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The silence of Assoc. of Asian American Studies members regarding anti-Israel academic boycott is deafening

The silence of Assoc. of Asian American Studies members regarding anti-Israel academic boycott is deafening

We have written several times about the academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions by the Association of Asian American Studies, and how it is part of the greater Boycott Divest Sanction movement meant to delegitimize Israel:

The resolution passed under the radar and with a unanimous vote at the close of the AAAS conference in April.  The current President of AAAS has not responded to my email requesting her position on the resolution.  The past President of AAAS, U. Mass–Boston Professor and Associate Provost Rajini Srikanth, has defended the resolution in numerous publications.

We are in the midst of researching the AAAS and those behind the resolution.  We think you will find the results both interesting and unsurprising.  AAAS has been hijacked by anti-Israeli activists who are active participants in the BDS movement, and who very adroitly maneuvered the organization into being the first professional academic association outside the Middle East to adopt the BDS agenda.

Even the student government at Berkeley refuses to sign onto the BDS agenda, which should show you how extreme the AAAS move is.  The AAAS move was hailed in an article in Al-Ahram as a major BDS achievement:

In another unprecedented move, the Association for Asian American Studies (AAAS) in Seattle announced its boycott of all Israeli academic institutions, becoming the first professional academic association outside the Arab and Muslim worlds and in the US to do so.

In the meantime, be sure to read the post by Professor Jonathan Marks of Ursinus College at Commentary today about the boycott of Israeli academic institutions and the silence from AAAS members, It’s Unanimous! The Association for Asian-American Studies and BDS:

Reportedly, only 10 percent of the members were present for the vote. So when I learned of the resolution, I assumed that we would soon hear from professors of Asian American Studies, enraged, or at least perplexed, that the AAAS had become the first U.S. academic organization to support the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement. But although one can find almost anything on the Web, you will not find even one professor of Asian American Studies who has respectfully disagreed with, let alone denounced, this move. The Asian American Studies professor who diverges publicly from the party line is that rare a beast.

So evidently no one in Asian American Studies thinks it odd that an organization ostensibly devoted to the study of Asian-American communities has an official line on the Israeli-Arab conflict. The resolution’s drafters propose that the organization has jurisdiction over the conflict, which is, after all, taking place in West Asia. Some professors may be enchanted by this imperialistic suggestion. But all of them? …

No scholar in Asian American Studies has bothered to correct the drafters, who, when they quote “the United Nations” on the crimes of Israel, are actually quoting Richard Falk, the Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories Occupied Since 1967. Falk has been in the news recently for observing, after the bombing of the Boston Marathon, that the “American global domination project is bound to generate all kinds of resistance in the post-colonial world.” Back in 2011 he was in the news for writing about the “apparent cover-up” of the real story behind September 11 and the “eerie silence of the mainstream media, unwilling to acknowledge the well-evidenced doubts about the official version of the events.” Either the drafters are content to keep such company or they momentarily forgot, in all the excitement about striking a blow against colonialism, that scholars are supposed to check their sources….

Asian American Studies programs exist at some of the most prestigious universities in the country, including Cornell, Columbia, Stanford, UW-Madison, and the University of Pennsylvania. Is anyone going to say anything?



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Well they’re obviously not “Asian” in scope of inquiry, nor are they “American” in temperament or outlook, nor do they show much interest in intellectually honest “Studies” per se. So they are left with being a scumbag “Association”. If they’re satisfied with that, so be it.

BannedbytheGuardian | May 3, 2013 at 7:31 pm

Completely weird.

They are insane .

BannedbytheGuardian | May 3, 2013 at 7:45 pm

I researched all Asian Australian institutes & academic program’s ( I did a 50 % Asian thing at uni ).

Surprise- they are All about Asia & the Pacific.

These people are just insane.

BannedbytheGuardian | May 3, 2013 at 7:57 pm

Btw – am liking the Jim Croce memory trip. About 6 months ago Isuddenly thought to look up Jim again.

Also good timing on your previous country gal Patty Loveless. She just performed at George Jones memorial tribute .

It should be up on YouTube shortly if not already.

TrooperJohnSmith | May 3, 2013 at 9:24 pm

I would imagine most “Asian studies” students are non-Asians. The real “Asians” are too busy working on their engineering, premed or physics degrees and working 50-hours a week in the family business to participate in these mindless exercises. Otherwise, they might not graduate in three years or drop below 4.0.


Bruno Lesky | May 3, 2013 at 9:25 pm

I looked at my alma mater’s Asian American Studies program — Cornell (not because of the Prof — Cornell has many different colleges and the Law School is in another category from my undergrad Arts & Sciences college).

After the search results, as I’m often counseled by my family: “What did you think you were gonna find?” So I calm down.

An overview of the Cornell AAS minor: “The course of study stresses developments within the United States, but also underscores the transnational and comparative contexts of Asian America and the field’s connections with African American, American Indian, U.S. Latino, and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.”

WTF?!!! What does this have to do with Asians and Americans?!!!

I was actually thinking (before reading the department website) of talking with them about the AAS vote … to be politic, not the insanity but the “what’s your position … your stake? ” etc. I was going to do it nicely! Not bring up LI!

And then I see this crazy description of the department (it’s a minor, the AAS curriculum). So I can’t conceive of an entry for discourse.

To go on: the AAS syllabus is unconscionable.

An excerpt from AAS “Race,Space, and Place” course description (many like this and worse):
“The seminar explores race and racism from a spatial perspective and pays particular attention to social justice concerns, whether this latter category includes theoretical work, political mobilization, and/or everyday resistance and refusal. We frame our approach to these issues initially in terms of spatial and racial theory, drawing from the literatures of geography, urban studies, Critical Race Theory, and Ethnic Studies. Specifically, we examine space with respect to the geography and urban studies literature on the production of urban space and spatial scale. Next we investigate different theories of race, including those of Stuart Hall, W.E.B. Du Bois, Michael Omi and Howard Winant, and Evelyn Nakano Glenn. These theories incorporate critiques of capitalism and colonialism and analyses of past and present political economic restructuring with their understanding of race and racism. Together these spatial and racial theories will frame the remaining weeks’ readings for this course, which focus on a different scale (body, community, city, region, nation, and beyond) each week to explore the mutual construction of race and space. Our task will be to tease out the interconnections between race and space and between spatial scales. Finally, our readings will consider different sites where race and space are intermeshed, such as the prison-industrial complex, the globalizing neoliberal city, and the world of 1970s leftists of color. You will leave the seminar with a greater understanding of race, space, power, and resistance from a social science perspective.

What to do? I await the LI research and any suggestions.

[…] William A. Jacobson at Legal Insurrection asserts that the academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions by the Association of Asian American Studies [AAAS] is “a stain on academia.” In fact, Jacobson maintains that “AAAS has been hijacked by anti-Israeli activists who are active participants in the BDS movement, and who very adroitly maneuvered the organization into being the first professional academic association outside the Middle East to adopt the BDS agenda.” […]