[The following letter to the American Studies Association (ASA) was issued by the undersigned faculty of the American Unviversity in Cairo (AUC) on 5 January 2013.]
5 January 2014
Dear President Curtis Marez, President-Elect Lisa Duggan, and Executive Director John Stephens:
As faculty members at the American University in Cairo (AUC), we are writing to express our support for the historic decision of the council and membership of the American Studies Association (ASA) to endorse the call of Palestinian civil society for an institutional boycott of Israeli academic institutions.
We are scholars who live in Egypt, teach at one of the oldest American universities in the Middle East and in the largest Arab country in the world, and represent a range of academic areas. We believe that the ASA resolution represents a reasoned and necessary response to the continued settler colonization of Palestine. As an international collective of professors in Egypt, our multidisciplinary scholarship explicitly and implicitly engages the Middle East and North Africa including Palestine/Israel. We welcome your bold action in response to the ongoing occupation of Palestinians, who are among our faculty and students at AUC.
The ASA resolution is a powerful position that stands firmly against Israeli policies of settlement, apartheid, and colonization. Israeli policies through a plethora of juridical as well as concrete measures including bypass roads, settlements, checkpoints and the apartheid wall carve the West Bank into segregated geographies that disable mobility and free expression. These policies have rendered the Gaza Strip the world’s largest open-air penitentiary. These policies relegate Palestinians in Israel to second-class citizenship. Finally, they deny Palestinian refugees throughout the Arab world and beyond their inalienable right of return.
We believe the ASA resolution has broken the taboo of standing against Israeli policies in the United States, joining international public opinion in condemning Israeli policies, and supporting Palestinian rights and academic freedom. In particular, we recognize that the ASA resolution emerges out of years of increasing collaboration between American studies scholars internationally and scholars working in other areas. We have seen this at our own institution, elsewhere in Egypt, and throughout our professional travels. As scholars with intimate knowledge of the academic landscape of the Middle East, we have seen the ways that American studies scholars in Egypt and abroad have been committed to serious, sustained engagement and developing dialogues around issues of settler colonialism, American empire, and US relations with the Middle East and North Africa. We have witnessed years of research, dialogue, and reflection, and recognize the statement of the national council and the vote of the ASA membership to be the products of this participatory process.
We stand in solidarity with you, and with our colleagues inside and outside of AUC, who are members of the ASA. We look forward to continued and new opportunities to work with all of you.
Tahia Abdel Nasser
Amira Abou Taleb
Saiyad Nizamuddine Ahmad
Abdel Aziz Ezz El-Arab