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In a scathing opinion piece from Monday's edition of the LA Times the president of Weleyan University slams the American Studies Association's recent resolution against Israeli academic institutions as "a repugnant boycott".
But the boycott is a repugnant attack on academic freedom, declaring academic institutions off-limits because of their national affiliation.
The ASA has not gone on record against universities in any other country: not against those that enforce laws against homosexuality, not against those that have rejected freedom of speech, not against those that systematically restrict access to higher education by race, religion or gender. No, the ASA listens to civil society only when it speaks against Israel. As its scholarly president declared, "One has to start somewhere." Not in North Korea, not in Russia or Zimbabwe or China — one has to start with Israel. Really?
The effort to boycott by a fringe group of academics has led the much larger American Association of University Professors to issue their own statement condemning the action.
"Since its founding in 1915, the AAUP has been committed to preserving and advancing the free exchange of ideas among academics irrespective of governmental policies and however unpalatable those policies may be viewed. We reject proposals that curtail the freedom of teachers and researchers to engage in work with academic colleagues, and we reaffirm the paramount importance of the freest possible international movement of scholars and ideas."
This effort at boycott will likely only produce harm rather than any good and I agree with Wesleyen professor emeritus Richard Slotkin when he states it "is wrong in principle, politically impotent, intellectually dishonest and morally obtuse."