Native American Studies association joins academic boycott of Israel

North American academic group latest to declare support for boycott of Israeli institutions.

Israel boycott 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel boycott 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Another small North American academic association – the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) – decided this week to boycott Israeli academic institutions.
Ohio State English Prof. Chadwick Allen, president of the association and coordinator of American Indian studies at the university, wrote on the association’s website that the move followed a “member- generated” petition asking that the group “formally support the boycott of Israeli academic and cultural Institutions that was initiated by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.”
Israeli officials said the association is believed to only have “a few hundred” members. They said this boycott call, like the one taken earlier this week by the American Studies Association (ASA), needed to be put in proportion.
Not one of America’s 4,000 colleges and universities have decided to boycott Israel, the official said, and only “four or five” student government bodies have called on their universities to do so. Both NAISA and ASA have a left-wing, even radical bent, the officials said.
NAISA’s Allen wrote that over the course of several months the organization’s council reached a consensus to support the boycott, and wrote their own declaration of support for it.
The document reads that the NAISA Council “protests the infringement of the academic freedom of indigenous Palestinian academics and intellectuals in the Occupied Territories and Israel who are denied fundamental freedoms of movement, expression and assembly, which we uphold.”
“As the elected council of an international community of indigenous and allied non-indigenous scholars, students and public intellectuals who have studied and resisted the colonization and domination of indigenous lands via settler state structures throughout the world, we strongly protest the illegal occupation of Palestinian lands and the legal structures of the Israeli state that systematically discriminate against Palestinians and other indigenous peoples,” the statement continued.
The statement said the boycott is directed “specifically at the Israeli state, not at Israeli individuals. The NAISA Council encourages NAISA members to boycott Israeli academic institutions because they are imbricated [overlapping] with the Israeli state, and we wish to place pressure on that state to change its policies.”
The statement was written on Sunday. On Monday, the ASA announced it was joining the boycott.
The ASA move elicited a strong statement from Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer, who called it “shameful” and a “travesty,” and clearly hinted that it constituted anti-Semitism in its singling out of the Jewish state.
Another small group, the Association for Asian American Studies, adopted the boycott in April.
The leadership of the much larger and more influential American Association of University Professors wrote an open letter earlier this month saying it was disappointed by the ASA decision and that it rejected boycotts.
One Israeli official said Wednesday that under the principles of these boycotts, “it would have been more than justified to boycott US academics as a response to American occupation of Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo. Would these people have justified such a boycott of the US?” he asked.
The official added that this is “another display of double standards by boycotters who turn their heads and pretend not to see the Palestinian part in prolonging the situation, or – for that matter – the decade-long occupation of northern Cyprus by Turkey, or the western Sahara by Morocco.”
In a related development, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke Wednesday with his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte, who said he rejects any boycott of Israel.
The phone call came following the Dutch water giant Vitens’s decision last week to stop all cooperation with Mekorot, Israel’s national water company, because of political reasons.
Rutte said the Dutch government continues to cooperate with Mekorot on various projects, and cited his Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans, who said recently that “the Dutch government emphasizes that it opposes any boycott of Israeli companies or institutions.”