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Op-Ed: ASA: To Go From Unknown Group to Media Star,Bash Israel

Why did the unnoticed, far-left and very minor American Academic Association pick on Israel? Is there a better way to get attention?
Published: Tuesday, December 17, 2013 9:02 AM



Only 826 academics voted to boycott their Israeli counterparts—no, make that their Israeli superiors.
The American Studies Association - the organization which just voted to boycott Israeli academics and cultural institutions - did so via a grand total of 1,252 votes. Thus, two-thirds of the voters, or only 826 academics voted to boycott their Israeli counterparts - no, make that their Israeli superiors. The vote represents 21% of all eligible voting members and 17% of  their total membership of 5,000.

This group launched no boycotts against Cuba, China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Somalia, Pakistan, Iran, or Afghanistan - all places where dissent is a capital crime and where gender and religious apartheid are practiced; nor did they boycott Sudan, where anti-black slavery is openly practiced.

This is a very small association. It has an Angela Davis Prize. (Who could make this up?) It is also a far-left, “queer”-friendly group.  

President-elect Lisa Duggan, of New York University is also the President-elect of the Council, the Chair of the Board of Trustees, the Chair of the Finance Committee, and the Councilor ex officio of the Women’s Committee.

Duggan writes for The Nation, is a Professor of gender and sexuality and of lesbian and gay studies at New York University.

Swimming ever-uphill against the tide, allow me to note that I unequivocally oppose this focus as utterly diversionary at a time of rising global misogyny.

Professor Duggan published "Sapphic Slashers: Sex, Violence, and American Modernity", "Sex Wars: Sexual Dissent and Political Culture" and "The Twilight of Equality? Neoliberalism, Cultural Politics and the Attack on Democracy".  

I have not read these works. Perhaps they are even better than Judith Butler’s oeuvre. Still, the overriding concern with a woman’s right to pleasure (which I fully support) will never open a single Iranian prison cell, rescue even one girl who is being publicly gang-raped in Congo or Sudan, or protect any girl or woman from being burned to death for her dowry in India or honor murdered in the West.

Forgive me. I am so old-fashioned.

Pace. If Duggan did not already exist the university would have to create someone just like her. A “queer studies” specialist whose concerns are entirely unthreatening to the misogynists among us.

But why is she - and her cohort - picking on Israel? Well, is there a better or quicker way of getting some attention? The media has been abuzz with this newest boycott on the block, one of thousands. Is there a better way of proving that one is politically correct and oh-so-brave by safely joining the herd in singling out only one country to demonize, isolate, and boycott?

As has been said before, this is pure racism. As I wrote in 2003: Anti-Zionism is also part of what the “new Anti-Semitism” is all about.

American Studies Association: You have just voted to endorse the oldest form of racism on earth. You should be ashamed of yourselves.

The New York Times covered the American Studies Association boycott vote yesterday on page A6. Today, the very same piece was expanded and became a front page (A1) story. The title? “Boycott by Academic Group Is a Symbolic Sting to Israel” and it is co-authored by Richard Perez-Pena and Jodi Rudoren.

This is a clear example of how a newspaper with a bias against Israel/for “Palestine,” is trying to drive the news, keep a story alive, a story based on the votes of 826 people (two-thirds of the 1252 who actually voted). While the article notes, in passing, that it is a "small organization," it points out that "the vote is a milestone for a Palestinian movement for BDS, which for the past decade has found little traction in the United States.”

This small academic organization is now on the same page with stories about “A Political Deal in a Deeply Divided Tunisia,” “Judge Questions Legality of N.S.A. Phone Records,”  ‘Obama’s Library, Advisers’ Dream,” “Glaxo to Stop Paying Doctors To Boost Drugs” and “Secret Bids Guide Hopi Indians’ Spirits Home.” All these other stories concern many millions of people. Is the Gray Lady hoping to inspire other academic organizations into voting to boycott Israel in the hope that they, too, will make the front page?

Because the American Historical Assn (15,000 members) has no such vote scheduled, but the Modern Language Association (35,000 ? members) does.
 

The writer, a Fellow at the Middle East Forum,  is the author of fifteen books, including Women and Madness, Woman's Inhumanity to Woman, and The New Anti-Semitism. She has published three studies about honor killing and is work on a fourth. Her new book, An American Bride in Kabul, (Palgrave Macmillan) has just been published to great acclaim. Professor Chesler may be reached at her website www.phyllis-chesler.com