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How can these U.S. universities justify membership in American Studies Association after Israel boycott?

How can these U.S. universities justify membership in American Studies Association after Israel boycott?

The anti-Israel academic boycott passed by ASA makes each of these universities complicit.

As detailed in numerous posts over the past weeks, the American Studies Association has passed an academic boycott of Israeli universities.

Although the resolution does not make this distinction, ASA asserts in its explanation that the boycott applies only to the institutions and “not individual scholars, students, or cultural workers who will be able to participate in the ASA conference or give public lectures at campuses, provided they are not expressly serving as representatives or ambassadors of those institutions, or of the Israeli government.”

The explanation continues that the boycott also applies to “participation in conferences or events officially sponsored by Israeli universities.”

This would mean the boycott applies to programs and projects jointly sponsored by U.S. and Israeli academic institutions, like the Cornell-Technion campus under construction in New York City, the Brandeis-Middlebury Program at Ben Gurion University, dozens of other programs for terms abroad in Israel run by U.S. universities but hosted at Israeli universities, and many other joint university programs.

In the talking points ASA provided to its members on how to address criticism from University Administrators, Deans and Faculty, ASA states that “U.S. scholars are not discouraged under the terms of the boycott from traveling to Israel for academic purposes, provided they are not engaged in a formal partnership with or sponsorship by Israeli academic institutions.”

Now you can see how pernicious the ASA academic boycott becomes.

ASA’s boycott requires monitoring of individual Israeli scholars interacting with ASA and having such scholars disavow representation of their institutions.  No scholar from any other nation is required to disavow representation of their institutions.

The ASA boycott encourages U.S. scholars to take on the role of vetting their Israeli counterparts for compliance with the boycott.  For no other nation do U.S. scholars become boycott enforcers.

The ASA boycott also requires evaluation of what constitutes a boycottable program and scholar before ASA will engage with such scholars.  And most of all, United States universities that interact with ASA become complicit in ASA’s national origin discrimination directed at Israeli scholars.

Everything about the boycott, even as ASA tried to parse it, runs contary to academic freedom and scholarly interaction, substituting instead a climate of distrust, suspicion, and national origin discrimination.

In light of the ASA boycott, which has been rejected by the American Association of University Professors, among others, how can Universities that object to the Israel academic boycott continue to be institutional members of ASA and continue to spend their institutions’ money to support participation in ASA events?  Some of that money is taxpayer provided.

Lawrence Summers, former President of Harvard, has called for such financial support for ASA to be curtailed.  University of Tennessee Law Professor Glenn Reynolds suggests the “response should be withdrawal of funding to attend ASA events. Let legislators and Trustees know.”

Here is the list of the 2013 Institutional Members of ASA, according to ASA’s most recent quarterly publication. The dues are not much, only $170 per institution, but their names lend creditibilty and legitimacy to ASA and they presumably provide financial support for faculty participation in ASA events, which is ASA’s main source of revenue:


Alberta Institute for American Studies
Bard Graduate Center
Boston College
Boston University
Brandeis University
Brigham Young University
Brown University
California State University, Fullerton
California State University, Long Beach
Carnegie-Mellon University
Centre for the Study of the United States
College of Staten Island, CUNY
College of William and Mary
Cornell University
Crystal Bridge Museum of American Art
CUNY Graduate Center, American Studies Certificate Program
DePaul University
Dickinson College
Eccles Centre for American Studies, The British Library
Emory University
Fordham University
Franklin College of Indiana
George Washington University
Georgetown University
Hamilton College
Harvard University
Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania
Indiana University
Kennesaw State University
Kenyon College
Lehigh University
The Long Island Museum
Michigan State University, English Department
Middlebury College
New York University
Northwestern University
Penn State University, Harrisburg
Princeton University
Ramapo College
Richard Stockton College of New Jersey
Rider University
Roger Williams University
Rowan College of New Jersey
Rutgers University, New Brunswick
Saint John Fisher College
Saint Louis University
Saint Olaf College
Skidmore College
Smith College
Sophia University
St. Francis College
Stanford University, American Studies Program
Stanford University, Green Library
Stetson University
Students At The Center
Temple University
Trinity College, Hartford, CT.
Tufts University
University of Alabama
University of California, San Diego
University of Delaware
University of Hawaii
University of Iowa
University of Maryland, Baltimore County
University of Minnesota
University of Mississippi
University of New Mexico
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
University of Notre Dame
University of Oklahoma Honors College
University of Southern California
University of Southern Mississippi
University of Texas, Austin
University of Texas, Dallas
University of Utah
University of Western Ontario
University of Wyoming
Vanderbilt University
Washington State University
Washington University, St. Louis
Western Connecticut State University
Willamette University
Winterthur Program in Early American
Culture Youngstown State University

Many of these universities, or their affiliated printers, also provide financial support for ASA through advertising and exhibiting at Annual Meetings.

ASA has made its decision.  These institutions should decide whether they will become accomplices.

(added) Here is the source of the list. The ASA website represents that “A list of institutional members is published in each issue of the American Quarterly, the Guide to American Studies Resources, and the annual meeting Program.”

Here are the 2013 entries for Insitutional Members from the American Quarterly (has to be viewed in full screen to be readable):

ASA Institutional Members 2013


(Featured image source: Cornell Tech website, credit Kilograph)


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They need Arab oil money?

BannedbytheGuardian | December 17, 2013 at 6:21 pm

Don’t worry about Stetson University. All hat no cattle .

Given that Brigham Young University actually has a campus in Jerusalem, I expect that they won’t be participating in this boycott.

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This really isn’t enough. We need the NAMES of the people behind this. We must drive them out of the public sphere for doing this.

Really Cornell? Do you really want to associate us with this disgusting act?

I am both surprised and relieved that my university is not on this list. Thank goodness.

Collective punishment is generally numbered among Israel’s crimes. I’d like to note that this boycott is the very definition of collective punishment. I wonder if the ASA believes in the concept of collective guilt and collective punishment, or whether Jews bear some mark that makes collective punishment against them to be moral.

Just my luck, one of the two Canadian universities on the list, The University of Western Ontario, is my alma mater. I’ll enjoy refusing their donation requests even more than ususal.

BTW, the Alberta Institute for American Studies, part of the University of Alberta, closed down last summer.

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Statement from Brown Univ President is that their ASA membership expited in June 2013, so they should not be on the list. I am not surprised that there are mistakes in the listing – my 14 year-old son looked at the ASA web-site and said it looked cheesy and amateurish, not the work of professionals. The two ASA members from Brown who voted for the boycott are not faculty members: one is a grad student and one is a visiting scholar.