The Reality Behind the ASA Boycott of Israel

boycottThe American Studies Association (ASA) voted last month to boycott Israeli institutions of higher education for alleged violations of the human rights of Palestinians. The ASA declared that the boycott was in “solidarity with scholars and students deprived of their academic freedom and an aspiration to enlarge the freedom for all, including Palestinians.” Not only is the statement false, since Palestinians are not deprived of attending schools, but Israel is the only country in the world to be singled out by the ASA for a boycott.

Larry Summers, the former President of Harvard University, observed that “the ASA boycott was possibly anti-Semitic if not in intent, then in effect.” Perhaps closer to the truth is that the ASA boycotters and many of today’s campus BDS activists harbor a deep anti-Israel animus; an outgrowth of the anti-western milieu created by radical leftist intellectuals who defend the Palestinian cause, as a symbol of anti-colonialism. It may not be anti-Semitism in its traditional form, which was historically rooted in the extreme political right. This is a leftist permutation.

The ASA boycott reflects more than anything else the left’s dominance of the culture, specifically, the western culture. Its main vehicle of attack has been the perceived western exploitation of the Third World and thus the need for western atonement. Since the radical left was unable to transform the “bourgeoisie” values of the American working class, or impact the American political process, it channeled its energies into transforming the popular culture by making inroads into academia, the media, and Hollywood.

The left transformed America and Europe with its advocacy of multi-culturalism. It imposed “speech police” – better known as political-correctness – and has chosen for us the good and the bad actors in the global arena. White, rich European and American “imperialists” and “colonialists” have been identified as guilty and evil. The Third World is instinctively identified as the victim and therefore good – irrespective of facts. Islam was posited as the religion of the oppressed, the exploited Third World and therefore always a victim, never a victimizer. It follows from this that the Palestinian Muslims must always be right, while the other side, Israeli Jews, are always the victimizers, and automatically guilty, regardless of the facts or context. This logic has perverted the thinking of the ASA boycotters, the BDS activists, and their mentors in academia.

This becomes particularly apparent on college campuses. The alliance of radical leftist professors and Muslims, constructed on an anti-Israel narrative, controls the conversation on campus. Theirs is the “in” culture, and to be accepted, one has to conform to its dictates. Pro-Israel Jewish and non-Jewish students seeking to defend Israel with facts are confronted with hostility from radical leftist professors and are subjected to physical threats from fellow leftist and Muslim students.

Leftist professors prevail upon the minds of naïve and idealistic students that their capitalist country accumulated its wealth by the exploitation of the weak. Weak-minded students, lacking a counter-argument, and intimidated by their professors, fall prey to their teachings and succumb to narrative. They end up resenting their parents’ middle-class existence, and see it as tainted by greed and unfairness towards the people of the Third World. These simplistic notions professed by their professors spill over to the “persecuted Palestinians” engendering justification for their indiscriminate terror, and their unwillingness to find accommodation with the Jewish State.

The ever present post-colonial guilt embedded in the worldview of the ASA boycotters led them to ignore historical facts, political realities and misreading of the law. A similar attitude prevails on campus, where alleged “underdogs” are chosen from among the Third World, regardless of facts, truth, or reason while ignoring the plight of the real underdogs in the Middle East, and Africa, faced with the effects of Sharia law.

Edward Beck, founder and president of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) explained that “It has become academically fashionable to criticize Israel’s legitimate right to exist. This is part of an argument which says that Israel is a manifestation of a post-Colonial period, destined to fail with the imposing of a seemingly non-indigenous people to a region with the modern creation of the state of Israel. This of course, flies in the face of archeology, history and reality.” Beck asserted that pro-Israel advocacy on the campus has become politically incorrect.

One is unlikely to find a college professor these days who will question why Arafat, in spite of Israel’s maximalist concessions made at Camp David and witnessed by President Bill Clinton, refused to “end the conflict” with Israel, and chose instead to wage a bloody Intifada against Israeli civilians. Or, why an Arab-Muslim world with vast empty territories (5,148,048 sq. miles) could not accommodate the Palestinian refugees, while the tiny Jewish State (8,019 sq. miles) was able to absorb a far greater number of Jewish refugees from the Arab world. Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza should have put the “occupation” claim to rest. But the Leftist/Palestinian “occupation” mantra, upon scrutiny, reveals that much of the land that legally constitutes the State of Israel is what is deemed to be “occupied.”

