Institutional Members of ASA Abandoning it over Israel Boycott

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The America Studies Association’s racist Israel boycott may have been a case of cutting off their own nose to spite their own face as none of its institutional members have been willing to endorse the boycott and many are disassociating themselves from the ASA or claiming that they were never members.

Most of the bigger names listed, including some of the UCs, UT, NYU, Tufts and Princeton have come out against the boycott. Many are denying that they are even members.

Brown University has stated that it is not an ASA member.

President Paxson asked that I send you the following:

“Brown University does not support academic boycotts against Israel or any other country. To do so would be antithetical to open scholarly exchange and would inhibit the advancement of knowledge and discovery. Furthermore, contrary to reports in one on-line newspaper, Brown is not a member of the American Studies Association; our institutional membership concluded June 30, 2013.”

Which is another way of saying that Brown isn’t likely to renew it. Not if the ASA remains controversial.

Indiana University has stated;”We are investigating the nature of the IUs institutional membership in the ASA and will continue to monitor this situation closely….”

Penn State and Brandeis U have dropped their ASA memberships. Willamette University feels that it was wrongly listed as an institutional member.

Before diving into the substance of your concerns, let me first report that I don’t think we are an “institutional member” of this organization in any real sense. I have asked our financial folks, who say that we last reimbursed a faculty member for an individual membership in 2005. (We’ve only checked credit card reimbursements back to 2011.) We do have a faculty member serving on the board of an encyclopedia project at JHU Press that is sponsored by ASA, but so far I’ve turned up no other relationships. Your email was surprising to me, since as an institution we don’t, as a general practice, join external scholarly disciplinary associations, except in certain partnership situations (e.g., groups like the Organization for Tropical Studies, with its support of collaborative research in remote locations, come to mind). Most likely our library subscribes to their journal(s); perhaps that is the source of the confusion?

The University of Alabama also rejects the boycott and feels that it was wrongly listed as an institutional member.

After checking with various departments, Secretary Michael Bowles reported that not only was the University of Alabama listed erroneously in the directory, but that in light of the ASA’s boycott, the University’s American Studies department chair was contacting the ASA and demanding to stop being listed.

The University of Alabama hasn’t paid a membership to ASA in over three years, Bowles said

So it may be that the American Studies Association was inflating its institutional member numbers. The actual number appears to be much smaller and it’s likely to dwindle after this mess.

  • Habbgun

    They know what they are doing. They just need to find a few institutions willing to back them and they can they say their ideas are mainstream. That is the problem with the University “town square and acadmeic freedom of speech”. The lowest elements have the greatest need to get their foot in the door.

  • Dave

    This is great, but it doesn’t really get at the problem, which is that no university should be participating in any organization that boycotts Israel.

    The way to deal with the problem is to have an amendment to a federal appropriations bill, cutting off federal aid to any institution of higher learning that participates in any economic boycott of Israel. This would be similar to prior amendments that cut off aid to those schools who denied access to military recruiters or that denied aid to students who failed to register for the draft. Such an amendment likely would pose no great 1st Amendment issue, because it would not apply to any individual, and universities would be free to speak freely in opposition to Israel. The condition on aid would be limited to actual participation in a boycott.

  • PAthena

    Former Black Panther Angela Davis is on the board of the ASA, I believe.

  • defcon 4

    I can only imagine the whitewashed version of islamic history being taught in US universities and colleges these days — all while demonizing Israel.