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Steven Salaita Tag

We have written a lot about how anti-Israel activists routinely hijack causes, events, and crises unrelated to Israel, using "intersectional" theory to turn those issues against the Jewish state. That phenomenon is playing out again with the coronavirus pandemic, providing the 'usual suspects' with yet another issue to exploit.

In December 2013, the American Studies Association (ASA) became the first, and so far the only, major American academic association to adopt the academic boycott of Israel, part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). As I have documented, the BDS movement is a continuation of the anti-Jewish boycotts of the 1920s and 1930s in the then British Mandate for Palestine, the Arab League boycott of Jewish businesses (even prior to Israel's independence) and later of Israel, and the gross antisemitic activism at the 2001 Tehran and Durban conferences which launched boycotts in the current form.

The American Studies Association (ASA) was the first, and so far the only, major American academic association to adopt the academic boycott of Israel, part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) call to isolate and cut ties with Israel and Israelis. The fallout from the December 2013 ASA resolution was swift. The ASA action, which is considered a violation of academic freedom by the American Association of University Professors, was condemned by over 250 university presidents and numerous university associations.

The American Studies Association (ASA) adopted the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) academic boycott of Israel in December 2013. The academic boycott, which is considered a violation of academic freedom by the American Association of University Professors, was condemned by over 250 university presidents and numerous university associations.

The American Studies Association (ASA) passed an academic boycott of Israel in December 2013, along guidelines of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The ASA leadership backed the resolution, which was sent to the membership for a vote. Turnout for the online vote was low, but a majority of those voting voted in favor. Although the much smaller Association for Asian American Studies had passed the boycott the previous April, the ASA was the first major American faculty association to pass the boycott.

We have written dozens of times about Jewish Voice for Peace, which is a leader of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. As Prof. Miriam Elman has thoroughly documented, JVP uses the "Jewish" in its name (even thought it's not a Jewish group) to lend cover to all manner of anti-Israel groups, Jewish Voice for Peace – “Jew Washing” the anti-Israel movement. Local branches of JVP, such as the NYC branch that disrupted a City Council commemoration of the Liberation of Auschwitz and the Ithaca (NY) branch that conducted an anti-Israel event for public school third graders, often are even more radical than the national JVP. Because BDS is a Settler Colonial Ideology which seeks alliances and to co-opt other movements through the concept of intersectionality, BDS of necessity singles out the Jewish Israeli as uniquely evil and the source of problems in the world. The distinction between Israelis and Jews quickly evaporates, as we witness in Europe where anti-Israel protests frequently use blatantly anti-Semitic rhetoric and where Jews are attacked on the street in the name of anti-Zionism. So, it is no surprise that while groups like JVP disavow anti-Semitism, BDS attracts both open Jew haters and those who traffic in negative Jewish stereotypes in the anti-Zionist cause.

One of the foundational claims of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is that Israel is a settler colonial project without legitimacy. It is a claim repeated in mindless rote fashion, as if repeating it ten times in every discussion is a litmus test for being truly anti-Zionist. The claim is that Jews have no historical claim to the land of Israel, that they are outsiders imposed upon the region by colonial powers upon the indigenous Arab (mostly Muslim) population. The point of this post is not to address all the lies and distortions build into the settler colonial claim, which is an inversion of history. In fact, the Muslim conquerors who replaced the indigenous Jewish and other populations are the settlers who colonized the area. Zionism is the liberation movement of the indigenous People of the region. That many centuries have passed since Arabs from Arabia and northern Africa settled the area through force does not change the fact that they are not the indigenous Peoples. But that's an argument for another time. This post is about how BDS itself has become a settler colonial ideology, which imposes itself on other peoples and other struggles, conquers, and subjugates the goals of others, particularly people of color, to the anti-Israel agenda.

Yesterday I asked the question, in light of the academic purge in Turkey, Will anti-Israel academic boycotters now also boycott Turkish universities? As noted in that post, over 250 university presidents and major university associations have condemned the academic boycott of Israel. In particular, the December 2013 adoption of the academic boycott of Israel by the American Studies Association was condemned as violation of academic freedom. Read the dozens and dozens of statements describing how the ASA has violated academic freedom here.

So ... I just noticed that Stanley Cohen, the pro-Hamas tax convict who, after release from prison, was held out as representing some anti-Israel teenager even though his law license was suspended, has blocked me on Twitter. I think this tweet of mine is what did it: Here are some others. It's not a complete list, for sure. This is just from memory.

The American Studies Association (ASA) was the first significant-sized faculty association to implement the academic boycott of Israel. A lawsuit just filed by several distinguished members challenges the ASA boycott, seeks damages against individual officers and National Council members who advanced the boycott, as well as injunctive relief, arguing that ASA exceeded its purpose defined under its constitution and bylaws. A copy of the Complaint is embedded at the end of this post. The lawsuit could serve as a model for litigation against other faculty organizations which have been hijacked by anti-Israel activists.

