An outfit called the American Studies Association (ASA) has called for a boycott of Israel’s academic institutions. You can read its boycott resolution here.
The ASA consists of approximately 5,000 members. 1,265 of them voted on the resolution, with 66 percent of them supporting it.
If the ASA’s resolution doesn’t tell us all we need to know about this organization, the title of its upcoming annual meeting does. It’s called “The Fun and the Fury: New Dialectics of Pleasure and Pain In the Post-American Century.”
Not surprisingly, the ASA has been joined in its boycott of Israel by The Native American and Indigenous Studies Association. The Association for Asian American Studies has also embraced the boycott.
Charlatans of the World Unite! You have nothing to lose but your counter-hegemonic narratives.
The ASA resolution has met with widespread disapproval from American academic institutions. So far more than 90 of them have issued statements rejecting the call for an academic boycott of Israel. Among them are Harvard, Columbia, Princeton, New York University, Yale, and (I’m happy to report) Dartmouth College. Dartmouth President Phil Hanlon said this:
Recently several academic associations, including the American Studies Association, have proposed or endorsed a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. I believe that academic boycotts restrict the free exchange of ideas that are at the heart of Dartmouth’s dual mission to educate citizen-leaders and advance the frontiers of knowledge. Collaboration, especially across significant points of tension and difference, is essential to fostering mutual understanding and solving the world’s most complex problems.
As president, I am committed to ensuring that all members of the Dartmouth community have the opportunity to engage in scholarly work across the globe, including with academic institutions of Israel.
I respect the right of faculty, students, and staff to express their personal opinions. While I do not support this boycott, I hope that together we can work to expand, rather than limit, engagement with our colleagues.
Four colleges have gone further. Brandeis University, Indiana University, Kenyon College, and Penn State have withdrawn their membership in the ASA. Several other colleges, including Brown, Northwestern, Tufts, and USC have denied being members. Whether Dartmouth is a member of ASA, I do not know.
It’s sad, but perhaps not surprising, that any academic institution would be an “institutional” member of such an outfit. If leftist academics want to meet at a nice hotel in L.A. to jaw about the new (as opposed to the old) dialectics of pleasure and pain in the “post-American century,” enjoy. If they would prefer not to engage with Israel’s academic institutions, so be it — I’m sure they’d not be missed.
But why would colleges and universities choose to be part of such an organization? I imagine it’s another sign of academic decay in America.
At least the decay isn’t yet absolute, as the resistance to the ASA boycott shows.