Arab and Palestinian campaigns of war and terror against Israel existed long before Israel won the West Bank and Gaza from Jordan and Egypt respectively in a defensive war. Neither Jordan nor Egypt held these territories legally. And the Palestinians did not exist as a recognized polity, nor is Palestine a recognized state today. These inconvenient facts are immaterial to the anti-Western, and anti-Israel, radical leftist professors and their duped students.

Pascal Bruckner, a prize-winning French novelist, philosopher and essayist wrote in his 2010 book The Tyranny of Guilt: An Essay on Western Masochism, that “To the Left Wing intellectuals, who no longer know how to understand the world and whose Communist gods have all died, there is no more hope. Their current focus now is the devil incarnate – the US and its pariah Israel.” Bruckner added, “There is a convergence of views between the European (and American, JP) Left, and the Iranian mullahs. In their world, the Jew has become the Nazi, the Palestinian the Jew, and radical Islam is now the victim of Western democracy and not its executioner.” Bruckner suggested, moreover, that those people supporting the Palestinian cause “are not so much engaged in inquiring into a specific antagonism – a real estate dispute involving two equally legitimate owners – as in settling accounts with Western culture.” 

Obscene portrayal of “Israeli Jews as Nazis,” depicted in the European media in particular, has trickled down to college students throughout the West. Yet, there is a sharp disconnect between the average American sentiment towards Israel, which is generally positive, and the anti-Israel feelings so pervasive on many US campuses.

Students on US campuses who have bought into the anti-Israel teaching of their professors and hold the view that “My mind is made up, don’t confuse me with facts…” must be made to understand that the need to feel morally righteous must not blind them into supporting Palestinian terror or Islamist intolerance. Their moral compass should be focused on supporting the truly oppressed and threatened in the Middle East: Christians, women, gays, and yes, the Jews of Israel. Hopefully, the anti-Israel bias of the ASA boycotters will awaken the students and faculty members alike to the realization that Israel is a victim of an age old prejudice, unwarranted in modern society. A singled-out Israel among the nations bespeaks volumes about the reality behind the ASA boycott.

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  • American1969

    These students are not being taught accurate history, or else they would not be supporting Palestinians.
    God Bless Israel and the Jewish people.

    • nick

      agree 100% and your comment does not project hate or “a non-politically correct ideal”. they are being taught history and i was taught “history” in high school that all turned out to be a lie. also very offensive to the Indian and the Hebrew or the Christian. even the Christian of today with few exceptions do not know that the Land and The Nation was promised to Israel, in Issac, and the 12 sons of Ismael also are promised a Nation but no promise of land. “The Palestinian” and The Persian/Iranian are outside the Covenant. also The Palestinian has no claim in anything other than The Nation Israel after destroyed by Titus was named Philistia as a term of degradation. God bless Israel and may peace in Jerusalem come soon!

  • Independent

    Unfortunately, colledge-educated people are the future of our country. Therefore, the future will be anti-Israel. Many liberal Jews also buy into the anti-Israel propaganda and are embarrased by Israel and do not support Israel.

    Israelis and American (not to mention European) Jews have allowed the Palestianians to win the battle of ideas in the public arena.

    What Israel has needed for many decades but has lacked is a recognition that the war of ideas is almost as important as the physical battles. Israel needs a well-financed Ministry of Information tasked solely with combatting the falsehoods spread in the mainstream media and academia by Israel’s enemies.

    Without this, I fear for the future of Israel and for Western Jews.

  • Independent

    Of course they are not being taught accurate history. This is the problem! There’s no use in just decrying it. That does not help. Solutions are needed.

  • richarddonna

    Most college professors are antisemitic Marxists..

  • itaintmojo

    Lets face it. Jew hatred sells. Anti Israel Journalism is interesting reading/watching for those who have it in for Jews, or who have been raised in households whose parents teach their kids about those, greedy, rich, Christ killing, Jews and their powerful lobby. Jew hatred is virally global. There might not be a country, or at the very least very few countries anywhere in the world that does not have a significant segment of its populace who dislike Jews.

