The leadership of the American Studies Association (ASA) has been “covertly packed” with anti-Israel professors, according to concerned voices within the association.
Internal emails have revealed that top ASA members, “schemed to subvert the American Studies Association’s National Council” by packing it with members sympathetic to the Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (CBI). It is those members that helped pass the ASA’s controversial Israel boycott measure in 2013.
These claims were outlined in a proposed amended complaint that was filed last week by the attorneys with the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, who were representing the four former and current American Studies professors in a bid to demonstrate that the ASA violated its own bylaws by passing an anti-Israel measure in Dec. 2013.
“Acting on behalf of the CBI,” top ASA leaders are accused of having “misappropriated the American Studies Association’s funding, name, prestige, membership lists, and respected institutional voice to suborn the American Studies Association to advance CBI’s political interests.”
Five of these individual defendants who had held the ASA leadership positions have very close associations with the CBI, either sitting on its advisory board or organizing collective, including Jasbir Puar, a Rutgers professor of women’s studies; Steven Salaita, an academic who has blamed “Zionists” for his inability to find work; Sunaina Maira; Neferti Tadiar; and J. Kehaulani Kauanui.
Puar specifically “manipulated” the CBI “takeover” of the ASA, according to the plaintiffs.
Puar—who has published many academic works, that some consider antiemetic – ensured that “only signed supporters of CBI were nominated for American Studies Association President,” according to the plaintiff.
No presidential nominees were affiliated with CBI prior to 2012, the proposed amended complaint had stated. “It is statistically impossible that this is random,” Jennie Gross, lead counsel for the plaintiff said.
Alex Lubin of the American University of Beirut, nominated the ASA national council by Puar, allegedly wrote in one of these uncovered emails, “In my conversations with Jasbir it’s clear that the intent of her nominations was to bring more people who do work in, and are politically committed to . . . the question of Palestine . . . we were nominated in order to build momentum for BDS even though the question of BDS in American Studies Association may or may not emerge while we’re on the council.”
The plaintiffs state that, Puar also helped ensure the candidates’ ties to CBI “should not be disclosed to the general American Studies Association membership.”
Even so, the CBI-affiliated academics continued to retain close ties with the anti-Israel movement while at the ASA, as seen in their successfully petitioning CBI founder Omar Barghouti to assist them in writing various materials for the Israel boycott campaign.