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.



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:

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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.



Derailing Democracy?: The Anti-Boycott Playbook Explained

As members of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) cast their ballots on a proposed boycott of Israeli academic institutions, outside organizations are desperately mobilizing to pressure the Association and derail the initiative.

In the interests of educating all members of the Association – whatever their position on the boycott – we are sharing information about these attempts to interfere in the AAA’s democratic processes. We believe sunlight is the best disinfectant, and that an informed membership can better stand together against such pressures. 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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Webinar on Upcoming AAA Vote to Boycott Israeli Academic Institutions


The American Anthropological Association will vote on the boycott of Israeli academic institutions from April 15 to May 31 by electronic ballot. Do you have questions about the proposed resolution? Looking for information about what a boycott would entail? Want to find out how the boycott would affect you and/or your university?

Anthropologists for the Boycott of Academic Institutions invites you to a one-hour webinar on the boycott. Tune in to a live broadcast on Thursday, March 3, 12-1pm EST, where we will present the case for the boycott and answer all of your questions.


View Webinar Online:


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The Anti-Boycott Resolution: Entrenching the Status Quo, Denying Justice

[this statement originally appeared on Savage Minds]

At this year’s American Anthropological Association (AAA) annual meeting, anthropologists will vote on two resolutions concerning Israel’s systematic violations of human rights.

Resolution 2 endorses the Palestinian call for boycott as an effective and nonviolent means to pursue their fundamental rights. By contrast, Resolution 1, submitted by the group, “Anthropologists for Dialogue on Israel/Palestine” (ADIP), rejects the boycott in favor of “dialogue.”

Anti-boycott Resolution 1 must be seen for what it is: a thinly disguised vindication of an unjust status quo. Last year in Washington, D.C., the AAA’s membership voted overwhelmingly against a remarkably similar anti-boycott resolution. This year, boycott opponents are attempting to achieve the same goals – only this time they have added a mild reprimand of the occupation, boilerplate diplomatic talking points, and a vague charity program. Despite its perfunctory references to Palestinian human rights, Resolution 1 does not propose any concrete actions for pressuring Israel or its academic institutions into ending their discriminatory practices. Instead, it proposes “focusing research, debate, and teaching in and about the region,” as if the many anthropologists of Israel/Palestine who support an academic boycott have not been doing precisely this for decades. In restricting its criticism of Israeli policy to empty words, Resolution 1 disregards the unanimous conclusion of the AAA’s Task Force on Engagement with Israel/Palestine that censure alone would “be an insufficient course of action.” Continue reading

Statement in Solidarity with South African and Indian student protesters

Over the past few weeks, South African students struggling for the right to education took part in the largest demonstrations witnessed since the end of apartheid. Throughout these mostly peaceful protests, state security forces subjected the students to numerous rounds of tear gas, rubber bullets, stun grenades, water hoses, and mass arrests. The pernicious combination of unchecked police power and unequal access to education stands against everything that South Africa’s liberation was built upon. By contrast, this #FeesMustFall student movement is returning to the principles of liberation and solidarity that helped end apartheid. They link their struggle against the proposed massive fee increases — which makes education inaccessible to so many black and poor students — with a broader struggle against the government’s harsh austerity measures and the outsourcing of university staff.

In this same period, students in India have begun mobilizing under the banner #OccupyUGC in protest of the government’s decision to end research fellowships for graduate students in public universities. These cuts will adversely affect students coming from disadvantaged backgrounds who rely heavily on these fellowships to carry on their research. Protesters also see the cuts as a move towards further privatizing higher education by making it a service rather than a right.

As people working to see the implementation of the boycott of Israeli institutions complicit with the oppression of Palestinians, we write in solidarity with these struggles for equality and true academic freedom.  The Palestinian Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is one method to make those in power hear the voices of those demanding freedom and equality. These protests are another. We hope this is a moment opening the way for shared creative action against the systems that deny academic freedom. Continue reading

Jewish Voice for Peace Endorses Anthropology Boycott Resolution!

[This post originally appeared on the Jewish Voice for Peace website]


The American Anthropological Association will be discussing and voting on a resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions at their November meeting. Jewish Voice for Peace is proud to endorse this resolution and thanks its authors for its introduction. Continue reading