Seeming to give credence to Orwell’s wry observation that “there are some ideas so absurd that only an intellectual could believe them,” the fatuous members of the American Studies Association (ASA) passed a December 15 resolution to institute an academic boycott against Israeli universities.
Admitting that the organization consciously made the decision to ignore the academic transgressions of universities in any number of other totalitarian, oppressive countries that stifle dissent and imprison errant professors and that might actually deserve to be censured, ASA president Curtis Marez, a University of California at San Diego associate professor of ethnic studies, said “many nations, including many of Israel’s neighbors, are generally judged to have human-rights records that are worse than Israel’s, or comparable.”
Nevertheless, he contended, his tendentious organization would focus solely on Israeli institutions, since, as he stated quite tellingly and disingenuously, “One has to start somewhere.”
It was a comment that has garnered universal obloquy, primarily because to accept that the ASA was starting with Israel and would then subsequently call for boycotts elsewhere one would have to believe that this left-leaning group, academics whom Professor Bruce Thornton of California State Fresno has characterized as a “motley crew of Marxists, squishy leftists, radical feminists, deconstructionists, social constructionists, multiculturalists, and other postmodern warriors against patriarchal corporate hegemony,” would of course call for boycotts against other errant university systems in other countries.
But Professor Marez hinted that was unlikely, that Israel would be the sole target for boycott, since while “the current resolution answers the call of Palestinian civil society, to my knowledge there has never been a similar call for boycott from the civil society in another country.”
That may well be true, but one has to wonder exactly what was so compelling about Palestinian “civil” society that motivated an academic association to call for an academic boycott – something that such reputable groups as the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), for example, have pointedly and historically denounced as anathematic to higher education.
The ASA has obviously overlooked the pathologies of Palestinian society, crystallized and made more malevolent by the rule of Hamas itself, in which Palestinian children are inculcated, nearly from birth, with seething, blind, unrelenting and obsessive hatred of Jews, so that kindergartners graduate with blood-soaked hands while toting plastic AK 47s and dedicate their lives to jihad, and older children and college students are recruited to hide explosives on their bodies to transform themselves into shahids – a new generation of kindling for radical Islam’s cult of death.
Parents of these children the ASA cares so much about, in fact, glorify death and martyrdom and seek the death of their children if they distinguish themselves by murdering Jewish civilians. Hamas also broadcasts children’s TV shows with animal characters that repeat hateful propaganda about Israel and encourage children to attack and kill Jews, behavior the ASA, of course, never mentions and fails to condemn.
All of these alleged transgressions on the part of Israel are often further conflated with the ASA’s view that the “brutal occupation” of Zionism has unleashed these “crimes against humanity” through U.S. complicity, that as its proxy in the Middle East, Israel tarnishes America through its misdeeds and mirrors the U.S.’s own imperialistic, militant, and anti-Muslim impulses.
Thus, those ASA members who shared their ideology on the association’s website in support of the boycott were very clear in their contempt for what they characterize as an “occupation, dispossession and discrimination from which Palestinians daily suffer.”
“This is what the ASA is about,” said University of Florida’s Malini Johar Schueller. “The ASA has been interested in work on imperialism, settler colonialism, and it just seems logical that they supported this.”
The language used by these ASA members is part of the cognitive war against Israel on campuses worldwide, through which Israel is regularly, though falsely, condemned for being created “illegally” – through the “theft” of Palestinian lands and property – and thus has no right to exist. The government is accused of a “brutal,” illegal “occupation” of Palestinian territory, especially Gaza and the West Bank, of being a “colonial settler state,” a Zionist “regime,” a land-hungry nation building an “apartheid wall” as a further land grab, a usurper of property that was lived on and owned by a Palestinian “people” “from time immemorial.”
In fact, many of the American studies professors who populate the ASA have made very specific analogies, not only comparing Israel and apartheid-era South Africa, but also comparing the dispossession of the indigenous Native Americans to the hapless Palestinians, who have become the left’s victim group of the moment.
And many of these American studies experts harbor the same disdain for the United States they seem to exhibit when speaking of Israel – another explanation for why an academic association whose core focus is American studies would mount such a misguided assault on a country, and area of scholarship, completely outside its intellectual orbits.Richard L. Cravatts
About the Author: Richard L. Cravatts, Ph.D,, is immediate past president of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East and the author of the forthcoming book “Dispatches From the Campus War Against Israel and Jews.”
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