Friday, April 17, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

All quiet on the North Korean front?

RichRifkinW

By
From page A6 | January 08, 2014 |

I had to go to college to realize not all professors are smart.

Yet I don’t think any UC teacher I had was silly enough to vote in favor of the American Studies Association’s ostracism of Israeli scholars under the pretense that an “academic boycott promotes dialogue and collaboration.”

Alas, that is one reason why Sunaina Maira, a member of the ASA Council and a professor of Asian American studies at UC Davis, told me she supports her group’s boycott.

A large motivator in the American Studies Association’s decision to forbid its members to collaborate with scholars at universities in Israel is impenitent prejudice.

They will point to particular problems they have with Israeli policies, but no attempt whatsoever is made to compare Israel’s human rights record with that of any other country in that part of the world. In the past 5,000 years, no place in the Middle East has a better record than Israel has when it comes to democracy, civil rights and human rights. No country. Ever.

I don’t suggest Israel is perfect. Far from it. Israel deserves blame for many things, including its allowance of illegal settlements in the West Bank. Instead of promoting peace, these outposts have provoked conflict, harmed innocents and made it hard for moderate Palestinian voices to be heard.

The ASA action, however, is not a statement of principle against the Israeli government. It is a boycott of academics who work at schools like Tel Aviv University and the Weizmann Institute of Science.

The American Studies Association has never voted to boycott schools in any other land. When Russia was slaughtering tens of thousands of Chechens who were fighting for their independence, the ASA was silent. Chechnya today is a hell hole compared with Israel and Palestine. But the ASA is mum.

It has been equally quiet regarding China’s ongoing brutalization of Tibet. No country in the world has a worse human rights record than North Korea. But the ASA has no boycott on Pyongyang’s scholars.

I asked Diane Wolf, a professor of sociology and the director of the Jewish Studies Program at UCD, what she thought of the ASA’s move.

“I am very much against a boycott of Israeli academics and of Israeli universities,” Wolf explained. “It is crucial for Americans to be exposed to Israeli academics so that they understand there exists a multiplicity of voices in Israel.”

Professor Wolf is not alone in her condemnation. Even the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, opposes boycotts. Last month, while attending the funeral for Nelson Mandela in South Africa, Abbas was asked if he supported the ASA action.

“No, we do not support the boycott of Israel,” he said. Abbas does favor a boycott of exports from Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

I asked Professor Maira to explain why her group picked out Israel alone. “The ASA responded to the call from Palestinian civil society for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions as an act of anti-colonial and anti-racist solidarity …,” she said.

That excuse fails every test of common decency.

Her group does not decide whom to boycott, but waits for individuals calling themselves “civil society” to appeal to the ASA for a shunning of certain academics? If so, the ASA could never take up the cause of people suffering far more in places like Iran, Cuba, Zimbabwe, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Turkmenistan, where regime victims have no civil rights.

Another reason the ASA hates Israel is because the United States is its ally.

Maira explained, “Israel is the largest single recipient of U.S. financial and military aid and receives unconditional U.S. diplomatic and political support. It is the only country in the world that receives $3 billion annually from the U.S. Moreover, the U.S. has singled out Israel for exceptional impunity in protecting it in the U.N., despite its ongoing failures to comply with international law.”

Even if all that were true and its enemies were not determined to erase Israel from the map, it does not follow that American professors should shun Israel’s scholars. The logical rejoinder is that the ASA should speak out against American policy.

Maira claims that “the Israeli state has been largely exempt from criticism of its human rights abuses, unlike, say China, North Korea, etc. A double standard has long been applied to Israel’s human rights violations in the U.S. mainstream media and state policy.”

It does not seem to have occurred to her that rights violations committed by Israel do not compare to those in slave states like North Korea? Has she any idea what life is like in Camp 14?

The true double standard, Ms. Maira, is the failure of the ASA to condemn the far more serious human rights abuses in all the countries in Israel’s neighborhood. Where was the ASA last year when Egypt’s Islamist government was promoting murderous attacks on Christians?

