With Israel boycott in the bag, American Studies Association trains sights on the U.S.

Washington, D.C., December 17, 2013. The American Studies Association — the professional organization for professors, academic researchers and writers in the discipline of American Studies – announced today that by an overwhelming margin its membership voted to adopt an “academic boycott” of Israel.  According to ASA officials, an astounding 60.05% of the 25.04% of the organization’s membership who chose to participate in the vote cast ballots in favor of the boycott.

“16.53% of our total membership voted yes  — that’s  pretty much a mandate for us,” said one elated member of the ASA National Council, who asked not to be quoted by name because of an upcoming tenure review.

With the boycott of Israel firmly under its belt,  the American Studies Association is now setting its sights  on  launching  a new campaign aimed ultimately at “getting the United States out of North America,” according to ASA Executive Director John F. Stephens.

Scrolling through the ASA Facebook page on his Apple Mac at the Organization’s colorful Washington, DC offices ,  Stephens could barely conceal his enthusiasm.   “Our homepage has been swamped with 120 ‘likes’ from American Studies scholars in universities from as far away as  Paris, Nuremburg,  Mogadishu,  Teheran and Pyongyang , to name just a few.  I’m sure there would have been even more but for  , you know, the NSA,” the American Studies Association Executive Director whispered, casting a furtive glance toward the ceiling.

Without missing a beat, he then explained that in a breakneck interval of reflection conducted by conference call during the vote tabulation the ASA National Council concluded unanimously that the parallels between the  colonization of  “so-called Israel” and the rape and pillage of  continental North America — both by white settlers or their proxies — are simply too striking to ignore.

According to ASA President Curtis Marez,  skyped in from his San Diego study,   “Condemning the zionist entity for occupying Tel Aviv without demanding the simultaneous immediate United States withdrawal from Orange County would never the survive peer review smell test,  at least not to my nose anyway.  If that  isn’t the very definition of an untenable fallacy, I don’t know what is.”

So to make things right , says Dr. Marez, the ASA National Council has indentified and purged those  responsible – including at least one relative of a high ranking ASA official — for committing what is being called  “an error of half-hearted measures.” The scholars group  is promulgating a follow-up Resolution in Support of an Academic Boycott of the United States, which among other things calls for universities around the world to cut all ties with institutions of higher education in the U.S., withdraw sabbatical hospitality for U.S. professors, and prohibit international students from studying in the United States.  The resolution further calls upon the ASA to change its name and academic discipline to something slightly less triumphalist and historically insensitive.

When asked what the group might call itself Professor Marez replied “Something that doesn’t have American in it, to be sure.  Or, come to think of it, Studies either. Something more in harmony with our organization’s demonstrated moral consistency and intellectual rigor.”

The boycott United States vote, which insiders consider to be only an organizational constitutional formality, is set to begin just after the turn of the year, with passage scheduled to be announced just before the Martin Luther King holiday.

The full text of the resolution follows.

American Studies Association Resolution on Academic Boycott of the United States

December, 2013

Whereas the American Studies Association is committed to the pursuit of social justice, to the struggle against all forms of racism, including anti-semitism, discrimination, and xenophobia, and to solidarity with aggrieved peoples in the United States and in the world;

Whereas 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, as well as in supporting the systematic discrimination against Palestinians, which has had documented devastating impact on the overall well-being, the exercise of political and human rights, the freedom of movement, and the educational opportunities of Palestinians;

Whereas the United States military is deployed to far flung corners of the earth, including Iraq and Afghanistan fighting unjust and endless imperialist wars;

Whereas the United States government launches drones to murder innocent civilians in peaceful distant lands such as South Yemen and Pakistan;

Whereas the United States government through the National Security Agency and similar so-called intelligence organs conducts unwarranted electronic spying and surveillance against foreign governments and civilians – including the emails and telephone calls of ordinary Americans — in real time;

Whereas much of the technology and methodology implicated in the conduct of military aggression and surveillance by the United States government is the product of research conducted by universities and university graduates in the United States;

Whereas the military-industrial-surveillance apparatus of the United States could not exist but for the effective instruction of faculty – from among all academic disciplines — in United States institutions of higher learning which enable graduates to pursue careers in economic exploitation and profiteering, surveillance and military technology, and the economic and political subjugation of oppressed peoples at home and abroad;

Whereas virtually every institution of higher learning in the United States has been constructed on land appropriated and stolen from indigenous peoples through military conquest, bloodshed, privation, imperialism, and racist manifest destiny;

Whereas the American Studies Association is cognizant of American scholars   who are critical of United States government policies and who support the idea of international boycott, divestment and sanctions but who also must struggle mightily to publish rather than perish, garner tenure, and pursue peace and social justice through unfettered access to sabbaticals and academic exchanges in pleasant and exotic corners of the world;

It is resolved that the American Studies Association (ASA) – adhering to the universal and time tested convenient principles of guilt by association and collective retribution — endorses and will honor the call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions by anyone from anywhere who points the finger of shame at the United States, especially United States institutions of higher learning. We call upon governments, civil society, and institutions of higher education throughout the world to cut ties with United States colleges and universities and especially to immediately refuse to send students to study at United States institutions of higher learning.  We call upon our members who might be adversely affected by such boycotts, divestment, and sanctions to just suck it up for the greater good. And finally, we call upon our organization and academic discipline to immediately change our name from the disrespectful moniker of “American” Studies to something a little less imperialist, racist, and historically insensitive.

About the Author
Louis Nayman, a labor union organizer for more than 30 years, has conducted education and training programs for trade unionists in Poland, Russia, Romania, Palestine and Lebanon. His writing has appeared in Tablet Magazine and In These Times.