$5.6 Million from Soros Aids Universities That Boycott Israel

Academic boycott ignores hypocrisy, cites Palestinian grievances.

The American Studies Association is asking its member universities to join the growing academic boycott of Israel. Eight out of the 14 member universities of the ASA’s National Council that approved the boycott have received more than $5.6 million from George Soros’ Open Society Foundations since 2000. The ASA has also been working closely with anti-Israeli organizations to promote this movement.

Promoting anti-Israeli and liberal propaganda, Soros has poured more than $400 million into colleges and universities around the world, including money to most prominent institutions in the United States. According to a May 2012 article in The New York Times, Soros gave $500,000 a year to J Street, a “two-state solution” organization whose co-founder, Daniel Levy, called the creation of Israel in 1948 “an act that was wrong.” Some of the $23.8 million that Soros has given to Bard College in New York has gone to a Palestinian youth group, and Bard also offers joint degree programs at a Palestinian school in Jerusalem, and partners closely with Al-Quds University.

According to the ASA, this boycott is part of the larger BDS, or “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” movement. BDS promotes the work of Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as arguing for a “one-state solution” to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, which would involve Palestinians having equal right of return status in Israel with Israelis. BDS’s “eight years in context” overview referred to Israel as a “colonial Zionist apartheid regime.” The boycott is so extreme that even the typically liberal schools Brandeis University and Penn State Harrisburg have pulled out of the ASA because of it.

BDS hosted a “one State Solution” conference at Harvard University in March, 2012. This conference was connected with the international “Israel Apartheid Weeks” and “Palestinian Awareness Weeks” on campuses nationwide, which “have regularly sought to intimidate Jewish students, occasionally through acts of physical violence,” according to a report by the conservative David Horowitz Freedom Center.

BDS recently made the news for speaking out against Scarlet Johansson, when the Hollywood star endorsed SodaStream, an Israeli company with a factory in the West Bank.

Both ASA and the BDS movement work closely with the pro-Hamas Electronic Intifada. According to the Electronic Intifada, the terrorist group Hamas is “a radical resistance movement,” which defends Palestinian rights. The U.S. government recognizes both Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist organizations.

According to The Blaze, the Hamas-run Al-Aqsa TV network encouraged its views to ‘harvest the skulls of the Jews.” Hamas has also used a soccer stadium in Gaza as a base for launching rockets at civilians in Israel. Hamas has also staunchly defended the Muslim Brotherhood

The ASA, which boasts a membership of about 5,000 scholars from top universities throughout the U.S., has called for the boycott, claiming that Israel’s policies violate Palestinians’ human rights. The boycott would prevent member universities from collaborating with Israeli universities.

Brandeis and Penn State Harrisburg both withdrew their memberships from ASA as of Dec. 19, and Brandeis president Fred Lawrence issued a statement on Dec. 24 condemning the ASA boycott.

In November, Brandeis University cut ties with the Palestinian Al Quds University in response to Al-Quds reaction to pro-terrorist, pro-Nazi demonstrations at the school. After being confronted by the president of Boston-based Brandeis University, the president of Al-Quds advised students not to participate in such demonstrations because of “vilification campaigns by Jewish extremists.”

According to USASpending.gov, Al-Quds University has received $779,318 from the US State Department, since 2008. 

The Palestinian-run BDS movement focuses on calling for academic, personal and national boycotts against the nation of Israel. As an academic institution, ASA is only focusing on the academic boycott. According to the BDS official website, Israel is “still persistently and grossly breaching international law and infringing fundamental human rights with impunity afforded to it through munificent U.S. and European economic, diplomatic and political support.”

More than Just an Academic Boycott

ASA has also pressured its members to stop supporting organizations with strong ties to Israel, including Boeing, General Dynamics Corporation and Hewlett Packard. The current ASA president is Curtis Marez, associate professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, San Diego. UC San Diego, UC Irvine and UC Riverside have been at the forefront of this “divestment” movement.

Some schools have pushed back, including Yale, whose president issued a statement pointing out that an academic boycott is “antithetical to the fundamental values of scholarship and academic freedom. Matthew Frye Jacobson, a Professor of American Studies and History at Yale, was on the ASA National Council which voted unanimously to approve the boycott. He was also president of the ASA from 2012 to 2013. The typically-liberal leaning Washington Post called the boycott “misguided” in an opinion piece written by the Editorial Board, pointing out the hypocrisy in boycotting Israel and not nations like Cuba, China or Russia with long records of human rights abuses.

The Association of American Universities issued a counter-statement opposing the Boycott on Dec. 20.

Far-left media outlets Salon and AlterNet have posted stories in support of the boycott.

Below is a list of ASA National Council members who were part of the unanimous vote to boycott Israel, according to the ASA website:

  • Jennifer Devere Brody, Stanford University 

  • Ann Cvetkovich, University of Texas, Austin 

  • Jeremy Dean. University of Texas, Austin 

  • Lisa Duggan, New York University 

  • Avery Gordon, University of California, Santa Barbara 

  • Matthew Frye Jacobson, Yale University 

  • E. Patrick Johnson, Northwestern University 

  • J. Kehaulani Kauanui, Wesleyan University 

  • Marisol LeBrón, New York University 

  • Karen Leong, Arizona State University 

  • Sunaina Maira, University of California, Davis 

  • Martin F. Manalansan IV, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign 

  • Curtis Marez, University of California, San Diego 

  • Roya Rastegar, Bryn Mawr College 

  • Chandan Reddy, University of Washington, Seattle 

  • Juana María Rodríguez, University of California, Berkeley 

  • María Josefina Saldaña-Portillo, New York University 

  • Nikhil Pal Singh, New York University

The following eight out of the 14 National Council member universities have received funding from liberal billionaire George Soros. All funding numbers are since 2000.

Here in the United States, Soros money provides the foundation for liberal organizations promoting everything from gay marriage and drug legalization to anti-death penalty strategies. While his charitable giving goes to liberal organizations with close ties to the Democratic Party, his political giving goes almost entirely to Democrats.

New York University: $3,180,345

University of California, Berkley: $824,500

Yale University: $512,027

Northwestern University: $453,115

Wesleyan University: $300,900

University of Texas, Austin: $170,000

University of Washington, Seattle: $82,611

Stanford University: $78,911



Total: $5,602,409

— Mike Ciandella is Staff Writer/Analyst for the Business and Media Institute at the Media Research Center. Follow Mike Ciandella on Twitter.