PrezBo Opposes ASA’s Academic Boycott of Israel

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Hillel received a statement from PrezBo two days ago stating his opposition to the American Studies Association’s boycott of Israeli academic institutions. PrezBo joins the Presidents of Harvard, Yale, Brown, Princeton, Cornell, and NYU  in opposing the boycott. The boycott was announced by the ASA on December 4th on account of what its resolution calls “the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the expansion of illegal settlements.”

PrezBo’s message:

I have made my opposition to academic boycotts of Israel emphatically clear over the years, most prominently in my 2007 letter that was signed by some 400 of my fellow college and university presidents speaking out against the British University and College Union’s boycott of Israeli scholars and universities. I stand by that statement today when considering the recent vote by the American Studies Association for just such a boycott. To be sure, it is entirely appropriate for our campuses to provide a forum for discussion and debate about the policies of any government, including our own. But the ASA’s vote runs counter to this essential academic and political freedom and, taken to its logical conclusion, would necessarily result in boycotts of fellow scholars and peer institutions from many nations around the world. I reject the ASA’s position which would compromise an essential value of universities in an increasingly global society-and we look forward to continuing to Columbia’s long history of engagement with our peers from Israel.

Update 10:19 EST:

DSpar, not to be outdone, issued the following statement today:

As President of Barnard, I stand with the Executive Committee of the Association of American Universities in my strong opposition to a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. All scholars have the right to speak out against issues or policies with which they disagree, but academic boycotts pose a threat to the intellectual exchange and open debate that sit at the very core of our educational mission. I would urge fellow scholars and their affiliated academic associations to seek alternative forms of protest that do not jeopardize academia’s crucial role as a marketplace for independent thinking and collaborative dialogue.

Our glorious leader via Wikimedia

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  1. Anonymous

    A boycott that doesn't call for anything specific is not going to work. I would be all for any sort of peaceful action (including academic boycott) demanding concrete changes to Israel's treatment of Palestine and Palestinians. The ASA boycott is a goalless fuck-you.

    • Animals

      Then Palestinians have to stop blowing up Israelis.

      • It's a pity that

        your title "animals" does not help your argument.

      • Anonymous

        A small portion of Palestinians have attacked Israelis, but all Palestinians are harmed by Israel's policy toward Palestine. Putting aside the debate on how much of that would stop if Israel did not oppress Palestinians (though I would argue much of it would), Israel refuses to recognize the power of terrorism in that they will not negotiate with terrorists. Still, they let their principles crumble under fear of terrorism, treating all Palestinians--not just the few that have attacked Israel--as less than human, lacking the right to self-determination. As animals, as you kindly put it, to be caged. Fear does not justify that. I would rather die than live only by abusing others, and I would expect the same from a country meant to embody the ethic of an entire religion and its people.

  2. Double Standards

    This boycott would make a lot more sense to me if it also applied to Israel as well as:

    Ukraine, Guatemala, Singapore, Tanzania, Banglades, Bolivia, Honduras, Ecuador, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Albania, Nicaragua, Georgia, Uganda, Libya, Venezuela, Mali, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Lebanon, Cambodia, Liberi, Mozambique, Palestine, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Kyrgyz Republic, Bhutan, Pakistan, Egypt, Mauritania, Nepal, Niger, Iraq, Armenia, Morocco, Haiti, Madagascar, Algeria, Kuwait, Nigeria, Jordan, Russia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Burundi, Gabon, Burkina Faso, Cuba, Comoros, Togo, Cameroon, Rwanda, Angola, Gambia, Oman, Côte d’Ivoire, Swaziland, Qatar, Azerbaijan, Yemen, Belarus, China, Kazakhstan, Vietnam, Congo, Guinea, Djibouti, Zimbabwe, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Sudan, Myanmar, Laos, Central African Republic, Iran, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Chad, Guinea-Bissau, North Korea...

    all of which have at least as bad governments and have done at least as distasteful things as Israel (yes I'm sure you can debate individual examples but you get my point). But for some reason only Israel is being targeted. I wonder why...

    • Anonymous  

      Listen if Israel wants to get off the shitlist then there's nothing stopping them from building a bunch of Confucius Institutes (China) or co-branded beachfront compounds/campuses (UAE)

    • but also

      you can't just lump all of these countries and governments together. each of them individual histories--many of the ones you listed have historically been the colonized are struggling to regain political footing and state stability since. israel's government, on the other hand, was created by a colonial power and then uprooted and pushed out palestinians. argue the details however you want, the history of israel is unique compared to all of those other countries and don't undermine that with "equality is treating everyone equally" bc it simply isn't.

