Last week, the American Studies Association (ASA) protested Israel’s perceived ill-treatment of the Palestinians, and failure to arrive at a settlement of the decades-old Israel-Palestinian conflict, by joining a boycott calling for sanctions and divestment of Israel’s universities and other academic institutions. ASA has over 5,000 members, consisting mostly universities and colleges. So far, more than ninety ASA members have registered their opposition to the boycott, including many very outstanding schools which include Columbia, Princeton, Harvard, NYU, MIT, and Yale. Some have withdrawn their ASA membership because of this boycott. On the other hand, other academic organizations that have joined the boycott unsurprisingly include the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) and the Association for Asian American Studies (AAAS).
The main arguments against the boycott are that educational institutions should promote dialogue and not get political. This ASA boycott, and reactions to it, again demonstrate how Americans are becoming more polarized concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Secretary of State John Kerry has undertaken a concerted effort to resume the peace process regarding this conflict. The U.S. has set a lofty goal of attaining a settlement to the conflict by spring this year. If this is not achieved, will Americans grow more frustrated about expending more effort as the peace broker in this conflict for decades without any verifiable efforts?
(See my book about this conflict, Palestine Is Coming: The Revival of Ancient Philistia, written from both a historical and eschatological perspective.)