The National Association of Scholars (NAS) joins the Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) in condemning the recent vote by the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) to institute an academic boycott against Israeli universities as part of the anti-Israel and Jew-hating Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
SPME’s critique fully explains the bias and hypocrisy of MESA’s vote, as well as its abrogation of norms of academic freedom. MESA, in the guise of solicitousness for Palestinians, wishes to commit American academia to the campaign to strangle Israel—a campaign that can only avoid genocidal results if the Israelis quietly depart their homeland for a new Exile. MESA would violate the processes of academic freedom and institutional neutrality, in the service of one of the more reprehensible causes in the world. Both MESA’s means and ends merit unqualified condemnation.
MESA’s ill-will exceeds its ability to inflict harm. Israel has made extraordinary diplomatic and strategic progress in the last years. It is now at peace with an ever-growing number of its neighbors, and a de facto ally of countries such as Saudi Arabia, whose fear of Iran exceeds their hostility to Israel. Israel’s universities flourish and contribute ever more to scholarship and scientific advance. Palestinian obduracy has cost them several chances to cease the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Israel remains on a knife-edge, constantly at risk of destruction—but then, so it has since 1948. It fiddles now on a remarkably broad roof.
MESA’s endorsement of BDS most likely will not harm Israel, but it furthers the degradation of American academia into a propaganda-and-enforcement arm of the Woke regime. The Woke love boycotts—of states that object to the imposition of gay marriage or transgenderism, of states that pass laws to guarantee election integrity, of every individual or institution that seeks to resist their agenda of the day. BDS seeks to stigmatize, denormalize, and slowly strangle Israel; the Woke seek to do the same to every American who resists the imposition of their illiberal regime. They have had far greater success in America than they ever had in Israel.
We oppose MESA’s endorsement of BDS above all because it is the model for the grim Woke determination to reduce their domestic opponents to hewers of wood and drawers of water.
As for academic boycotts, if Israel values academic freedom, scholarship, and scientific advance, it might be well advised to boycott America’s universities. Their venom is terribly contagious, and Israel is fortunate that it can maintain a social distance of 6,000 miles.