LETTER TO THE EDITOR: ASA boycott condemns being Israeli

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Thank you for Suzanne Fields’ column “Scapegoating Israel, again” (Commentary, Dec. 26), decrying the American Studies Association’s hypocrisy in endorsing a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

The ASA’s chutzpah is truly astounding. After all, in Israel academic freedom is respected, free speech is guaranteed, professors readily criticize their own government with impunity, democracy and the rule of law prevail, women and minorities are full citizens, and diversity in opinion and culture is celebrated. As Ms. Fields notes, according to Alan Dershowitz, Israeli universities “boast a higher level of academic freedom than almost any country in the world” and even encourage Palestinian students through affirmative-action programs.

By contrast, consider Israel’s “moderate” peace partner, the Palestinian National Authority. Its textbooks erase Israel from their maps. It uses academic institutions to glorify terrorism by naming high schools in honor of terrorists, such as Dalal Mughrabi, who led a squad that killed an American woman and 38 Israelis — including 13 children — in a 1978 terrorist attack in Israel. And the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, earned the Soviet Union’s equivalent of a Ph.D. in history for perpetrating an academic fraud: His dissertation, later published under the title “The Other Side: The Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism,” called the Holocaust a “Zionist fantasy, the fantastic lie that six million Jews were killed,” denied there were any gas chambers and suggested that “only a few hundred thousand” Jews may have been killed.

Meanwhile, Gaza’s Hamas rulers have broadcast a children’s educational television series called “Tomorrow’s Pioneers,” featuring a series of Disney-style characters that advocated jihad, including a Mickey Mouse look-alike named Farfour and a Bugs Bunny knockoff named Assoud who vowed to “finish off the Jews and eat them.”

Mysteriously, the ASA has never criticized the Palestinians’ use of academic institutions to indoctrinate hatred and terrorism as cultural values. Nor has it condemned Mr. Abbas’ vile and fallacious “scholarship” or criticized Moscow’s Oriental College for awarding an academic credential for such a false and hateful screed.

It is the very fact of being Israeli that the ASA condemns. This is racism, pure and simple.

STEPHEN A. SILVER
San Francisco

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