On the tricky logic of assigning guilt
The American Studies Association decided yesterday to boycott Israel, a move endorsed unanimously by the academic organization’s national council. If the association’s members are serious about their purported moral commitments, their only logical next step would be to go ahead and boycott themselves. This actually makes sense.
To hear the American Studies Association tell it, the act is largely symbolic, an expression of “solidarity with scholars and students deprived of their academic freedom and an aspiration to enlarge that freedom for all, including Palestinians.” The move, so spake the ASA’s national council, “is warranted given U.S. military and other support for Israel; Israel’s violation of international law and UN resolutions; the documented impact of the Israeli occupation on Palestinian scholars and students; the extent to which Israeli institutions of higher education are a party to state policies that violate human rights; and the support of such a resolution by many members of the ASA.”
One could, of course, wonder, as I and others have before, to what Israel owes the exclusive honor of having been singled out; violating international law and human rights, sadly, is a game in which the Jewish state is bested by many, many, many other nations. That’s a legitimate concern, but it’s not at the crux of the discussion. The real question we must pose to the boycotters is what exactly it is that they hope to achieve. (more…)