Academic Hypocrisy

The American Studies Association Veers Towards a Boycott of Israel

Getty Images

Published December 05, 2013, issue of December 13, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

The decision by the National Council of the American Studies Association to support a boycott of Israeli academic institutions is hypocritical and short-sighted. We’re not of the belief that college campuses are as rife with anti-Israel sentiment as some activists contend, but this unanimous vote by the leadership of a sizable cohort of scholars is a stain on their integrity and a worrying sign that some are willing to put simple-minded politics way above adherence to genuine academic values.

Where to start? The ASA’s claim that this boycott is against only institutions and that individual Israelis will be welcome at scholarly conventions as long as their positions aren’t funded by the government is disengenuous and impossible to disentangle. Will Palestinians teaching at Israeli schools be shunned, too? Genuine academic freedom demands that scholars be allowed to speak, teach, research, publish and collaborate without regard to borders and nationality. Are some Palestinians restricted thus? Yes. But singling out Israel for censure is simply hypocritical.

And counterproductive. Calls for academic boycott will not hasten the end to Israel’s immoral and harmful occupation of the Palestinians; it will only hurt the wrong people and further isolate a recalcitrant government, while cutting off opportunities to support Israeli progressives and others striving for a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

The ASA hasn’t announced when the resolution will be put to all its members. It should be resoundingly defeated. It is not possible to curtail academic freedom in the name of promoting academic freedom, just as scholars cannot defend some human rights and disregard others.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.