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!
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • 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.