      • but also

        each of them have individual histories*
        have historically been the colonized and are *

        woooowww sorry about all the typos

      • Anonymous

        thank you for saying what I wanted to. Israel's problem is not a corrupt government as much as a willful decision to oppress Palestinian people. I do not stand with Prezbo in arguing against the boycott. If any country in sub saharan africa had done half of what Israel has done, Americans would have huge sanctions on them. Yeah, double standard is right.

    • Anonymous

      The reason why Israel gets so much heat is because it is a largely developed country, and when 1st world countries openly violate human rights they will get a lot more attention, as they are expected to uphold modern ideas of non-discrimination and liberty. Sure, horrible things happen all over the world, but problems in a developed nation hit close to home, so people react more strongly to it. People think "if that can happen there then it may happen here as well", so they focus on ending such issues to protect themselves. Not to say that ASA members are self absorbed, i'm just saying that if there is a shooting at Cornell, you're more likely to speak about it than if there is a shooting at some school in the Philippines, as you're safety would becomes highly questionable.

  3. Blunts in Butler

    My dealer's an Israeli. Didn't really wanna have to boycott him.

  4. Anonymous

    Here's the casualty figures for Operation Cast Lead, which was 2008-2009 (from Wikipedia, so take with a huge handful of salt but still):
    13 killed; of this figure 10 were soldiers (4 of whom were killed by friendly fire) and 3 civilians
    1,166 (according to the IDF--the UN and B'Tselem say 1,417); of this figure 490-700 were militants and police officers and 295-926 were civilians, depending on who you talk to.

    The IDF has state-of-the-art weaponry. Palestinian militant groups use Qassam rockets, which have a 0.032% chance of killing anyone IIRC. Can't help but feel that your sentiment is wrong as all hell and you should feel bad.

    • Anonymous

      shit i meant this comment to be a reply to the poster named Animals. I suck at technology

    • So...

      because the terrorists have crappy weapons they shouldn't be destroyed is what you're saying? If Hamas stopped deliberately building rocket launchers and weapons caches near schools, hospitals, and residential areas, there would be less civilian casualties. If you think the IDF goes out of its way to target civilians, then you are sadly misinformed--would the US really fund such an egregious army?

  5. Boycotting Israeli goods and academics?

    You do realize that most technology including smart phones and GPS are created in Israel, right?

  6. Anonymous

    Boycotting both Israeli and Arab scholars who have nothing to do with Israeli government policy. Such a blunder

  7. It's a pity that

    your title "animals" does not help your argument.

  8. um

    has anyone commenting (or PrezBo, for that matter) actually read the ASA statement and the surrounding documents? "The proposed resolution expressly DOES NOT endorse a boycott of Israeli scholars engaged in individual-level contacts and ordinary forms of academic exchange, including presentations at conferences, public lectures at campuses, and collaboration on research and publication. U.S. scholars are not discouraged under the terms of the boycott from traveling to Israel for academic purposes, provided they are not engaged in a formal partnership with or sponsorship by Israeli academic institutions. The academic boycott of Israeli institutions is not designed to curtail dialogue. Rather, it emerges from the recognition that these forms of ordinary academic exchange are often impossible for Palestinian academics due to Israeli policies."

    • but...

      I'd be willing to bet that Israeli universities wouldn't be thrilled to allow/encourage/fund their affiliates to speak at institutions that boycott them. The fact that the boycott isn't *designed* to impede routine academic activities doesn't mean that it *won't*. (And if it did, I'd put my money on the impediments coming from Israeli universities more than from American ones.)

  9. This is confusing  

    So the Association of American Universities opposes the American Studies Association's stand? What's next, the Academic Association of American?

  10. impressed

    Good humblebrag about your letter 400 presidents signed, Prezbo.

  11. Why are we so invested?

    This conflict has nothing to do with us. Fix problems at home first. We should recuperate the costs of materials spent on this war by selling arms to both sides.

  12. Let me just give some advice

    Neither of these campaigns have any substantive purpose; both sides are just involved in moral grandstanding. Do not get caught up in this conflict because it will do nothing but hurt you. Everyone wants to get involved in a cause to feel like they belong, but the truth is that the cause does not care about you. Nobody cares about you, so you need to care about yourself. Just do your schoolwork and work on improving your life.

    Some people will claim that this post is selfish, but why shouldn't it be? In this world, everyone else selfishly condemns you for being selfish, but nobody is selfless enough to care about you.

  13. Our president

    thinks he's a cowboy, but he is a massive idiot

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