Israel Censure According to MLA and ASA – Faculty Forum

  • 0

Letter from the Editor

Dear Colleagues:

This being the first Faculty Forum edition of 2014, I would like to start by wishing all our members a Happy and Healthy New Year!

This issue also marks the first which will not be edited under the thoughtful hand of Joel Fishman, who, after three years of serving as the Faculty Forum’s editor has decided to step down to pursue his research. All of us have benefited from his work and we would like to publicly thank him for his work and commitment to the FF and SPME at large.

This month, as expected, the American Studies Association (ASA) approved a hideous boycott of Israeli academic institutions and their representatives. Passing with the support of a small contingent of radicals within the ASA’s 3,853 eligible members, the boycott represents a minority view of a relatively small association. Nonetheless, the ASA boycott has symbolic value and will give oxygen to those advancing academic boycotts of Israel elsewhere. On a positive note, however, some 100 universities have issued statements condemning the ASA boycott. In light of the passage of the ASA boycott resolution, as well as the earlier, similar ones by the Association for Asian American Studies and the Native American Studies Association, your vigorous opposition to these measures is imperative.

Further, during the recent Modern Language Association (MLA) meeting in Chicago the Delegate Assembly of the MLA narrowly passed an amended version of the anti-Israel resolution. The resolution, passed by a 60-53 vote of the Assembly stating that, “the MLA urges the U.S. Department of State to contest Israel’s denial of entry to the West Bank by U.S. academics who have been invited to teach, confer, or do research at Palestinian universities.”

Despite, the passing of this resolution the alternative panel put on by the Israel Coalition on Campus (ICC) with SPME’s participation got significant traction and several key points were made. Further, as former AAUP president Cary Nelson articulated on the panel boycott proponents’ discussion of these issues isn’t just wrong but is “delusional and irrational.”

The various boycott initiatives mentioned above highlights a growing trend in academe in which academic associations, where normally academic freedom is a core principle, are abandoning their values to single out one country – Israel—for demonization and delegitimization. This is done while consistently ignoring what is happening in the Middle East at large, and refusing to acknowledge, for example, the carnage in Syria, the turmoil and suppression in Egypt, and the threat of nuclear Iran.

SPME was established to combat these very issues, and we will continue to highlight the lack of balance when it comes to these matters, while at the same time advocating for fair and honest discussion and the elimination of politicized scholarship and bias in academia.

As always, we welcome your feedback and article submissions.

Israel Censure According to MLA and ASA – Faculty Forum

  • 0