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Politicians get ready to take on anti-Israel academic boycott

Politicians get ready to take on anti-Israel academic boycott

The door the academic boycotters opened to let academic freedom leave is now open for politicians to rush in.

I predicted a couple of weeks ago that it was “only a matter of time before American political society also gets involved” in fighting the anti-Israel academic boycott passed by the American Studies Association and two smaller groups.

The involvement of politicians was to be expected because the boycott is a uniquely political act, discriminatory in its intent and implementation, and directed towards causing political damage to Israel.  Or worse:

It is important … to be clear what we’re talking about when we say “anti-Zionist.” As a correspondent here for many years, I have had enough contact with activists involved in anti-Israel campaigns to understand that many or most of them are not concerned with returning Israel to its 1967 borders, but rather answer to this description. These people certainly do not have nuclear bombs, and they use words like “inclusiveness,” “democracy,” and “rights” in ways that scramble the radar of liberals in the West. But their goal is to destroy the state of Israel, and they are generally willing to tell you that if you are listening.

Having turned themselves into political weapons and abandoned core principles of academic freedom for others, the boycotters should not have expected to keep politics out of the solution.

Having become willing tools, or at best useful idiots, in the war on Israel, these academic boycotters could not reasonably have expected American political society to step aside.

A first step was taken when NY Assemblyman Dov Hikind called for the NY State Attorney General to investigate Israel academic boycott violation of NYS Human Rights Law.

Now Hikind taking it one step further, joining with one of the leaders in the NY State Senate to introduce legislation in 2014 cutting off state funds for any university which supports the boycotting organizations.

Via The Daily News, State lawmakers battle Israel boycott by university organization American Studies Association:

Two state lawmakers want to strip aid from public universities which lend institutional support to academic organizations involved in the boycott of Israel.

Senate co-leader Jeffrey Klein (D-Bronx) and Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) plan to introduce a bill that would give colleges and universities in New York 30 days to withdraw their support from groups like the American Studies Association, which recently voted for such an academic boycott.

New York University, Cornell, Columbia, SUNY Buffalo and SUNY Stony Brook are among the institutions affiliated with the ASA, made up of 5,000 professors….

“Make no mistake: the ASA’s boycott is targeted discrimination against Israel that betrays the values of academic freedom that we hold dear,” Klein and Hikind said in a joint statement.

The legislation would also prohibit employees of New York State’s public universities from participating in conferences sponsored by groups that participate in discriminatory boycotts.

New York University President John Sexton and Provost David McLaughlin on Dec. 20 sent a letter expressing “disappointment, disagreement and opposition” to the boycott vote. An NYU professor, Lisa Duggan, is the president-elect of the American Studies Association.

But NYU does not support the Klein-Hikind bill.

Expect universities to squawk that this legislation is an infringement on academic freedom.

That horse, unfortunately, has left the barn, and mere denunciations by universities are not enough (although helpful, for sure).

While I can’t predict politics, I would expect there to be a major push at both the federal and state level to expand existing anti-boycott laws to cover this situation (although I do believe the N.Y. Human Rights law already covers it).

The door the academic boycotters opened to let academic freedom leave is now open for politicians to rush in.

Update:  I think the anti-Israel boycotters just told us what they are afraid of, via NY Daily News, Anti-Israel group slams bill that would strip state aid from colleges tied to them:

A national academic group that has called for a boycott of Israel ripped into a proposed law Saturday that would strip state aid from colleges that maintain ties with the organization.

New York University Prof. Lisa Duggan, the president-elect of the American Studies Association, said by email that while her organization has not seen the bill’s language, “my guess is that they will get nowhere, and would fail in the courts in any event.”

Liz Jackson, an attorney for the group Palestine Solidarity Legal Support, who was consulted by the American Studies Association, questioned the constitutionality of the bill.

“This legislation would violate the First Amendment’s protections for freedom of speech, freedom of association and academic freedom,” she said. “And, of course, it reflects another round of baseless legal bullying to silence criticism of Israeli policy.”

Klein and Hikind blasted the boycott as “targeted discrimination against Israel that betrays the values of academic freedom that we hold dear” and something that could be in violation of the state Human Rights Law.

“Our state is under no obligation to support institutionalized discrimination — against Israel or anyone else,” Klein said.

Taxpayer money, either through state university funding or through tax exemptions, is the lifeblood of groups like ASA. No wonder they are so worried.


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Well, if academics, in their official capacity, play with politics, they have no one to blame but themselves if they end up getting burned by politics.

It’s malpractice on the students’ minds.

    The sooner these bastions of ultra liberal thought get burned real bad the better it will be for this country.

      Not A Member of Any Organized Political in reply to OldNuc. | December 28, 2013 at 7:22 pm

      Speaking of “malpractice” and burnt, the elitists can’t get treated as badly as what they are doing to their students, especially their minority students.

      (From College Insurrection’s article and link to .)

      “The median grade at Harvard University, the world has now discovered, ‘is an A-, and the most frequently awarded mark is an A.’ Most business executives will tell you, at least privately, that before reaching a hiring decision, if they look at the transcript at all, it is with a glance, preferring recommendations from credible courses and the results from standardized test scores and multiple, lengthy interviews instead.”

      Why they sound as though they are regular PAPER MILLS!!!!

      Snark Snark

I support withdrawing funds from any school of any kind that involves itself in politics by supporting boycotts, candidates or causes.

    Estragon in reply to genes. | December 29, 2013 at 2:44 am

    I support not giving them funds in the first place.

    If the American people believe the federal government should subsidize education, those subsidies should flow only to parents and students directly. And they should be applicable only to core curricula and “hard” sciences, not the ethereal clouds of whimsy which currently pass for “the humanities.”

The biters bit. That will give some of these bigots a chance to ponder the meaning of academic freedom.

Liz Jackson is not much of a lawyer if she thinks a state refusing to fund activities they disagree with is a violation of the first amendment. Somebody out to check her bar card to make sure it is valid.