An important crack in the ASA academic boycott facade.
I noted yesterday that the Executive Committee of the American Studies Association has told its Regional Chapter Officers not to communicate with me substantively regarding whether the Chapters will apply the anti-Israel academic boycott adopted by ASA at the national level.
Regional Chapter involvement in the boycott is important for many reasons.
The ASA boycott was passed by a vote of less than 25% of the total membership because so few people partipated in the vote. Nonetheless, the ASA boycott has been portrayed by supporters as a breakthrough that reflects wide academic support. Similarly, opponents of the boycott have tended to panic as a result, as if the vote reflected a sea change. My position always has been to take the ASA boycott and the BDS movement very seriously, but don’t panic and react out of emotion.
Additionally, the boycott implementation at the Chapter level raises very serious issues as to compliance with university, local and state anti-discrimination rules, since ASA Regional Chapters hold more meetings and activities than the national ASA. No university that I know of would permit discrimination against visitors from Arab universities (nor should they), so the question is whether these universities will permit discrimination against visitors from Israeli universities. We will put that to the test in the coming years.
Despite the ASA Executive Committee attempt to shut down the flow of information to me from ASA Regional Chapters, I again reached out to multiple Chapters as to whether the boycott would be applied at the regional level.
I can confirm that one of the most active ASA Chapters — the California American Studies Association (CASA) — will not apply the boycott to any of its activities, incuding the upcoming regional conference in April in Berkeley.
Adam Golub, an Associate Professor of American at California State University – Fullerton, and President of CASA, writes:
…. CASA has no intention of adhering to the ASA resolution; the boycott guidelines will not be applied to our upcoming conference in April…. The CASA officers discussed the ASA resolution, and we all agreed that CASA would not abide by the boycott.
This is an important development.
I’ll let you know when and if I hear back from other ASA Regional Chapters.