The NWSA (National Women’s Studies Association), in a statement copied below this article, claims to be part of “a transformative and critical field” that
pursue[s] a just world in which all persons can develop to their fullest potential: as feminist scholars, educators, and activists, for example, [they] advance critiques of misogyny, gender violence, settler colonialism, homophobia, Islamophobia, ableism, classism, and all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism and anti-Arab racism.
This is a just and worthy cause for an academic association and I think the key word here is “critique” because that is what academics are supposed to do – research and examine all sides of the particular issue with which their discipline is concerned. And here I want to emphasize the term “all sides”. Because I think that the NWSA, like other professional associations they have decided to emulate, is falling very very short on this when it concerns their “critique” of Israel and therefore their political activism against that country in favour of a Palestinian narrative they seem to naively swallow hook, line and sinker.
— Canary Mission (@canarymission) December 9, 2015
Let me give an example unrelated to Israel. Let’s take “ableism”. This is something that would be very easy and unambiguous to examine from “all sides”. Let us say that University A claims to be accessible to all students regardless of physical abilities and disabilities (is that latter a word one can use in these PC days?). But a group of students who wanted to apply to University A said they cannot do so because there are no wheelchair accessible buildings due to lack of entry ramps and elevators. Fifty potential students demonstrate in front of University A with placards declaring that the institution discriminates against them and prevents them access.
An administration representative comes out to the demonstrators and invites them in to show them the ramps and elevators that are, in fact, in place. This does not solace the demonstrators who call these administrators liars. The NWSA decides to critique this situation after hearing eloquent speeches against University A for its discriminatory policy. Would the NWSA take up their case without actually visiting the university and seeing for themselves? Or would they just take the protestors’ word for it as they do regarding the Arabs who now call themselves Palestinians? As the entire world seems to do regarding the Arabs who now call themselves Palestinians.
Furthermore, the statement continues:
NWSA is thus committed to an inclusive feminist vision that is in solidarity with Indigenous peoples and sovereignty rights globally, that challenges settler colonial practices, . . .
And they are herein implying that the Arabs who now call themselves Palestinians are the indigenous people of what has become the Palestinian Authority and that they have, therefore, indigenous sovereignty rights because the Israelis are obviously the settler colonialists. In other words, those who voted in support of the resolution for academic boycott of Israel:
1. have not studied the history, are unaware of the complexities of the issues;
2. have no understanding of the definition of indigenous peoples;
3. have decided, in their ignorance of 1 and 2 above, that they know what is right and true; and
4. think they have the right to bludgeon Israel over the head and coerce her to bend at the knees before these holier-than-thou-know-it-all’s.
If they had been paying attention to history, they would know that the Jews are the indigenous population, not only of Israel within the green line, but also of Gaza, the Golan and Judea & Samaria. Jews who upped and moved to Israel are nothing more than the Israelites returning home from the many lands to which we had been dispersed by the true colonialists and imperialists up to and including the Ottomans. We Jews have been returning home from Europe and the Americas, and also from Arab lands, Africa, and everywhere else we have found ourselves in Diaspora.
If the NWSA patronizing know-it-all’s had been paying attention to history, they would know that the Arabs have the rights of longstanding residency (in some cases, as not all the Arabs in the land at that time had been there for more than a few years) and not indigenous status.
The NWSA Commits Boycottery in the Guise of Promoting Academic Freedom
How hypocritical can one get? To close down doors and windows of communication while saying you promote collaboration?
As an organization that seeks to promote scholarly exchange, research and teaching collaborations, and educational opportunities for all, NWSA issues this solidarity statement . . . we acknowledge Israeli and Jewish scholars and students who are critical of Israeli state policies that systematically discriminate against Palestinians and that violate international law.
As an organization, I would say, they seem to think that only those “Israeli and Jewish scholars and students who are critical of Israeli state policies” have the right to engage in the “scholarly exchange, research and teaching collaborations, and educational opportunities for all”. This is patronizing and clearly shows that they think anyone who doesn’t agree that Israel is systematically discriminating against Palestinians and violating international law has no right to engage in research and education as if their political inclinations pollute the quality of their work.