    Now with political correctness as a major consideration on how people express themselves, the way to stab at Jews is through Israel. Somehow these bigots after trashing Israel, turn around and say they have nothing against Jews. That its the state of Israel that is oppressive. So bashing Israel now is the way to go to express your Jew hatred, and then make a false claim that you do not hate Jews. I’m not fooled by any of these bullies, who don’t even have the courtesy to listen to counter arguments, because as this author says, “My mind is already made up, so don’t confuse me with facts”. Facts of the Israeli side of the story are not even allowed in many cases. Many lectures at various locations that were scheduled to argue the Israeli side had to be cancelled before the lectures ever took place, due to aggressive protests by the virulent anti- Israeli side. For these people Israel not only does not have a right to exist, but they do not even have the right to defend themselves. These same people claim freedom of speech for themselves, but disallow that same freedom for those who would like to present facts that defend Israel.

    Jew hate is a global affliction/addiction that attracts audiences everywhere, and is much easier to get out there with today’s worldwide net. Israel does not have the manpower to combat this fully. Not even if every single Jew in the world could help daily to combat it. Israeli’s will just have to keep inventing wonderful things that help the world for as long as it can in the face of hate and growing hate. They must keep living, taking care of their families the best they can, learning and making Israel beautiful. If the haters have nothing better to do than hate, they will pay in part for their actions in their daily lives for the non productive negativity their campaign brings. They will pay in some way, because while they are busy with their hate, they will be taking away from time that could have been spent on something productive. And as Israel’s higher rate of social tolerance remains more prevalent in their country, they will spend more time on being productive, and will produce more. If this furthers the jealously of those who find it easier to bash Israel, rather than better themselves, Israelis will just have to shake their heads, take notice, and continue forward. And be as best prepared possible, for the next physically violent attacks on the the one and only Jewish state.

    • Independent

      Much–probably most–of this violent reaction to the defenders of Israel on campus and elsewhere comes from the Muslim groups–who foment anti Israel and anti-Semitic propaganda (often outright lies).
      Israel has been losing the propaganda battle for many decades. This is because Israel never saw the importance of engaging in the battle of ideas. Israel still doesn’t.
      She have a large governmental department or ministry to engage solely in pro-Israel propaganda and in combatting Palestinian propaganda. This can be done by exposing Palestinian lies and presenting the truth–relentlessly. In the print media. And online. And in the “news” TV broadcasts. There should be people tasked with reviewing and correcting Wikipedia articles. Other people to handle the NY Times which sets much of the tone. etc., etc., etc.
      Israelis complain bitterly nowadays that they are vilified but they never saw the need to really defend themselves. Face it, the only thing the Arabs are really good at is propaganda. They’ve been very successful.
      To just blame all of this on endemic anti-Semitism is to drop the ball and allow it to continue.
      I personally have met political lefties who just believed Palestinian propaganda and who did not know that there was another side. Really. Really. That’s because they never hear the other side presented in a strong, intelligent, coherent way. And there are too few people dedicated to exposing the lies. Jews and Israelis just want to duck their heads and ignore it. You continue to do that for so many decades at your peril.

      • itaintmojo

        I hear you. Israelis could do more to combat the propaganda. I will say there are voices for Jews that are countering the false narratives. Like I24 network, in Arabic, English, and I think French. They should do Spanish though, because Latinos around the globe, are really falling for BDS and the like, and Latinos are a large segment that should not be ignored. If you check out the site “American Thinker”, or look up articles by Caroline Click, you will find plenty of the Israeli side, and a lot of the omissions the left leaves out. American Jews should be doing more, as they seem to me as indifferent to the problems Israeli’s face.

        • defcon 4

          CAMERA is such an organisation. But all they seek to do is correct obvious mis-information and even that is a daunting task for them. The muslo-nazis have a vast influence through their petro-dollars.

  • defcon 4

    The threat of overwhelming force is the only thing that will keep the delusional Jew haters of the world from destroying Israel. Their thinly disguised antisemitism is immune to logic, facts, morality or ethics.

