Anthroboycott Calls on the AAA to Condemn New Israeli Anti-Boycott Law

Anthropologists for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions calls on the American Anthropological Association (AAA) to condemn the “Entry to Israel Act, Denial of Visa to Non-Residents Who Knowingly Call for a Boycott on Israel” bill, which passed the Israeli Knesset on March 6th, 2017. This new legislation bars entry to anyone who supports Palestinian civil society’s call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, those who oppose the academic boycott but support economic sanctions of Israel, as well as those who support limited actions, such as an economic boycott of settlement products. In light of Israel’s ongoing repression of academics, human rights activists, and civilians, we urge AAA members to abide by the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestments, and Sanctions until such time as Israel ends its discriminatory practices.

The provisions of this new anti-boycott law pose serious challenges to anthropologists who work in Israel-Palestine, many of whom now face the prospect of being denied entry. This legislation undermines the ability of anthropologists to sustain critical engagement with colleagues and communities affected by Israeli state policies. As the leading professional association representing anthropologists who study and travel in the region, the AAA should condemn the Israeli government’s attempts to impose a political litmus test on future anthropological collaboration and research, and also condemn the law as an infringement on rights to expression.

The impact of this law on anthropological research in Palestine and Israel is already being felt. The vast majority of anthropologists who study the region support the Palestinian-led call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions. As such, they must now contend with the very real possibility that the state of Israel will deny their applications to collaborate with Israeli and Palestinian colleagues, as well as conduct research in Israel and Palestine.

The impact of this new law on young scholars is particularly chilling. As anthropologists Lara Deeb and Jessica Winegar have documented, junior scholars who express criticisms of Israeli policies are already subject to professional retaliation. The new law exacerbates this problem. Doctoral students considering where to conduct their ethnographic or archaeological research will face increased pressure to avoid Palestine as a field site. Those who persevere will be putting their careers at risk to uphold their political commitments.  

This threat to academic life in Israel-Palestine is far from hypothetical. Even before the passage of the law, Israel denied entry to Dr. Adam Hanieh (SOAS, Development Studies) who planned to give a series of lectures at Birzeit University in the Occupied West Bank. Recognizing the potential of this new law to exacerbate such violations of academic freedom, the Middle East Studies Association’s Committee on Academic Freedom has already condemned what it describes as an “ideological litmus test for anyone entering the country or seeking to enter areas under Israeli control, including the West Bank.”

A political litmus test for entry into the country is Israel’s latest attack on academic freedom. Israeli citizens’ support for boycott, divestment, and sanctions is already penalized under Israeli law. Palestinian academics continue to be harassed, educational institutions raided, and students and professors arrested without charge. Israeli academic institutions are directly complicit in these abuses.

President Alisse Waterston stated: “the 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.” An official AAA condemnation of this law is necessbuttons_1_mock_up_2_4ary but not sufficient to end these practices. We urge AAA members to support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement in all of its forms, including through a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. The BDS call was issued by over 180 Palestinian civil society organizations. More information about the academic boycott, as well as advice on how to implement the call in your capacity as an individual scholar can be found at our website.

 

Supporting the Call to Boycott U.S. Academic Conferences

Anthropologists for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions endorses the call for an academic boycott of international conferences held in the United States, acting in solidarity with those affected by the U.S. government’s recent anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim measures.

We endorse this boycott because it is a concrete tactic for putting pressure on the unjust regimes under which we live. We see this boycott as complementing our own efforts to oppose U.S. and Israeli government policies.

As scholars who are located primarily within the U.S. academy, we fully support actions taken by our colleagues outside to stand against racist and exclusionary policies. We hope university administrations here will take note of the boycott as evidence of the harms caused by the U.S. government. We urge them to take concrete actions to protect vulnerable students, faculty, and staff affected by the January 27 Executive Order.

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World Archaeological Congress Speaks Out on Palestine

The Eighth World Archaeological Congress (WAC-8) recently published a resolution it adopted in Kyoto earlier this year pertaining to Palestine. More than 1,600 colleagues coming from 83 countries participated in the Congress.

