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

It is not surprising that in 1970, the American Jewish Committee charged “that the activities and statements of the Black Panthers had been so consistently anti-Zionist and anti-Israel that it was almost impossible to make the distinction between that attitude and anti-Semitism.” Its minister of information at the time, Eldridge Cleaver, said in a December 1969 interview, “Zionists, wherever they may be, are our enemies. We totally support the armed struggle of the Palestinian people against the watchdogs of imperialism."

As for Davis, she excelled in her long career as a leading defender of and apologist for all left-wing tyrannies. When the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968, Davis supported the invasion, and condemned Czech dissidents as traitors who deserved arrest and imprisonment. Her spokesman and comrade, Communist leader Charlene Mitchell, explained that,

those who were jailed in Eastern Europe were trying to undermine their governments and that those who went into political exile were attacking their own countries and therefore undeserving of her support.

It is most revealing of the mentality of those few who voted for the ASA resolution they they come from the background of left-wing defenders of totalitarianism. Simply go down the list of comments from other signers who voted in favor, and you will quickly find that my description of where they are coming from is on target.

As for Davis’ reference to Martin Luther King, Jr., the late American civil rights leader was a forthright defender of the state of Israel, and an opponent of those who criticized it. Davis insults the memory of King by seeking to invoke him in trying to create a movement against Israel. That the ASA board, which presented the resolution, would proudly list Davis’ statement in favor of the resolution reveals its own far leftist mindset. But I shouldn't be surprised: It turns out the ASA has "An Angela Y. Davis Award" for "Public Scholarship!" You can't make this stuff up, and if you did, no one would believe you.

Now we will see a demand that other professional organizations in the humanities join the ASA in seeking to call for an academic boycott of Israel. Next will be an effort to convince the members of the Organization of American Historians and the American Historical Association to join with them. The first is largely composed of left-wing scholars, and I would not be surprised if this group -- to which I used to belong but long ago quit -- will join the ASA.

The ASA vote is a sad day for those who believe in academic integrity and real academic freedom.