Instead of asking why Israel is singled out, we must explore the reality of Palestinians. In any case, the ASA calls for a boycott only of Israeli academic institutions
David Brooks and Charles Krauthammer may offer The Hindu’s readers many opinions on the resolution of American Studies Association (ASA) to boycott Israeli academic institutions, but there is very little grounded in facts, which a quick perusal of the ASA website would reveal. Brooks, for example, thinks that the problem is only the Israeli occupation of the West Bank; curiously Gaza doesn’t come into his frame. Both writers paint a portrait of an Israel that looks like it’s a beautiful, democratic society with just a few minor flaws that need to be worked out.
Let me offer your readers a different American viewpoint, and one that comes from an American Jew who has spent several years teaching at Palestinian universities in the West Bank cities of Jerusalem and Nablus; there I had a front-row seat to the myriad ways that Israel actively interfered with the lives of Palestinian scholars and students, making teaching, conducting research, or merely going to school next to impossible.
Instead of exploring the reality of Palestinians, Krauthammer and Brooks deflect attention by either asking why Israel is “singled out” (answer: because as a state it singles itself out as in its special relationship with the U.S., for which it is handsomely rewarded financially, militarily, and through UN vetoes). Those who pay taxes in the U.S. and who are part of the boycott movement do not want our tax dollars to continue funding these activities. In Israel, as in South Africa under its apartheid regime, universities are state-run and help produce the knowledge that undergirds the practices and policies that further the occupation and colonisation of Palestinians.
But Brooks and Krauthammer would have it that the ASA operated out of either anti-Semitism or discrimination against Israeli scholars. In fact, the resolution, in keeping with the Palestinian call for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, calls for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions only. Neither the movement in Palestine nor the West nor in India targets any individual on the basis of religion, ethnicity, or nationality. In fact, the ASA resolution also acknowledges the fact that Israeli scholars are a part of this movement as well.
Those of us active in the boycott movement around the globe do so out of a desire to see Palestinian people achieve justice, meaning the right of return for Palestinian refugees and compensation as per UN Resolution 194.
We believe that there shouldn’t be any nation with special status. We believe that when the UN makes a resolution all nations must abide by them, not just countries bullied by the powers governing the Security Council and their allies.
(Marcy Newman is a founding member of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.)