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October 29, 2014 7:27 am

The ASA’s Stunning Hypocrisy on Israel Boycott

avatar by Asaf Romirowsky

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A BDS protest. Photo: Isi Leibler.

The American Studies Association (ASA) adoption of a BDS resolution in December 2013 garnered a significant backlash from over 250 American university presidents and academic umbrella organizations announcing their rejection of the ASA boycott resolution.

Additionally, more than 130 lawmakers in the House of Representatives signed a bipartisan letter condemning the ASA’s “blatant disregard for academic freedom.” New York State assemblymen have proposed a measure that would forbid state funding to academic institutions that “support boycotts, resolutions or any similar actions that are discriminatory and limit academic opportunities.”

These measures indicate a strong political consensus in opposition to the ASA and the idea of boycotts, even if their ultimate disposition is uncertain. Of course, shortly after passing the resolution, the ASA bemoaned what it labeled a “campaign of intimidation against the ASA” and of course blamed the “Israel Lobby” for orchestrating the negative reactions.Despite the criticism the ASA received since they voted on their BDS policy, not to mention the lack of critical self-examination by individuals who pride themselves on true inquiry as to why support the boycott of Israeli scholars and institutions, now the ASA is now adding insult to injury with their recent fund raiser entitled the American Studies Middle East Initiative Fund.According to their website, “The ASA International Initiative has represented the Association’s desire for greater interaction with international scholars. The Association’s decision to endorse a Palestinian-led boycott of Israeli academic institutions underscores in particular the need for a deeper engagement with the constitutive history of US policies and practices not only in Israel/Palestine but also across the entire region, including Iraq and Syria. This Fund will defray the cost of travel for scholars across the Middle East to attend our Annual conference, as their participation is invaluable to our understanding of the US and the region.”To summarize, the ASA seeks “deeper engagement” across the Middle East but advocates boycotting Israel and Israeli scholars. The ASA sees the need to examine “constitutive history” but has effectively removed Israel from the Middle East and Middle Eastern history. This is glaring hypocrisy.

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The stated aims of the BDS movement are nothing short of the dissolution of Israel and its replacement with a bi-national, majority Palestinian entity. That the BDS movement and its supporters, endorsed by the ASA, continue to embrace to a platform to single out Israel as absolutely the worst society on earth is distressing and is nothing less than a “ready-made conclusion” of the extreme sort.

On the positive side, some in the ASA’s own membership, such as the Eastern American Studies Association (EASA) and its California counterpart, have rejected the general call for boycott within the ASA. Members of the ASA will continue to stand up against the polemists in the organization.

One has to wonder what kind of outcry would have erupted from the ASA and their Middle East Initiative Fund had a small minority of their membership called for Palestinians to be boycotted on the basis of their racist, homophobic and misogynist society, or Syria, because of its murderous totalitarianism, or Turkey for its century-long repression of Kurds and unacknowledged extermination of Armenians. The outrage would have been immense and entirely proper.

The EASA got it right when they made it clear that “above all, EASA is an inclusive organization, open to scholars from all over the world. For this reason, the Eastern American Studies Association will not comply with and does not support the American Studies Association’s Council Resolution on Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions” endorsing “a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.”

Before the ASA starts creating funds under the guise of “constitutive history,” it should look inward and demand the kind of inclusiveness it supposedly calls for.

This article was originally published by Ynet.

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  • Mike P.

    How about this argument, Glenn?

    Those who focus on Israel appear to have Jew-derangement syndrome, otherwise known as a case of good-ole’-fashioned anti-Semitism.

    This simplest explanation is usually the most accurate.

    Israeli universities educate more Arabs with a superior education than any other country in the world, including France, which has about 5 times the opportunity to do so, in both resources and Arab population.

    So Israeli academic institutions should be lauded–disproportionately–for helping Arabs–and other countries should be criticized for being laggards.

    In a few brief sentences, I have just made more sense than your entire page of purported deconstructing.

    That’s because you’ve drunk too much Kool Aid, Glenn.

  • Glenn

    The falsehoods in this article are glaring and multiple.
    (1) BDS does not have as its “stated aim”…”the dissolution of Israel and its replacement with a bi-national, majority Palestinian entity.” There are some who support BDS who advocate for a one-state solution, but many others support the two-state solution.
    (2) The ASA’s boycott does not “advocates boycotting Israel and Israeli scholars.” The ASA’s boycott targets institutions, not individuals. The boycott bans institutional ties between ASA and state-run academic institutions; it does not ban individuals (and in fact several Israeli academics are speaking at the upcoming ASA conference).
    (3) How does the new Middle East Initiative Fund “effectively remove Israel from the Middle East and Middle Eastern history?” In the same paragraph you quote a self-description of the fund that mentions “not only in Israel/Palestine but also across the entire region” and that says its goal is to “defray the cost of travel for scholars across the Middle East to attend our Annual conference.” Your own quotation contradicts the claim you make about “removing Israel from the Middle East.”

    These are the simple falsehoods. Then there are the weak analogies, notably the parallel between the ASA’s boycott of Israeli institutions and an imaginary call “for Palestinians to be boycotted on the basis of their racist, homophobic and misogynist society.” Is it so hard to see the difference between boycotting a *people* (Palestinians) for their *society* and boycotting a set of *institutions* because they are implicated in a state’s *policies*?

    And then there are the dopey ideas of boycotting “Syria, because of its murderous totalitarianism, or Turkey for its century-long repression of Kurds and unacknowledged extermination of Armenians.” If the Syrian opposition or a democratic Kurdish movement or Armenian rights activists deem it a priority to organize an academic boycott, then one can consider respecting that call. Otherwise, announcing a boycott of any of those nations would just be silly posturing. In contrast, dozens of Palestinian civil society organizations issued the call for a boycott of Israeli institutions.

    There are legitimate arguments against the ASA’s boycott. But the more you base your denunciations on falsehoods and weak analogies, the less persuasive your arguments are.

    • mika

      “In contrast, dozens of Palestinian civil society organizations issued the call for a boycott of Israeli institutions.”
      ==

      Which? Name them dozens.

      Why are the Jihadistanis in Gaza and elsewhere keep using Israeli hospitals, Israeli doctors, Israeli medicines, Israeli food stuff, Israeli utilities such as electricity and gas, Israeli infrastructure such as Israeli ports, Israeli roads, trains, buses, Israeli electronics and software, Israeli money, Israeli work places, and on and on.

      The article is largely correct. The issue is hypocrisy, double standards, hate propaganda. But more than that, it is overwhelming malice. That worm will dig into your soul until there’s nothing left. It doesn’t take very long. And as we often see, such people cease to be human and turn into vicious soulless dogs of hell.

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