Panic in Israeli Media Over Proposed AAA Boycott

This is a translation of a report that aired on Channel 10 in Israel on November 16, 2015.

For more on the boycott’s impact on Israeli public opinion, see I. ben Alek’s essay, “Is an Academic Boycott Effective? Ask Israeli Leaders.”

[click on “CC” for English subtitles]

Is the Largest Ever Academic Boycott Against Israel Coming on Friday?

Anchor: This Friday, the biggest academic boycott resolution against Israel ever is expected to be adopted. And it’s happening, of all places, in the United States at the major association of anthropologists, which numbers twelve thousand members. The fear in Israel is that the resolution would have a snowball effect of boycotts which would be impossible to stop. A report by our education correspondent, Omri Yaniv.

Reporter: After the storm [of controversy] over the labeling of products [from the settlements by the EU], Israel is confronted with another boycott, this one academic.

Dan Rabinowitz: The American Anthropological Association will adopt the call of Palestinian civil society organizations for an academic boycott of Israel.

Reporter: At stake is not just another insignificant call to boycott Israel, but the worst academic boycott resolution against Israel ever.  And this one is coming, of all places, from the USA.

Prof. Peretz Lavie, head of Council of University Presidents: For a long while, we saw this as a phenomenon that was perhaps characteristic of radical campuses. We have to admit that our eyes were shut. We have had our heads stuck in the sand. This phenomenon is today spreading to the leading universities in the US.

Reporter: The AAA, which numbers twelve thousand members, will convene this Tuesday in Denver CO to approve the boycott resolution. Among other things, the members would be asked to vote on that ‘AAA as an Association endorses and will honor this call from Palestinian civil society to boycott Israeli academic institutions.’

In addition, [the resolution reads ‘in implementing this boycott, the AAA will support the rights of students and scholars everywhere to engage in research and public speaking about Israel/Palestine and in support of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement..’

Clip, subtitles: ‘boycott, blocking investments, and sanctions’.

Reporter: Behind this initiative stands the BDS.

Clip, subtitles: ‘some American academic institutions have supported a comprehensive academic boycott of Israeli universities’

Reporter: about 30 Israeli anthropologists will fly to Colorado in an almost impossible attempt to offer an alternative resolution.

Rabinowitz: There is [in the proposal] an element of critique of the Israeli policy and it contains a call to end the occupation. But it strictly objects to academic boycott as a tool of political pressure.

Clip, subtitles: ‘intifada, revolution!’

Reporter: The academics are running this struggle alone. According to them, no one in the government is making an effort to prevent this boycott.

Lavie: We have to join hands with the Foreign Ministry and to see how to fight this ugly phenomenon that is called ‘BDS’, which distorts reality, and this distortion serves the purposes of boycott the state of israel.

Reporter: At the Council of University Presidents they are worried about the implications of the largest boycott resolution against the academy since its establishment.

Lavie: Following in the footsteps of this association, other associations might fall, like dominoes.

Rabinowitz: It can definitely be a snowball. The Friday resolution can be a sign of what’s to come, of similar declarative resolutions of other associations.

Reporter: The Israeli academia is now looking to the Friday vote, to see if from now on Israeli academics would also be marked [as settlement products have been by the EU].