Thursday, January 09, 2014

Leftist academics (ASA) whine when their anti-Israel hate speech is criticized

Below is a full reply to the whine

Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) is committed to the civil and human rights of all students and faculty in higher education, including their 1st amendment rights of association and free speech; and we are firmly opposed to all forms of religious and ethnic discrimination, including antisemitism and anti-Muslim discrimination.  Therefore we  strongly oppose calls for academic boycotts designed to stop American scholars from associating with academic colleagues of their choice—in this case, Jews in Israel—whose active and free participation in scholarly debate  is to be prevented, because of the actions of their government and not their own behavior or opinions.  We join some 100 university presidents, eight former Presidents of the ASA, the American Association of University Professors, the American Association of Universities, and nine major Jewish organizations in condemning the ASA’s boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

We also are troubled by unfounded assertions of bias that are used to squelch the free exchange of ideas. For this reason, we must publicly respond to a press release issued by the American Studies Association’s Caucus on Academic and Community Activism on December 21, 2013, six days after the membership voted to implement an academic boycott against Israeli universities. In that release, the ASA bemoaned what it labeled a “campaign of intimidation against the ASA.”

Instead of taking responsibility for their vote, the ASA attacked legitimate criticism by the academic community and general public, who understand the boycott to be a violation of academic freedom, civil rights, and antisemitic.  Rather than addressing these concerns, the ASA accuses “powerful and well-funded academic and non-academic organizations” of mount[ing] a public campaign aimed at destroying the Association.” 

Their statement indicates that ASA members naively believe that they could institute an academic boycott against Israel, call for Jewish academics to be shunned from the community of world scholars, single out and attack the Jewish state as an illegal, colonial occupier on stolen Palestinian land, and tar the reputation of Israeli scholars by making them complicit, and responsible for, the actions of their government in perpetrating the “illegal occupation”— without anyone with opposing views answering back these slanders with counter-arguments.

The ASA claims that the wide condemnation of the boycott vote was not because the boycott’s concept was intellectually and ethically defective, but because ASA “dared to express criticism of Israel.”

The “expressions of hate and intimidation” experienced by the ASA in the wake of its boycott vote, the release said, “constitute part of a larger pattern of attack on anyone who criticizes Israel or Zionism,”—ignoring the possibility that the attacks are a reasonable and justifiable response to slander,  bigotry, and a degradation of scholarship.  Rather than addressing the criticisms, the ASA’s statement is meant to bully critics into silence.

Academic freedom grants faculty the right to spew forth any academic meanderings they wish, but it does not make them free from being challenged for their thoughts.  “Free speech does not absolve anyone from professional incompetence,” said Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute; and those who question the anti-Israel and anti-American “scholarship” parading on campuses as Middle Eastern Studies, or answer back when a work such as The Israel Lobby purports to reveal a sinister Jewish cabal controlling U.S. foreign policy, or correct such notions as the ASA’s assertion, as one example, that “the United States plays a significant role in enabling the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the expansion of illegal settlements and the Wall in violation of international law,” are not trying to stifle free speech or suppress critical evaluation of Israeli policy. They are using their own academic freedom to rebut what they see as distortions, half-truths, propaganda, mistakes about history, or outright lies. That academics do not understand, or choose to ignore, such a fundamental concept is deeply troubling.

Just as the pro-Palestinian activists within the ASA have the right under the umbrella of academic free speech to express their views—no matter how factually inaccurate, vitriolic, or repellent they may be—those within and outside academia with opposing views also have the right, under the same precepts of free expression, to question the ASA’s views, and to call them anti-Semitic, or racist, or genocidal, or merely historically inaccurate or incorrect if, in fact, that is the case. It is naive and unrealistic, at best, for ASA leadership to think it could call for such a potentially damaging boycott, which seriously violates fundamental academic principles, without any response from a great many people with opposing views about the wisdom of such an action.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The left can't stand being criticised and they fear the truth as a dog with rabies fears water.