Middle East Anthropologists Voting on Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions

Middle East studies scholars in the American Anthropological Association (AAA) are voting on a resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions. Anthropologists for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions (Anthroboycott) submitted the measure during Israel’s recent assault on the Gaza Strip. Voting will be open to all members of the AAA’s Middle East Section (MES) from June 2 to June 11.*

Anthroboycott urges MES members to support the boycott resolution and we call upon our colleagues across the AAA and its various sections to undertake similar initiatives. Boycotting Israeli academic institutions is a basic act of solidarity that Palestinian civil society has demanded for over a decade, and one that takes our professional location as anthropologists as a starting point for change.

Scholarly associations in the United States bear a special responsibility to boycott, as the U.S. government is the world’s leading sponsor of Israeli colonial violence. Israel has also long stood with other white supremacist and settler regimes worldwide, from its support for apartheid South Africa to its ongoing collaborations with police forces in the United States.

The recent escalation in colonial violence against Palestinians is a reminder for anthropologists to take up the unfinished work of 2016, when the AAA narrowly missed adopting a boycott resolution by a razor-thin margin in a referendum that was unprecedented both in its turnout and in outside interference from pro-Israel organizations. In the years since, the situation in Palestine has only further deteriorated, with the 2018 adoption of a Basic Law enshrining the principle of Jewish supremacy and the U.S. government’s recognition of Israeli annexation in Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

Anthroboycott notes the recent outpouring in solidarity with the Palestinian people among our colleagues. This includes the statement by the MES Board endorsed by more than a dozen sections of the AAA thus far. We are also heartened by the outcry that forced the Association’s leadership to rapidly retract its deeply flawed announcement on the situation in Palestine and to replace it with an improved text.

We invite anthropologists who wish to organize for the boycott in the AAA and its various sections to reach out and join us.

*: Electronic ballots were sent to MES members around midnight on the evening of June 1; those who have not received ballots should check their spam folders.