Tuesday, November 25, 2014

MESA: too little, too late, too cowardly

It has been proven that among all area studies associations and even among the academic professional associations, MESA is the most conservative and the most establishment.  It will stigmatize MESA--it should--for years to come that Asian Studies and American Studies associations were ahead of MESA in adopting BDS.  There should be a serious talk among MESA members to split off from the mother organization to form a more progressive academic association for Middle East studies (there was a similar debate back in the late 1960s when AAUG was formed, by the way).  There is a clear Zionist or Zionist-fearing mood and currents in MESA, or the latter mood is the strongest.  It is beyond me how this organization elected as president a man who fiercely fought BDS from within the leadership of MESA.  The vote yesterday was nothing to celebrate: it was a vote on the right of members to debate BDS. Hell, the US constitution of previous centuries grant that right to MESA members.  Right to debate? Are you kidding me? I wait for MESA leaders to grant me the right to think and debate? That really required a vote? How insulting and how patronizing and I can't believe that this went on without a whimper.  What is next? A resolution to grant members the right to obtain beverages during the conference?  Don't get me wrong, MESA will eventually adopt BDS but it will be بايخة lame because it will come at the end of series of such measures by academic associations that don't even deal with the Middle East. The vote yesterday was part of various Zionist and Zionist-fearing tactics by some in MESA leadership and membership in order to delay and block the wave of BDS within MESA.  There were 79 odd members yesterday who voted against the right to debate BDS.  Think about that. Some in this organization don't believe that MESA members should have freedom of speech (granted by the constitution) if such freedom may harm Israeli interests.  Amazing really. The fact that members allowed such a vote to proceed is basically a symptom of the internalization of internal repression, regardless whether it was intended as such by drafters and supporters.  And why did MESA ban the press from covering the event? What is there to hid? It is yet another indication of the Zionist-fearing mood in this organization where many academics are too afraid to be seen or heard making a criticism of Israel or even considering the adoption of BDS. The fat that the press was banned is evidence of how much Zionist intimidation is internalized by the establishment of MESA.  And yet, an Israeli diplomat snuck into the meeting (uninvited) to report to Israeli newspapers about the proceedings.  Make such conferences open and allow people and Zionists in the media to watch debate, even if that makes many academics nervous because they fear that their academic advancement may be hurt by the expression of reservations about Israel and its war crimes.  The summary of the story is this: MESA will adopt BDS and it will be--to its eternal shame--the last area studies association to do so, and it is the one that specializes in the Middle East.  Oh, and I was informed that some yesterday were expressing alarm that if MESA were to adopt BDS some Israeli academics may not be able to obtain funding to travel to attend MESA. This concern, apparently, supersedes concern over an entire nation of natives who were uprooted and expelled by the Zionist forces.