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.

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