The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) today condemned the American Studies Association (ASA), an association of some 5,000 members involved in interdisciplinary study of American culture and history, for voting by a two-thirds majority to boycott fellow Israeli academic institutions.
The executive committee of the ASA’s national council has six members, five of whom previously endorsed the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. Four signed a 2009 letter to President Obama that described Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians as “one of the most massive ethnocidal atrocities of modern times” and declared that a one-state solution, which would mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state, is “almost certainly” the only road to peace (Jonathan Marks, ‘A Vote Against Israel and Academic Freedom,’ Wall Street Journal, December 16, 2013).
The ZOA has issued the following statement: “The ZOA condemns the campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), of which the ASA boycott is a part, because it is a vicious, discriminatory movement seeking the extinction of Jewish national rights and the Jewish state of Israel. We agree with the eight past presidents of the American Studies Association, along with more than 50 other members, who signed a letter calling the resolution ‘discrimination pure and simple.’ We also agree with the the American Association of University Professors, which has condemned the ASA.
“The ASA Council Statement on the Academic Boycott of Israel does not cite particular Israeli policies it wishes to criticize. It does not seek to foster discussion on a matter of Israeli policy. It takes issue with Israel’s existence; or, as the ASA puts it, Israel’s “occupation of Palestine.”
“The ASA claims that ‘It represents a principle of solidarity with scholars and students deprived of their academic freedom and an aspiration to enlarge that freedom for all, including Palestinians.’ The ASA is making this statement with respect to Israel, one of the few countries in the region which possesses academic freedom. Jewish and Arab academics, both inside Israel and within the Palestinian Authority (PA)-controlled areas, work together productively in many fields of academic endeavor. Yet the ASA does not want American academics working with any of Israel’s world-class institutions of higher learning. Clearly, the ASA’s statement is disingenuous and its motives are other than advancing human rights and academic freedom.
“The ASA also claims ‘We believe that the ASA’s endorsement of a boycott is warranted given U.S. military and other support for Israel.’ In other words, the ASA has made a nakedly political decision, based on U.S. support for Israel’s security and existence that is strongly endorsed by the American people, the Congress and successive U.S. Administrations.
“We urge all Jewish and pro-Israel organizations and all academics and academic bodies to condemn the ASA’s scandalous, dishonorable vote. We also urge ASA members opposed to the ASA’s decision to resign from it in protest.”