The American Anthropological Association (AAA) has recently endorsed a resolution calling for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. This makes AAA the largest scholars union in the United States to back a Palestinian cause, according to a statement released by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
The resolution accuses Israel of operating an apartheid regime from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. It references Israel’s controversial 2018 “Jewish supremacy” law and cites the findings of human rights groups such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and B’Tselem, as well as the United Nations. Additionally, it notes that several international conventions define apartheid as a “crime against humanity.”
The resolution specifically targets Israeli academia, arguing that the country’s educational institutions do not protect academic freedom, campus speech in support of Palestinian human and political rights, or the freedom of association of Palestinian students on their campuses.
As a result of the resolution, Israeli universities and other educational entities are now barred from being included in the AAA’s published materials, using its facilities, or participating in its events. They are also prohibited from republishing articles that the AAA controls, as stated in a released statement by the group.
The boycott will be lifted when Israel’s academia ceases its complicity in violating Palestinian rights as stipulated by international law. The AAA’s board will regularly evaluate the situation every five years. It should be noted that the boycott does not apply to individual Israeli academics. Members of the AAA are encouraged to stay informed about Palestinian issues and can choose to apply the boycott to their practice as much or as little as they desire.
Out of the AAA’s 12,000 members, 37% participated in the voting process over a month-long period. Ultimately, 71% of those who voted (2,016 members) supported the resolution. While the AAA is the largest organization of academics to endorse the boycott, it follows in the footsteps of other associations such as the American Studies Association, the Middle East Studies Association, the National Women’s Studies Association, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, and the Critical Ethnic Studies Association in standing with the Palestinian cause.
The BDS movement aims to exert economic pressure on Israel through boycotting companies that operate in the occupied territories of the West Bank. It also demands that countries and corporations divest from these companies and calls on governments to impose sanctions on Israel for its human rights violations. However, the movement has faced backlash and has been banned in several US states due to lobbying efforts by West Jerusalem, which accuses BDS of being antisemitic.
The AAA’s endorsement of the boycott represents a significant development in the ongoing debate surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. With the support of AAA, the BDS movement gains greater recognition and legitimacy within the academic community, further raising awareness of the issue and potentially influencing public opinion and policy decisions in the future.