Confronting the ASA boycott of Israel

A pro-Israel conservative, I like to consider myself a “liberal” in the old fashioned, classical sense. My favorite undergraduate history professor, John Morton Blum, was a liberal in that sense. He was open to considering opposing views and to acknowledging the merits of those he found fact-based and rational. He was also open to considering and rejecting those he considered fantasy-based or irrational.

A Democrat, Mr. Blum introduced Senator Barry Goldwater — “an articulate and charismatic figure during the first half of the 1960s . . . known as “Mr. Conservative”– to our lecture class one day back (as I now recall) in 1961 or ’62. Senator Goldwater was warmly welcomed as he entered the auditorium with Mr. Blum and was given substantial applause when he spoke. Mr. Blum’s undergraduate lecture class was the most popular at the university and sessions had to be held in the largest auditorium there, seating about three hundred.

Several years ago, I began referring to the current herd of so called “liberals” as “libruls” – those with closed minds and empty heads, not given to independent thought. They are far removed from classical liberals, now apparently an endangered species in academia.

As the article demonstrates, the ASA RASA boycott of Israel is neither fact-based nor rational; it is the opposite of both. The article observes that

the total number of votes equals only about one-quarter of the total ASA membership of 5000. Those voting Yes represent approximately 16% of the total membership, yet it will be a vote that will stain the ASA for years to come.

How many opposed the resolution? The quote provided above suggests that 25% minus 16% or about 9% probably voted against it. How about the rest of those who were opposed? Did some of them abstain because ashamed to present politically incorrect views differing from those of a more vocal minority? Or did they simply not care enough to bother? To recognize the organization as “liberal,” as they prefer, distorts the word grossly.

Although Mr. Blum died three years ago, I am confident that if still alive he would be ashamed of his fellow academics at RASA and would speak firmly and loudly against their absurd views.


Here is a link to an article at Commentary Magazine, titled Israel, Palestine and Democracy. Among other things, it notes,

Democracy and demography have become the main arguments for creating a Jew-free Arab state in Judea and Samaria. Israel’s presence in the territories deprives Palestinians of their democratic rights, the argument goes, and if Israel does not give the Palestinians whatever territory they demand, it will have to choose between its democracy and its Jewishness.

The “democracy” argument has become the central justification of the diplomatic process, incessantly invoked by Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli peace envoy Tzipi Livni. What makes the democracy argument effective is that it plays on deep-seated Jewish sentiments. Israelis are a fundamentally liberal, democratic people who desperately do not wish to be put in the role of overlords. [Emphasis added.]

The problem with the democracy argument is that it is entirely disconnected from reality. Israel does not rule the Palestinians. The status quo in no way impeaches Israel’s democratic identity. [Emphasis added.]

It is true that the Palestinians are not represented in the Knesset. But Israeli residents of Judea and Samaria are similarly not represented in the Palestinian Legislative Council. Simply put, both the Palestinians and Israelis vote for the legislature that regulates them. That is democracy (though obviously it does not play out as well in the Palestinian political system).

The Palestinians have developed an independent, self-regulating government that controls their lives as well as their foreign policy. Indeed, they have accumulated all the trappings of independence and have recently been recognized as an independent state by the United Nations. They have diplomatic relations with almost as many nations as Israel does. They have their own security forces, central bank, top-level Internet domain name, and a foreign policy entirely uncontrolled by Israel.  [Emphasis added.]

The Palestinians govern themselves. To anticipate the inevitable comparison, this is not an Israeli-puppet “Bantustan.” From their educational curriculum to their television content to their terrorist pensions, they implement their own policies by their own lights without any subservience to Israel. They pass their own legislation, such as the measure prohibiting real estate transactions with Jews on pain of death. If Israel truly “ruled over” the Palestinians, all these features of their lives would be quite different. Indeed, the Bantustans never won international recognition because they were puppets. “The State of Palestine” just got a nod from the General Assembly because it is not. [Emphasis added.]

. . . .

Before Oslo it could truly have been said that Israel ruled the Palestinians. But that is over. However, that the “international community” still considers Israel as running the show for the Palestinians is an important warning that the reputational benefits for the Jewish state of peace agreements are fleeting and illusory.

. . . .

