In January, the American Studies Association (ASA) took a vote to boycott Israel. That’s the high water mark of the BDS achievement there. (Only 16% of the ASA membership voted.) And since then, the ASA has had a bit of a hard time:

  • No American Studies department in the USA has implemented the boycott.
  • The ASA’s branches in California and Northeast joined 250 college Presidents and the largest USA academic organizations in condemnation of the boycott.
  • They had to backpedal furiously when it transpired that implementing the boycott at their conference gathering might contravene civil rights laws.

And then, to quote John Haber at

“With that spotlight upon them (not to mention scrutiny of whatever press they could not freeze out of their event), we saw the final unraveling of the policy as ASA’s leadership (which clung to the notion that the boycott was in effect if Israelis who attended their conference did not do so as representatives of their institutions) had to swallow hard as the remaining shred of their boycott was mocked as it went unenforced.”

Jon has now followed up the ASA tale with an open challenge. This is the background:

“With the ASA’s squalid little policy reduced to a mass of contradictions the organization was too incompetent to untangle, it was just a matter of time before the leaders of that organization took to the airwaves to try to regain the initiative. And what better way to do so than to roll out the old “death threat” trope which claims that critics of the boycotters are so hysterical (and potentially dangerous) that they have been showering the organization with calls for blood.”

I don’t know any right minded person who would accept that it was legitimate to issue a death threat against someone, no matter the extreme nature of their political action, hate, or bigotry. But it wouldn’t have surprised me if such things happened, based primarily on the activities of online commenters. People lose the rag. They hide behind pseudonyms, remain anonymous, and hate.

So, this part from was especially interesting, recounting earlier accusations of death threats at the time of the Olympia co-operative BDS attempt:

“It was only when they were pressed to explain how opponents of the boycott even knew where to send these supposed hundreds (if not thousands) of threats or asked what steps the boycotters took with local law enforcement to deal with what was supposedly a life-threatening emergency that the those hurling “death threat” accusations actually went underground (avoiding any request for evidence of their claims).”

So, ASA’s president Lisa Duggan, has now got this to chew over:

“Given that no security measures were taken during the ASA conference itself (as opposed to cops I had to hire when the new Israeli Consul visited my temple earlier this year to support his own security staff), I’m going to go with option (2) and say that Lisa Duggan’s claims to face threat to life and limb for her courageous stance is just one more clumsy attempt to throw her political opponents off balance and disguise the abject cowardice of everything and everyone involved with the ASA’s boycott.”

Let’s see what happens.

You can read the relevant post, here.

[Separately, it appears BDS has had some impact on ZIM’s operations in California. Expect further developments there, too.]