The return of the NINA signs: No Israelis need apply

For Israeli professors or employees of an Israeli institution of higher learning, the American Studies Association has decided that “No Israelis Need Apply” to attend their annual conference.

October 29, 2014 21:57
4 minute read.
Boycott Israel sign

Boycott Israel sign. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Our nation has regressed to one of its darkest chapters in history, courtesy of our most educated and “enlightened.” In a reincarnation of the old Hibernophobic Help Wanted signs, “No Irish Need Apply”; Israelis are the new Irish in the hallowed halls of academia.

For Israeli professors or employees of an Israeli institution of higher learning, the American Studies Association (ASA) has decided that “No Israelis Need Apply” to attend their annual conference next month at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles. Last December the ASA voted to boycott Israeli institutions and academics to show their solidarity with “Palestinian civil society” – singling out the Jewish state for banishment from the organization.

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In typical Progressive fashion, the ASA cites its commitment to “the pursuit of social justice” to rationalize its action against the Jewish state, claiming that there is “no effective or substantive academic freedom for Palestinian students and scholars under conditions of Israeli occupation.” But if “social justice” and “academic freedom” are their motivation, why is Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, the only country demonized by the ASA? Iran tortures and executes gays. Saudi Arabia lashes and incarcerates dissidents.

Women are regarded as chattel, and minorities are relegated to second-class status throughout the Muslim world, yet no other nation is ostracized from participating in the ASA.

“The fact that the ASA is boycotting Israeli academics and institutions is a shameful act of bigotry. The ASA remains silent about the myriad of other conflicts in the world and has unjustly singled out Israel for punishment,” said Roz Rothstein, CEO of the Israel advocacy group StandWithUs. “The ASA is violating American values with [its] bigotry and should be shamed and condemned for its deplorable policy.”

While the ASA attempts to send America back to the days of “whites only” hotels, restaurants and restrooms, the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ) is using the laws created to avoid a return that shameful time in our nation’s history, citing California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act.

“All persons within the jurisdiction of this state are free and equal, and [regardless of] their sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, or sexual orientation, are entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments of every kind whatsoever,” states the 55-year-old law.

ACLJ has sent a letter to the Westin Bonaventure making them aware of the Unruh act and the potential legal implications of hosting the discriminating event.

Very troubling is the ASA’s defense that they are not singling out the Jewish state, writing on the FAQ page, “The boycott resolution responds to a request from the Palestinian people, including Palestinian academics and students, to act in solidarity.”

Chalk it up to either ignorance or anti-Semitism by the ASA and its boycott supporters, but Palestinian academics and students are free to protest against the Israeli government without fear of reprisal. The real human rights violators, such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, North Korea and the Palestinian territories, silence all voices of dissent with incarceration, torture and possible execution.

The ASA FAQ page proclaims, “As an organization with a longstanding commitment to social justice, the ASA has a responsibility to take a position on one of the leading social justice and human rights issues of our time.”

Apparently gays being strung by their neck from cranes in Iran and a woman being put to death in Saudi Arabia for “allowing” herself to be raped do not constitute urgent human rights issues.

However, Jews defending themselves from terrorist attacks after decades of one-sided concessions for peace without a committed bargaining partner is the real humanitarian crisis.

Facing mounting pressure against the ASA, executive director John Stephens tried to redefine the boycott of the Jewish state, telling The Washington Post, “Our conference is open to anyone, including Israeli academics and non-academics. If someone were to register for the conference as a representative of an Israeli institution, he or she would not be turned away.”

Northwestern University professor Eugene Kontorovich wrote, “The ASA’s attempt to deny their policy and then belatedly modify it on an ad hoc basis says little for their integrity. Having adopted their boycott to much public fanfare, they want to be able to quietly deny it – when it suits them.”

Even Sammy Davis Jr. wasn’t “turned away” at “whites only” hotels when patrons wanted to see him perform. The racial discrimination rule remained firmly in place, just conveniently shelved to please the public. The ASA is just tweaking its guidelines of discrimination against a national origin and ultimately a religion, in order to get a passing grade from the press. Perhaps a shiny apple from the Tree of Knowledge would help.

The author is a contributor to the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity. He serves as principal of Pauliegroup LLC, a Chicago-based new-media and political consulting firm.

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