Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Widespread condemnation of the vote by the ASA to boycott Academic institutions in Israel

From Elder of Ziyon:  Widespread condemnation of the vote by the ASA to boycott academic institutions in Israel

American Studies Association members ratify anti-Israel academic boycott

I’m most shocked at the low turnout for the vote. Given the time and energy devoted by the anti-Israel backers of the boycott, only 825 or so votes were in favor. At the same time, opponents (who were ambushed by the proposal) only managed to get about 375 people interested. Effectively, most people didn’t care. Apathy is perhaps the saddest lesson from this given the odious nature of the proposal, and it’s how anti-Israel zealots are able to drive issues far out of proportion to their actual numbers.
In a nation that overwhelmingly supports Israel at historically high levels, a highly organized cadre of anti-Israel radicals was able to pull off a multi-year effort successfully. They put their people in charge of a previously non-partisan academic organization, waited to ambush the opposition, made sure the flow of information was one-sided, and in the end used a relatively small but motivated group of symathizers to commit the entire organization to an act widely condemned outside the anti-Israel community.
It’s a lesson in how good people let bad people win, and should be a wake up call to supporters of Israel and/or academic freedom.
ASA issues member talking points to counter university pushback over Israel boycott
Apparently ASA is so concerned about how its academic boycott will be received at Universities around the country that it has posted talking points on its website.

The un-American Studies Association
 There are 200,000 dead in Syria and millions of refugees, zero academic freedom in China ... well, why go on; none of these matters seems worthy of notice by the ASA. It is illuminating that one of the endorsers of this move (actually, it is the second name that appears) on the ASA website is Angela Davis, former Communist Party candidate for national office and now a distinguished professor emerita of feminist studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She, like the ASA, has long been blind to human rights abuses -- except in Israel.

This move by the ASA will not harm Israel, but it is enlightening for anyone with children attending or soon to be attending college that this group of academics harbors such an extraordinary bias. The much larger American Association of University Professors has opposed this and all academic boycotts, but that is only partial comfort. The AAUP opposition means that ASA members had a principled and academically defensible basis for voting against the boycott of Israel, yet they voted for it. Those votes express not only bias against Israel, for the reasons Summers notes, but a bias as well against the spirit of free inquiry that is supposed to infuse American academia.

Israel, Jewish groups slam ASA academic boycott
ASA President Curtis Marez was quoted by The New York Times as admitting that the organization had never before endorsed a boycott of any kind against any other nation's universities.
According to the report, Marez did not dispute the fact that other countries, including some in the Middle East, have far worse human rights records, saying, "One has to start somewhere. … There is a particular responsibility to answer the call for boycott because [the U.S.] is the largest supplier of military aid to the State of Israel."
The ASA’s Guide to World Peace
Earlier today, members of the American Studies Association voted to confirm the organization’s decision to boycott Israel. As far as we can tell, this is an historic occasion—with the exception of South Africa, no other country has been deemed so vile by American academics as to warrant banning all collaboration with its universities and scholars. In the spirit of public service, then, and to commemorate this occasion, we offer the following chart, the ASA’s Guide to World Peace.
World Jewish Congress denounces "Orwellian anti-Semitism" of US academic group's Israel boycott move
"This vote to boycott Israel, one of the most democratic and academically free nations on the globe, shows the Orwellian anti-Semitism and moral bankruptcy of the American Studies Association (ASA).
“The Middle East is literally filled with dead from governments’ reaction to the convulsions of the ‘Arab Spring,’ but the American Studies Association singles out the Jewish State, the one Middle Eastern country that shares American values, for opprobrium? No wonder many Americans dismiss the academy as deeply biased and disconnected with reality."
 And one more, from the Israel Action Network:

Israel Action Network Calls American Studies Association Decision to Adopt an Israel Boycott Resolution a Violation of Academic Freedom

The process of endorsing the resolution, which consisted of an electronic membership vote that closed on December 15, raised issues regarding open member discourse and transparency. The call for a membership vote followed a recommendation by the ASA National Council, a small body of two dozen people that sets policy for an organization of only 5,000 members. The resolution faced vocal opposition by eight former ASA Presidents, ASA award winners, and members that wrote an open letter condemning the resolution with 70 signatories. Until challenged, the leadership did not provide dissenting views or access to the membership to opponents of the resolution. ASA leaders who claim to champion academic freedom withheld alternate views from their colleagues, resulting in a vote where only one side of a complex conflict was formally presented. This reflected the same imbalance seen at the ASA’s recent annual meeting, where a panel discussion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict featured only panelists in favor of a boycott.

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