The oldest scholarly group studying U.S. history and culture is getting sued for “covertly pack[ing]” its organization with anti-Israel professors.
Before 2012, no candidate chosen to head the American Studies Association had been associated with the Israeli boycott movement, according to The College Fix. For the past five years, ALL nominees were vocal supporters of the movement.
Some of the defendants in the case have a well-documented history of anti-Israel remarks. One of them, Steven Salaita, had a job offer rescinded after the discovery of these tweets:
“Zionists, take responsibility: if your dream of an ethnocratic Israel is worth the murder of children, just f***ing own it already,” said the professor. In another tweet, Salaita said “at this point, if Netanyahu appeared on TV with a necklace made from the teeth of Palestinian children, would anybody be surprised?
Salaita sued the University of Illinois for retracting his job offer, getting $600,000 out of the settlement.
Another defendant, Rutgers University women’s studies professor Jasbir Puar, is accused of making sure that “only signed supporters of USACBI [which advocates for both the academic and cultural boycott of Israel] were nominated for American Studies Association President.”
Alex Lubin, an American University professor whom Puar nominated for ASA’s national council, apparently wrote in one of the released emails that “we were nominated in order to build momentum for BDS even though the question of BDS in American Studies Association may or may not emerge while we’re on the council.”
Puar accused Israel of committing “field assassinations of young Palestinian men,” and then invoked the anti-Semitic trope that “the bodies were mined for organs for scientific research.”
But not every ASA member knew about the collusion between the group and the anti-Israel lobby. Puar allegedly kept it hidden from the organization’s general membership. John Stephens, executive director of the ASA, denied knowing about it, but then did a simple Internet search and discovered for himself that the names on an anti-Israel boycott proposal matched up with the names of several ASA officers who passed the group’s 2013 boycott of all Israeli schools, which ⅔ of the ASA’s voting members approved.
But the ASA did receive backlash for this decision. In just a month, over 80 US colleges condemned the vote and several colleges withdrew from the organization entirely. Israel does not seem to be the only issue on which the ASA is biased. Its current president, Kandice Chuh, “teaches courses in critical theory, aesthetics, race and intersectionality, queer theory, and decolonial studies,” subjects typically associated with the political left. Elizabeth Duggan and David Roediger, ASA presidents from 2014 to 2016, are apparently interested in and/or have authored books on “whiteness.”