What Harriet Sherwood Forgot to Mention About the ASA ‘Boycott’

January 1, 2014 12:52 pm 1 comment

Columbia University. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Though Guardian Jerusalem correspondent Harriet Sherwood consistently either ignores or plays down Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens, she rarely misses an opportunity to provide free PR for even the most marginal BDS and delegitimization campaigns targeting the Jewish State. Indeed, in December she of course found time to write an 800 word feature on a largely symbolic boycott resolution by a small number of American academics.

In attempting to impute significance to the motion, Sherwood wrote the following:

A prestigious US academic body has joined a growing movement to boycott Israel in protest at its treatment of Palestinians, in a move both welcomed and condemned in a bitterly divisive international arena…The American Studies Association (ASA), which has more than 5,000 members, is the most significant US academic organisation to back a boycott of Israeli educational institutions following a two-thirds majority vote.

Sherwood further contextualized the boycott motion as a victory amid the ongoing “international boycott drive against Israel.”

However, days before the ASA boycott vote was even cast, a more sober assessment on the potential anti-Israel resolution was published at this blog.

In his CiF Watch guest post on December 15, Jon (from the blog DivestThis!) argued that the ASA was setting itself up for failure, and that if the vote was to pass, “it will be a vote of an organization that has discredited itself, even before the rest of the academy marginalizes them still further by pointing out that…an academic boycott is the opposite of academic freedom“.

Then, following the vote, an interesting thing occurred: A remarkably large segment of American academia indeed took steps to marginalize the ASA and stand up for the principles of academic freedom threatened by the boycott resolution.

Thanks in part to the dogged efforts of tireless activists such as William A. Jacobson, the following is a current list (per Avi Mayer) of institutions whose presidents or chancellors have publicly rejected the ASA’s academic boycott of Israel:

Additionally, the following institutions’ American Studies programs have formally withdrawn their membership in the American Studies Association (ASA) following the boycott vote:

One of the most eloquent denunciations of the boycott was issued by the President and Dean of Faculty of Trinity College in Connecticut:

To The Immediate Attention of the President of the American Studies Association:

Our Dean of the Faculty, Thomas Mitzel, and I wish to go on record renouncing the boycott of Israel on the part of the ASA.

Trinity once years back was an institutional member (we were then advertising for an open position), and apparently some members of our faculty are individual members. Were we still an institutional member, we would not be any longer after the misguided and unprincipled announcement of the boycott of the only democracy in the Middle East. The Dean and I oppose academic boycotts in general because they can so easily encroach upon academic freedom.

In this strange case, why the ASA would propose an academic boycott of Israel and not, for example, of Syria, the Sudan, North Korea, China, Iran, Iraq, or Russia escapes rational thought. Trinity has participated in the Rescue Scholar program since its inception; we have welcomed scholars from some of the most repressive countries on the planet, and it is inconceivable to us that we would ever be welcoming a Rescue Scholar fleeing Israel for political reasons.

As President of the ASA, you have tarnished a once distinguished association.

Moreover, there doesn’t seem to be a single university or major academic group in the U.S. supporting the boycott. Indeed, anyway you parse it, if the goal of the ASA – and its anti-Zionist supporters – was to create momentum for the boycott movement, they’ve clearly failed miserably at their task.

You can chalk this up as yet another major BDS Fail.

Adam Levick is the managing editor of CiF Watch, an affiliate of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA).

1 Comment

  • I am so happy to see such a long list of Universities who have rejected the ASA’s academic boycott of Israel. However, how can i as a ordinary past student of several universities impress on them the importance of joining this list?