There are legitimate legal arguments that contest the view that Israel is illegally occupying Judea & Samaria (the region’s true name). But NWSA have no interest in promoting debate of the issue with legal experts who can intelligently present both sides of the issue and let others come to their own conclusions. They prefer, in other words, to believe those wheelchair-bound demonstrators shouting out that University A has no ramps or elevators rather than passing through the gates and checking for themselves.
Political candidates debate before the people – present all sides of issues of concern to the electorate. There is no shutting of mouths – why do those who oppose Israel enough to want to commit academic boycott not set lecterns on the stage, adjust the microphones and invite everyone to respectful debate? Are they secretly afraid that the propaganda spread by Arabs who now call themselves Palestinians rests on a foundation of quick sand?
Given our longstanding commitments to eradicating injustice as feminist scholars, educators, and activists, . . . NWSA reiterates its support of academic freedom, political dissent, and the pursuit of education and research without undue state interference or repression.
All I can say to this is: Bull!
Well, they do say “without state interference”. But what they propose is more heinous: undue interference and repression on the part of colleagues.
Other articles on this website dealing with academic boycott:
Feature Image Credit: https://twitter.com/insidehighered/status/671719285086150656
Originally published on Israel Diaries.
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January 19, 2015
The National Women’s Studies Association releases this statement:
In light of endemic racialized state and extrajudicial violence within the U.S. and at its borders;
Following on the 2014 NWSA conference in Puerto Rico, an occupied territory where sovereignty struggles continue; and
Following on the conference plenary on Palestine, wherein there was a strong show of support by a majority of more than 1,000 plenary attendees for the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement, and for including injustices in Palestine among the issues we study and teach about.
As the largest feminist academic organization in North America, NWSA is dedicated to leading Women’s and Gender Studies, a transformative and critical field animated by the recognition that systems of oppression are interlaced and must be thought through and addressed together. Our members actively pursue a just world in which all persons can develop to their fullest potential: as feminist scholars, educators, and activists, for example, we advance critiques of misogyny, gender violence, settler colonialism, homophobia, Islamophobia, ableism, classism, and all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism and anti-Arab racism.
NWSA members have long challenged multiple forms of oppression and violence, including racialized state violence and sexual and gender-based violence, that disproportionately impact disenfranchised groups and communities within the U.S. and transnationally. NWSA members have also long been committed to solidarity politics as a means to contest and dismantle multiple systems of domination. NWSA is thus committed to an inclusive feminist vision that is in solidarity with Indigenous peoples and sovereignty rights globally, that challenges settler colonial practices, and that contests violations of civil rights and international human rights law, military occupation and militarization, including the criminalization of the U.S. borders, and myriad forms of dispossession.
As an organization that seeks to promote scholarly exchange, research and teaching collaborations, and educational opportunities for all, NWSA issues this solidarity statement. In so doing, we distinguish between institutional critiques and critiques of individuals working within those institutional contexts. Furthermore, we acknowledge Israeli and Jewish scholars and students who are critical of Israeli state policies that systematically discriminate against Palestinians and that violate international law. Finally, NWSA recognizes that systemic forces continue to negatively impact Palestinians’ political and human rights and educational opportunities and that the U.S. plays a significant role in the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the expansion of settlements and the Wall.
Given our longstanding commitments to eradicating injustice as feminist scholars, educators, and activists, and in recognition of resonances and connections across borders and contexts, NWSA reiterates its support of academic freedom, political dissent, and the pursuit of education and research without undue state interference or repression.
“The Imperial Politics of Nation States.” NWSA Annual Conference, San Juan, Puerto Rico: Saturday, November 15, 2014. Featuring Angela Davis, Islah Jad, and Rebecca Vilkomerson with Chandra Talpade Mohanty as chair/moderator. The idea of a solidarity statement was also raised at the Membership and Delegate Assemblies and subsequently discussed by the Governing Council and the Executive Committee (which, in response, worked collaboratively to issue this statement).