The United States Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) condemns in the strongest terms the attacks on Native American Studies Professor N. Bruce Duthu by pro-Israel faculty at Dartmouth.
Duthu recently refused a Dean’s level appointment at Dartmouth because Dartmouth faculty and right-wing pro-Israel forces, including Texas Senator Ted Cruz, implied without evidence that Duthu was anti-semitic. The charge was based on Duthu’s signing of a 2013 statement in support of the academic boycott of Israeli universities when he served as treasurer of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association.
The charges against Duthu, and BDS, were patently false, and evidence of vicious policing, smearing and intimidation by pro-Israel forces within American universities. The leader of the campaign against Duthu, Dartmouth faculty member Alan Gustman, alleged without evidence that Duthu and BDS—a non-violent civil rights campaign based in international law—were “substantially anti-semitic.” In fact the opposite is true, BDS is anti-racist. Its purpose is to confront and end apartheid policies in Israel.
In fact, this charge of anti-semitism has been used—and been rejected—numerous times. Public supporters of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Movement against Israel including physicist Stephen Hawking; writer Alice Walker; the International U.S. United Electrical Workers Union; the British National Union of Teachers; the Irish Teachers Union and the African National Congress.
Indeed Gustman’s baseless charges of anti-semitism found endorsement and common quarter only among the most extremist right-wing of U.S. politics: the aforementioned Ted Cruz; the alt.right FrontPage Mag, which called Duthu a “terrorist enabler,” and the ultraconservative Dartmouth Review, long-time bastion of the Republican right.
Gustman’s smear campaign thus mirrored the same Islamophobic hysteria that has been legitimated in in the White House by Donald Trump’s appointment of advisers like Steve Bannon, and found expression in American streets in the form of murderous attacks on Muslim citizens as happened just last week in Portland, Oregon.
Gustman’s attack on Duthu also constitutes an assault on academic freedom and free speech in the University. The attempt to use BDS as a “litmus test” for academic appointment smacks of McCarthyism at its most grotesque. It also reflects pro-Israel efforts to silence all criticism of Israel in the academy, to stifle individual academic voices and scholarship, and to preserve Islamophobic hegemony in the University.
USACBI condemns this attack in every way. We demand that University administrations everywhere reject smear campaigns against BDS supporters and supporters of Palestinian rights, and that they protect academic freedom and the 1st amendment for all faculty.