Resolution 13: Archaeology and Cultural Heritage in the Palestinian Occupied TerritoriesProposed at WAC-8 by Koji Mizoguchi, Akram Ijla, Ghattas Sayej, Chemi Shiff and Brian Boyd

 It is unethical for Professional Archaeologists and academic institutions to conduct professional archaeological work and excavations in occupied areas possessed by force”.

Resolution 9, passed at the WAC-7, Jordan, 2013.

Since its inception and foundation thirty years ago, the World Archaeological Congress has been proactive in the protection of basic human rights and the promotion of social justice. Palestine-Israel issues, largely caused by the latter’s occupation of the domain of the Palestinian Authority, and recognized as illegal by the United Nations, have been an important agendum for the WAC, and some important resolutions concerning the issues have been discussed and passed by the plenary and adopted as WAC International Congress resolutions (see above citation).

The current political circumstances in the region do not show any sign of immediate amelioration, and the on-the-ground situations relating to the occupation are worsening. As archaeologists and cultural heritage professionals, we cannot overlook the ongoing and relentless erosion of cultural heritage that is happening on a daily basis in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. We need to take a position on the destruction of the material evidence of human history, and the places and the sources of the self-identification of those who live in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Deep cultural connections to this history form an essential element of human well-being, and hence, are a vital component of basic human rights. Continue reading

#Anthroboycott Welcomes Motions Passed at 2016 AAA Business Meeting

Anthropologists for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions welcomes the passing of three motions at the Business Meeting of the American Anthropological Association on 18 November 2016. The first motion asks the AAA to condemn the post-election climate of hostility that threatens the personal and intellectual diversity of our community. The second called for the establishment of a Task Force charged with investigating the increasing attacks on anthropologists’ academic freedom. The third motion expressed solidarity with students and scholars under attack in Turkey, Kurdistan, and Kashmir. All three motions were endorsed by the AAA Committee for Human Rights and by an overwhelming majority of those present at the Business Meeting.

As a group of anthropologists dedicated to supporting our Palestinian colleagues facing occupation and apartheid, we recognize these resolutions are in keeping with the shared principles of anti-racism, solidarity, and academic freedom for all scholars that guide our movement. Given the urgent nature of these resolutions, we join our colleagues in urging the AAA Executive Board to take immediate action in response to the approval of these motions.

Alongside expressing our support for the resolutions passed at the 2016 AAA Business meeting, it is our hope that the association take further steps to also protect the academic freedoms of our Palestinian colleagues. In this light, we continue to urge the Executive Board to commit itself to taking action in line with our association’s core commitments.

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#AAA2016: Anthroboycott, BLM, NoDAPL, and More!

At this year’s Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, we are sponsoring two events to educate colleagues about the boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

Details on our events are below. We are also including information about some important panels pertaining to the movements for Black Lives, Indigenous Sovereignty, and refugee rights. We have not organized these events, but they may be of interest to boycott supporters and others.

See you in Minneapolis! Continue reading

100 Days of Silence: Why the Academic Boycott Is Still the Best Way for Anthropologists to Support Justice in Palestine

One hundred days ago, the American Anthropological Association (AAA) censured Israel for its systematic human rights abuses and violations of academic freedom. The lack of any discernible impact since then shows why a boycott of Israeli academic institutions remains the best way for the Association to concretely support justice in Palestine/Israel.

The Association censured Israel after failing to pass a boycott resolution by the narrowest of margins — 39 votes, or less than 1% of ballots cast. The statement of censure did not affect any policies, attract any media attention, or occasion any public discussion within Israel whatsoever. Letters of protest sent from the AAA to the Israeli and US governments failed to elicit substantive replies.

The indifference that greeted the statement of censure contrasts sharply with the enormous anxiety among Israeli elites generated by the mere prospect of an academic boycott, as reflected in high-profile media coverage of the vote and statements from senior government officials characterizing such campaigns as a “strategic threat.” Pro-Israel organizations devoted considerable resources to defeating the AAA boycott.

