American Anthropological Association Endorses Resolution Boycotting Israeli Apartheid
PALESTINE - ISRAEL, 31 Jul 2023
Anthropologists for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions
24 Jul 2023 — The American Anthropological Association (AAA), representing thousands of anthropologists and scholars, has passed a historic resolution in support of Palestinian rights and freedom, pledging to boycott Israeli academic institutions that are complicit in maintaining Israel’s oppressive apartheid system. The vote passed with an overwhelming majority following a successful referendum held June 15-July 14, with 71% voting in favor.
Founded in 1902, the 12,000-member AAA is the largest and oldest scholarly body in the United States to endorse a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.
“This resolution is a meaningful demonstration of solidarity by thousands of scholars standing alongside their Palestinian colleagues, whose work and lives are impacted on a daily basis by Israel’s racist, discriminatory policies and brutal military rule,” said Jessica Winegar, an anthropology professor and member of the Anthroboycott collective, which campaigned for the boycott. “As scholars with a long history of studying colonialism, anthropologists are all too familiar with the devastating harm of Israel’s oppression and theft of Palestinian land. This vote is an important step in showing that support for Palestinian rights goes hand in hand with the AAA’s values of human rights for all.”
The resolution precludes the AAA from engaging in any formal relationships with Israeli academic institutions. The resolution does not prevent individual Israeli scholars from participating in AAA activities or collaborating with AAA members.
“As a US-based association, the AAA has a responsibility to speak up against the nearly $4 billion in military funding the United States provides to Israel each year, enabling Israel’s brutal military rule, illegal theft of Palestinian land, and oppressive apartheid system against Palestinians,” said Winegar. “Just as scholars throughout the world came together to put pressure on South Africa to end its violent apartheid system, US academic organizations are following in their footsteps and joining the struggle for Palestinian freedom.”
The Palestinian Campaign for the Cultural and Academic Boycott of Israel (PACBI) celebrated this important win for the movement for Palestinian rights: “We thank those who took the time to learn from and listen to Indigenous Palestinian voices. The AAA membership vote to boycott complicit Israeli universities is wholly consistent with the association’s stated commitment to anti-racism, equality, human rights and social justice and furthers the drive to decolonize anthropology and academia in general.”
The Executive Board of the AAA will now proceed with implementing the resolution, joining the ranks of other scholarly associations that have endorsed a boycott of Israeli academic institutions, including the American Studies Association, the Association for Asian American Studies, the Middle East Studies Association, the National Women’s Studies Association, and the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association.
In 2016, a similar boycott resolution narrowly missed adoption by a mere 39 votes – less than 1% of ballots cast.
This breakthrough comes despite attempts to pressure, intimidate, and misinform anthropologists from outside pro-Israel organizations with no apparent link to the discipline. These efforts included unsolicited and harassing emails sent to all AAA members; lobbying university presidents across the country to intervene in the vote; and frivolous threats of litigation.
Anthroboycott extends its deepest congratulations and heartfelt thanks to everyone who voted, as well as the numerous volunteers who dedicated their time and efforts to persuade and mobilize their colleagues. We also thank the sections of the AAA that formally endorsed the boycott: the Association of Black Anthropologists and the Middle East Section. We are grateful to the boards of the Association for Feminist Anthropology, Association of Latina/o and Latinx Anthropologists, and Critical Urban Anthropology Association for encouraging their members to support the boycott.
Anthroboycott (Anthropologists for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions) is a collective of AAA members, including faculty, contingent labor, and graduate students, working in support of Palestinian human rights.
Renewing the Call to Boycott
On March 3, 2023, 206 members of the American Anthropological Association submitted a petition to the Executive Board requesting a full-membership vote on a resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions.
As anthropologists who care about academic freedom and social justice, we must speak out in support of our Palestinian colleagues and oppose the systematic effort to make Palestine an exception to free speech.
A similar resolution was endorsed by a vote of 1040-136 at the AAA business meeting in Denver on November 20, 2015, and narrowly missed adoption in the subsequent full membership vote by a margin of only 39 votes (2,384 in favor and 2,423 opposed; 49.6% – 50.4%). The strong participation in that vote indicates that the matter is one of grave concern to AAA members.
Palestinian human rights and civil society organizations have called for the boycott of institutions complicit in Israeli apartheid and violations of international law. Since the last vote, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, as well as Israeli human rights organizations, have found Israel to be committing apartheid, a crime against humanity. Several academic associations, including the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) and the British Society for Middle East Studies (BRISMES), have passed boycott resolutions. Within the AAA, the Middle East Section passed a resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions in 2021, and a Middle East Section Statement on Palestine was endorsed by twenty additional section boards and AAA subcommittees.
The need for this vote in support of Palestinian civil society’s call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions has only gained in urgency since the last boycott vote. The situation in Palestine has deteriorated, deepening the repression of Palestinians through ongoing and intensifying threats to their rights at every level, including the right to an education and to academic freedom. The recent Israeli elections, which installed the most extreme right-wing coalition government to date, suggest that additional restrictions on Palestinians’ academic and broader freedoms are imminent. In the first month of 2023 alone, Israeli military campaigns have killed 35 Palestinians and injured over 500, while settler attacks on Palestinians and their property have significantly increased, emboldened by the new government.
The time for action is now.
Tags: BDS Boycott Divestment Sanctions, Colonialism, Cultural violence, Direct violence, Ecocide, Genocide, Israeli Apartheid, Israeli Army, Israeli occupation, Palestine, Palestine/Israel, Sociocide, State Terrorism, Structural violence, Violent conflict, Zionism
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