From the Council on Foreign relations, December 16, 2013, by Elliott Abrams:
The American Studies Association has voted 2-to-1 for an academic boycott of Israel.
The best comment on this move came from former Harvard president Lawrence Summers, who criticized the idea that of all the countries
in the world that might be thought to have human rights abuses, that might be
thought to have inappropriate foreign policies, that might be thought to be
doing things wrong, the idea that there’s only one that is worthy of boycott,
and that is Israel.
There are 200,000 dead in Syria and millions of refugees, zero academic
freedom in China….well, why go on; none of these matters seems worthy of notice
by the ASA. It is illuminating that one of the endorsers of this move
(actually, it is the second name that appears) on the ASA web site is Angela Davis, former Communist Party
candidate for national office and now professor of Feminist Studies Emerita at
UC Santa Cruz. She, like the ASA, has long been blind to human rights
abuses–except in Israel.
This move by the ASA will not harm Israel, but it is enlightening for anyone
with children attending or soon to be attending college that this group of
academics harbors such an extraordinary bias.
The much larger American
Association of University Professors has opposed this and all academic
boycotts, but that is only partial comfort. The AAUP opposition means that ASA
members had a principled and academically defensible basis for voting against
the boycott of Israel, yet they voted for it. Those votes express not only bias
against Israel, for the reasons Summers notes, but a bias as well against the
spirit of free inquiry that is supposed to infuse American academia.
The AAUP (American
Association of University Professors) position is worth quoting:
the AAUP has been committed to preserving and advancing the free exchange
of ideas among academics irrespective of governmental policies and however
unpalatable those policies may be viewed. We reject proposals that curtail the
freedom of teachers and researchers to engage in work with academic colleagues,
and we reaffirm the paramount importance of the freest possible international
movement of scholars and ideas.