American Studies Association Votes to Boycott Israel

“One has to start somewhere."

The American Studies Association, the nation’s oldest and largest association devoted to the interdisciplinary study of American culture and history, announced today their membership has decided to participate in the world's oldest hatred: anti-Semitism. The group decided on Monday on an academic boycott of the Jewish State.

Two-thirds of the 1,252 members who voted approved the boycott, according to an ASA announcement Monday, a day after the deadline for voting. At the time of the vote, there were 3,853 eligible voters, meaning one-third of the membership participated. 

"During the open discussion at the recent convention, members asked us to draft a resolution that was relevant to the ASA in particular and so the Council’s final resolution acknowledged that the US plays a significant role in enabling the Israeli occupation of Palestine."
 
In its announcement, the ASA said it would invite Israeli and Palestinian academics to its 2014 national meeting in Los Angeles. The ASA describes itself as “devoted to the interdisciplinary study of American culture and history.”

Israel was chosen despite the fact that it is the only democratic nation in the Middle East. When it was pointed out that many of Israel's neighbors have worse human rights records than Israel, the ASA's National Council President, Curtis Maraz, said:

“One has to start somewhere,” he said according to a New York Times report, adding that the US has “a particular responsibility to answer the call for boycott because it is the largest supplier of military aid to the state of Israel.” In addition, Marez noted, Palestinian civil groups had asked the ASA for the boycott, whereas no similar requests had been made by similar groups in other countries.

The Anti-Defamation League called the vote to endorse the boycott “manifestly unjust.” In his statement, the organization's National Director, Abraham Foxman, called the ASA's move "morally bankrupt" and "intellectually dishonest":

This shameful, morally bankrupt and intellectually dishonest attack on academic freedom by the American Studies Association should be soundly condemned by all who are committed to the ideal that open exchange of ideas is the most effective way to achieve change.

William Jacobson, who runs the Legal Insurrection blog, announced on Sunday that he has retained one of the leading practitioners in the field of charitable organizations, Alan P. Dye, Esq., to file a challenge to ASA’s 501(c)(3) status if the resolution passes. 

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