Professor labels American Studies Association boycott of Israeli academia ‘anti-semitic’
- Boycotters ignore Israeli efforts for peace in favor of simplistic narrative, professor argues.
- Says Israel "attracts antipathy" because it's a Jewish state but also a secular democracy.
The American Studies Association’s (ASA) boycott of Israeli academic institutions is simply old-fashioned anti-Semitism, according to a Drexel University history professor.
ASA’s boycott resolution passed Dec. 4, 2013. It pledges to oppose, “all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism, discrimination, and xenophobia,” and its support of “aggrieved peoples in United States and the world.”
In his op-ed piece for The Triangle, Zaller explains that the boycott “is the latest example of anti-Semitism cloaked in the garb of political correctness. That its sponsors deny any such intention only makes it the more obvious.”
Zaller explained that Israel “attracts antipathy” because it is a modern democracy but is essentially religious in character, something that he labels “antithetical to the liberal tradition.”
“If Israel is a democracy, it can’t be a Jewish state. If it is a Jewish state, it can’t be a democracy,” Zaller wrote.
The professor argues that the country’s opponents believe that Israel wants to annex Gaza and the West Bank or create a sort of “economic fiefdom,” each of which, he says, “flies in the face of the record.”
In Zaller’s view, Israel has made many diplomatic overtures and concessions to Palestine, such as transferring control of 99 percent of the Palestinian population to the Palestinian Authority during the Oslo Accords or unilaterally withdrawing all Israeli settlers from the Gaza in 2005.
“Boycott supporters ignore these facts in favor of a black-and-white narrative of Israeli oppressors and Palestinian oppressed. The Palestinians, preyed upon by the self-proclaimed Jewish state, are innocent of all responsibility for their condition. This is the classic canard of anti-Semitism, of evil systematically crushing virtue,” Zaller wrote.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @SteveLarson