Wednesday, April 16, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Boycott is profoundly wrong

Kudos to University of California President Janet Napolitano and UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi for their statements opposing the recent resolution of the American Studies Association boycotting Israel. They join the heads of about 90 other universities nationwide who have issued similar statements.

There are two reasons why the ASA’s resolution is profoundly wrong. One, it conflicts with the core values of higher education. “Academic boycotts are inimical to the principles of free speech and academic freedom that are the bedrock of teaching and scholarship,” Katehi and Provost Ralph Hexter write (Dec. 28).

Two, as applied to Israel specifically and only Israel, the resolution is discriminatory and misinformed. By international standards — and certainly compared to universities elsewhere in the Middle East — Israeli universities are open in their personnel and practices. Their staffs and students include many Arab Israelis, Christians as well as Jews.

As Katehi and Hexter note, “… we draw attention to serious violations of academic freedom in other countries that do not allow students to study in their own languages, penalize students and faculty for voicing their opinions, and use violence to suppress dissent on university campuses.”

Where is the ASA outrage directed to Iran, North Korea, Syria and other exemplars of truly despicable academic practices? When asked about his organization’s focus on Israel, the ASA president reportedly replied, “you have to start somewhere.” To those of you waiting for the follow-up — don’t hold your breath!

Al Sokolow

Davis

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Discussion | 4 comments

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  • Jim LeonardJanuary 03, 2014 - 8:10 am

    Al, the ASA sanction is just the latest political method for encouraging Israel to back off on abusing Palestinians. It's needed and non violent and nothing else so far has worked. To me it seems reasonable and appropriate, although, with Israel, I fear only its genocide of ALL Palestinians will conclude its attack on any of them. If, as you would have it, the ASA sanctions approach is abandoned, what other non violent method do you suggest be adopted that (optimistically) could change Israel violence toward Palestinians? If you have an answer, I'll listen. Otherwise I support the ASA.

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  • Jack RudderJanuary 03, 2014 - 8:47 am

    Accusing Israel of "genocide" is nonsensical, and indicates either willful ignorance or pathological hatred. Unfortunately it is reflective of the level of dialog put forward by many Israel haters.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Jim LeonardJanuary 03, 2014 - 12:27 pm

    I don't hate Israel, only Israel's actions. Israel is progressively isolating Palestinians and depriving them of what they need to survive, slowly starving them for example. The net result, over time, is to force Palestinians out of the land they currently live on and to move them into neighboring countries. This was the long term goal of Ariel Sharon, who also espoused the method of fragmenting Palestinian land and interfering with their movement to accomplish this ultimate goal. Whether or not you consider these actions slow genocide or not, I do. By the way, I would not have these opinions had I not studied Israeli history. Can you say the same about yourself?

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  • Noreen MazelisJanuary 04, 2014 - 11:34 am

    The "American Studies" Association vote is a reminder to us that it is high time for UC and CSU to conduct investigative reviews of all their "studies" departments and programs -- and to do so before the California legislature decides to do so.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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