How can these U.S. universities justify membership in American Studies Association after Israel boycott?
As detailed in numerous posts over the past weeks, the American Studies Association has passed an academic boycott of Israeli universities.
Although the resolution does not make this distinction, ASA asserts in its explanation that the boycott applies only to the institutions and “not individual scholars, students, or cultural workers who will be able to participate in the ASA conference or give public lectures at campuses, provided they are not expressly serving as representatives or ambassadors of those institutions, or of the Israeli government.”
The explanation continues that the boycott also applies to “participation in conferences or events officially sponsored by Israeli universities.”
This would mean the boycott applies to programs and projects jointly sponsored by U.S. and Israeli academic institutions, like the Cornell-Technion campus under construction in New York City, the Brandeis-Middlebury Program at Ben Gurion University, dozens of other programs for terms abroad in Israel run by U.S. universities but hosted at Israeli universities, and many otherjoint university programs.
In the talking points ASA provided to its members on how to address criticism from University Administrators, Deans and Faculty, ASA states that “U.S. scholars are not discouraged under the terms of the boycott from traveling to Israel for academic purposes, provided they are not engaged in a formal partnership with or sponsorship by Israeli academic institutions.”
Now you can see how pernicious the ASA academic boycott becomes.
ASA’s boycott requires monitoring of individual Israeli scholars interacting with ASA and having such scholars disavow representation of their institutions. No scholar from any other nation is required to disavow representation of their institutions.
The ASA boycott encourages U.S. scholars to take on the role of vetting their Israeli counterparts for compliance with the boycott. For no other nation do U.S. scholars become boycott enforcers.
The ASA boycott also requires evaluation of what constitutes a boycottable program and scholar before ASA will engage with such scholars. And most of all, United States universities that interact with ASA become complicit in ASA’s national origin discrimination directed at Israeli scholars.
Everything about the boycott, even as ASA tried to parse it, runs contary to academic freedom and scholarly interaction, substituting instead a climate of distrust, suspicion, and national origin discrimination.
In light of the ASA boycott, which has been rejected by the American Association of University Professors, among others, how can Universities that object to the Israel academic boycott continue to be institutional members of ASA and continue to spend their institutions’ money to support participation in ASA events? Some of that money is taxpayer provided.
Lawrence Summers, former President of Harvard, has called for such financial support for ASA to be curtailed. University of Tennessee Law Professor Glenn Reynolds suggests the “response should be withdrawal of funding to attend ASA events. Let legislators and Trustees know.”
Here is the list of the 2013 Institutional Members of ASA, according to ASA’s most recent quarterly publication. The dues are not much, only $170 per institution, but their names lend creditibilty and legitimacy to ASA and they presumably provide financial support for faculty participation in ASA events, which is ASA’s main source of revenue:
AMERICAN STUDIES ASSOCIATION – INSTITUTIONAL MEMBERS 2013Alberta Institute for American Studies
Bard Graduate Center
Brigham Young University
California State University, Fullerton
California State University, Long Beach
Centre for the Study of the United States
College of Staten Island, CUNY
College of William and Mary
Crystal Bridge Museum of American Art
CUNY Graduate Center, American Studies Certificate Program
Eccles Centre for American Studies, The British Library
Franklin College of Indiana
George Washington University
Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania
Kennesaw State University
The Long Island Museum
Michigan State University, English Department
New York University
Penn State University, Harrisburg
Richard Stockton College of New Jersey
Roger Williams University
Rowan College of New Jersey
Rutgers University, New Brunswick
Saint John Fisher College
Saint Louis University
Saint Olaf College
St. Francis College
Stanford University, American Studies Program
Stanford University, Green Library
Students At The Center
Trinity College, Hartford, CT.
University of Alabama
University of California, San Diego
University of Delaware
University of Hawaii
University of Iowa
University of Maryland, Baltimore County
University of Minnesota
University of Mississippi
University of New Mexico
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
University of Notre Dame
University of Oklahoma Honors College
University of Southern California
University of Southern Mississippi
University of Texas, Austin
University of Texas, Dallas
University of Utah
University of Western Ontario
University of Wyoming
Washington State University
Washington University, St. Louis
Western Connecticut State University
Winterthur Program in Early American
Culture Youngstown State University
Many of these universities, or their affiliated printers, also provide financial support for ASA through advertising and exhibiting at Annual Meetings.
ASA has made its decision. These institutions should decide whether they will become accomplices.
(added) Here is the source of the list. The ASA website represents that “A list of institutional members is published in each issue of the American Quarterly, the Guide to American Studies Resources, and the annual meeting Program.”
Here are the 2013 entries for Insitutional Members from the American Quarterly (has to be viewed in full screen to be readable):