The American Studies Association can boycott Israel all it wants, but it should do so on its own dime
I don’t use the word “evil” very often here, but it certainly would be justified as to the Boycott Divestment Sanction (BDS) movement against Israel and BDS supporters in academia.
See the BDS Tag for my prior writings on the BDS movement for background.
Now that the National Council of the American Studies Association has endorsed an academic boycott of Israel, the ASA has joined the Jihad against Israel.
The ASA National Council’s justifications are flimsy and historically incorrect and biased.
They cite the separation “wall” (actually mostly a fence, only a wall in certain places) as a justification without noting that the “wall” was build only after a year of unrelenting Palestinian suicide bombings at cafes, reception halls, buses, and even at Hebrew University. Several hundred Israelis civilians died in these suicide bombings. The “wall” put an end to that.
So too did checkpoints, where even to this day sophisticated weapons for use against Israel are stopped.
(added) They cite the ruling by the U.N. International Court of Justice that the “wall” is illegal under international law. But that was a mere “advisory opinion,” with no binding effect, made at the request of the U.N. General Assembly. That advisory opinion is contested on the merits, and is tainted because it simply ratified pre-existing U.N. General Assembly anti-Israel policy.
They cite the Israeli occupation of “Palestine.” Note that they do not say “the West Bank.” That gives away their game, which is the destruction of Israel. (Note, historical and legal reality is that there is no illegal occupation even of the West Bank.)
They cite the 2008 Israeli attack on Gaza without noting that it came only after Hamas and its affiliates, all of whom are committed to the destruction of Israel, fired several thousand missiles at Israeli civilians.
They cite interference in Palestinian academic and eduational freedom, without noting the thriving anti-Israel universities under Palestinian control such as Birzeit University and Al Quds University. How much academic freedom is there at those universities for those who are not anti-Israel, or for Jews?
There also is no mention of Israeli attempts to increase participation of non-Jewish Israelis in higher education, and that non-Jews have excelled at Israeli universities.
They do not demand a boycott of universities in Islamic countries that discriminate against Jews and Christians, women, and gays. They do not demand a boycott of Turkish universities even though Turkey illegally occupies part of Cyprus and represses Kurdish national aspirations. We could go on and on. They single out only the Jewish-run universities and only Israel.
I have long argued against boycotts in general. Maybe it’s time to rethink that unilateral disarmament.
The Arab economic boycott of Israel dates back to the creation of Israel. Anti-boycott laws were passed in the U.S., although they only apply to cooperation in the official Arab boycott, not BDS. Maybe it’s time to change that, and to deny tax exempt status to organizations which join the BDS boycott. Much as with the anti-boycott legislation on the books, it would not punish or restrict ideas or speech, but acts.
The object of the association shall be the promotion of the study of American culture through the encouragement of research, teaching, publication, the strengthening of relations among persons and institutions in this country and abroad devoted to such studies, and the broadening of knowledge among the general public about American culture in all its diversity and complexity.
At a time when support among Americans for Israel is at all time highs, the people of this country have the right not to subsidize the boycott of Israel through tax preferences. Tax exempt organizations can boycott Israel all they want, but they should have to do so on their own dime.
Maybe it’s time to give academic boycotters a taste of their own medicine, as unfortunate as such a result would be. They brought the war against Israel into their organizations, and should live with the consequence.
[Note - some wordings changes were made shortly after publication.]