Monday, December 23, 2013

WAPO Editorial Bashes American Studies Association Israel Boycott

     The most difficult thing to swallow about the resolution is how utterly narrow-minded it seems.

In an editorial published Sunday evening, The Washington Post blasted the American Studies Association (ASA) for what it called a "misguided" and "narrow-minded" boycott of Israel.
Last week the ASA decided on an academic boycott of the Jewish State of Israel. Israel was chosen despite the fact that it is the only democratic nation in the Middle East. When it was pointed out that many of her neighbors have human rights records much worse than Israel, the ASA's National Council President, Curtis Maraz, said, “One has to start somewhere.” In its Sunday evening editorial The Washington Post criticized the ASA for not starting at some of those other places:

The most difficult thing to swallow about the resolution is how utterly narrow-minded it seems. Was the resolution written on a computer manufactured in China, one of the most repressive regimes on the planet? Did its authors pause to consider China’s incarceration of writers and scholars who dare to think and speak out for freedom, or the ethnic groups in China persecuted for refusing to heel to the Beijing masters? Did they give any thought to what’s happened lately to freedom in Russia, won at enormous cost in a Cold War that lasted more than four decades? Does it disturb the scholars that in today’s Russia, members of a girl band performing a protest against the Kremlin could be thrown into a cold and miserable prison for two years, or that civil society organizations are being systematically shuttered? 
Have the scholars overlooked the cries for help from Cuban dissidents bravely standing up to the Castro brothers, demanding freedoms — and suffering beatings and arrest almost every week? Do they condone the decision of a judge in Saudi Arabia who has just sentenced a political activist to 300 lashes and four years in prison for calling for a constitutional monarchy? 
To focus a resolution on Israel and ignore these injustices is puzzling at best. It is also fundamentally wrong. For all of its difficulties, including the wrenching, long conflict with the Palestinians, Israel has become a lively and durable democracy. There is more freedom to speak one’s mind and criticize the government in front of the Knesset than will be found in either Tiananmen Square or Red Square today — and far more in Israeli universities than in academia elsewhere in the Middle East.

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