Opinion

Guest Column: American Studies Association Israel boycott is unjust

Three BU professors have signed the hypocritical, inconsistent resolution

Just as finals began to take full swing this past December, the American Studies Association (ASA) passed a resolution that degraded its existing integrity as well as the values embedded within American culture that the ASA seeks to protect. The ASA resolution is a boycott of Israeli higher education institutions. Three Binghamton University professors — Joseph Keith, Ali Mazrui and James Petras — voted in favor of this resolution. Although BU does not have an official American studies department, these three professors are voting members of ASA.

The boycott states that the ASA stands in “solidarity with scholars and students deprived of their academic freedom and it aspires to enlarge that freedom for all, including Palestinians. The ASA’s endorsement of the academic boycott emerges from the context of US military and other support for Israel; Israel’s violation of international law and UN resolutions.”

Beyond the boycott of Israel, the hypocrisy lies in the obvious truth that any academic boycott undercuts the values and even the history upon which the field of American studies is built. It’s shameful that American values are being manipulated and undercut by an organization that is so meticulously exercising the all-too-familiar double standard that the Jewish state knows all too well.

There’s no boycott resolution by the ASA regarding Syria, after over 100,000 dead and 8 million displaced by President Bashar al-Assad’s murderous regime. And beyond the Middle East, there is no boycott of China’s academic institutions, despite China’s blatant disregard of anything that favors democracy or human rights. There is no boycott of Russian institutions, despite Russia mounting anti-gay laws and President Vladimir Putin’s heinous weekly statements regarding such issues.

Most shocking of all, there’s no resolution against the eight Palestinian universities, all built by Israel with Israeli taxpayer money, despite the Palestinian Authority’s praise of suicide bombers or the Palestinian Authority’s treatment of women and homosexuals. There’s no resolution by the ASA condemning the Palestinian Authority or their universities despite their weekly calls, during the peace talks, that within a future established Palestinian state there will be no Jews allowed, as President Mahmoud Abbas said in 2010, “I will never allow a single Israeli to live among us on Palestinian land.” That rhetoric, words blatantly ignored by the American media, speaks for itself.

And yet Israel, a state made up of 1.6 million Israeli Arabs with full citizenship and rights, is pointed out among the world’s worst offenders, despite offering these Israeli Arabs undoubtedly the best quality of life the Middle East has to offer. This was recently seen as Monaliza Abdo, a Christian Arab citizen of Israel, proclaimed to the world that she is proud to be an Israeli Arab serving the Israeli Defense Forces. “I keep the country safe, not only for the Jews, but for the Arabs too. I would sacrifice my life for the state of Israel and all of its citizens,” she said in front of a world that only ignored her truth.

If the ASA is truly serious about its resolution, the organization and its blind followers should henceforth abandon the use of all Israeli innovations and inventions of the 20th and 21st centuries, which likely have intellectual property ties to the Israeli institutions the ASA seeks to boycott. “What inventions?” you may rightfully inquire. Simply search “Israeli inventions” on Google, and thanks to the Israeli-developed Intel computer chip, your computer will process thousands upon thousands of pages.

Over 200 universities across the nation have stood up in opposition to this resolution. However, BU, the Northeast’s “premier public institution,” has remained silent, as three BU professors have supported a clear double standard for the one and only Jewish state, the only democracy in the Middle East. In the face of this emerging trend of boycotts against America’s one true ally in the Middle East, the BU community has made no attempt at an uproar condemning the boycott. Will you too opt to continue to remain silent?

Justin Hayet is a sophomore majoring in political science.

Editor’s Note: Columnist Kyle Welch responds here

Views expressed in the opinion pages represent the opinions of the columnists.