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American Studies Association caucus seeks support against campaign to discredit ASA


ASA logo tiff (1) copyThe following is a statement from the ASA Caucus on Academic and Community Activism. It is not from the American Studies Association.


Background: In an act of international solidarity, congruent with its historic mission to advance social justice, the American Studies Association (ASA) announced on December 16, 2013, that it endorses an academic boycott of Israeli universities. This decision came about following an open public debate at the national convention in November 2013 and an unprecedented membership-wide vote. More ASA members voted on this resolution than in any previous ballot in the association’s history. A significant majority (66.05% “yes” to 30.5% “no”) of the voting members endorsed the boycott resolution. Read the ASA National Council statement on the Resolution.
The ASA’s position is coherent with its long-standing commitment to social justice issues in the United States as well as in international sites where the US has significant political involvement. See for example, What does the academic boycott mean to the ASA. The association’s endorsement of the boycott is an expression of academic freedom, and a commitment to social equality, anti-racism and anti-colonialism which have been at the forefront of critical transformations in the humanities and the social sciences. A similar resolution was passed in April, 2013, by the Association of Asian American Studies in 2013 and another was recently passed (December 2013) by the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association. Numerous internationally renowned scholars, such as Judith Butler,
Angela Davis, Richard Falk, Robin D. G. Kelley, George Lipsitz, and John Carlos Rowe, have endorsed the ASA’s position. But most importantly, the ASA’s endorsement of the academic boycott of Israeli universities reflects the democratic will of the voting membership in December 2013. The ASA endorsement is part of a growing movement among professional academic associations in the United States and Europe that question Israel’s policies toward Palestinians and the US government’s unconditional support. Individual members are not required to
Many in the US are unaccustomed to public criticism of Israel. Some organizations and individuals are now mounting a campaign to discredit the ASA. The ASA’s elected leaders have been harassed and are receiving hate mail. The ASA office is being flooded with insulting and threatening phone calls. The ASA Facebook page has been subject to a barrage of inflammatory attacks. National organizations, including Stand With US, are mounting campaigns to undermine the ASA in the academy by appealing to donors and students to call on university administrators to withdraw support from ASA:  The Caucus on Academic and Community Activism has already published a press release responding to these attacks  but we need more support.
What Can You Do?
Renew your membership in ASA, especially institutional members of the organization, and encourage other programs to become institutional members. (ONLY 83 schools are institutional members.) To renew Institutional Memberships.
To renew Individual Memberships.
Announce your support of the ASA and the right of the association to act according to the will of the membership.
Academic freedom guarantees not only the individual right of faculty members to express their views, but also the autonomy of professional associations.

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12 Responses

  1. Pamela Olson
    Pamela Olson
    December 25, 2013, 12:07 pm

    It seems few people actually read what the ASA proposes. They just hear “boycott” and “Israel” and go into ballistic indignation and smear mode.

    Thanks, ASA, for taking this on, knowing what was probably coming. It’s not easy being on the vanguard, but you’ll go down in history as people who took a stand and were on the right side of history when it was not easy to do so. It is deeply appreciated.

    I hope more people will take a stand and stand with you.

  2. MHughes976
    December 25, 2013, 12:45 pm

    Academic freedom is being free to express all opinions within an academic context without being punished, though of course robust disagreement has to be expected and permitted. The opinion that Israel should be boycotted has to be included and also the opinion that opponents of Israel deserve the utmost contempt.

  3. JeffB
    December 25, 2013, 7:03 pm

    This hasn’t been posted but New Republic did an anti-piece.

    One of the things that diminished support among Presbyterians for their boycott attacks in National Magazines long after. This one is right after the boycott but harsh:

    In truth, it has been a while since the ASA commanded wide respect as a heavyweight professional organization, and its politics are no bellwether of prevailing ideas in higher education. Like the high-school delinquents who from time to time spray swastikas on a Long Island synagogue wall, occasioning transient alarm and winding up on the local news, the ASA boycott ringleaders are by and large a fringe of malcontents—thugs with credentials, vandals in tweed.

    • Reds
      December 25, 2013, 10:21 pm

      Not harsh but a smear

      ” Like the high-school delinquents who from time to time spray swastikas ”

      Wow Godwin’s law violated so quickly is amazing itself. If this is the highlight of what the critics of th ASA have then rapid pro-Israeli folks have already loss the debate.

      • talknic
        December 25, 2013, 10:50 pm

        @ Reds

        I wonder if this is one of Professor Greenberg’s delinquents

      • Reds
        December 26, 2013, 9:34 am

        The pretty question would be if JeffB actually thought the linked he provided was valid criticism? Recall the rapid pro-Israeli folks decry comparing Israel to Nazis yet are the first to do so to critics. I guess when Israel is
        Compared to Nazis one can say there just being a little harse?

      • Reds
        December 26, 2013, 9:35 am


      • Reds
        December 26, 2013, 9:36 am

        Harse= harsh

        Auto correct has its own mind sometimes

    • Woody Tanaka
      Woody Tanaka
      December 26, 2013, 12:26 pm

      “This hasn’t been posted but New Republic did an anti-piece.”

      Big deal. Right-wing-on-zionist-fascism magazine prints a hit piece by a notorious zio, David Greenberg… isn’t exactly news. Do you think that anyone who’s ever heard of the New Republic doesn’t know that it’s one of the sewers populated by media zionists, here in the US????

  4. piotr
    December 26, 2013, 12:06 pm

    By the way, there is a bit more weighty (or more standard) accusation about ASA “much of the energy in AmStud shifted to a cadre of dogmatists who espoused a cartoon view of the United States as a global oppressor. Imperialism, neocolonialism, and neoliberalism became buzzwords and bugaboos.”

    So there is a disagreement here: are imperialism, neocolonialism and neoliberalism in existence, and are USA related to them in any way?

    If not, then the folks who claim otherwise are deluded, bad scientists and bad people. If yes, then this is Mr. Greenberg who is deluded etc. I think that Greenberg is deluded.

  5. DICKERSON3870
    December 26, 2013, 6:44 pm

    RE: “Some organizations and individuals are now mounting a campaign to discredit the ASA. The ASA’s elected leaders have been harassed and are receiving hate mail. The ASA office is being flooded with insulting and threatening phone calls.” ~ statement from the ASA Caucus on Academic and Community Activism

    MY COMMENT: I just hope these “organizations and individuals” will not send one of their gun-wielding, white supremacist allies to make trouble! ! !

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