December 22, 2013

Let’s Boycott the Boycotters!

by Hal Gershowitz

Comments Below


No wonder so many of our kids are graduating from our colleges and universities largely unprepared to do anything productive. Look who is teaching them.  Professors naïve (or stupid) enough to embrace an assault on Israel, the most multi-cultural, highly educated, tolerant and enlightened, democracy in the middle of a chaotic, cesspool of despotic regimes, largely driven by hatred — especially against Jews and Christians, mottled, dark-age thinking, and educational systems that equate political propaganda with learning.

Yes, let us hasten to make the obligatory, but appropriate, acknowledgement that we find the military occupation of territory overwhelmingly populated by non-Israeli Palestinians to be a dreadful reality. It is, however, a tragic consequence of decades of political incompetence by Israel’s neighbors, wars foisted upon the Israelis and years of murderous attacks upon their civilian citizens.  And yes, Israel erected barriers along its borders to protect its people from suicide murderers sent to kill them.  Borders that protect; what a novel idea.

Let’s recognize the decision by the American Studies Association (ASA) to join the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions Movement (BDSs) for what it is – monkey see, monkey do; a swath of the professorial class reduced to sycophants for an intellectually dishonest cause.  Dishonest because of the intensity of its focus on Israel, while simultaneously blind to the long history of violence, abuse and invective directed at Israel.   One must ask, given the history of the region since Israel’s independence was established nearly sixty-six years ago, and the concerted and repeated efforts to destroy the Jewish state, what must be the real motivation of the ASA and its decision to boycott Israel.  Surely, it can’t merely be to fight discrimination.  By any standard, there is far less discrimination emanating from Israel, than there is emanating from any other area in the region.  It is almost too ludicrous to elaborate.  Israeli policies and regulations in the absence of peace isn’t what drives the BDS movement; rather it seems to be the existence of Israel itself.

Even Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, has publicly rejected a boycott of Israel.   As one Palestinian official said, “We are neighbors with Israel, we have agreements with Israel, we recognize Israel, and we are not asking anyone to boycott Israel.” But then again, what do these Palestinian officials know compared to the gaggle of American professors who are calling for boycott.

Actually, the worst kept secret regarding the boycott is that it isn’t motivated by antipathy toward Israeli policy, but rather, antipathy toward Israel in general.  When, in 2008-2009 Israel finally responded, after showing remarkable restraint, to the daily barrage of Hamas rockets from Gaza reining down on at its civilian centers in the south, the boycott movement saw an opportunity to demonize Israel for rigorously defending its people.

Israel finally struck back violently against the rocket assault, targeting launch sites and command posts wherever they existed, which often meant striking targets in populated areas, which is from where Hamas generally launched its rockets.  By the time a ceasefire was brokered by Egypt, 1,285 Palestinians had lost their lives and, 4,336 lay wounded.  All in all an estimated 2,400 houses were left in ruins.

ASA, it seems, now had an excuse to go after Israel by targeting its academic establishment for boycott.  High-minded ASA claims it is motivated by an imperative to fight against human rights abuses. Fair enough. Obviously, they can’t fight such a noble battle on a worldwide scale. The Middle East apparently seemed a good region to target. So who to target?  There’s Syria; there’s Iran’ there’s Egypt; and of course the gaggle of fiefdoms on the Arabian Peninsula and militia-run pseudo governments across North Africa. But they targeted Israel, clearly the nation in the region with the least human right offenses notwithstanding the occupation of territory it has held since winning the ’67 war in which its neighbors were determined to drive it into the sea.  Why Israel? Well says, ASA President Curtis Marez, “one has to start somewhere.”  Marez chose to start, not where the offenses are greatest, but apparently where his (and presumably ASA’s) hostility is greatest.

So, in response to the salvos being fired at the only democracy in the Middle East from a dark corner of academia, we suggest firing a few salvos back.

First, let’s question what right a tax-payer-subsidized, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization such as the ASA has to engage in economic or political warfare at all, let alone against an ally of the United States.  After all, according to the Internal Revenue Code, a 501{c}{3} organization must be organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, or educational purposes. The boycott is neither religious nor charitable nor is it educational.  They want to campaign for a boycott; fine, that’s their right, but not with American taxpayer assistance.

Second, let’s determine what universities or colleges foot the bill for their faculty to belong to ASA or to go to ASA sponsored conferences.  University and college tuition is outrageous enough without having student loans helping to fund a school’s direct or indirect participation in boycotts of Israel or any other nation.

Third, Alumni of Universities that are affiliated with ASA may want to rethink their continued support of these institutions.  Many fine schools have developed relationships (often through faculty participation) with ASA.  Alumni may want to ask the Alumni Relations Directors (fund raisers) of the schools they support whether the schools are, in turn, supporting the boycott.

