A student at the University of California, Los Angeles.
(photo credit: JONATHAN ALCORN / REUTERS)
OVER THE past year, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in the
US has been working to build support among academics for a boycott of Israel. On
the surface, they’ve had very limited success. Last April, for example, the
little known Association for Asian American Studies adopted a resolution calling
for an academic boycott of Israeli universities to protest what it says are
“policies that discriminate against Palestinian students and scholars.” The
AAAS, however, has barely 800 members, and of those, fewer than 100 actually
voted.Then in December, the much larger American Studies Association
also joined the assault on Israel’s legitimacy by passing (in an online vote, no
less) a similar resolution. Another Pyrrhic victory for BDS backers, as the
largely symbolic move has generated a serious backlash, with dozens of
university presidents speaking out against the boycott and four universities
quitting the ASA in protest.