Friday and Saturday was the super-secret, closed-door BDS organizing conference held by NYU’s American Studies Department under the direction of Lisa Duggan, an NYU Prof. and incoming President of the American Studies Association.

Duggan, a big supporter of the anti-Israel academic boycott, apparently did not want dissenting voices present:


The agenda was stacked with anti-Israel professors. The lunchtime program explicitly was oriented toward organizing anti-Israeli groups on campus, including an appearance by someone from Students for Justice in Palestine.

NYU American Studies Conference February 28 2014 part poster

The conference was controversial not just because of the topic, but the one-sided stacking of the deck by an academic department and the exclusion of non-approved attendees. The event was not even open to all NYU students.

A group of NYU students wrote a letter of protest to NYU’s President, which reads in part:

From the beginning, this event has been shrouded in secrecy; Professor Lisa Duggan, the event’s sponsor (in a post that has now been removed) cautioned, “PLEASE DO NOT post or circulate the flyer. We are trying to avoid press, protestors and public attention.”

Invitations to the event were quietly distributed, leaving out any pro-Israel voices. Troublingly, the event is scheduled to begin and end (almost to the minute) with the Jewish Sabbath, ensuring that many Jewish students and community members will face obstacles in attending for religious reasons, a seemingly deliberate move by the organizers of the event to prevent the presentation of other views in this complex issue. Additionally, event registration was closed on Sunday following the release of news reports on the seemingly exclusive conference.

Despite political objections to the conference’s anti-Israel message, those objections are not the chief reason behind the penning of this letter. Our concern is that New York University, a global leader in education, is permitting the occurrence of an event which is antithetical to the principles which the global academic community stands for. If anything, the university condones the event with the administration’s disconcerting silence.

What happened at the conference? Little is known because it was closed. There were some tweets by an attendee (h/t Elder of Ziyon) indicating that the conference was, as billed, completely one-sided against Israel:

Twitter Sean Kennedy ASA BDS NYU Conference March 1 2014

Note that last (first in time line) tweet (Featured Image).  BDS supporters in academia now are afraid to have their ideas subject to cross-examination and criticism:

One of the problems of the political pushback to ASA/BDS is that organizers don’t want their vibrant gatherings (I’m at one now) publicized.

Academic vibrancy in boycott lingo means freedom from criticism. And freedom from those who dissent on the issue of Israel and the academic boycott.


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