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!
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • The real heroines of Passover prep aren't even Jewish. But the holiday couldn't happen without them.
  • Is Handel’s ‘Messiah’ an anti-Semitic screed?
  • Meet the Master of the Matzo Ball.
  • Pierre Dulaine wants to do in his hometown of Jaffa what he did for kids in Manhattan: teach them to dance.
  • "The first time I met Mick Jagger, I said, 'Those are the tackiest shoes I’ve ever seen.'” Jewish music journalist Lisa Robinson remembers the glory days of rock in her new book, "There Goes Gravity."
  • 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.