“Our college will not abide by this measure, through which, in our view, the American Studies Association completely discredits itself.”
I have been accumulating the list of universities rejecting the anti-Israel academic boycott passed by the American Studies Association and two smaller groups.
Many of the statements issued are eloquent and forceful, but this one from Goucher College in Towson, Maryland stands out for its clarity in pointing out the pernicious absurdity of the boycott.
Goucher is not an Institutional Member of the ASA.
Some of the language is reminiscent of Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s denunciation of the notorious “Zionism is Racism” U.N. Resolution. I have to think the similarity of language was intentional. Here is Moynihan’s famous line:
The United States rises to declare before the General Assembly of the United Nations, and before the world, that it does not acknowledge, it will not abide by, it will never acquiesce in this infamous act…. There will be time enough to contemplate the harm this act will have done the United Nations.
You be the judge as to whether Goucher was channeling Moyhihan. The Goucher statement was circulated in an all campus email that was forwarded to me (emphasis added):
December 27, 2013
Dear Members of the Goucher Community:
We are writing to express our strong concern about, and outright disapproval of, the recent vote by the American Studies Association to boycott Israeli academic institutions, apparently as a result of some of its members’ disapproval of certain policies of the Israeli government.
Goucher College, as we try to make clear by our words and actions daily, stands for open discussion, research, and inquiry about all issues, international or domestic, in every intellectual and political domain. The free exchange of ideas and opinions is essential to liberal arts education and to our very existence as an academic community.
We would, of course, be outraged if any such boycott were launched against all American colleges and universities by any association of alleged scholars anywhere in the world, out of disagreement with a US military engagement or other element of American foreign or domestic policy.
Hence, without taking any particular position on Middle East issues, we must invoke a strong and unequivocal stand against this outrageous and peculiarly selective move by the ASA, which seems far outside the scope of “American Studies.”
Our college will not abide by this measure, through which, in our view, the American Studies Association completely discredits itself.
On the contrary, in the great tradition of academic freedom, we will proudly continue to associate with all colleges and universities in Israel and everywhere else around the world where discussion is robust and open, and where Goucher students are welcomed for their study abroad.
Sanford J. Ungar
Update: It’s worth noting that President Ungar also was a signatory to the 2007 Boycott Israeli Universities? Boycott Ours Too! advertisement run in The NY Times in response to a threatened Israel academic boycott by Britain’s University and College Union.