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Boycott Calls Against Israel
Beyond BDS: The ASA annual conference hosting anti-Israeli sentiments
03.11,14

Editorial Note


The American Studies Association (ASA) which was founded in 1951, is a scholarly organization devoted to the interdisciplinary study of American culture and history. The ASA has almost 5,000 individual members.  In December 2013, members of the ASA voted to join the boycott of all Israeli educational institutions. But the ASA has recently announced that it will not bar Israelis from attending its annual conference. This is going to be tested by the University of Haifa official representative expressed plans to attend the ASA annual conference on November 6-9, 2014 at Westin Bonaventure, Los Angeles. 

 

But beyond the BDS call of the ASA, a perusal at the conference program reveals anti-Israel agenda in many of the ASA panel discussions. Only the likes of Neve Gordon were invited to present their papers. There are twenty two panels dealing with issues related to Israel and Palestine, all are one-sided and very favorable to the Palestinian cause without being critical of it.

 

A panel "Land for the Taking: Palestinian Landscape in an American Mirror", and  “The Arabs of Palestine”: Reports on the Dispossession of Palestinians in US Journalism, 1946-1961",as well as "Settlers’ disorganization of indigenous societies as a means of control: The case of Palestine".

 

There is going to be a discussion "Caucus: Academic and Community Activism: PACBI, USACBI and the History of Academic Boycotts: The Turning Tide".  Another panel is entitled "Feminist, Queer and Jewish Responses to Zionism".  And "Encountering Zionism: From Academia to Queer Activism and BDS" in this panel the papers to be presented, "Why Boycott Israeli Institutions?: The Palestinian Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel in Historical Context" , and "Re-reading PInkwashing and Palestinian Queer BDS: Palestinian sexual liberation organizing and decolonization", another paper is "Zionism from the Standpoint of Arab America". 

 

Another panel is "The Party’s Over: A Panel and Open Discussion on the Aftermath of the ASA's Boycott Resolution", and "Teaching About Palestine: Changing the Pain and Fury of Ignorance to the Pleasures of Knowing" in this panel a panelist will present "“The Intifada Curriculum”: on teaching the Politics and Poetics of Palestinian Resistance". Another panelist will present the paper "What I Did Not Know I Did Not Know: Palestinian Rights and Human Rights" which deals with "The dispossession of Palestinian lands, the removal of Palestinians from their homes as a result of the founding of the state of Israel, and the regulation of Palestinian movement as a consequence of the separation wall and the network of checkpoints and the consequent obstruction of access to employment, education, health care, and other basic resources".

 

In a panel entitled "There Is Here: Transnational Archives, Comparative Furies", there will be a debate over what critics of the ASA question "What seems to be the case is the emergence of Ethnic Studies within the American Studies discipline have tilted the organization heavily in favor of people of color, in this case, the Palestinians.”


In the panel "Law and Violence in Transnational Perspective" a paper presented is "Law as a Battleground: Fighting over the Legality of Targeted Killing", another paper is "Constructing the Prototypical Terrorist in the US". BGU Neve Gordon will present the paper "The Human Right To Kill" which is "a critical examination of the use of "human shields" in Iraq and Israel/Palestine we offer three observations: 1) humanitarian and human rights law are used to render violence legitimate; 2) these two bodies of law can make violence more effective; and finally 3) the framing of killing as “legal” serves to transform violence into a source of national pride for supporters of the state’s military activities."

 

The panel "Teaching After Palestine: Speaking about the Occupation and Palestinian Culture in the U.S. Academy", its blurb says "Israel's occupation of Palestinian lands in the West Bank has recently been moving at alarming pace, carving up the West Bank into a network of settler colonial hubs, a development which has led to the destruction of Palestinian homes, guaranteed the impossibility of an autonomous Palestinian economy, and fostered violent encounters between indigenous Palestinian communities and outsiders."

 

Overall, it will not be an exaggeration to state that the ASA conference is anti-Israeli per se, when the program is so one-sided it means there is no pretense to hold a critical scholarly debate. Of course, there is nothing wrong with discussing the above topics but with such cherry picking for topics there is an apparent tendency to conceal issues related to the Arab-Israeli dispute or internal problems within the Palestinian society and culture. 



 



Development, Displacement, Dispossession

Thu, November 6, 4:00 to 5:45pm, Westin Bonaventure, Level 1, San Gabriel B (L1)

Session Submission Type: Paper Session: Traditional Format

Abstract

This panel offers both a deep engagement with the literary-critical and aesthetic forms of development, displacement and dispossession, as well as a rigorous and forward-thinking reflection on political-economic, critical-geographic, critical race studies, and postcolonial methodologies in thinking through these three terms. 

Development, dispossessions, and displacement take many forms, and are enacted in a variety of environments: rural, suburban, and urban-industrial. But despite this diversity of tactics, aspects of the logic remain consistent: enclosures create private property out of commonly-held resources and land; dispossessions requisition resources; development fuels accumulation and produces private profit from these processes. This logic characterizes both the early modern rhythms of industrialization and colonialism, and the imperial depredations of our contemporary world.

In this panel, we bring together papers that show that these are not only violent and regrettable processes, but also constitute a framework through which we can understand the movement of history.

Sub Unit

Chair

Individual Submissions

Comment

Fri, November 7, 8:00 to 9:45am, Westin Bonaventure, Level 1, Beaudry B (L1)

Session Submission Type: Non-Paper Session: Dialogue Format

Abstract

In the past year, three major U.S. academic organizations (ASA, NAISA, and AAAS) have endorsed academic boycott resolutions, and one (MLA) has endorsed a resolution critical of Israeli state policies. In keeping with the conference theme, this roundtable will explore what it means to be part of a movement at a tipping-point, one that is gaining ground in significant ways. The political affects of joy in collective struggle – as well as the long histories of labor and effort toward these victories – will be considered by panelists from the U.S., Lebanon and Palestine. 

Participants will discuss the formation of USACBI (US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel) in 2009 in response to the call from PACBI (Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel), as well as a range of specific academic boycott campaigns. Panelists will describe the relationship between the individual and the collective in the global, Palestinian-led BDS movement since its inception, and discuss ways that the balance of political affects and strategies has been central to building the BDS movement. Participants will reflect on the lessons drawn from boycott campaigns, looking both to the past – specifically the debates around boycott in 2008 and the creation of USACBI – and current and future initiatives in the wake of these resolutions. 

We will address, as well, the censuring of academics in relation to Palestine activism. Creating the conditions for democratic voting processes, open discussion, and genuine debate about boycott has required a constant collective effort to clear ground for honest debate in the face of massive institutional pressure. Under what terms has the opening-up of discussion has taken place? Speaking out about the boycott has returned many academic associations to real and passionate engagement with the world outside of academe. What are the histories of the relationship between academic work and activist work? How do these histories inform current political organizing? 

The roundtable will focus particular attention on the racial, cultural, and class wars evident in the Zionist and neoconservative backlash to boycott resolutions. We will analyze the significance of the Palestine question for ethnic and critical race studies in the context of the neoliberal institutionalization and appropriation of ethnic studies. Some of the opposition to the ASA resolution has not been merely parochially reactionary in its tacit support of Zionism. Rather, the opposition has exhibited more general reactionary and racist politics. Therefore, roundtable participants will discuss how opponents of boycott have sought to marginalize the resolution as occupying a corner of academe – one characterized by a minority fringe, composed of scholars of color and other minority subjects. We will track the ways in which the tendency to represent a majority vote as the product of a racial minority reminds us that boycott movements partake in a broader commitment to anti-racist, anti-imperialist work, and play an integral role in defending ethnic and critical race studies from attack and delegitimation by the neoliberal university.

Sub Unit

Chair

Panelists

  • Magid Shihade, Birzeit University (Palestine)

  • Sunaina Maira, University of California, Davis (CA)

  • Cynthia Franklin, University of Hawaii, Manoa (HI)

  • Sami Hermez, Harvard University (MA)

  • Falastine Dwikat, The Palestinian Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (Palestine)

  • Feminist, Queer and Jewish Responses to Zionism

    Sat, November 8, 8:00 to 9:45am, Westin Bonaventure, Level 1, San Gabriel C (L1)

    Session Submission Type: Paper Session: Talk Format

    Abstract

    Over the last 30 years Israeli violence against the state’s racialized “others” has persisted and increased, through state mechanisms like discriminatory law and military occupation; and mechanisms ostensibly outside the state, like settler attacks on Palestinians and mob assaults on African refugees. Throughout, Jewish nationalism - Zionism - remains the ideological justification. In response to the ethnic/racial call of Jewish nationalism, and in response to the implementation of LGBT rights and the related discourse of Israeli pinkwashing, Jewish and queer-identified groups working against political violence have increasingly responded to and resisted nationalist forms of belonging in Zionism. The intersection of “Jewish” and “queer,” especially when mobilized as subject positions in response to Zionism, sometimes faintly echoes the historical conjunction between Jewishness as a gendered and sexualized racial/ethnic marker on the one hand, and the raced, gendered production of “queerness” in the West, on the other. The scholars on this panel enter into the complex fray of these entangled systems of meaning by addressing racialization, white supremacy, Jewish identity, pinkwashing, queer formations and boycott tactics, the literature of queer anti-Zionism in North America, and resistant practices that bring Jewish, queer, and feminist ways of being into creative anti-racist, anti-colonial, and anti-Zionist social movement work.
    This panel variously approaches the overlap between Jewishness and queerness in the United States by understanding both Zionist settler-colonialism and discourses of liberatory resistance in terms of race, gender, and sexuality. For those who refuse the call of Zionist identification, who critique, contradict, and protest against Israeli policies or oppose Zionism’s project of Jewish nation-building—provocative questions regarding the meanings and roles of queer, feminist, and/or Jewish identities in the violence of Zionism emerge. As “LGBT rights” has become a target for Zionist conscription through the massive Israeli pinkwashing project, queer discourses have arisen to challenge the discursive link between gay vulnerability and state-based benevolence, resolved in both “gay pride,” and gay patriotism. This situation has inspired Jewish and queer people to variously reject, deconstruct, or reformulate the political meanings of queerness and Jewishness in projects that have proliferated over the last generations. What does it mean to oppose Zionism “as Jews” or “as queers” in the US? Where does mobilizing Jewish, queer, and/or feminist identities in opposition to Zionism become politically effective, and where does this mobilization entrench other kinds of hierarchies? 
    This panel contributes to this year’s ASA theme through the exploration of ways that political organizing can be truly joyful and fun, even as it can be challenging, heavy, and problematic. Understanding the meaning, practices, problems and yes—fun—of solidarity art and activism is key to our work, because these understandings open new areas for participation in the process of active and conscious social transformation.

    Sub Unit

    Chair

    Individual Submissions

    • Racialization, Rights, and Resistance: Zionism and white supremacy as entanglements for resistance to Islamophobia - Emmaia Gelman, New York University (NY)

    • The Possibilities and Pains of Queering BDS - Tallie Ben Daniel, University of California, Davis (CA)

    • Ritualizing Liberation: Addressing an Archive of Political Haggadot - Brooke Lober, University of Arizona (AZ)

    • Encountering Zionism: From Academia to Queer Activism and BDS

      Fri, November 7, 8:00 to 9:45am, Westin Bonaventure, Level 1, San Anita C (L1)

      Session Submission Type: Paper Session: Talk Format

      Abstract

      This panel expands conversations taking place within the American Studies Association on the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement and on Zionism’s impact in the United States. The papers bring together interconnected transnational locations in Palestine, the Arab region, and the United States where Zionist institutions have operated to maintain both Israeli settler colonialism and expansion and a discourse supporting those practices in the US--in different ways and to different degrees. Our purpose is two-fold. First, the panel augments the conversation within American Studies about the connections between Israeli settler-colonialism in Palestine and the Zionist political movements committed to suppressing critiques of Israeli state violence in the United States. Second, we will consider critical approaches to Israeli settler-colonialism that have emerged out of academic research as well as various boycott divestment and sanctions campaigns. Thus the panel will focus in part on the impact of Zionist settler-colonialism on Palestinian self-determination, emphasizing Palestinian queer critiques, Palestinian critiques of the cooperation of Israeli universities with Israeli colonization, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, and Palestinian Queers for BDS. The panel will also address the impact of Zionist political movements and institutions on the lives, careers, and scholarship of U.S.-based scholars whose research has focused on Palestine and the Middle East. Within our focus on U.S. academia, the panel will also explore Arab American Studies as an American Studies/Ethnic Studies sub-field that has been encountering Zionism for decades, from researching the connections between Zionism and U.S. imperialism to analyses of the impact of the U.S.-Israeli alliance on anti-Arab racism and Islamophobia. Focusing on Zionism from these multiple, transnational locations expands conventional ways of thinking about U.S. imperialism and Israeli settler colonialism and expansion. It also allows us to think more deeply about the accountability and complicity of U.S. academia in Israeli settler-colonialism and to locate the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement within both the context of Palestine (first and foremost), as well as multiple, interconnected, transnational scholarly and political legacies.

      Sub Unit

      Chair

      Individual Submissions

      • Why Boycott Israeli Institutions?: The Palestinian Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel in Historical Context - Samia Al Botmeh, Birzeit University (Palestine)

      • Re-reading PInkwashing and Palestinian Queer BDS: Palestinian sexual liberation organizing and decolonization - Haneen Maikey, Palestinian Queers for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (Palestine)

      • Fear of Attacks on Academic Freedom: Anthropologists Navigate Israel/Palestine - Lara Deeb, Scripps College (CA)

      • Zionism from the Standpoint of Arab America - Nadine Naber, University of Illinois, Chicago (IL)

      • The Party’s Over: A Panel and Open Discussion on the Aftermath of the ASA's Boycott Resolution

        Thu, November 6, 4:00 to 5:45pm, Westin Bonaventure, Level 1, Beaudry A (L1)

        Session Submission Type: Non-Paper Session: Dialogue Format

        Abstract

        Participants at this roundtable will discuss, evaluate, and consider responses to the December 2013 A.S.A. resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions. Its hosts oppose the political tactic of academic boycott on principle. Nor are we alone in this understanding. Since the vote, the A.S.A. has been the subject of immense criticism and ill will overseas (including in Palestine), in American higher education, and within its own ranks. Academic boycotts punish colleges and universities for the policies of the governments they depend on to exist and do their work. Such institutions are essential to democracy, and their efforts are easily thwarted when their members are judged guilty by association.

        The discussion’s hosts will each offer a brief (5 minute) position paper on one aspect of the boycott in light of the A.S.A’s charter and of our common cause and responsibilities as teachers and scholars. Then with attendees, we will collectively consider the many intellectual and pedagogical aims of American Studies, and discuss activist efforts that are consistent with those aims. We plan to develop a position paper to circulate among the larger membership. As a result of this meeting, we hope to offer a way forward to the voting members of the A.S.A., and to colleagues in the field who are not able to afford memberships. We invite all interested conference attendees to participate.

        Sub Unit

        Chair

        Panelists

        • Lisa Armony, The Rose Project (CA)

        • Michael Aaron Rockland, Rutgers University, New Brunswick/Piscataway (NJ)

        • Mohammed Wattad, Zefat College School of Law (Israel)

        • ASA Committee on American Studies Departments, Programs, and Centers: Is There Room for Fun After the Fury? : The State of American Studies Programs, Centers and Departments in 2014

          Fri, November 7, 10:45am to 12:30pm, Westin Bonaventure, Level 1, Los Feliz (L1)

          Session Submission Type: Non-Paper Session: Dialogue Format

          Abstract

          As the conference calls for panels and presentations concerning the forms of “convivial refuge….created in times of crisis and recession” the standing committee on Departments, Programs and Centers proposes a roundtable discussion on the purpose and func'tion of American Studies programs, centers and departments within the broader field of American Studies. American Studies has historically served students by offering those courses seen as “hip” and “fun,” while for faculty, it has provided a space for playing with disciplinary boundaries, and a refuge from the discipline-specific rules that discourage creative work through the processes of hiring, tenure and promotion in such departments as History and English. While faculty with homes in traditional disciplinary departments have been key figures in building American Studies scholarship, and constitute the majority of membership of the ASA itself, this panel will focus on the role of American Studies programs, departments and centers and their value for the maintenance of the spaces of play and experimentation that all ASA members enjoy. Panelists will discuss the value of American Studies programs and centers both for those housed in them and for those outside who come to them as a respite from the slings and arrows of their home disciplines. We will discuss the role of these programs and centers in the fun'ctioning of the ASA as a national professional organization, and the ever-thorny question of what institutionalization of American Studies in academic departments means for the dynamic possibilities of our field, which has always resisted self-definition and institutionalization. For instance, how does the current movement for program accountability and assessment influence the interdisciplinary character of American Studies departments and programs? Such questions have become more immediate as many programs and departments have been scrutinized following the vote by the membership to support the international boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) against Israel. Among the questions we will ask are, what has the impact of this decision been on the ability of American Studies departments and programs to continue their work as the intersections between disciplines become the cross-hairs of the furious anti-ASA backlash? Has the boycott resolution substantially changed the mission of American Studies as a field, or is it in keeping with the history of American Studies existence as a place for academic activists and mavericks? This roundtable will discuss the results of a survey of programs and centers by the committee as well as the efforts of the special task force coordinated between our committee and the ASA national council.

          This session will use a roundtable format and include American Studies faculty from a variety of institutions as well as former and current ASA officers. Serving as the chair is Shelley Lee, associate professor of History and Comparative American Studies at Oberlin College. The roundtable participants are Rebecca Hill (Kennesaw State), Curtis Marez (UC San Diego), Elizabeth Duclos-Orsello (Salem State U), and Glenn Hendler (Fordham University).


          This is a session Submitted and Organized by the ASA COMMITTEE ON AMERICAN STUDIES DEPARTMENTS, PROGRAMS AND CENTERS. It is one of two workshops/sessions we are proposing and we are requesting the schedule below for these two sessions as well as our traditional Director’s Networking Breakfast.

          Sub Unit

          Chair

          Panelists

          • Rebecca Hill, Kennesaw State University (GA)

          • Glenn Hendler, Fordham University (NY)

          • Curtis Marez, University of California, San Diego (CA)

          • Elizabeth Duclos-Orsello, Salem State University (MA)

          • Ivy Wilson, Northwestern University (IL)

          • Teaching About Palestine: Changing the Pain and Fury of Ignorance to the Pleasures of Knowing

            Sun, November 9, 10:00 to 11:45am, Westin Bonaventure, Level 3, Santa Monica B (L3)

            Session Submission Type: Paper Session: Talk Format

            Abstract

            There is much in US history that students know little about: not because they don’t wish to understand but because there is so little discussion and engagement of certain topics in our high school and university curricula. The Japanese American internment, for example; the United States’ overthrow of the democratically elected Mohammad Mosaddegh in Iran and installation of the oppressive regime of the Shah; and the US government’s encouragement of Saddam Hussein’s aggressive war with Iran. When students learn the details of these historical events, they are either bewildered or angered that they did not know of these significant moments in US history. Among the most silenced of the histories in which the US government has played no small role are the dispossession of the Palestinian peoples and the United States’ continued support of the state of Israel’s colonial Occupation of Palestinian lands and violation of Palestinian rights. 

            It is no easy matter to introduce this history of Palestinian struggle in educational settings. The difficulty is particularly acute in public high schools, given that there is a strict demand in that educational sector for compliance with official state positions on Israel/Palestine. University classrooms thus become crucially important sites to introduce this material. When instructors do so, however, they are invariably accused of lying, of being anti-Semitic, of being inappropriately propagandistic. Yet, there are innovative and effective ways of including the particulars of the history of US complicity in Palestinian dispossession, and of presenting this information so that students do not reject it or direct their fury toward the instructor. The presenters on this panel will speak about approaches they have used to introduce the challenges faced day to day by Palestinians living under discriminatory and oppressive Israeli policies. They discuss how they teach this material within the context of courses that address wider issues such as human rights, film studies, comparative colonialisms, and resistance movements.

            Sub Unit

            Chair

            Individual Submissions

            Comment

            • Lucy Mae Burns, University of California, Los Angeles (CA)

            • There Is Here: Transnational Archives, Comparative Furies

              Sun, November 9, 12:00 to 1:45pm, Westin Bonaventure, Level 1, Beaudry A (L1)

              Session Submission Type: Non-Paper Session: Dialogue Format

              Abstract

              Roundtable Proposal
              American Studies Association Conference 2014
              “There Is Here: Transnational Archives, Comparative Furies”

              A Conversation Between:
              Huma Dar (UC Berkeley)
              Iyko Day (Mount Holyoke)
              Zareena Grewal (Yale)
              Su’ad Abdul Khabeer (Purdue)
              Moderated by Sylvia Chan-Malik (Rutgers-New Brunswick)

              A repeated criticism of the ASA’s vote to support the BDS movement concerns boundaries. Why, these critics ask, are American Studies scholars meddling in foreign affairs? What business do they have with what’s going on in Israel, or for that matter, anywhere beyond the U.S.? The scholarly myopia of such lines of questioning—easily refuted by more than a decade of incisive work on the globality of U.S. empire—are reflections of deeply entrenched desires within the academy and beyond to maintain a parochial American Studies, in regards what American Studies scholars should examine (i.e. our archives) and where we are permitted to express outrage and seek justice (i.e. our furies). This parochial desire is also internally directed, as many of the BDS critics also fear encroachment within the ASA’s ranks, specifically, due to the growing presence of Critical and Comparative Ethnic Studies. To cite one these critics, “What seems to be the case is the emergence of Ethnic Studies within the American Studies discipline have tilted the organization heavily in favor of people of color, in this case, the Palestinians.”*

              Featuring five scholars working within and in relation to Ethnic and American Studies fields, this roundtable addresses how, as it title indicates, “there is here”—the ways in which U.S. militarism and occupation, economic neoliberalism, and shifting geopolitical alignments are essential frameworks for contemporary American Studies scholarship. In particular, we will address how “the foreign,” “the global,” and “the transnational” integrally shape our approaches to the study of race and racialization—as well as gender, sexuality, and religion—in the 21st-century. Drawing from their expertise across a wide range of topics and disciplines, panelists Su’ad Abdul Khabeer (African American Studies, American Muslim Youth Culture), Zareena Grewal (Transnational American Studies, American Islam), Iyko Day (Asian American Studies, Pacific settler colonialism), and Huma Dar (Asian American/Asian Diaspora Studies, Kashmiri Freedom Movement), and moderator Sylvia Chan-Malik (Ethnic and American Studies, race, gender, and religion) will discuss how they employ transnational archives and employ comparative strategies in their research and teaching to link sites of injustice and outrage within and beyond the nation’s boundaries. Acknowledging this year’s conference theme, “The Fun and the Fury,” we discuss how such frameworks are necessary to express the subjectivities and “furies” of those a parochial American Studies would dismiss and/or erase, e.g. Kashmiri freedom fighters, immigrants, Muslim youth, Black and Third world women etc. (e.g. those “who have tilted the organization”). Ultimately, we hope our conversation yields insights which intervene upon on such dismissals, thus revealing the urgency and necessity of an expansive American Studies traversing boundaries in every direction--a field that knows, clearly, “there is here.”


              * “American Studies Professors: Israel Boycott Antithetical to Scholarly Pursuits,” The Algemeiner, 12/19/2013: http://www.algemeiner.com/2013/12/19/american-studies-professors-israel-boycott-antithetical-to-scholarly-pursuits/. Last accessed 02/01/2014.

              Sub Unit

              Chair

              Panelists

          • Teaching After Palestine: Speaking about the Occupation and Palestinian Culture in the U.S. Academy

            Sat, November 8, 2:00 to 3:45pm, Westin Bonaventure, Level 3, Santa Monica D (L3)

            Session Submission Type: Paper Session: Talk Format

            Abstract

            Teaching After Palestine: 
            Speaking about the Occupation and Palestinian Culture in the US Academy

            Israel's occupation of Palestinian lands in the West Bank has recently been moving at alarming pace, carving up the West Bank into a network of settler colonial hubs, a development which has led to the destruction of Palestinian homes, guaranteed the impossibility of an autonomous Palestinian economy, and fostered violent encounters between indigenous Palestinian communities and outsiders. These realities on the ground, visible to many members of the global community, remain historically, materially, and culturally unseen by members of the U.S. polity. This panel takes seriously the project of pedagogy and Palestine. How is it that teachers, professors, researchers can bring the reality of the Occupation to the American university classroom? The panelists, all part of the Palestinian American Research Center (PARC) academic tour of the West Bank in three consecutive years, will draw on their experience visiting Israeli-occupied West Bank in order to theorize the ways in which the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Palestinian literature, and the blindness of historiography, both as a discourse and a practice, can be brought up and into the American classroom. Put another way, how can the volume level of the deafening silence on Palestine in the United States be turned down? In particular the answer to this question will emerge out of the ways in which each of the participants, after multiple conversations with academics, intellectuals, and activists on the ground in the West Bank (from Professors at Al Quds University in Jerusalem, to the PNA’s Human Rights Minister, to members of Addameer and the Electronic Intifada, a prisoner’s rights group and a web page, respectively) addresses the question of a new stage in settler colonialism, enabled by technological developments. Palestinian artists, writers, and activists are eloquent about the silence they create and write into and their texts will form a starting point for the panel. Of signal importance will be investigation into the strategies that Israel has innovated on the ground to divide Palestinians from Israelis, from access to history, and access to each other. One example is the highway system in Israel and the West Bank, which allows for an absolute segregation that the apartheid state or, reaching back farther in time, the American segregationist state could not have dreamt of achieving. There are two roads in Palestine and the West Bank: one for Palestinians and one for Israelis, who need not ever encounter the colonized other. This form of making invisible and silent Palestinian lives is the material analogue to the disappearance of Palestine from public discourse in America. In both cases it is new technology and the manipulation of that new technology that makes possible the erasure of the Occupation: from social media, to watershed management, to the development of new techniques of housing regulation. Each of the panelists will discuss the impact that visiting the West Bank has had on their specific teaching strategies by discussing their pedagogical practice in their respective classrooms.

            Sub Unit

            Chair

            Individual Submissions

            • Teaching the Occupation through Film and Literature - Persis Karim, San Jose State University (CA)

            • From Beirut to Jerusalem: Teaching the Continuing Nakba - Robert Ross, Point Park University (PA)

            • Teaching After Palestine: Twenty-First Century Settler Colonialism in the Occupied Territories - Katie Kane, University of Montana-Missoula (MT)

            • Black Palestine, Indigenous Palestine: On the Logics of Antiblackness and Settler Colonialism

              Thu, November 6, 10:00 to 11:45am, Westin Bonaventure, Level 1, San Pedro (L1)

              Abstract

              The field of American studies has recently taken up longstanding indigenous critiques of ethnic studies scholarship that does not sufficiently account for histories of settler colonialism. Concurrently, a body of work known as "Afro-pessimism" has emerged that frames anti-black violence as the foundational mode of racial capitalism. These two turns are in some ways incommensurable—the axiomatic distinction in the former is indigenous/settler, while in the latter it is black/non-black. This paper places the two fields into conversation using the example of Palestine, which has been described as both a black struggle and an indigenous struggle. The poet June Jordan, black American by way of Jamaica, once wrote, "I was born a Black woman / and now / I am become a Palestinian" in response to the Sabra and Shatila massacres. Jordan was not expressing sympathy in the abstract, but rather recognizing the shared precariousness of black and Palestinian life vis-a-vis the violence of settler colonialism. Identifying with these lines, the Palestinian American poet Suheir Hammad titled her first collection of poems Born Palestinian, Born Black. She offered as explanation that black could mean "Indians in England, Africans in America, / Algerians in France, and Palestinians in Israel." Forms of black and indigenous mutual identification emerge too in the language of Israeli apartheid and analogies to Jim Crow, but for the most part such forms are subordinated to a nationalist black history that unproblematically narrates the progression from slavery to full incorporation into the US nation-state, marked most significantly by the ascent of Barack Obama. Similarly, some indigenous history has failed to acknowledge that slavery, both African and non-African, provided the context in which physical, cultural, and linguistic differences were calcified into racial cartographies in late medieval and early modern Europe, which coincided with the settlement of the Americas. This paper argues that we might recover Jordan and Hammad's alternative genealogy by claiming anti-imperialism and indigenous solidarity as a critical foundation of black history, as when, during Obama's recent visit to Israel, Palestinian protesters marked their disgust by wearing masks of his likeness and carrying signs that read "Obama, the Hitler of the 21st century." More broadly, I ask how solidarity between black and Palestinian people can denaturalize the logic of American imperial multiculturalism and challenge the notion that helming an empire is a model of black success.

              Author

              • Justin Leroy, Harvard University (MA)

              • Birdwatching, ecotourism, and settler colonialism: the state, capital, and nature in the Hula Valley Bird Festival

                Thu, November 6, 8:00 to 9:45am, Westin Bonaventure, Level 1, Santa Barbara C (L1)

                Abstract

                Rising to this year’s call to get serious about fun, this paper examines, through an array of sources which include press coverage, website testimonies, blog accounts, ornithological literature, popular nature writing, and podcast interviews, the cultural politics of the Hula Valley Bird Festival in Northern Israel and of the politics of the wildlife conservation movement in Israel and the occupied territories more broadly. My paper will attempt to trace the ways in which avian migration and the ideology of human stewardship over nature have been enlisted by the Israeli state and its tourism industry to legitimate Zionist claims to the land and to an autochthonic relationship with it, as well as to celebrate the Israeli state’s ability to transcend national, religious, and ethnic differences in the interest of wildlife and habitat protection. In short, I propose an inquiry, part of a larger project on the production and commodification of nature in the global industry which incorporates birdwatching and other seemingly harmless pastimes as ecotourism, into how conservationism conscripts wildlife not only into the circulation and accumulation of capital, but also into logics of ethnoracial settler colonialist nationalism. As such, this research is conversant both with the larger field of animal studies and with a growing subfield which traces the circulation of animal bodies, parts, stories and images in historical and contemporary transnational and imperial circuits of power. My paper will also discuss the international politics of radiotagged migrants, and the relationships between scientific research on animals and discourses of civilization. Birdwatching’s relationship to “fun” is admittedly a vexed one; birders often describe their avocation more in the terminology of addiction than in that of release or relaxation. But the forms of pleasure that do obtain are never extricable from the social formations in which they are embedded. My paper will trace a few of those formations in what has become an increasingly critical space for the story the birdwatching industry tells about what it does in and for the world.

                Author

                • Zach Schwartz-Weinstein, New York University (NY)



                • From Furious Orientals to Funny Arabs: The Politics and Possibilities of Arab American Media Studies

                  Sun, November 9, 12:00 to 1:45pm, Westin Bonaventure, Level 3, Santa Monica A (L3)

                  Session Submission Type: Paper Session: Traditional Format

                  Abstract

                  Taking a diverse range of media objects and methodological approaches, this panel examines the politics—and possibilities—of representation from an Arab American media studies perspective. At its broadest, Arab American media studies encompasses an interdisciplinary field concerned with the media representations of Arabs, Arab-Americans, and Arab culture through a transnational American studies lens. More specifically, the scholars on this panel are concerned with the ways in which such representations can be both painful and pleasurable as they construct, deconstruct, and rearticulate an Arab American politics of representation, transnational identity politics, and community organizing possibilities.

                  While racist and Orientalist representations of Arabs and Arab-Americans in US media and popular culture has remained hegemonic, the scholars on this panel explore the ways in which transnational Arab and Arab American representational politics challenges the racism and Orientalism of mainstream American culture by empowering Arab and Arab American cultural productions. By utilizing film and performance studies methodologies, Dominic Garzonio's paper examines how stand-up comedy is used to both perpetuate and resist Orientalist stereotypes of the figure of the Arab terrorist. Through a critique of Jeff Dunham's "Achmed the Dead Terrorist" comedy routine, Garzonio's paper illuminates the myriad ways in which Orientalist imagery is translated into performance in order to further permeate American popular culture. Also beginning from the premise of Orientalist hegemony in film, Waleed Mahdi's paper examines how the burgeoning Arab American cinematic movement not only constitutes a counter-narrative to Hollywood Orientalism, but how such cultural production is also reflective of transnational Arab-American identity politics. Primarily concerned with transnational cultural politics, Umayyah Cable's paper examines how the production of Palestine film festivals in the US fun'ctions as both a venue for more socially just cinematic representation of Palestinians while also serving as an organizing agent for the diasporic Palestinian community.

                  Together, these three papers explore the relationships between Orientalist image production, Arab and Arab American cultural production, and the representational practices and apparatuses used to rearticulate and resist the Orientalism of US culture. The research of Garzonio, Mahdi, and Cable is especially useful for understanding how the negativity of Orientalism foments a creative impulse that in turn produces a radical politics of representation. As such, Arab American media studies serves as a potent venue through which to understand the pleasures and possibilities of Arab American cultural production in spite of the pains inflicted by Orientalism.

                  Sub Unit

                  Chair

                  Individual Submissions

                  Comment






                • http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/oct/29/asa-academic-boycott-israeli/

Group’s academic boycott honors civil rights tradition

By Curtis Marez

OCT. 29, 2014

In the weeks leading up to the American Studies Association (ASA) annual conference, erroneous reports have alleged that the ASA intends to bar Israeli academics from participating at our upcoming annual conference in Los Angeles in November. A recent commentary in U-T San Diego by Michael M. Rosen said the same, claiming the ASA will “lock the doors” of the conference to Israelis. This allegation is absurd. There will not be discrimination of any sort against anyone. We welcome Israeli academics to attend, and in fact several are already scheduled to participate in the conference program.

Last year, after careful consideration by its membership, the ASA overwhelmingly endorsed an academic boycott to call attention to the violations of academic freedoms and human rights of Palestinian scholars and students by Israel.

This limited action means simply that the ASA on an institutional level will not engage in collaborative projects with Israeli research institutions, and will not speak at Israeli academic institutions.

In his commentary, Rosen tried to dismiss the urgent human rights concerns that motivate the ASA boycott, making the twisted claim that “Israeli universities are proudly, vibrantly open to Arabs, Jews and other ethnicities alike.” Perhaps by “open,” he means that Israeli universities are built directly on occupied Palestinian lands (for example, Ariel University and parts of Hebrew University in Jerusalem).

Israeli universities, like Technion, develop the technological capacities and military doctrines to occupy Palestinian territory. Meanwhile, Palestinian universities are regularly targeted by the Israeli state with violence and repression, using the doctrines and technologies developed by its academic institutions. True, Israeli universities may accept some Palestinian students, but they actively discriminate against those students by providing preferential admissions, scholarships, and even housing to those who have served in the army, resulting in de facto discrimination against Palestinians.

During the Gaza war, universities suspended students and withdrew scholarships from those who criticized the state on their own Facebook pages. There is a long record of Israeli universities arresting and harassing peaceful demonstrators and preventing scholars from traveling to participate in conferences. Rosen, who is currently in Israel, should be well aware that there are more than 50 Israeli laws that discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel, and Human Rights Watch has documented a two-tier legal system that discriminates against Palestinians in the West Bank. Similar racism led to students and professors taking action against apartheid South Africa; increasingly, they are doing the same regarding bigoted Israeli policies and laws.

The ASA is the nation’s oldest and largest association devoted to the interdisciplinary study of U.S. culture and history. We have a long-standing commitment to social justice and believe in the power of nonviolent strategies, such as boycotts and divestment movements, as a tool to effect political, social and economic change.

The academic boycott of Israel is grounded in the same anti-discrimination principles as other historical divestment and boycott strategies used to protest repressive state practices, including those employed against the South Africa apartheid regime and racial segregation in the United States. It is precisely these kinds of boycotts, which aim to effect “political, social and economic change,” that the United States Supreme Court has held to be constitutionally protected speech activities.

The ASA’s commitment to boycotting formal collaborations with Israeli institutions honors a long-standing American civil rights tradition. We are not deterred by baseless legal accusations, and we are not distracted by false reports that we are denying entry to our public conference. We look forward to a broad and vigorous academic discussion at our upcoming meeting, with scholars from a wide range of academic fields and national origins — including Israelis — on issues like transnational violence, indigenous rights, and, of course, the ASA academic boycott.

Marez, past president of ASA, is chair of the Ethnic Studies department at University of California, San Diego.


================================================


http://www.timesofisrael.com/haifa-university-to-test-parameters-of-asa-boycott/

Haifa University to test parameters of ASA boycott

By sending an official representative, school will challenge academic group’s ban on ‘formal collaboration’ with Israeli institutions

BY REBECCA SHIMONI STOIL October 30, 2014, 7:09 pm 

WASHINGTON — Haifa University will test the limits of the American Studies Association’s boycott of Israeli institutions when it sends a professor appointed by the university’s rector to the organization’s conference in an official capacity, the university revealed Wednesday.

In an announcement posted to the university’s English-language website, officials wrote that “we expect that there will be no interference in our representative’s full participation in the ASA conference.” The ASA was among the first major academic organizations in the United States to adopt a resolution supporting a boycott of Israeli academia, which it approved in late 2013 at its previous annual conference.

This year’s conference, which will be held in Los Angeles in early November, will be the first high-profile test of the resolution.

Earlier this month, the ASA claimed that its boycott of Israel is not discriminatory and does not include sanctions against individual Israeli academics. The statement came after the Los Angeles hotel hosting its annual conference was threatened with a discrimination suit over the group’s anti-Israel policies.

Cast by both opponents and proponents as a watershed moment for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, the ASA’s initial resolution did not include the parameters for the boycott in the initial resolution but simply resolved to “honor the call of Palestinian civil society for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.”

The group said in a statement at the time that the boycott was limited to banning “formal collaborations” with Israeli institutions or scholars “expressly serving as representatives or ambassadors” of Israeli institutions or the government.

“The resolution does not apply to individual Israeli scholars engaged in ordinary forms of academic exchange,” the statement said.

While the difference between a “representative or ambassador” of an Israeli academic institution and an “individual Israeli scholar” who is affiliated with an Israeli academic institution remains vague, a letter addressed to the administration at the University of California – San Diego, explained that it meant “deans, rectors, presidents and others.”

It is exactly that fact which makes Haifa University’s announcement all the more challenging. The announcement reinforced the message that the professor who would attend will do so in the context of representing the university.

“Home to several prestigious programs in American Studies, including the Center for the Study of the United States and the Ruderman Program for the Study of American Jewry, the University of Haifa is considering expanding its presence in the field,” the university wrote in the statement issued Wednesday. “Consequently, the Rector of the University, Professor David Faraggi, has appointed a representative to attend the ASA conference.”

“We are sure that our representative will return from the ASA conference with important new insights about American society and culture and new contacts that can serve as a basis for collaborations,” Faraggi was quoted in the statement as saying.

Two weeks ago, in response to a blog post by Northwestern University Law School Prof. Eugene Kontorovich, an ASA official explained that even government officials – in fact, even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – could attend the group’s annual conference provided they represented themselves and not the boycotted institution.

ASA President Elizabeth Duggan responded to a blog post at Legal Insurrection documenting this exchange by claiming that “the boycott never applied to attendance and participation in the conference by Israelis. We invited several to participate, and they are on the program.”

“The boycott never has applied to individual scholars, or to university officials participating as individuals. Our boycott applies only to official ASA collaborations by ASA *as an association* with Israeli universities, all of which are state supported. Our members and depts are free to act according to conscience, the boycott applies only to the associations [sic] official actions,” she wrote.

Haifa’s move could put that claim to the test, forcing a determination of whether any actual academics will be precluded from attending the conference.

“We do not discriminate against any individuals at our conference. We never did, and never would have,” Duggan wrote. “We will not engage institutions of the Israeli state on an official basis, and that is a protest against the abridgment of Palestinian academic and other freedoms by Israel.”

Of the three Israeli academics already listed on the conference schedule, two — Neve Gordon and Ahmad Sa’di of Ben Gurion University of the Negev — are participating in panels highly critical of Israel. Only the third, Mohammed Wattab of the Zefat College School of Law, is in a panel discussing the negative implications of the BDS resolution. None of the three are presenting about any American Studies topic unrelated to Israel.

Even if some Israeli academics are included, the organization has announced steps to ensure that some journalists interested in covering the hottest BDS story of the past month will be shut out.

The media policy restricts eligibility for attendance to “journalists, freelancers, bloggers, and other public writers who either have reported on higher education and its diverse issues for at least four months from the time of request, or are working for or contracted by a media organization or platform with evidence of a history of reporting on issues related to education.”

The policy excludes local journalists whose primary field is covering issues of relevance to Israel or American Jewry. In addition to the extensive documentation required to support the burden of proof established by the organization, the ASA also adds at the end of its written policy that “online publications which are communications outreach, personal blogs, or advocacy publications of non-governmental or non-profit organizations do not qualify for media accreditation,” that “in order to ensure the best possible conditions for open scholarly exchange and debate among its membership the ASA reserves the right to limit and restrict Press access to specific areas and events of the Annual Convention,” and that, critically, “the ASA reserves the right to deny press credentials to anyone at any time.”



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