The record is now clearer than ever: for Israeli officials, boycotts are to be taken seriously, while mere statements of censure are not. Meanwhile, Israeli violations of human rights, attacks on academic freedom, and misuse of archaeology have continued unabated, underscoring the need for more effective action (see our Fact Sheet, “Israel’s Ongoing Violence Against Palestinian Academia”). Continue reading

Fact Sheet: Israel’s Ongoing Violence Against Palestinian Academia

Since the narrow defeat of the AAA Resolution 100 days ago, the Israeli state has intensified its flagrant violations of Palestinians’ basic human rights, including attacks on academic freedom. These routine violations include:

Continue reading

Ghassan Hage Declines Invitation to Address Israeli Anthropological Association

Letter by Ghassan Hage responding to an invitation to give the keynote at the Israeli Anthropological Association conference

2013-ghassan-hage-02Dear …

I have spent a bit of time writing this so it is a bit formal. That’s not the intention. It’s more that I want to be as clear as possible about my reasons.

I sincerely appreciate your invitation to give the keynote at the Israeli Anthropological Association conference. And I accept that it is an invitation made in good faith that emanates from your desire to open up the association to voices that are strongly critical of Israel as it has come to exist in the world today, and that as you say are not heard enough.

I am afraid I have to decline from accepting your invitation. I can’t say I am overjoyed to decline. As I mentioned to you before by temperament I am always inclined and disposed to dialogue, but I have thought hard about what my presence would achieve and I feel that the end result is negative not positive. But in thinking what is positive and what is negative I am thinking of how it impacts on the struggle of the Palestinian people to free themselves of colonialism, not the struggle of Israeli anthropologists to make their society more open minded and receptive. It is a mistake to equate the two even though they might occasionally overlap in terms of interest. Continue reading

The Struggle Continues: Campaign for Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions Undeterred by American Anthropological Association Vote

Anthropologists for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions vowed to continue its campaign after a resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions that was under consideration by the American Anthropological Association (AAA) narrowly missed adoption by a razor-thin margin of 39 votes, 2,423-2,384 (50.4%-49.6%).

Over a six-week period this spring, the AAA’s members were invited to vote by e-mail on the resolution, with turnout reaching an unprecedented 51%. Members at the AAA annual meeting in Denver approved the decision to hold the referendum – itself historic – by an 88% vote last November.

The resolution in question would have precluded the AAA from engaging in any formal association-level collaborations with universities or research centers in Israel. It would not have prevented Israeli scholars from participating in AAA activities or collaborating with AAA members.

Despite this setback, the decision to hold this vote in the first place marks a historic step forward in opening spaces for critical discussion of the U.S. role in enabling Israel’s widespread and systematic abuses against the Palestinian people. The past three years of debate about the boycott have brought  exponentially more discussion of Palestinian rights in the AAA than ever before in the Association’s history. This includes a ground-breaking report by a AAA Task Force recognizing the settler-colonial practices of the Israeli government. These represent important first steps towards opposing Israeli human rights violations. Separately, over 1,300 anthropologists have signed a petition pledging to uphold the boycott through their own personal practice.

An academic boycott is an appropriate and effective response to Israel’s longstanding and systematic violations of Palestinian rights, including the right to education, because:

  • The boycott is a way for the AAA as a U.S.-based association to protest the unprecedented amount of aid and unconditional political support Washington provides to Israel.
  • The boycott is a way for anthropologists, with their long disciplinary history studying colonialism, to speak out against Israel’s colonial practices in Palestine.
  • The boycott is a way for a professional body of scholars to show solidarity with their Palestinian colleagues, whose work and lives are impeded on a daily basis by Israeli policies.

In recent months, outside organizations poured enormous resources into derailing the boycott through intimidation and disinformation. These groups organized harassment campaigns targeting untenured and adjunct scholars who supported the boycott; lobbied university presidents across the country to intervene in the vote; paid AAA membership dues for boycott opponents; called for the firing of Israeli scholars accused of supporting the boycott; and, just as the AAA began voting, filed a frivolous lawsuit against the American Studies Association for its own endorsement of the boycott in 2013.

Anthropologists for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions will press on with its campaign to educate colleagues about Israel-Palestine and to mobilize anthropologists to take effective action in support of Palestinian rights through the boycott.

Anthropologists for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions is a self-funded grassroots group working in support of Palestinian human rights, composed entirely of AAA members, including faculty, contingent labor, and graduate students.

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AAA Boycott Vote Results Expected June 7

Voting on the American Anthropological Association’s proposed boycott of Israeli academic institutions has closed. Results are expected June 7.

Thanks to all those who voted and who supported the campaign!