Major US Academic Association Endorses Academic Boycott of Israel

JESSICA DESVARIEUX: Welcome to The Real News
Network. I’m Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore. On December 16, the membership of the American
Studies Association endorsed the boycott to end Israel violations of Palestinian rights. ASA is the largest and oldest association
devoted to interdisciplinary study of American culture and history. In the resolution, it
says, quote: “We believe that the ASA’s endorsement of
a boycott is warranted given U.S. military and other support for Israel; Israel’s violation
of international law and UN resolutions; the documented impact of the Israeli occupation
on Palestinian scholars and students; the extent to which Israeli institutions of higher
education are a party to state policies that violate human rights; and the support of such
a resolution by many members of the ASA.” Now joining us to discuss all of this is Ali
Abunimah. Ali is the cofounder of the online publication The Electronic Intifada and author
of the forthcoming book The Battle for Justice in Palestine. Thanks for joining us, Ali. ALI ABUNIMAH: Thank you. DESVARIEUX: So, Ali, just right off the top,
can you just break down what exactly is in this resolution? ABUNIMAH: Yes. The members of the American
Studies Association voted to endorse a Palestinian civil society call for a boycott of Israeli
academic institutions, institutions that are complicit in Israeli occupation of Palestinian
land and other human rights abuses. So what this means on a symbolic level, of
course, is that it’s a statement of solidarity with Palestinians whose rights are being violated.
In practice, it means that the ASA itself will not undertake joint projects and other
institutional connections with Israeli universities and other academic institutions and will not
accept funding from those institutions. And it advises its members, who, as you mentioned,
are 5,000 scholars, among them very prominent American scholars, from doing the same. What it does not do–and I think this is very
important because of the amount of sort of misrepresentation that’s being put about–this
is not a boycott of individuals. It doesn’t stop Israeli researchers from traveling to
the United States, from participating in conferences, from conducting their research. And so it
doesn’t call for a boycott of individuals, except to the extent that any individuals,
Israeli or otherwise, are specifically representing Israeli institutions that are complicit or
the Israeli government. They do in fact lay all that out in quite a clear statement. DESVARIEUX: Ali, I want to get to what the
critics are saying. You have voices saying that this is not promoting the free exchange
of ideas, which is what academia should be all about. What’s your response? ABUNIMAH: Well, that’s something a number
of scholars who have supported the boycott have responded to. And they said that, you
know, I mean, there’s nothing that requires people to collaborate with Israeli government
institutions in order to promote the free exchange of ideas. People are free to exchange
ideas as they see fit. They don’t need to work with the Israeli government or with Israeli
institutions that are complicit in human rights abuses in order to promote free ideas. The
resolution simply doesn’t do anything to prevent free exchange of ideas. And, in fact, what’s been so interesting is
the amount of debate and discussion that this resolution has generated. As you know, the
issues of Israel’s abuses of Palestinian rights is really something of a taboo in the United
States and in American media. But precisely as a result of this resolution, there have
been dozens, if not hundreds, of stories in the media discussing this issue. So if anything,
it has promoted debate, where before there was a great deal of silence. DESVARIEUX: Ali, can you speak to specific
examples of those Israeli institutions violating or denying Palestinians’ basic human rights? ABUNIMAH: Absolutely. There’s really too many,
but I can give you a few examples. Every Israeli University works very closely
with the Israeli military that is occupying and confiscating Palestinian land, both in
terms of recruitment and training and other activities on campuses, but also, very importantly,
in terms of weapons research and research that is used directly, its products are used
directly to violate human rights and to violate Palestinian rights. Tel Aviv University is built on the ruins
of several Palestinian villages that were ethnically cleansed in 1948, and the university
has refused even to acknowledge that, refused even to place a historical marker like the
historical markers we have in the United States all over the place commemorating historical
crimes on this continent. Hebrew University, part of Hebrew University in Jerusalem is
built on land confiscated from Palestinians since the 1967 occupation of the West Bank.
The IDC Herzliya institute actually directly participates in Israeli government propaganda,
setting up so-called war rooms during Israeli attacks on Gaza and encouraging students to
post pro-government comments on Facebook and other social media. So those are just a few
examples of direct complicity with the Israeli military machine in the occupation. It’s also important to note that none of these
Israeli institutions has taken a position against Israel’s violations of Palestinian
rights. And I think it’s very important, a very important
point, and one I hear the American Studies Association making, is that universities are
not ethics-free zones. You don’t go onto campus and leave your ethics and morals behind. But
that seems to be what some of the critics of this resolution are saying, that university
professors and faculty and students should not ever consider the ethical consequences
of the work they do. And, of course, universities themselves all have very strict ethics guidelines.
And I think what supporters of the academic boycott are saying is that we should be applying
those kinds of ethics to Israeli universities as well. DESVARIEUX: Alright. Ali Abunimah, thank you
so much for joining us. ABUNIMAH: My pleasure. Thank you. DESVARIEUX: And thank you for joining us on
The Real News Network.

  1. Thank You TRN for tackling this "taboo" subject. What used to be "occupied territories" are now known as "settlements"..time for some Truth!

  2. Back in April the Association for Asian American Studies (AAAS)  voted to boycott Israel.  I am a member and actually voted yes on the boycott. (My sister who is married to a Jewish man was quite upset at me over it.)  At the time we voted, we knew we would be the only academic association to boycott Israel, so we expected it to be only symbolic.  After all, we are Asians; it's not like we have ever had any real power or influence in America.  But, wow, it seems like we have set off a chain reaction.

  3. I'm done with the middle east as a whole I say america should end relations with all those countries and focus on our infrastructure and repair what ills us.

  4. I agree with the boycott.Israel are taking our USA tax dollars and violating Syrians and Palestinians who don't have a military to defend themselves from Israel's first world military,funded by the United States.

  5. The progressive communists want to dismantle all religions. The muslims want to dismantle all other religions. They have a common ground in the islamic agenda. No wonder commies and islamists are in the same bed.
    Yet another false report by "The False News Network".

  6. i am not a jew but i believe israel to be a bully and the u.s. turns the other spew the words of freedom on the backs of the people is wrong and we should not be involved……

  7. I really don't understand this Islam vs. ultra-Zionism dilemma, as if you have to choose sides. BOTH are ideological systems with no concern for the common good of humanity as a whole.

    Why do people have to always turn everything political into a football match?

  8. Ali Abunimah supports the insurgency against the Syrian Government! Ali Abunimah supports and has incited Western military aggression against the Republic of Syria!

  9.  Boycotting, and divestment is the only way to apply pressure to the Israeli government; where organizations said to enforce international law fails in forcing change to conflicted nations the people should assume responsibility. The most effective way to demonstrate a collective abhorrence of a government or a regime is through capital; don't purchase the products of non union industries, retailers that deny their employees a living wage and nations that oppress fragments of its population. Foreign despots from North Korea, to Syria and Iran are vilified constantly on media formats with Hearst-like appetites for war and turmoil; though these outlets barely if at all scrutinizes the corrupt entities faceted within are own western nations. What value can there be from conventions, international laws, and the I.C.C., if the most developed nations are exempt from any litigation, denouncement, or judicial hearing? Israel, because of its strategic geographic location in the mid east is integral for the policy of Washington D.C. and so given blanket immunity by the U.S. and it's territories; especially during U.N. votes. Israel, specifically the "Eretz Yisrael" Likkud Knesset may have it's crimes vetoed in the U.N. headquarters; but the crimes of white phosphorus incinerating the citizens who oppose occupation, the use of Depo-Provera to involuntarily sterilize the Ethiopian-Jews deemed undesirable, and the decades of slaughter and discrimination imposed on  people who also call that land their own will never be absolved. Many, Israelis themselves are beginning to question their government, compulsive service, and their actions within the region; this will prove to be the ultimate end of the apartheid-Israeli government the second to collapse in my lifetime.

  10. via @Peta_de_Aztlan
    Major US Academic Association Endorses Academic Boycott of Israel: via @therealnews ~Pub 12/19/2013 @intifada

  11. Hopefully Hamas would be defeated, and the Israel-Palestinian conflict would finish, and this idiotic boycott would end.

  12. Iran faced sanctions for no logical reason so if you can't think of a single reason for Israeli boycott than let karmic balance be the reason. Israel pushed for tough sanction on Iran and now they cry that they are being singled out unfairly. So ha!

  13. And even that is too much, since these folks babble nonsense all day long, just like these guys here.. At BGU, we come to study medicine, engineering, literature – not deal with idiotic conspiracy theories.

  14. Well, all I can say that in my university, BGU, politics are strictly off bounds: Expressing a political opinion in campus can get you expelled, unless you study politics and then you are required to express your political views, only within the confines of the department of politics and government.

  15. This does not mean you cannot be a student and at the same time be politically active: It only means that you're gonna be a shitty student, but besides, your political activity isn't welcome in campus. Go and have it somewhere else.

  16. And this is why BGU has such a diverse makeup of students. Arabs, Jews, Overseas students – all can work and study together calmly. BECAUSE politics is considered a dirty word. Which it is. Just like all politicians.. As the joke says: Politicians and diapers need to be replaced frequently – due to the same reason.

  17. Why are you not boycotting Syrian universities where 120K people where killed? Or Egypt where a military regime? Or China where human right violated? Or Spain for repressing the Bascs? Or France in Corsica? Or Turkey? Etc, etc. 
    Why Israel? 
    Because you are S…T!!

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