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Book Reviews Opinion Robert Gates’ Memoir is a Jaw-Dropping Read (REVIEW)

    Robert Gates’ Memoir is a Jaw-Dropping Read (REVIEW)

    Former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates’s memoir follows the classic form, telling the story of his years at the Pentagon during the Bush and Obama administrations. He focuses on what he did and experienced personally as secretary, neither writing a broad policy treatise nor recounting the entire history of the administrations in which he served. In so doing, Gates provides penetrating insights about the inner workings of US national security decision-making. Had I been George W. Bush, I would [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Book Reviews The Media, Israel, and Anti-Semitism (REVIEW)

    The Media, Israel, and Anti-Semitism (REVIEW)

    Pressing Israel: Media Bias Exposed from A-Z by Lee Bender and Jerome Verlin (Pavilion Press, Philadelphia, Pa. 2013) Sophocles said, “What people believe prevails over truth,” Pressing Israel: Media Bias Exposed from A-Z is ideal for the arm chair reader who would like a basic grasp of the terms used in the mainstream media’s presentation of the Arab-Israeli situation as is reported today. This is a book whose time has come. This is a book where the reader gains a [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs William Shatner’s One Man Show Keeps Him in the Limelight (INTERVIEW)

    William Shatner’s One Man Show Keeps Him in the Limelight (INTERVIEW)

    JNS.org – On Thursday, audiences around the country can feel what it is like to be William Shatner, the Jewish actor best known for his portrayal of Captain James T. Kirk on “Star Trek.” Shatner’s one-man show “Shatner’s World”—which was on Broadway and toured Canada, Australia, and the United States—will be presented in nearly 700 movie theaters nationwide for one night only on April 24. Sponsored by Fathom Events and Priceline.com (for whom Shatner has famously served as a pitchman), [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews The Origins of Palestinian Refugee Relief Efforts (REVIEW)

    The Origins of Palestinian Refugee Relief Efforts (REVIEW)

    Romirowsky and Joffe’s book Religion, Politics and the Origins of Palestine Refugee Relief is an important volume for those interested in truly understanding the origins of the Palestinian refugee issue. Utilizing a treasure trove of newly released documents, the authors link UNRWA’s (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine) origins to the Quakers/American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). For those readers who thought they knew most of the Middle East story, Romirowsky and Joffe’s version provides another twist. The authors meticulously [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports Israeli Soccer Team Faces Prospect of International Ban

    Israeli Soccer Team Faces Prospect of International Ban

    The Israel National soccer team could be facing a World Cup ban, and other soccer sanctions, unless it alleviates travel restrictions and increases field access for Palestinian players and coaches. The head of the Palestinian Football Association is pushing for international soccer’s governing body, the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA), to issue a ban on Israel competing internationally, claiming Israel’s restrictive travel for Palestinians is equivalent to a form of oppression. “It’s not only the athletes,” Jibril Rajoub explains. [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Book Reviews Jewish Author of ‘Eat to Live’ Dishes on Health Care, Nutrition, Disease Prevention

    Jewish Author of ‘Eat to Live’ Dishes on Health Care, Nutrition, Disease Prevention

    JNS.org – While the national debate on “Obamacare” rages on past the recent March 31 sign-up deadline, bestselling Jewish author Dr. Joel Fuhrman says the “current disease care model of what we call ‘health care’ cannot possibly be sustained.” “There is simply not enough money available to support a system in which the lion’s share of expenditures is devoted to acute care, with virtually nothing being spent on preventive medicine, i.e. health care,” Fuhrman says in an interview. “To make [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity ‘Tears of Color’ Art Exhibit Shows Struggles of Israelis With Eating Disorders

    ‘Tears of Color’ Art Exhibit Shows Struggles of Israelis With Eating Disorders

    JNS.org – “This is how I want to be—without fear. Independent. I want to be like a bird. I want to spread my wings.” So reads part of the description beneath one of the 30 paintings on display until the end of May at the ZOA House in Tel Aviv. The collection represents the first-ever art exhibit of its kind: an exhibit created entirely by Israelis in treatment for eating disorders. Dubbed “Tears of Color,” based on one of the [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Book Reviews Overprotective or Loving? Daughters Reflect on Jewish Mothers in New Anthology

    Overprotective or Loving? Daughters Reflect on Jewish Mothers in New Anthology

    JNS.org – Rachel Ament noticed that she and her friends often shared humorous anecdotes that were typically variations on a theme: overprotective, worrying Jewish moms who smothered them with love. That included Ament’s own mother. “My mom is probably every Jewish stereotype scrunched into one,” the Washington, DC, resident tells JNS.org. “At the root of all these stereotypical, worrying, overprotective moms, is love.” A social media writer for Capital One, as well as a freelance writer, Ament decided about three years [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.