Activism and BDS Beat 16 December 2013
The full membership of the American Studies Association (ASA) has voted by a two-to-one margin to endorse an academic boycott of Israel, it was announced today.
The referendum was called after the National Council, the ASA’s governing body, endorsed the boycott itself on 4 December.
The vote is likely to be seen as an historic milestone in the Palestinian campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS), particularly in the United States, where university administrations have forcefully opposed student and faculty initiatives of this kind.
The ASA describes itself as the “nation’s oldest and largest association devoted to the interdisciplinary study of American culture and history.”
It has 5,000 individual members along with 2,200 library and other institutional subscribers.
The ASA has also published detailed guidance and a “Frequently Asked Questions” document [PDF] about what the boycott means in practice.
Here’s the ASA’s full statement:
ASA Members Vote To Endorse Academic Boycott of Israel
The members of the American Studies Association have endorsed the Association’s participation in a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. In an election that attracted 1252 voters, the largest number of participants in the organization’s history, 66.05% of voters endorsed the resolution, while 30.5% of voters voted no and 3.43% abstained. The election was a response to the ASA National Council’s announcement on December 4 that it supported the academic boycott and, in an unprecedented action to ensure a democratic process, asked its membership for their approval. Please see the ASA website for a collection of supporting documents.
One year ago the ASA Executive Committee was asked to consider a resolution from the Academic and Community Activism Caucus of the Association. The EC then forwarded the resolution to the National Council and, following a lengthy period of careful deliberations, the Council unanimously voted to draft a revised resolution and to recommend members endorse it.
The resolution is in solidarity with scholars and students deprived of their academic freedom and it aspires to enlarge that freedom for all, including Palestinians. The ASA’s endorsement of the academic boycott emerges from the context of US military and other support for Israel; Israel’s violation of international law and UN resolutions; the documented impact of the Israeli occupation on Palestinian scholars and students; the extent to which Israeli institutions of higher education are a party to state policies that violate human rights; and finally, the support of such a resolution by a majority of ASA members.
The National Council engaged and addressed questions and concerns of the membership throughout the process. During the open discussion at the recent convention, members asked us to draft a resolution that was relevant to the ASA in particular and so the Council’s final resolution acknowledged that the US plays a significant role in enabling the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Members asked for clarification about how the resolution would affect the ability of ASA members to engage with colleagues in Israel, and the Council developed guidelines specifying that collaboration on research and publications between individual scholars does not fall under the ASA boycott. Members asked us to deliberate carefully and consider diverse opinions and the Council thus deliberated for 8 days. Members asked that we create spaces for discussion and the Council established a lively Facebook page. Finally, members asked the National Council to put the resolution to a vote and the Council listened. The ASA National Council thanks all who took seriously the task of debating and discussing the resolution. As the nation’s oldest and largest association devoted to the interdisciplinary study of American culture and history, the Association’s mission includes the ongoing study and discussion of pressing issues faced by the US and the world. As part of that process and in keeping with the ASA’s commitment to academic freedom, we are thus pleased to announce plans to bring Israeli and Palestinian academics to the 2014 national convention in Los Angeles. At the same time we look forward to continuing the Association’s other work such as further supporting graduate student travel to the conference. Most important, we are making plans to add a regular DuPont Circle-based staffer who will organize a joint task force with the members of the Departments, Programs and Centers Committee to provide support for programs under review or experiencing other challenges.
The ASA National Council
The statement on the ASA’s website is followed by a list of statements endorsing the decision by eminent academics in the field.
attacks on ASA's resolution
Permalink Myles Hoenig replied on
Noted scholastic frauds like Alan Dershowitz and others are using this to 'prove' that anti-Semitism is alive and well. However, in the resolution it does not mention once the words "Jew" or "Jewish". It is they who bring shame on the Jewish people by associating them with racists and murderers who learned how to treat an oppressed population from the likes of the Czars of Russia and the Nazis of Germany.
ASA National Council descision
Permalink Guy replied on
YES ! Finally the taboo of criticizing Israel is broken in academia.I sincerely hope it will be the beginning of public exposure of Israeli crimes which is usually not discussed ,let alone prosecuted .If they do not want to act humanly ,then let the world shame them into submission as happened in South Africa.
No justice ,no peace .
Permalink Abe Simhony replied on
I fully agree with Myles Hoenig remarks. It is time that all hypocrites supporting Israel's illegal and inhuman actions, stop using the old argument that any anti Israeli resolution is anti-Semitic.and remind the world of the Nazi horrors. What they are doing is no more than "trading" with the blood of innocent 6 million people who were murdered by the Nazis. I am saying this as a son of Shoa refugees, who lost most of his family during the Shoa.
On 12/13 Amy Goodman gushed
Permalink karen replied on
On 12/13 Amy Goodman gushed that C. Hunter inspired her as a student through the boycott of Polaroid which was "Who Profits" off apartheid ID's in S.Africa. On 12/18 Goodman hosted a false "debate" about why ASA voted to boycott institutions supporting apartheid in Palestine, and at the END of the show, she ASKED what the goal was (even though she introduced the segment)... I guess she's not so inspired anymore!
The zionist guest's argument against BDS was that its supporters seek to "de-legitmate" Israel. The problem is, however, that no one has "legitimated" Israel. Ethnic cleansing of the West Bank, apartheid, and cruel annihilation of Gaza which has CONTINUED since before I was born (I'm old) is not legit, and if that's what is required to "legitimate" Israel, I wish Israel's buddies the Saudis would take over funding it, because Americans are SICK of it. BDS seeks to end support for a lifelong ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, to "de-legitimate" the lifelong ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, and to restore America's conscience, and to "legitimate" our foreign aid. BDS!!!
Permalink Mustang replied on
"The full membership of the American Studies Association (ASA) has voted by a two-to-one margin to endorse an academic boycott of Israel, it was announced today."
How many of the 5000 individual members actually voted for the boycott?