- The Jewish Community Got Beat
There is no question about it. The American Studies Association’s anti-Israel boycott resolution is a defeat for everyone who is concerned about anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism in higher education. The ASA is the largest, most important academic association to support the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel (BDS). By a membership vote of nearly 2-to-1, the ASA voted to support a limited academic boycott of Israel, the first country that the association has ever seen fit to treat in this manner.
For years, Israel’s supporters have observed that BDS tarnishes Israel’s reputation even when it fails. Until recently, BDS resolutions failed over and over again in the United States. Yet each battle imposed a cost, as Israel was falsely cast in the public mind as a rogue nation. The harm is obviously greater when these resolutions actually pass, as they have recently on some university campuses, such as the University of California at Berkeley and Irvine. The ASA resolution gives a scholarly imprimatur to a cause that is at best political and at worst bigoted.
2. The ASA Was the Biggest Loser
In the end, the ASA is the biggest loser, and this outcome will not be lost on other associations. For its efforts, the ASA is now publicly mocked, ridiculed and condemned, even by some of its own members and past presidents, as well as by major scholars and numerous university presidents. Even those who do not discern anti-Semitism in the ASA resolution nevertheless perceive a violation of academic freedom. The American Association of University Professors announced that the boycott would violate the academic freedom “not only of Israeli scholars but also of American scholars who might be pressured to comply with it.” More importantly, perhaps, the ASA has now lost any scholarly reputation that it might previously have had and is now seen as a largely political institution.Details