Just who, or what, is ASA anyway. ASA is supposed to represent those whom we pay to teach our kids, professors whose specialty is the study of American history and culture. While ASA claims 5,000 members, only 1,242 ASA members voted in what was an online referendum. Of those, 66 percent voted in favor of the boycott resolution. So about 800 of ASA’s 5,000 members voted for the boycott.  Maybe they speak for all 5,000 members, maybe they don’t.  We don’t question anyone’s right to boycott whoever or whatever he or she wants to boycott.  But we don’t have to support them or the institutions that employee them.  They may be perfectly entitled to boycott, but, then again, so are we.

The resolution voted on Sunday night urges American universities not to collaborate with Israeli academic institutions.  Perhaps, these professors and their families should also boycott other Israeli institutions by refusing to accept their goods and services, such as the one’s that gave them and their colleagues cell phones, or memory sticks for their lap top computers, or Rasaguline (Azilect) for treating early-stage Parkinson’s Disease, or the programs that created instant messaging, or Ubiquitin, the protein that causes cells to die, creating a whole now possibility for treating Cancer or maybe Insightec, the new non-invasive technology that destroys tumors by ultrasound.

Israel has enough about which to worry given the carnage raging in Syria, the instability throughout the region, and the West’s barely-disguised capitulation to Iran, without excessing over ASA’s decision to boycott its academic institutions.  Given the stellar performance and extraordinary contributions of Israel’s institutions of higher learning, it is the ASA members who, ultimately, will be the victims of their own boycott.

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6 responses to “Let’s Boycott the Boycotters!”

  1. Bill Osterman says:

    Have you been able to research what universities employ these despicable ignorant and uninformed so-called professors?

  2. Fred Mayer says:

    Who supports this ASA and its officers ?
    Scratch the surface and you will be astounded !

  3. Mark J Levick says:

    The ASA is representative of the elitist body of liberal college professor who will leave any venue where opposing views are expressed. They may or may not be anti Semetic but the most certainly believe that any nation that elects a conservative to head it’s government must be evil. The universities seem to like having intellectual snobs teach their students which explains how a group of well educated young people who have nothing but debt to show for their education would vote overwhelmingly for our silver tounged President. If their alumni closed their wallets as you suggest these well paid administrators may consider a balanced approach to higher education but don’t bet on it ias there are lots of very rich liberals ready to take up the financial slack in order to advance the cause of progressive thought even at the expense of thought itself.

  4. Judy says:

    Would really appreciate any list that anyone has compiled on these schools….one has to wonder just how well our students are being taught to learn VS being indoctrinated…..

  5. John Fairfield says:

    Anyone interested has only to go to the ASA website to view their board of directors: names and affiliations. The participants include faculty from Oberlin, UC San Diego, NYU, Yale, USC, Arizona State, U of Washington, Stanford, Texas, UC Santa Barbara and Northwestern among others. The Presidents of Yale and Harvard have issued scathing criticisms of the boycott as have more than twenty other colleges and universities. Brandeis and Penn State have withdrawn institutional membership in ASA. It sounds as if your readers can finally do something beyond agreeing with your oiutrage. Simply write to your alma mater. I will write U of Illinois.

  6. Phil Glass says:

    The universities and colleges below are confirmed to reject the academic boycott of Israel passed by the American Studies Association.

    This list is based on positions expressed by the Presidents of such Universities or others in a position to state a university’s position (e.g., communications staff). We are aware of no university in the U.S. endorsing the boycott. See University statements rejecting academic boycott of Israel.

    This is a list in progress and will be updated as more announcements/confirmations are made. If you have additions, please post in comments with source link or forward confirming emails to me.

    These are in addition to the Association of American Universities, the umbrella organization for 62 major universities and university-systems, and the Association of American University Professors, both of which reject the boycott.

    Reject Boycott

    Boston University
    Bowdon College
    Brandeis University
    Brown University
    Cornell University
    Dickinson College
    Duke University
    George Washington University
    Hamilton College
    Harvard University
    Johns Hopkins University
    Kenyon College
    Indiana University
    Michigan State
    New York University
    Northwestern University
    Princeton University
    Smith College
    Trinity College (CT)
    Tufts University
    Tulane University
    University of California-Irvine
    University of California-San Diego
    University of Chicago
    University of Cincinnati
    University of Connecticut
    University of Kansas
    University of Maryland
    University of Maryland – Baltimore County
    University of Michigan
    University of Pennsylvania
    University of Pittsburgh
    University of Texas-Austin
    Washington University in St. Louis
    Wesleyan University
    Willamette University
    Yale University

    Termination of memberships – Many if not most Universities are leaving the decision to terminate Institutional Membership up to individual American Studies Departments. We can confirm that the following have terminated or will not renew membership:

    Brandeis University
    Indiana University
    Kenyon College
    Penn State Harrisburg

    Deny Membership – The following are listed by ASA as Institutional Members, but deny that they are in fact members:

    Brown University
    Hamilton College
    Temple University
    Trinity College (CT)
    Tufts University
    University of Alabama (source)
    Willamette University

    Contact information for many ASA Institutional Members is located in the comments at Reader crowdsourcing project to figh

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