  • Andrew

    If you stop to think about it, the far-left world view is a cult,which is ironic considering all the pronouncements of being post-religious. In order to reach their nirvana, they must flagellate themselves before the blameless “noble” savage and all the while allowing the “noble” savage to cart off or destroy the riches of the enlightened world through unregulated immigration, multiculturalism and a host of other evils, to bring about the dawning of the their supposed real and attainable utopia.

  • georgejochnowitz

    Leftists support Islam, which is the most ultra-right philosophy on the face of the earth. Opposing Israel is the be-all and end-all of the Left.

    http://www.jochnowitz.net/Essays/The-left-fights-liberalism.html

    • Independent

      You are only partly right.
      What you are wrong about is the fact that many well-meaning liberals/leftists oppose Israel because they do not realize that there is another side. They are exposed to the virulent, Palestinian propaganda on campus and they have bought into it. There is no one to strongly and coherently defend Israel to them. They seriously believe that Israel is the great oppressor of the “poor Palestinians.”
      These well-meaning lefties were even exposed to the other side, many would at least be neutral and many would support Israel. But they are not. Both Israel and American Jews have dropped the ball. Many American Jewish lefties buy into the propaganda and believe it!
      Yes they are ignorant, but whose fault it that?

  • Independent

    Liberal Americans often do not even realize that there is another side. The case for Israel and the case against Palestinian propaganda is not made. It is simply not made, either on campus or in the mainstream media. Period. End of story.
    What do you expect these ignorant young people to believe if they don’t hear the other side presented in a factual, logical, coherent way.
    Of course they will believe the propaganda.
    Whose fault is that?

  • Nabuquduriuzhur

    Funny. “post-colonial guilt”

    As bad as some of the colonial powers were, with the exception of Musselini, can you think of one of them that was as bad as the rulers they replaced?

    It’s usually glossed over how bad most culture were. Take the cultures from the Valley of Mexico on south. The Spaniards, bad as they were, had some peculiar ideas like the right to live. That strange idea appealed to the Aztecs, Incas, etc., who were slaughtered by the millions over the centuries by lords using human sacrifice to terrorize the public into obedience.

    How many would died if the Spaniards hadn’t done what they did? The Germans, Portuguese, English, and so on?

    The sum total effects of most european colonialism were : 1. to stop indigenous groups from warring with each other for a time, and 2. to spread ideas like the Rule of Law and a God that loved people.

    Is it the European’s fault that most nations went right back to their former ways when they left, having chosen to learn little?

    What happened to responsibility by individuals? A culture is made of individuals and if they choose evil like most did, whose fault is that?

    India is one of the few success stories, but it took years to reclaim what they had pre-1947.

    Most colonial nations went right back to slaughtering each other when the Europeans left. A million Indians and Pakistanis in the 1947 Partition. 800,000 Hutus and Tutsis. South Africa is now the murder capitol of the world, filled with tribes warring with each other, most of whom were not in the nation when the dutch arrived.

    Nor does anyone seem to care about the “colonialism” of Arabs, Persians, Chinese, Japanese, and other groups that have created massive empires by stealing what someone else had. Or invaded other countries’ territories like the Innuit did to Greenland, Zulus did to South Africa a century after the Dutch arrived, etc?

    It’s always big, bad Europe.

    It’s impossible to find a people who hasn’t done something bad to another people.

    So why are those of European ancestry the only ones that feel guilty about past wrongs?

    Why are they the only ones that people love to hate? Is it because it’s easier to overlook one’s own sins and one’s own history?

    History’s not pretty, but it’s a bit different than what is usually claimed by this or that group that wants to freeload on others by claiming to be a “victim.”

    In my own state, revisionist history has overtaken the indian tribes. Celilo falls was the largest pre-columbian slave trading center in the western united states, but now it’s only claimed use is “fishing.”

    It’s ignored how common white slavery was in Africa for at least two millennia before the europeans returned the favor. Didn’t make it right, but it’s hardly the picture usually shown.

    The 1800s are a unique period in history. With the exception of the islamic world, slaves were freed on every continent. Asian “laborers” (I won’t use the C term), Serfs in eastern and central Europe, africans in the U.S., and a host of others. And yet the only groups that won’t move past it are the ones that choose moral evil for their dominant cultures.

    History is useful, but it should never be an excuse to do wrong.