If you haven’t heard the news, the ASA (American Studies Association) voted to approve a resolution that academically boycott’s Israeli Universities. The approval by the ASA to support the boycott of Israeli institutions is one of the most prolific cases to date, and organizations on both sides of the spectrum have been busy strategizing around the American Studies Association’s decision.
I’m not posting this to intentionally spread the organization’s decision, but instead to focus on the response since the passing of the resolution on December 21st, 2013. Over a hundred American universities since then have released statement’s, usually through the Chancellors or Presidents of the School, condemning the ASA resolution, with a few even disassociating themselves from the organization all together. These aren’t small time universities either, these are Ivy League schools such as MIT, Harvard, Boston University, and many others.
The beauty about all of these condemnations is that they aren’t outright vocally supporting Israeli institutions, although there are that do, but most have been vocal about their support for Academic freedom. Instead these institutions focus on letting their students broaden their horizon, and fostering active engagement through these institutions, including Israeli Universities, which provide many with benefits.
Take this statement released from the Chancellor of the CSU (California State University) system Timothy White:
“The California State University denounces the resolution calling for an academic boycott
of the higher education institutions in Israel, which was issued by the American Studies
Association and has been supported by other organizations. Academic boycotts violate the
basic tenets of higher education including academic freedom and scholarly dialog.
Boycotts attempt to limit the unfettered creation, discovery and dissemination of
knowledge vital to our tripartite mission of research, teaching and service. These
characteristics are essential to preparing students with the analytical and critical thinking
skills to lead in business, community, educational and civic organizations.”
This response, again numbering in the hundreds already, is dealing a HUGE blow to the BDS movement in general. The ultimate conclusion we can take from this scandal is that the movement is losing its battle with the academic field. The whole purpose of the movement since the beginning was to mirror the same BDS movement that ended apartheid in South Africa, which was mainly through American Universities. I ask that all of you think about these reponses, search the internet for different statements released by Universities, and educate yourselves on the matter of Academic freedom and what Israeli Universities have provided in that realm.
Update: There have been over 40 more universities to join in the condemnation of ASA’s decision to academically boycott Israel, another reason that although it may seem like a victory for the BDS campaign, it still has a long way to go..