We previously discussed how the American Studies Association joined a growing boycott of Israeli institutions, which is part of an even broader boycott of Israeli goods in many stores. There are good points to be made on both sides, including the absence of such boycotts for Chinese institutions and those of other abusive nations. However, we should all be able to agree that the response of New York legislator Dov Hikind is excessive and absurd. Hikind is showing his support for Israel by pushing legislation to cut off money to colleges involved in American Studies Association. He ignores the fact that the ASA resolution is non-binding and an expression of opposition to Israel’s policies as opposed to an enforceable ban. However, he wants to cut off whole institutions for even a loose association with a group that has condemned Israel. It is precisely the type of unhinged reaction that has distorted the debate over Middle East policies. He is being joined by Jeffrey Klein (right), another Democrat.
Hikind is planning to formally introduce the legislation early next year that would cut off state aid to schools that retain membership in the ASA. Under their plan, all money would be cut off from both private and public schools if they remain in the ASA. It is hard not to see the analogy with McCarthyism. Are you or have you been a member of the ASA?
You may recall Hikind from prior controversies involving racism and intolerance. In addition to his black-face controversy in our prior blog, he has protested any act or statement viewed as a slight on Jews or Israel. For example, he led protests against Mel Gibson’s film The Passion of the Christ, chanting “The Passion is a lethal weapon against Jews.” He is a follower of the late extremist Rabbi Meir Kahane and his Jewish Defense League — identified as “a right wing terrorist group” by the FBI. He opposed same-sex marriage by saying it would lead to incest and insult God, adding “If we authorize gay marriage in the state of New York, those who want to live and love incestuously will be five steps closer to achieving their goals as well.” He was previously charged but acquitted of embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars in government funds which were supposed to be used for children’s services, including money that the federal government said was used on his personal expenses and used for a trip for him to Israel.
Klein is a lawyer and partner in the law firm of Klein Calderoni & Santucci, LLP. Klein has made his support for Israel as part of his political base stating in one press release against Hamas “I stand with Israel as an American, I stand with Israel as an elected official, and I stand with Israel for the 6 million.” He is quoted as calling the resolution a form of ” support institutionalized discrimination.” However, this is governmental action punishing schools based on an act of free speech in the form of a non-binding resolution. It raises serious constitutional questions and should be denounced by anyone who believes in free speech in my view.
What do you think?