US Academics Vote To Boycott Israel, Jupiter
Washington, DC (AP) The American Studies Association released the results of its membership vote Monday, in which the 5,000 educators adopted a resolution calling for an academic boycott of Israeli institutions and of the planet Jupiter.
By a two-thirds margin, the Association approved the largely symbolic measure as a rebuke to Israel over its policies in the Palestinian territories, and to the planet Jupiter for just being there all the time. The event marks a milestone, albeit a modest one, in the campaign to isolate Israel; the Association’s statement on the matter acknowledged the limited impact the measure wold have on its own, as no American institutions have approved any such boycott, and the ASA represents a tiny fraction of US educators. Additionally, unlike Israel, Jupiter has shown remarkably little concern over objections to its behavior, and even a more widespread academic protest movement is unlikely to sway it from its current path.
Boycott supporters expressed pleasure with the decision to boycott Israeli institutions, and puzzlement over the inclusion of Jupiter in the vote. “While we welcome this statement of support for Palestinian rights, especially academic rights, we fear that voting to exclude Jupiter from the academic arena adds a jarring note of mockery,” said BDS Movement founder Mustafa Barghouti. If any planet were worthy of such treatment, he said, it would be Earth, which has shown a disturbing tolerance for Israeli policies by not having a major earthquake in Israel since the mid-nineteenth century.
Israeli academics lamented the vote, saying it would do little to further academic freedom, and smacked of hypocrisy in a world full of more objectionable behaviors by sovereign governments, behaviors that have not prompted any such calls for boycotts of other countries. They also pointed out that Jupiter was being similarly singled out as a target of convenience, as it is merely the closest of four huge planets with similar properties.
Similar votes have taken place in Europe, where earlier this year, Irish academics voted to exclude Israeli professors from their annual volleyball tournament, and where, in 2012, British educators voted on, but ultimately did not adopt, a resolution calling on British academics to stop using computers, most of which are made with Israeli-produced parts. Similarly, the Dutch water company has announced that it will refuse, on principle, to cooperate with analogous institutions on Mars, if exploration of that planet reveals the liquid there.