So far, five institutions — Bard College, Brandeis University, Indiana University, Kenyon College and Penn State Harrisburg — have quit the ASA in response to its bigoted boycott.

Carolyn A. Martin, president of Amherst College, shares the sentiments expressed by all fair-minded university leaders, saying, “Such boycotts threaten academic speech and exchange, which it is our solemn duty as academic institutions to protect.”

If UC Davis has any integrity, it too should withdraw from the American Studies Association. Unfortunately, being prejudiced against Israel is a popular position among puerile professors.

— Rich Rifkin is a Davis resident; his column is published every other week. His full interviews with Sunaina Maira and Diane Wolf are available at http://lexicondaily.blogspot.com

Comments

comments

.

News

Psychedelic rock posters recall 1960s concerts

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
UCD study: Crickets not enough to feed the world just yet

By Kathy Keatley Garvey | From Page: A1

It’ll be a perfect day for a picnic — and lots more

By Tanya Perez | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Turning a mess into olive oil success

By Dave Jones | From Page: A1 | Gallery

UCD expands emergency notification service

By Julia Ann Easley | From Page: A2

 
California vaccine bill stalls; will come back next week

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Cities: California water reduction order unrealistic, unfair

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Bob Dunning: Chasing criminals and water-wasters

By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2

Enjoy a chemistry bang on Picnic Day

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Start your Picnic Day with pancakes

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Local students to perform at fundraising concert

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
CA House hosts crepe breakfast

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Doxie Derby crowns the winning wiener

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Fundraiser benefits Ugandan women

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

See pups at Picnic Day

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Davis poet will read his work at library

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Free blood pressure screenings offered

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4Comments are off for this post

 
Rotary Club hosts whisky tasting

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Ribs and Rotary benefits local charities

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Dodd plans fundraising barbecue in Davis

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Soroptimists set date for golf tourney

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Socks collected for homeless veterans

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Council will present environmental awards Tuesday

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

 
Invention and upcycling to be honored at Square Tomatoes Fair

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

 
Take a peek at Putah Creek on daylong tour

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Pence Gallery Garden Tour tickets on sale

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
UC Davis Circle K Club wins awards at district convention

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

Davis authors featured at writing conference in Stockton

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

 
Sign up soon for Davis history tour

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6 | Gallery

Campus firearms bill passes Senate committee

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

 
Emerson featured at photography program

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

Portuguese influence in Yolo County detailed

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

 
Concert and dance party celebrate KDRT’s 10 years on the air

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7 | Gallery

 
Survival skills to be taught at preserve

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

.

Forum

The new one puts her foot down

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A8

It’s time to fight for California’s jobs

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

 
Future leaders give back

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Know where your gift is going

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

Pipeline veto a good move

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Artists offer heartfelt thanks

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

.

Sports

DHS boys drop another Delta League match

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Aggie women ready to host (win?) Big West golf tourney

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

New strength coach hopes to stem UCD football injury tide

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Herd has too much for Devil softballers

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

Les, AD Gould talk about the Aggie coach’s future

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

 
UCD roundup: Quintet of Aggie gymnasts honored for academics

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
River Cats fall to Las Vegas

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B12

 
Diamondbacks defeat Giants in 12 innings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12 | Gallery

.

Features

DSF kicks off 10th anniversary celebration at the carousel

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: B5

 
Many summer enrichment opportunities available for students

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: B5

 
What’s happening

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: B5

.

Arts

‘True Story:’ In their dreams

By Derrick Bang | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
‘Once’ an unforgetable celebration of music, relationships

By Bev Sykes | From Page: A11 | Gallery

 
.

Business

Honda shows off new Civic at New York show

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
.

Obituaries

Ruth Rodenbeck Stumpf

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Robert Leigh Cordrey

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Comics: Friday, April 17, 2015

By Creator | From Page: B10