Professors who were part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign to isolate Israel, colluded not only among themselves to take control of the American Studies Association (ASA), but coordinated their effort with outside anti-Israel activists, two legal experts wrote in an op-ed published Sunday in The Wall Street Journal.
According to Jesse M. Fried and Eugene Kontorovich, professors of law at Harvard University and Northwestern University, the revelation came from e-mails uncovered in the course of a lawsuit filed by four members of the ASA against the organization for violating its charter. Fried and Kontorovich are advising the legal team representing the ASA members bringing the suit.
Earlier e-mails showed how the anti-Israel professors coordinated their efforts to gain control of the ASA leadership in order to pass anti-Israel resolutions. The BDS-supporting professors – Sunaina Maira, Neferti Tadiar, J. Kehaulani Kauanui, Jasbir Puar, and Steven Salaita – ran for leadership positions without disclosing their pro-boycott affiliations.
One professor, Nikhil Singh, warned, "I think that not revealing something this important and intentional and then hoping later to use the American Studies Association national council as a vehicle to advance our cause will not work and may well backfire, because it will lack legitimacy." In fact, the one BDS-supporting academic who was honest about his support for boycotting Israel lost his bid to join the National Council.
The newly discovered e-mails further revealed that the anti-Israel academics coordinated their efforts with "outside anti-Israel activists, such as Omar Barghouti, a founder of the BDS movement."
The lawsuit charges that by pursuing pro-BDS policies, the boycott-supporting professors violated the ASA's charter. According to its website the association "promotes the development and dissemination of interdisciplinary research on U.S. culture and history in a global context."
Fried and Kontorovich stated that the resolution was considered by less than one third of the ASA's membership, and that roughly two thirds of those voting, voted in favor. (At the time anti-Israel boycott was passed, Phyllis Chesler noted in The Jerusalem Post that the resolution passed after being approved by just 16% of the organization's membership.)
Rather than reflecting the views of the ASA, Fried and Kontorovich observed that the vote was "orchestrated by a small cadre of academics who infiltrated the ASA's leadership to demonize the Jewish state."