The anti-Israel Boycott Divest Sanction (BDS) movement achieved a victory earlier this month when the Association for Asian American Studies (AAAS) endorsed an academic boycott of Israeli universities, the first ever such resolution passed by a professional academic association outside the Middle East.

The boycott was proudly supported by the past President of AAAS, Rajini Srikanth, Associate Provost of U. Mass. – Boston, who has become a de facto spokeswoman for the boycott resolution.

Such a boycott runs contrary to the policy of the American Association of University Professors:

The American Association of University Professors opposes academic boycotts,  stipulating in a 2005 statement that “since its founding in 1915, the AAUP has  been committed to preserving and advancing the free exchange of ideas among  academics irrespective of governmental policies and however unpalatable those  policies may be viewed. We reject proposals that curtail the freedom of teachers  and researchers to engage in work with academic colleagues, and we reaffirm the  paramount importance of the freest possible international movement of scholars  and ideas.” (The AAUP further elaborated on that statement in regards to a  then-proposed boycott of two Israeli universities here.)

The Prime Minister of Australia has just denounced such academic boycotts after a related boycott of an Israeli company organized by a pro-Palestinian student group turned ugly, Julia Gillard denounces activists as anti-Israel protest turns anti-Semitic (emphasis added):

BDS action at UNSW [University of New South Wales] has turned ugly, with anti-Semitic and Holocaust-denying material appearing on a Facebook page opposing the opening of a Max Brenner chocolate shop on campus. Postings on a Facebook page promoting today’s protest have attacked “Jews and Jew lovers” and said the figure of six million Jews murdered by Nazi Germany was an exaggeration.

“Tell us again how there was no hidden Zionist agenda with the Holocaust and the eventual creation of the state of Israel,” one reads.

The Prime Minister said yesterday through a spokeswoman that the government had always been firm in its opposition of the BDS movement, which equates Israel with apartheid-era South Africa.

“This campaign does not serve the cause of peace and diplomacy for agreement on a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine,” she said.

“I welcome the strong ties our universities have with Israeli researchers and academic institutions, and I hope those ties will deepen in the years ahead.”

Australian Union of Jewish Students spokesman Andrew Goldberg said: “The boycott Max Brenner movement has turned into a hotbed of blatant anti-Semitism. Classical anti-Semitic comments have been made, clearly irrelevant to discussion about Max Brenner. The organisers have effectively endorsed these comments by dismissing legitimate concerns about anti-Semitism as ‘trying to shut down debate about Israel’.”

Mr Goldberg called on university officials to “ensure that those with an anti-Semitic agenda will not be allowed to spread their hateful and discriminatory agenda on campus”.

None of this is surprising.

Anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial, and demonization of Jews always are just below the surface of the BDS movement, and sometimes above the surface.  Such activities are routine parts of the educational systems in Arab countries, and also in universities in areas controlled by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.

Yet the AAAS singled out Israel.

The Association for Asian American Studies now has associated itself with the BDS movement, standing alone among Western professional academic associations to demean its membership with such ignominy.


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