn't have to subsidize it. The American taxpayer doesn't have to be complicit in it, and the American taxpayer doesn't have to play any part in it. In fact, what we are doing on a bipartisan basis is calling for Congress to defend academic freedom because we recognize that academic freedom is at the very root of our own freedom.

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