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Ron Radosh

A Sad Day for the Academy: The ASA Vote to Boycott Israel

December 17th, 2013 - 10:38 am

Yesterday, the American Studies Association voted to approve the National Council’s resolution to endorse an academic boycott of Israel. In yesterday’s vote, 66.05% of voters endorsed the resolution, while 30.5% of voters voted no and 3.43% abstained. The relatively small 5000 member academic group is largely composed of leftist or left-leaning academics, and I am not surprised that the small amount who actually voted–1252 out of the entire membership–voted in favor.

The reason that the vote has received so much publicity is because the ASA has become the second American group to join its European counterparts in calling for such boycotts. The even smaller Association for Asian American Studies passed a similar resolution last April, without much publicity.

Yes, as many have pointed out, the vote is largely symbolic. Yet the board members who rammed the vote through without fully announcing its campaign do not seem to even slightly comprehend their hypocrisy. Scores of regimes throughout the world — including Iran, North Korea, Communist China, Castro’s Communist Cuba, Assad’s Syria, and many others — lack any rudiment of real academic freedom. Dissenting scholars are simply not hired or, if exposed by informers for the regime, are immediately fired. Yet the ASA has picked on the Middle East’s only existing democracy to protest and call for an academic boycott.

Indeed, Israel has many left-wing scholars who regularly in the press and in their academic works, especially in history and the humanities, freely criticize the government and society in which they live. Hasn’t the ASA ever heard of the group long ago dubbed “the New Historians,” whose works challenge Israel’s very legitimacy? Actually, the ASA position is even opposed by the Palestinian Authority’s leader, Mahmoud Abbas. An advisor and spokesman for Abbas, Majdi Khalidi, told the Times“We are neighbors with Israel, we have agreements with Israel, we recognize Israel, we are not asking anyone to boycott products of Israel.” It’s pretty extreme to be to the left of the very Palestinians the ASA claims to be defending. (I leave it for another time to question Khalidi’s claim that they “recognize Israel.”)

If you go to the list of supporters, directly after the report of the membership vote, you will see the second name. It is none other than the former Communist Party, U.S.A leader Angela Y. Davis. In her statement attached to her name, Davis says:

The similarities between historical Jim Crow practices and contemporary regimes of segregation in Occupied Palestine make this resolution an ethical imperative for the ASA. If we have learned the most important lesson promulgated by Dr. Martin Luther King—that justice is always indivisible—it should be clear that a mass movement in solidarity with Palestinian freedom is long overdue.

Davis also was a member of the Black Panther Party and lover of the black terrorist George Jackson, who died in a prison shootout. His younger brother Jonathan took a judge hostage and was killed in a courtroom, using guns he had taken from Davis’ home, for which she was put on trial. The Black Panther Party, which called itself Marxist-Leninist, believed that the heart of the Middle East conflict, as Stephen Norwood reports in an important new book, “was a war between heroic Palestinian guerrillas and ‘Israeli pigs.’” The BPP believed that Jews had no claims whatsoever to Palestine. Ancient Hebrews only lived there for 100 years, while the Arab Palestinians had a “continuous residence in Palestine until they were expelled by the Zionists in 1948.”

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Top Rated Comments   
It's not a "sad day for the academy" at all. It's just another day at the office.

Don't expect this crap to end as long as we keep sending along the subsidies for it. We send these institutions billions directly and indirectly through "student aid and loans" so they can moon our way of life with impunity.

As Milton Friedmann pointed out decades ago, "When you subsidize something, you get more of it."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (25)
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Stupid question of the day-Israel doesn't threaten(promise?)to drive Iran into the sea-is Iran also boycotted?I'd also ask that question of the preening "divestment" posers.I'd call them stupid cattle,but they're actually leading,herding the cattle.My God-what a bunch of Yankee cowboys-YEEEEEE-HAAAWW!!!!!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Watch them run to a Jewish doctor if they get cancer.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Wonder how many of the ASA members are Jewish residents of the areas that the Mandate gave to Israel that ended up in Muslim hands? Oh, wait, they killed or exiled all of them...

Never mind....
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
To Yoelarry

No one has said it better.

The spiritual battle remains unacknowledged by many, including writers here at PJM, but there are powers and principalities raging in the heavens whose effects are manifest here in our physical plane.

Your insight is original and gives much to ponder. I hope you would not mind if your post is copied and shared.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
What are they going to do, attach yellow Stars of David to the jackets of Israeli scholars ?

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
And of Jewish ones who supported this.Are they cowards or collaborators?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This phony intellectual, America hating, loathsome excuse for a human is STILL in this country she "hates?" I would have thought she'd been gone to Cuba long ago. She must be completely miserable living in the country she said she detests. The "revolution" she so desperately wanted, didn't come. That she is obviously unhappy and irrelevant makes me joyful.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If you believe that "the revolution she so desperately wanted, didn't come," you're not paying attention.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It's not a "sad day for the academy" at all. It's just another day at the office.

Don't expect this crap to end as long as we keep sending along the subsidies for it. We send these institutions billions directly and indirectly through "student aid and loans" so they can moon our way of life with impunity.

As Milton Friedmann pointed out decades ago, "When you subsidize something, you get more of it."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It's always been amazing to me that so many of our academics seem to be as dumb as dog droppings. Perhaps they spend so much time within the walls of academia that they are largely ignorant of the real world around them. You also have to wonder if the rivers of money that go to tertiary institutions from Saudi Arabia have anything to do with it.
Academics of all people should be aware of the importance of a free vote and protection from blackmail of those who dissent from the main body of opinion.
We're fast approaching the separation of the terms intellectual and academic.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I walked through a speech or two of hers (A. Davis) in Sproul Plaza decades ago.

A young self-serving yeller and screamer then and an old tedious pontificator now.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Lessons for Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson - she learned well
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Considering the state of US academia today it's probably to Israel's advantage.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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