ASA » ADL Blogs
Posts Tagged ‘ASA’
January 21, 2014 1

Israel on Trial at the MLA Conference: An Insider’s View and a Perspective on the Trends

The Mod­ern Lan­guage Asso­ci­a­tion (MLA), a group com­prised of nearly 30,000 human­i­ties schol­ars, held their annual con­fer­ence in Chicago, Jan­u­ary 9th-12th.  ADL and other pro-Israel orga­ni­za­tions were con­cerned by two items on the MLA agenda:  a round­table dis­cus­sion enti­tled “Aca­d­e­mic Boy­cotts: A Con­ver­sa­tion about Israel and Pales­tine” which was com­prised solely of those sup­port­ive of an aca­d­e­mic boy­cott of Israel (includ­ing aca­d­e­mic boycott/BDS front-man Omar Bargh­outi); and a flaw-filled res­o­lu­tion con­demn­ing Israel for allegedly deny­ing Pales­tin­ian Amer­i­can aca­d­e­mics access to the West Bank.

Left to Right: Pro­fes­sors Cary Nel­son, Rus­sell Berman and Ilan Troen at a panel dis­cus­sion on the side­lines of the MLA Conference

ADL con­demned the one-sided panel, say­ing that the MLA had “given its de facto impri­matur of legit­i­macy to the cam­paign to boy­cott Israeli aca­d­e­mics and aca­d­e­mic institutions.”

In a heated ses­sion, the res­o­lu­tion passed by a vote of 60–53, and it now moves on to the MLA exec­u­tive com­mit­tee to deter­mine if it goes to the full mem­ber­ship for a vote.   For­tu­nately, the del­e­gates declined to con­sider an “emer­gency res­o­lu­tion” of sup­port for the Amer­i­can Stud­ies Association’s boy­cott of Israeli aca­d­e­mic institutions.

Amy Schwartz, an asso­ciate direc­tor in ADL’s Chicago office and a mem­ber of the MLA, writes in the JTA of her first-person account from the con­fer­ence, Ram­pag­ing Minor­ity Politi­cized MLA Con­fer­ence, that the out­comes of the con­fer­ence com­pel us to “ con­tinue to edu­cate and inform the MLA mem­ber­ship and ini­ti­ate out­reach to other aca­d­e­mic orga­ni­za­tions to pro­mote respon­si­bil­ity, aca­d­e­mic free­dom and integrity.

Writ­ing of those activists behind the round­table and res­o­lu­tion at the MLA con­fer­ence, and who pushed for­ward the vote by the Amer­i­can Stud­ies Asso­ci­a­tion to boy­cott Israeli aca­d­e­mic insti­tu­tions, Abra­ham H. Fox­man writes in Expos­ing the Israel Bash­ers: Opin­ions With­out Facts, Facts With­out Con­text :  “This is group which is devoted 24/7/365 to find­ing ways to exploit a lack of aware­ness, naïveté and gen­eral dis­in­ter­est to advance a cor­ro­sive, divi­sive and prej­u­diced per­spec­tive of the highly com­plex dynamic of achiev­ing peace between Israel and the Palestinians.”

The sil­ver lin­ing of these devel­op­ments remains the force­ful reac­tion by over 200 uni­ver­sity pres­i­dents from across the United States, who, every day, have come for­ward to speak out and denounce the aca­d­e­mic boy­cott of Israel.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

December 31, 2013 5

Bigotry Questions About the ASA’s Boycott of Israel

With the flurry of con­dem­na­tions issued by uni­ver­sity offi­cials and aca­d­e­mic asso­ci­a­tions against the Amer­i­can Stud­ies Association’s vote to boy­cott Israeli aca­d­e­mic insti­tu­tions, much of the focus has, of course, been on how the boy­cott sup­presses basic prin­ci­ples of aca­d­e­mic free­dom and sti­fles the free flow of ideas. Less atten­tion, how­ever, has been paid to the other deeply dis­turb­ing ele­ment of the boy­cott — - tar­get­ing Israel for such unfair and harsh treat­ment by the ASA.

Jeff Rob­bins, a for­mer U.S. del­e­gate to the United Nations Human Rights Com­mis­sion and cur­rent Board Chair­man of ADL’s New Eng­land Region, exam­ines the big­otry embed­ded in these impor­tant aspects of the ASA boy­cott in an op-ed for the Boston Her­ald. Mr. Rob­bins rightly con­cludes that the res­o­lu­tion was moti­vated by some­thing other than facts-on-the-ground and a sense of aca­d­e­mic moral respon­si­bil­ity, and points out the trou­bling role that big­otry plays when Israel is sin­gled out for boycotts.

The fol­low­ing is an excerpt from Mr. Rob­bins’ piece titled “Israel Boy­cott Raises Big­otry Issues”:

In the case of the Amer­i­can Stud­ies Asso­ci­a­tion boy­cott of Israel, how­ever, the prob­lem is not unfa­mil­iar­ity with the facts. It is the dis­re­gard of them. For the ASA boy­cotters, as for those urg­ing that the Mod­ern Lan­guage Asso­ci­a­tion endorse a sim­i­lar boy­cott, it is not that they are unaware that the Israelis have repeat­edly had their offers rejected by the Pales­tini­ans, or that accep­tance of these offers would have ended the con­flict. It is that these facts are quite imma­te­r­ial to them.

Con­fronted with the ques­tion why his orga­ni­za­tion has never pro­posed a boy­cott of insti­tu­tions any place other than Israel, yet alone places with human rights records far less admirable than that of Israel, ASA head Cur­tis Marez offered this disin­gen­u­ous reply: “One has to start somewhere.”

But Israel is where the boy­cotters start, and also where they fin­ish.

 

Mr. Rob­bins goes on to point out the gross human rights vio­la­tions by Hamas in Gaza, the restric­tions on basic free­doms imposed by the Pales­tin­ian Author­ity in the West Bank, the dis­turb­ing human rights infringe­ments in Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Ara­bia.  He notes: “The ASA would never dream of a boy­cott against the government-run uni­ver­si­ties in Gaza.  There is no boy­cott of insti­tu­tions in the West Bank.  Amer­i­can uni­ver­si­ties such as George­town and George Wash­ing­ton receive sig­nif­i­cant Saudi Ara­bian fund­ing. This, too, is appar­ently unde­serv­ing of a boycott.”

He quotes Michael Roth, pres­i­dent of Wes­leyan Uni­ver­sity, who called the boy­cotters “phony progressives.”

He ends with this impor­tant obser­va­tion: “They are that, to be sure. But the sin­gling out of the Jew­ish state legit­i­mately raises the trou­bling ques­tion of whether they are big­ots as well.”

Tags: , , , , , ,