Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East.
(From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Saturday 22 March 2014

The American Academic Boycott That Failed

This is a guest blog by Professor William D. Rubinstein.

He writes:

Recently, an academic body in the United States, the American Studies Association (ASA), voted to boycott Israeli universities. The vote received wide publicity, and what occurred is unusually interesting, with ramifications for the worldwide BDS campaign.

The American Studies Association is composed of university academics who study American society and culture. It is similar to many other academic bodies concerned with particular fields of interest. Normally these bodies publish a journal and hold an annual conference.

The most controversial discussion at these conferences is, usually, the menu at the conference dinner and who is going to have the chore of organising the next conference, while their respective AGMs are invariably taken up with lamenting the dire state of the body’s finances. Nearly all of these bodies are pluralistic and non-political. In contrast, the ASA is overwhelmingly composed of ultra-leftist academics, who have turned it into an extremist advocacy group.

From what I can piece together about the ASA, about one-third of its leaders appear to be unreconstructed Stalinists, still sitting shiva for Uncle Joe and the gulags, while about two-thirds are "post-colonialist" leftists who think that Israel is a colonising power.

Before proceeding, it might be worth considering the sheer hypocrisy of the American post-colonialists' stance. Every leader of the ASA – every man-jack among them – lives on land which was stolen from the local American Indian tribe.  Surely these thieves should put their money where their mouth is, and give it back, without delay.

Many of the ASA's leaders are, rather strangely, at New York University, on Manhattan Island.  The Dutch "bought" Manhattan Island from the local Indians for $24, and surely these NYU faculty members should lobby the New York City government to hand it back, in exchange for $24 (plus interest).

But we digress.

The ASA voted to boycott Israeli universities. Not those in North Korea, China, Iran, or (needless to say) China. Not those of Saudi Arabia, whose state is ruled by an ideology from the Dark Ages, or the Ukraine, or Egypt, which has had two violent coups in three years, or any of the forty Third World hellholes whose local dictators have sequestered their countries' wealth in their Swiss bank accounts.

To condemn Israel while deliberately and utterly ignoring human rights violations, often a thousand times worse, in other countries is antisemitism in the nastiest, most odious, most deplorable sense of that term, and is strong evidence of how the Far Left has now inherited the legacy of the pre-1945 Far Right.

It is also a complete non sequitur, since Israel’s universities have no control whatever on policy in the West Bank. It is as if a foreign group which doesn’t like the way Aborigines are treated in Australia's Northern Territory decided to boycott the academics in Melbourne or Sydney.

Moreover, as in all Western countries the academics at Israel’s universities consist overwhelmingly of wall-to-wall liberals and leftists, who almost certainly vote for the Israel Labor Party and parties to its left. The ASA has bizarrely targeted these people, not the West Bank religious settlers.

When the ASA passed its anti-Israel revolution, Mondoweiss, the anti-Zionist website, claimed that the vote represented a "tipping point" in the BDS movement. It was, but in a rather different sense from what the ASA hoped. In fact, significantly and unsurprisingly, the "tipping" occurred against the BDS movement, burying it under tons of rubble; the lessons to be drawn from this debacle (for them) are highly instructive.

Almost immediately, a tidal wave of non-compliance with the ASA resolution literally swept America’s universities. Over 225 university presidents have explicitly disassociated their respective institutions from the resolution, including every heavyweight, internationally-known school – Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Berkeley, Stanford, Johns Hopkins, Chicago, MIT, and dozens of similarly renowned universities.

Many of these have reputations as bastions of the left, but have drawn the line at boycotting Israel, with that boycott’s clear smell of antisemitism. Twenty universities have left the ASA as a result of the boycott resolution, and the resolution has been condemned by a range of academic and professional bodies, including the American Council on Education (with 1700 colleges as members), the Association of American Universities, and the American Association of University Professors (with 48,000 members).

Professor William Jacobson of Cornell University, who has been leading the attacks on ASA (and whose Legal Insurrection website is a key source of information) is also seeking to have the ASA’s tax exempt status removed, since boycotting Israel is in clear violation of the stated aims of the ASA. Many other examples of the total rejection of the ASA’s antisemitism could also be cited.

The utter failure of the BDS movement in the the university sphere has its recent parallel in the US Congress.  Earlier this month, the US House of Representatives voted by 410:1 to approve the US-Israel Strategic Partnership Act, which designates Israel as a "major strategic partner" and allows Israelis to travel to the US without a visa.  The lone dissenting voice came from a neo-isolationist "libertarian" Republican (Thomas Massie, of Kentucky), not from a left-wing Democrat.

In all seriousness, a resolution praising George Washington would be unlikely to pass the US House of Representatives by a 410:1 vote, and is clear evidence that the BDS gang has no traction or salience outside of the Looney Left and, of course, of Arab and Islamic sources which are mistrusted – to put it mildly – by most Americans.  What the future holds cannot be predicted, but for the present, in the USA at least, BDS is a non-starter.


  1. As an academic myself, I see things a little differently. The problem for Israel is that these professors, and many like them, are and have been teaching thousands of students to view Israel as hated "colonizers." The problem in academia is less the boycott than the views that are taught to students ill equipped to see things differently. It is because of this that these views have been becoming more and more mainstream.

  2. Fabulous! Can we have some more, please?

  3. Sorry for the deflection, but are there more informations about the Bondi incident available? Were Muslims involved? I didn`t hear anything about since

    1. No, as far as I'm aware Muslims were not involved, despite a rush to judgment. You might find more information on Shirlee's site:

    2. PS Apologies for the tardy reply - I had not noticed your post earlier.

  4. William Rubinstein23 March 2014 at 11:35

    I agree with the above that the danger from left-wing academics of using their privileged position as lecturers to indoctrinate their students is substantial, and should be protested by students who rightly insist on balanced coverage of controversial topics. Many thanks for the second comment. Bill Rubinstein

  5. I agree that academics can usurp their privileged position. However, it is hardly beyond the wit of people to avoid this. As a (now retired) academic lecturing to business students (undergraduate), it would have been easy to have indoctrinated them with my collectivist (as opposed to total free enterprise) views. I did, and should, have presented balanced views as to the approach that different segments of the work force took the employment situation and the economy in general.

    What's difficult about that?

    Indeed, not to do so would have been dereliction of my duty as an academic.

  6. OT
    A great poster about BDS

    1. Ah, yes - I saw it yesterday and shared it on this blog's Facebook page.


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