Violating the Right to Education for Palestinians: A Case for Boycotting Israeli Academic Institutions

[this essay originally appeared on Savage Minds]

Violating the Right to Education for Palestinians: A Case for Boycotting Israeli Academic Institutions

Thea Abu El-Haj & Fida Adely

During the 50 day Israeli War on Gaza in the summer of 2014, the Israeli military killed 1462 Palestinian civilians, 495 of whom were children. Israeli forces destroyed or severely damaged the homes of over 100,000 Gazans and over 200 schools.


The Jabalia Elementary Girls School serving as a shelter for Palestinians in Gaza was hit by shells on 30 July 2014. Photo: UNRWA Archives / Shareef Sarhan

Among the most egregious events of this 50 day siege were the bombings of three UN schools that were sheltering internally displaced persons (IDPs). According to Human Rights Watch, 45 Gazans, including 17 children, were killed in these attacks on schools. Those killed had believed that UN facilities—particularly schools—would offer protection from rampant shelling. Continue reading

Disciplinary Peace Above All Else?: Nadia Abu El-Haj Responds to Critics

[this essay originally appeared on Somatosphere]


Boycott_Justice.pngWhen It’s Time to Vote, Don’t Boycott Academics – Cut the Purse-strings” raises important questions about the power of economic divestment in the struggle for Palestinian rights. In so doing, however, it presents us with not one, but two false choices. First, it tells us to pursue economic divestment instead of academic boycott. Why is this an either/or, when the two are mutually reinforcing parts of a common struggle? And why assume we are not also advocating economic divestment in other arenas in which we work? Second, it presents the AAA with a meaningless choice between an action that is within its power as an academic association (academic boycott) and one that isn’t (ending US aid to Israel). Continue reading

The Boycott Debate: Whose Voices Matter?

Voting is currently underway on whether the American Anthropological Association (AAA) will endorse Palestinian civil society’s call to boycott Israeli academic institutions. Over the weekend, many AAA members received messages from a group called Anthropologists for Dialogue on Israel/Palestine (ADIP), urging them to vote against the proposed boycott. The email message, and accompanying videos of Israeli anthropologists, demonstrates several troubling trends on the part of boycott opponents.

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VIDEO: A Palestinian Anthropologist Speaks About Life and Scholarship Under Occupation

What is it like to practice anthropology under occupation? As Birzeit University anthropologist Ala Alazzeh says, Palestinians “don’t have any immunity to conduct research.” They worry that they or their subjects could be targeted by the Israeli army.

Video directed and produced by Mohammad Al-Azza of Lajee Center, Aida Refugee Camp, Bethlehem.



Dialogue as Diversion

[this essay originally appeared on Savage Minds]

Fida Adely & Amahl Bishara

What types of engagement are needed to end decades of occupation and repression of Palestinian human rights? Some call for more dialogue and argue that if only those interested in peace on “both sides” talked to each other more, this conflict would end. However, dialogue by itself will never end occupation. Across academic, cultural, and political fields, calls for dialogue obscure the tremendous asymmetries between Israel and Palestinians. In this way many dialogue initiatives disguise the real issues of settler-colonialism, oppression, and occupation, and act as a kind of marketing tool rebranding the reality of separation and apartheid as a fantasy of “coexistence.”

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The Boycott Opens the Space for True Academic Freedom

By Magid Shihade, Birzeit University

I am a Palestinian academic with Israeli citizenship, and I support the initiative in the AAA for a boycott resolution against Israeli institutions.   Such a resolution will not harm me, nor it will harm any Palestinian academic in Israel, and it won’t harm any individual academic in Israel in general, let alone any academic from any part of the world who works on Israel/Palestine. To the contrary, I argue that such a resolution would help all academics, especially those whose work is focused on Israel/Palestine, regardless of the location where they work. Continue reading

Palestinian Anthropologists Speak (6): Magid Shihade

[this post originally appeared on Jadaliyya as part of a series of reflections composed by Palestinian anthropologists in commemoration of Nakba Day]

Memory and Forgetfulness in a Settler Colony

by Magid Shihade

[Jewish population centres in Palestine/Israel in 1948, 1967, and 2000 (adapted from Malkit Shoshan, Vitala Tauz). Image via]

As we approach the sixty-seventh anniversary of al-nakba (The Catastrophe)–the term given to the 1948 ethnic cleansing, destruction, dispossession, and uprooting of eight-five percent of Palestinians as a result of the Zionist settler colonization of Palestine and the creation of the Israeli state–one cannot but reflect on the politics of memory and forgetfulness.

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Palestinian Anthropologists Speak (5): Dina Omar

[this post originally appeared on Jadaliyya as part of a series of reflections composed by Palestinian anthropologists in commemoration of Nakba Day]

We Are All Uncomfortable: On Academic Boycott & What Is Productive

by Dina Omar

On 10 May 2015 Israeli forces shot dead Saji Sayel Jarab’a, a nineteen-year-old student at Birzeit University—he is one out of twenty-six Birzeit University students killed. On the same day, the New York Times published a front-page article characterizing boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) debates taking place on college campuses nationwide as “divisive,” emotionally charged, and arguing that some Jewish students are made to feel uncomfortable as a result. Continue reading

Palestinian Anthropologists Speak (4): Ruba Salih

[this post originally appeared on Jadaliyya as part of a series of reflections composed by Palestinian anthropologists in commemoration of Nakba Day]

Academic Freedom, Ethics, and Responsibility: The Silencing and Censoring of Palestine in Western Liberal Academia

by Ruba Salih

A few months ago a story was published on theYedioth Hakkibutz magazine. The first page of the magazine headlined: “We have expelled, bombed, and killed” and recalled an interview with Mr. Kahanovich, a former combatant in the paramilitary underground terrorist unit Palmach. The interview contained Mr. Kahanovich’s confession about his role and participation in the expulsion and killing of Palestinian civilians during 1948. A few months before, Kahanovich was interviewed as part of a project carried out by Zochrot  (Remembering) an Israeli organization whose priority is to bring to light the silenced Palestinian memories and narratives of 1948, which Palestinians remember as the Nakba (catastrophe). In the interview Kahanovich touched upon one of the most dramatic aspects of the 1948 war: the killing in cold blood of Palestinian civilians who were seeking to go back to their villages after the Israeli military and paramilitary units had occupied the villages and expelled the original inhabitants, or made them run away in search for safety.

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