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Peter Beinart’s colonial logic: Opponents of Israel boycott make anti-democratic arguments

Last week, members of the American Studies Association [ASA] voted overwhelmingly to affirm a resolution boycotting Israeli academic institutions.  The membership vote followed unanimous approval of the resolution by the ASA National Council.  Intense debate has followed the affirmation.

Much of the reaction from the boycott's opponents has been infantile:  threats of lawsuits, screams of anti-Semitism, vulgar trolling, ear-piercing hysteria, and various strategies of derailment borrowed from the Glenn Beck playbook.  These tactics are fit to ignore.

More thoughtful responses have emerged, however, and provide opportunity for serious engagement.  One such response arrived from Peter Beinart, who supports a boycott focused on West Bank settlements but not on anything to do with 1948 Israel (i.e., anything inside the so-called green line).

While Beinart’s piece is thoughtful, it has serious problems, especially in its unexamined assumptions.  Rejecting the “singling out” of Israel and academic freedom as viable arguments against boycott, Beinart opposes the ASA resolution because “it’s denying the legitimacy of a democratic Jewish state, even alongside a Palestinian one.”

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