Ironically, those who invoke the democracy argument are also those who say Israel must go along with the plans the U.S., Europe, and the “family of nations” have for it. But can Israel be a democracy if its borders, security, and the fate of its most holy places are determined by the opinions of foreign powers, against the inclinations of its elected government? Jeffrey Goldberg last week said Israel’s democratic status is threatened if it does not listen to the dictates of John Kerry, who was not even elected to lead America. [Emphasis added.]

. . . .

Ultimately, the democracy argument proves too much. If Israel truly must give the Palestinians an offer they will accept to “save its soul,” then the Palestinians can demand anything, and should get it, assuming even a micro-state or protectorate is better than an evil one. And this is why the democracy argument will impede a genuine negotiated resolution. If Israel needs Palestinian agreement to save itself, why should the Palestinians agree? If they can impose “non-democracy” on Israel, the longer they wait, the better deal they get.

Please read the rest of the article. It is important for an understanding of the “peace process” which will not bring peace, at least as we understand it.

FURTHER update

Here’s a pertinent post at PJ Media by Ron Radosh, titled A Sad Day for the Academy: The ASA Vote to Boycott Israel. It begins,

Yesterday, the American Studies Association voted to approve the National Council’s resolution to endorse an academic boycott of Israel. In yesterday’s vote, 66.05% of voters endorsed the resolution, while 30.5% of voters voted no and 3.43% abstained. The relatively small 5000 member academic group is largely composed of leftist or left-leaning academics, and I am not surprised that the small amount who actually voted–1252 out of the entire membership–voted in favor.

The reason that the vote has received so much publicity is because the ASA has become the second American group to join its European counterparts in calling for such boycotts. The even smaller Association for Asian American Studies passed a similar resolution last April, without much publicity. [Emphasis added.]

Yes, as many have pointed out, the vote is largely symbolic. Yet the board members who rammed the vote through without fully announcing its campaign do not seem to even slightly comprehend their hypocrisy. Scores of regimes throughout the world — including Iran, North Korea, Communist China, Castro’s Communist Cuba, Assad’s Syria, and many others — lack any rudiment of real academic freedom. Dissenting scholars are simply not hired or, if exposed by informers for the regime, are immediately fired. Yet the ASA has picked on the Middle East’s only existing democracy to protest and call for an academic boycott.

It concludes, “The ASA vote is a sad day for those who believe in academic integrity and real academic freedom.” Yep, it is.

Anne's Opinions

ASAIn my post about how boycotters justify their antisemitism one of the boycotts mentioned was that of the American Studies Association (ASA).  The proposed boycott was finally ratified yesterday. even though the number of members who voted yes form a minority of the association:

Of note, the total number of votes equals only about one-quarter of the total ASA membership of 5000. Those voting Yes represent approximately 16% of the total membership, yet it will be a vote that will stain the ASA for years to come.

Contrary to previous academic boycotts, this one appears to have hit a nerve, and outraged reactions are being issued from all sides of the spectrum.  Prof. Bill Jacobson at the Legal Insurrection website goes so far as to compare it to the infamous Zionism is Racism UN resolution.

Prof. Jacobson has been following this boycott from its first proposal to its ratification…

View original post 2,283 more words


About danmillerinpanama

I was graduated from Yale University in 1963 with a B.A. in economics and from the University of Virginia School of law, where I was the notes editor of the Virginia Law Review in 1966. Following four years of active duty with the Army JAG Corps, with two tours in Korea, I entered private practice in Washington, D.C. specializing in communications law. I retired in 1996 to sail with my wife, Jeanie, on our sailboat Namaste to and in the Caribbean. In 2002, we settled in the Republic of Panama and live in a very rural area up in the mountains. I have contributed to Pajamas Media and Pajamas Tatler. In addition to my own blog, Dan Miller in Panama, I an an editor of Warsclerotic and contribute to China Daily Mail when I have something to write about North Korea.
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2 Responses to Confronting the ASA boycott of Israel

  1. Ruvy Kossover says:

    How do I put this, Dan, without being too impolite? I should care about what a guy with his head up his ass thinks about Israel? I’m not going to waste words justifying myself or my nation, or my nation’s mission on this planet to idiots. The appropriate response is about a clip-ful of empty headed shells to kill empty headed fools.

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