In defense of the American Studies Association's decision to boycott Israeli academics

When an authority speaks out and challenges the very status quo that it helped create, people take notice - above all, people of power who support the status quo. Often, these people of power respond by taking aim at the mutineer, either by attacking the mutineer's reputation or isolating the individual. As one might imagine, there is a great deal at stake for the mutineer. It is therefore extraordinarily rare for an authority to speak against the status quo and become a "black swan" of sorts.

Recently, the American Studies Association became a "black swan" - it voted to protest Israel's mistreatment of the Palestinian people with a boycott towards Israeli academic institutions. The consequences soon set in. My alma mater went as far as to issue a mass-mailing to all current and former students voicing "strong opposition to the boycott". Likewise, page after page has popped up on Google from leading sources of power and authority. Not surprisingly, there is a general failure to consider the ASA's arguments in almost every article.

So, in lieu of this effort to push aside the facts and flood the internet with virulent condemnation, I would like to use this small corner in cyberspace to show some support for the ASA's decision to raise awareness of the Palestinians' state of affairs. I encourage the public to consider the ASA's arguments and think about the value of free speech and true democracy, as opposed to the "value" of an oligarchy led by powerful elites who try to crush free speech and encourage silence. Here are a few points to consider: