Call to Action: Respond to Increasing Israeli Attacks on Palestinian Educational Institutions

Anthropologist for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions urges our colleagues and representative bodies to respond to increasing Israeli attacks on Palestinian educational institutions.

This past month, the State of Israel forced the Hind al-Husseini College and Al-Quds University’s College of Art, both located in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, to shut down. The closure comes after the two colleges attempted to host an academic conference on the protection of Muslim and Christian heritage sites in Jerusalem. Israel also detained 15 of the conference participants.

Israel has also recently refused to renew visa applications for numerous visiting professors working at West Bank universities, effectively preventing them from teaching Palestinian students and collaborating with their Palestinian colleagues. At Birzeit University alone, 15 foreign passport holding professors have had their visa renewals denied or delayed. Many of those affected are professors of Palestinian origin but who are unable to obtain residency documents due to Israel’s discriminatory immigration policies.

While Israel was impeding the operation of Palestinian universities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Hebrew University held an academic conference on expanding green spaces in the occupied West Bank, a tactic Israel frequently uses to displace Palestinian communities and seize their land. The event featured a number of settler organizations – including a uniformed speaker from the Israeli Civil Administration, the military body that governs the West Bank – but no voices of dissent, Palestinian or Israeli.

These ongoing attacks on Palestinian education come amidst a flurry of discriminatory and violent actions undertaken by Israel. This past month, Israel’s parliament passed the “Jewish Nation-State Law,” downgrading the status of Arabic and promoting the creation of Jewish-only communities. Meanwhile, Israeli settlement activity and settler violencein the West Bank continues uninterrupted. And in Gaza, Israel’s increasingly violent attacks on Palestinian protesters have killed 165 Palestinians and injured nearly 9000 since 30 March.

During the 2015 debate at the American Anthropological Association’s (AAA) annual meeting  over whether the AAA ought to endorse Palestinians’ call for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions, opponents repeatedly assured us of their concern over violations of Palestinian rights. They assured us that there were other ways to effectively object to Israel’s violation of Palestinian rights and academic freedom.  In the face of these increasing attacks on Palestinian academic institutions, the silence of boycott opponents, both as a group and as individuals, reveals what we have argued all along: their calls for dialogue have translated into inaction, from them and from the AAA .

Following the narrow defeat of the boycott resolution, Alisse Waterston, acting in her capacity as President of the AAA wrote: “the general consensus has not changed: AAA can and should take appropriate action to address the serious threats to human rights and academic freedom that have been observed and documented in the region.” We strongly urge the AAA to live up to its promises and condemn these ongoing attacks on our Palestinian colleagues.

Until the AAA has the opportunity to reconsider its relationship to the separate and unequal education systems operating under Israeli sovereignty, we urge individual anthropologists to recommit themselves to a boycott of Israeli academic institutions called for by our Palestinian colleagues. Anthropologists can sign a statement of support for the boycott of Israeli academic institutions here. Advice for how individual scholars can implement the boycott in their individual practice can be found at our website.



Anthroboycott Congratulates new AAA Officers: Anti-BDS Blacklisting Effort Fails

Anthropologists for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions heartily congratulates all of the newly elected officers of the American Anthropological Association.

This year, outside groups opposed to Palestinian civil society’s call Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, sought to influence the election by circulating a blacklist of nominees who have expressed support for Palestinian human rights. This attempt to impose a political litmus test on the leaders of our association is part of a larger anti-Palestine intimidation campaign, encompassing attempts to criminalize boycottsblacklist leftist professors and file frivolous lawsuits against academic associations.

Thankfully, AAA members soundly rejected this intimidation campaign, electing 12 out of 13 candidates included in this failed blacklist (2 of the candidates were running for the same position). We hope that the new AAA officers continue to embody the best traditions of our discipline, including a critical global perspective, a suspicion of authoritarianism and state power, and an inclination to understand and even sympathize with the experiences of oppressed groups, both in Palestine and beyond.

As we approach the Oct. 4th nominations deadline for next year’s AAA elections, we encourage those committed to social justice to get involved in our association.  At the same time, we urge the AAA membership to remain vigilant against the ongoing attempts of pro-Israel and other right-wing organizations to intimidate, blacklist, and retaliate against academics who express solidarity with Palestinians and other left-leaning causes.


The Patience of Activism

by Roberto J. González

This essay is part of a series commemorating the 50th anniversary of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip

Among the many reactions following last year’s vote on the American Anthropological Association’s BDS resolution, there was one that was particularly shortsighted–namely, the idea that somehow the ballot marked a significant and historic turning point. For example, days after the votes were tallied, the Anti-Defamation League released a statement describing the result as “an important milestone in the effort to counter the BDS movement and in support of academic freedom.” Many others seemed to intepret the vote as the beginning of the end of BDS. Continue reading

How We Came So Close, and Why Victory is in Sight

by Daniel Segal

This essay is part of a series commemorating the 50th anniversary of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip

More than ever, the world needs to find potent, non-violent means to achieve social justice and peace in Palestine-Israel.  And more than ever, those of us who are citizens of the U.S. state must oppose our government’s enabling of the Israeli state’s oppression of our Palestinian sisters and brothers. Continue reading

Blue-washing settler-colonialism: The sea beyond Palestine and the maritime BDS

by Nikolas Kosmatopoulos

This essay is part of a series commemorating the 50th anniversary of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip

In this season of anniversaries, I wish to bring to memory the early summer 2010, when the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, the humanitarian fleet carrying cargo and solidarity activists sought to break the siege on Gaza. The flotilla was the boldest and bloodiest grassroots maritime campaign in the history of the international solidarity for Palestine. In international waters, the Israeli Navy attacked the fleet and killed nine civilians on the spot. Despite the brutal killings, the massive arrests, and the eventual blocking of the sea route, the Ships to Gaza constituted a watershed event that would be displaced in memory only by the Arab uprisings that arrived few months later. They caused a sea change that challenged the illegality and inhumanity of the siege before global audiences, uniting on board hundreds of people from all over the world. The ships were to the siege what a growing movement for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) is to the occupation: ample evidence that both are falling out of the consciousness of the world. Surely by serendipity, the ships went perhaps a bit further; they made the world conscious that the sea, not only the land, is about Palestine, politics, BDS. Continue reading

#AnthroBoycott, Anti-Capitalism, Articulation

by Ahmed Kanna

This essay is part of a series commemorating the 50th anniversary of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip

What lessons does the short history of #AnthroBoycott hold for our organizing efforts in the future and what’s our place in the larger Trumpian moment?  That the boycott of Israeli academic institutions almost passed the general membership vote of the AAA in the spring of last year is a testament to the effectiveness of what even a small, committed group of activists can accomplish.  The tiny margin of our loss should always be seen in the larger and intensely hostile context in which our organizing efforts took place.  A number of malign factors confronted our efforts, among them that our discipline remains under the hegemony of a Cold War liberalism and, as many have observed, is yet to be fully de-colonized; the support of the “full might of the Israel lobby” enjoyed by our opponents; and their relentless attempts to distract from the basic issues of colonialism, racism, and occupation which are fundamental to any understanding of Israel – Palestine. Continue reading

Why Jewish Anthropologists Should Support the Boycott

by Les Field

This essay is part of a series commemorating the 50th anniversary of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip

In June 2017 the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza will pass the fifty year mark, and the “two-state solution,” an illusion that for years has received life support mainly from US politicians, seems to have lost its valence even in the United States. One year ago, the AAA resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions was defeated by the narrowest of margins. As a Jewish anthropologist, I have supported and continue to support BDS and the academic boycott of Israeli institutions because BDS is a non-violent and politically sophisticated path to expressing and acting upon critical analysis of the Occupation and the project of Israeli settler colonialism in Palestine.  I hope Jewish colleagues in anthropology will confront the Zionist backgrounds many if not most of them experienced as children and as adults, and ask themselves the most challenging questions they can. My grandmother always said “Its not easy to be a Jew,” and from my very different perspective, this is still the case. Continue reading

Insecure Exchanges

by Rhoda Kanaaneh

This essay is part of a series commemorating the 50th anniversary of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip


I was born in the Palestinian village of Arrabeh but have spent most of the last twenty odd years in New York in the United States. My two homes are geographically distant from each other, but I’m often reminded of how closely linked they are.  President Trump’s promised wall is modeled after Israel’s. His attempted Muslim travel ban pales in comparison to Israel’s almost seven decade long ban against Palestinians who fled the war in 1948 and their descendants. Stories of police brutality and impunity, rates of incarceration, and prison conditions also bring these distant places close together.  Continue reading

Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory must be understood as part of the process of settler colonialism

This essay is part of a series commemorating the 50th anniversary of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip

by J. Kēhaulani Kauanui

When does occupation come to an end? When the occupying power withdraws from the occupied territory or is driven out of it.  50 years too long, the Green Line was originally to be a demarcation line on the map while the armistice talks were going on, rather than a permanent border. The green ink used to draw the line itself has moved in practice, that brutal shift from “Israeli-occupied territories” to “Occupied Palestinian Territories.” Under international law Occupation is a form of administration by which an occupying power exercises government authority over occupied territory through military government. Continue reading