The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel

The new book edited by Cary Nelson and Gabriel Noah Brahm.

(New York: MLA Members for Scholars’ Rights. Distributed by Wayne State University Press)


PAUL BERMAN, “Preface”

CARY NELSON, “Introduction”

I. Opposing Boycotts as a Matter of Principle

  • AAUP, “On Academic Boycotts”
  • MARTHA NUSSBAUM, “Against Academic Boycotts”
  • RUSSELL A. BERMAN, “The Boycott as an Infringement on Academic Culture”
  • CARY NELSON, “The Fragility of Academic Freedom”
  • GABRIEL NOAH BRAHM and ASAF ROMIROWSKY, “In Intent, If Not in Effect: The Failure of BDS”
  • EMILY BUDICK, “When a Boycott is Not Moral Action but Social Conformity and the ‘Affectation of Love’”

II. The American Studies Association

  • SHARON ANN MUSHER, “The Closing of the American Studies Association’s Mind”
  • DAVID HIRSH, “The American Studies Association Boycott Resolution, Academic Freedom, and the Myth of the Institutional Boycott”
  • MICHAEL BERUBE, “Boycott Bubkes: The Murky Logic of the ASA’s Resolution Against Israel”
  • DONNA ROBINSON DIVINE, “The Boycott Debate at Smith”

III. The BDS Movement, the Left, and American Culture

  • SABAH A. SALIH, “Islam, BDS, and the West”
  • Mitchell Cohen, “Anti-Semitism and the Left That Doesn’t Learn”
  • CARY NELSON, “The Problem With Judith Butler: The Philosophy of the Movement to Boycott Israel”
  • NANCY KOPPELMAN, “When you want to do something, join us!”: The Limits of the Social Justice Mandate in Higher Education”
  • TAMMI ROSSMAN-BENJAMIN, “Interrogating the Academic Boycotters of Israel on American Campuses”
  • SAMUEL M. EDELMAN and CAROL F. S. EDELMAN, “When Failure Succeeds: Divestment as Delegitimation”
  • KENNETH MARCUS, “Is BDS Anti-Semitic?”
  • ALAN JOHNSON, “Intellectual Incitement: The Anti-Zionist Ideology and the creation of the Anti-Zionist Subject”
  • DAVID CAPLAN, “Imaginary Jews”
  • RICHARD LANDES, “Fatal Attraction: The Shared Antichrist of the Global Progressive Left and Jihad”

IV. The Israeli Context

  • ILAN TROEN, “The Campaign to Boycott Israeli Universities: Historical and Ideological Sources”
  • RACHEL S. HARRIS, “No Place Like Home: Arab-Israelis, Contemporary Fiction, and an Arab-Hebrew Identity”
  • SHIRA WOLOSKY, “Teaching in Transnational Israel: An Ethics of Difference”
  • RACHEL FISH, “The Bi-nationalist Fantasy within Academia”
  • ILAN TROEN, “The Israeli-Palestinian Relationship in Higher Education: Evidence from the Field”

V. A Concise History of Israel

  • CARY NELSON, RACHEL S. HARRIS, and KENNETH W. STEIN, “The History of Israel”

VI. A Boycott Dossier

  • Boycott Resolutions by Academic Associations
  • Letter from ASA Members / Letter from ASA Presidents
  • SONYA MICHEL & JEFFREY HERF, “Open Letter to a University President”
  • MICHAEL C. KOTZIN, “Politics and the Modern Language Association: Reflections Before and After the MLA Vote”
  • JEFF ROBBINS, “MLA Vote: Will Bias Beat Scholarship?”
  • ROBERT FINE, “Speaking in Opposition”
  • Online Resources


Notes on Contributors


Book Reviews by SPME Members

Why We Felt It Was Essential to Publish an Anti-Boycott Book

Early this year my colleague Gabriel Brahm and I approached a series of academics with an unusual request. Higher education was facing an increasing number of struggles over the pressure to boycott Israeli universities.

The Great Jewish American Liberal Academic Anti-Anti-Zionist Freak-Out

At the end of last year, the American Studies Association earned more press attention than it has in its entire history by voting to boycott Israeli academic institutions. The effect of the boycott has been devastating—not to Israel, where apparently its sole effect has been to interfere with the dissertation work of one Arab graduate student, but to the ASA itself.

New book probes the growing impact of BDS on academia

As more student governments take up votes to divest from Israel, the BDS movement’s roots in American academia are probed in a newly published essay compilation, “The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel.”