Gordon served as a National Council member of the American Studies Association (ASA) when the Council unanimously adopted a resolution in December 2013, singling out Israeli universities for academic boycott. .
In a December 16, 2013 interview, former ASA President Curtis Marez acknowledged that the ASA never before called for an academic boycott of any nation’s universities, but claimed “one has to start somewhere." No other academic boycott of any other nation has since been introduced at the ASA.
On April 20, 2016, a lawsuit was filed by ASA members against Gordon and other ASA officers who advanced the anti-Israel boycott. The plaintiffs accused the defendants of hijacking the ASA for personal political purposes and perverting their duties as officials of the ASA.
Gordon also signed a 2014 open letter calling on Israeli academics who believed it “urgent" to “act to end the illegal occupation in Palestine" and Israeli “atrocities" to sign a petition. The petition was closed to overseas signers after only 83 Israeli professors signed on.
Gordon is a professor of Sociology at UCSB, and a Visiting Faculty Fellow at Goldsmiths College in London. Since 1997, Gordon has hosted a weekly public affairs radio program called "No Alibis."
In 2014, Gordon signed a 2002 open letter suggesting that Israel would use the “fog of war" in Iraq to engage in "full-fledged ethnic cleansing" against Palestinians. No retractions were ever issued for the letter after its claims failed to materialize.
In November 2015, Gordon signed a Statement by individuals calling themselves the “BDZ Group" (BDZ), demanding the boycott of the Zabludowicz Collection — a London-based art trust. BDZ targeted Zabludowicz as “financially associated with companies that are active in Israel and that provide maintenance and services to the Israeli Airforce [sic.]." A March 2016 BDZ statement claimed that “ethnic cleansing of Palestinians is an integral, not accidental, part of the Israeli state."
In December 2006, Gordon signed an open letter, published in The Guardian, titled “Israel Boycott May Be the Way to Peace." The statement implied that Israel practices apartheid and claimed that “the situation of the Palestinians is worse than that of black South Africans under apartheid."
The BDS movement was founded in 2005 by Omar Barghouti and asserts that it "works to end international support for Israel's oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law."
The movement's most notable achievement has been the infiltration of university campuses through lobbying for "BDS resolutions." In these cases, backed by university anti-Israel affiliates, student governments have brought to vote on some form of boycott of — or divestment from — Israel and Israeli-affiliated entities. These resolutions, although non-binding, have been passed by student governments on numerous North American campuses.
BDS activity is often aggressive and disruptive. It has been noted that universities that pass BDS resolutions see a marked increase in anti-Semitic incidents on campus. In 2013, when the student government of the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) debated a BDS resolution, reports emerged of violent threats and the spitting on a student wearing a Star of David necklace. As a result, the student government chose to vote via a "secret ballot" in order to ensure its members' safety.
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