Steven Salaita, you may recall, was the controversial anti-Israel professor whose hate-tweeting caused the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to decline to hire him for a tenured position. The University asserted that Salaita only had a contingent offer subject to Board approval, and that approval never happened. Salaita is active in the Boycott Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) movement and literally wrote a handbook for faculty to use to spread BDS within universities. There was rich irony in the person who sought a worldwide boycott of Israeli academics complaining when he allegedly was boycotted for his noxious views which played upon historical anti-Semitic stereotypes: Even a faculty supporter of Salaita, Prof. Feisal Mohamed, wrote (emphasis added):

British civil and governmental societies are undergoing a soul searching as to the role Britain plays in funding terrorism against Israel and the BDS movement. As Jonathan reported, Britain Rocked By Revelation Of Taxpayer-Funded Palestinian Terror:
Great Britain’s Foreign Office and Department for International Development (“DFID”) have funneled million of Pounds, at least, to terrorists.  The report from the Daily Mail details how the UK’s policy of spending .7% of revenue on foreign aid distorts priorities and leads it to fund terror.  The Daily Mail report builds on a broader investigation from Palestinian Media Watch (“PMW”) evidencing the Palestinian Authority’s (“PA”) attempts to hide banned payments to terrorists from Western donors.
Anti-Semitism acting under the banner of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement also has garnered attention recently in Britain, British Campus Anti-Semitism on Display During Israel Hate Week:

Bernie Sanders is Jewish and worked on a kibbutz in Israel in the 1960s. Bernie supports Israel's right to exist, though he's decidedly more into the "balanced" approach compared to other candidates, and has questionable Middle East advisors. Bernie doesn't wear either his Judaism or Zionism on his sleeve, unlike his socialism. To the contrary, when given the perfect opportunity at the last Democratic PBS debate Thursday night, February, 2016. Gwen Ifill asked Bernie if his candidacy would "thwart" history by denying the opportunity for Hillary to become the first female president. It was a perfect opportunity for Bernie to make the point that he also would be a first -- the first Jewish president. But Bernie didn't go there, instead he danced around the issue and said that it would be historic for "someone of my background and views" to be president:

Once again, Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY, is mired in controversy regarding anti-Israel activities on campus involving Vassar faculty. The controversy surrounds the February 3, 2016, appearance of Rutgers Associate Professor Jasbir Puar at the invitation of several Vassar departments, including Jewish Studies. At the outset of the appearance, according to the Vassar alumni/parent/friends group Fairness to Israel (FTI), a request was made by the Vassar professor introducing the speaker not to record the event, although it was acknowledged that it was legal to do so:
Before I give my brief remarks, I would like to request that you silence your devices you brought with you so as not to disrupt the conversation with Professor Puar is conducting with us today. I would also like to request on her behalf and on behalf of the rest of the assembly that you refrain from recording this evening’s proceedings, in the spirit of congeniality and mutual respect, though it is not against the law, to record someone vocation professional labor without informing them, it is quite unseemly and violates the modest contract of trust essential to the exchange of ideas.
Requesting non-recording of an open, public event on the pretext that non-recording is "essential to the exchange of ideas" is odd.

In November 2015, The Nation, a prominent progressive magazine, published an essay by controversial professor Steven Salaita which raised complaints from a prominent Rabbi that the essay crossed the line from legitimate criticism of Israeli policy to anti-Semitism. As we noted in many prior posts, Salaita is a virulently anti-Israel academic who had a contingent offer at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign rejected in 2014. He sued and got a money settlement, but not the job. Salaita's since become “enshrined as a symbol” in the American academy of the trouncing of academic freedom and the trampling of shared governance protocols. Salaita's essay in The Nation brought harsh criticism from a Professor of Jewish thought and culture:
Apparently it’s Zionism that ails the neoliberal university, along with everything else amiss in the world. You can read here his goodbye at the Nation. What reads like it was taken straight out from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the complaint that Zionism occupies the American mind and the American university expands as a logical next step on the basic view from the tweets and the book that “Zionists” are enemies of humanity, supporters of war crimes, adorn themselves with the teeth of Palestinian babies, etc, etc. Don’t be surprised when the next stage in on-campus Palestinian solidarity activism takes aim at purging U.S. academe of “Zionism,” namely Birthright, Hillel, study abroad in Israel, Israel Studies, and Jewish Studies.
The essay also prompted Rabbi Jill Jacobs, a leading voice in American Jewish Conservative circles, to write in complaint. In a Letter to the Editor sent to The Nation in November, Jacobs contended that Salaita’s article contained a series of disturbing anti-Semitic statements.

I really had expected the worst regarding the anti-Israel resolution being voted on at the Business Meeting taking place at the American Historical Association's Annual Meeting in Atlanta. For full background and details, see our prior post, American Historical Association to Consider Anti-Israel Resolution. The Times of Israel also had an extensive write-up today, in which I was extensively quoted. If the Resolution had passed the Business Meeting, it likely would have gone to a full membership vote. I thought the Resolution had a chance because, as I was quoted in The Times of Israel:
“The way these business meetings go is most people don’t show up,” Jacobson said. “Most don’t even go to the annual meeting, and most who do go to the annual meeting don’t go to the business meeting. It comes on the last day, late in the afternoon, when a lot of people have already left town. So if you have an organized group of a couple of hundred people, they may be able to get this through the business meeting because they are the ones most motivated to show up.”
The vote just took place, and the Resolution was soundly defeated, 51 for, 111 against.

The saga of controversial anti-Israel professor Steven Salaita is coming to an end, at least as concerns the University of Illinois. Salaita, whose inflammatory tweets prior to and during the 2014 Gaza conflict caused the Board of Trustees not to approve his conditional offer of a tenured position, sued in federal court. The University indicated early on that it would cut Salaita a check, but Salaita has been insistent as a matter of principle and justice for the Palestinian cause that he would accept nothing less than a tenured position. But Salaita has given up that principled position and accepted money in settlement of all claims. The University of Illinois just issued the following press release: