The Native American and Indigenous Studies Association has unanimously decided to boycott Israeli universities, saying in its decision that Palestinians are the “indigenous” people of the “Occupied Territories and Israel.”
This marks the third U.S. academic group this year to boycott Israeli academic institutions, a policy that has been widely criticized in the pro-Israel community as unfairly singling out Israel for condemnation compared with severe human rights violators, such as neighboring Syria, which have not been boycotted.
“NAISA is dedicated to free academic inquiry about, with, and by Indigenous communities," the organization said in a statement on its website this week. "The NAISA Council protests the infringement of the academic freedom of Indigenous Palestinian academics and intellectuals in the Occupied Territories and Israel who are denied fundamental freedoms of movement, expression, and assembly, which we uphold.”
The group said its members should boycott Israeli institutions, not individuals.
Jonathan Tobin of Commentary magazine called it unsurprising “that another group of campus radicals with doctorates in subjects that are geared toward furthering left-wing theories” would decide to boycott Israel.
“By attempting to portray the Palestinians as the ‘indigenous people’ of the territory on which the state of Israel and the administered territories exist and the Jews as the colonial settlers, they are perpetrating the big lie of Palestinian history,” Tobin wrote. “Jews are not foreigners in Israel as Europeans were in Africa. They happen to be the indigenous people of their ancient homeland and efforts to deny this isn’t scholarship."
An unnamed Israeli official told the Jerusalem Post that the Native American studies academic group has only “a few hundred” members and that not one of the 4,000 colleges in the U.S. has decided to boycott Israel. The official characterized the NAISA as having a “left-wing” and “radical” bent.
As TheBlaze reported earlier this week, the American Studies Association announced its own boycott of Israeli academic institutions, which Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress characterized as “Orwellian anti-Semitism.” In April, the Asian American Studies Association declared a similar boycott.
“The Middle East is literally filled with dead from governments’ reaction to the convulsions of the ‘Arab Spring,’ but the American Studies Association singles out the Jewish state, the one Middle Eastern country that shares American values, for opprobrium?” Lauder said.
Though the much-larger American Association of University Professors has called all academic boycotts “violations of academic freedom,” the umbrella group's online magazine last month devoted nearly its entire issue to the subject of boycotting Israeli universities.