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BDS advocates hail Israeli boycott by US academic group

BDS advocates hail Israeli boycott by American Anthropological Association
3 min read
Washington, D.C.
25 July, 2023
This move makes AAA the largest US scholarly institution to engage in an academic boycott of Israel, with 71 per cent of the votes supporting the decision.
A US scholar group has made waves with a resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions. [Getty]

Palestinian and BDS advocates are hailing the recent resounding decision by the American Anthropological Association to pursue a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. 

This move makes AAA the largest US scholarly institution to engage in an academic boycott of Israel, with 71 per cent of the votes supporting the decision. Thirty-seven per cent of AAA's eligible members, or 2,016 members, took part in the vote, which was cast between mid-June to mid-July and was announced on the 24th. 

"This was indeed a contentious issue, and our differences may have sparked fierce debate, but we have made a collective decision, and it is now our duty to forge ahead, united in our commitment to advancing scholarly knowledge, finding solutions to human and social problems, and serving as a guardian of human rights," said AAA President Ramona Pérez in a public statement

"AAA's referendum policies and procedures have been followed closely and without exception, and the outcome will carry the full weight of authorization by AAA's membership."

The academic group previously narrowly voted against such a resolution in 2016. Last year, the Middle East Studies Association endorsed an academic boycott of Israel. 

Not everyone is celebrating the news. Several pro-Israel advocates have denounced the move, with at least one person threatening a lawsuit last month if the resolution went through.

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According to AAA's public statement, this resolution affects their relationships with Israeli institutions, not individual scholars and those affiliated with them. 

The resolution bars Israeli institutions from the following: being listed in AAA's published materials, advertising in AAA publications and websites; using AAA conference facilities for job interviews; participating in the AAA Graduate School Fair; participating in the AAA Departmental Services Program; participating in joint conferences or events with AAA and its sections; and republishing and reprinting articles from AAA publications in Israeli publications.

On the other hand, the AAA boycott does not prevent individuals affiliated with Israeli academic institutions from attending AAA conferences; articles published in AAA journals from being reprinted or republished in journals not owned by Israeli institutions that affiliated individuals edit; affiliated individuals from serving as journal editors; affiliated individuals from publishing in AAA journals; and Israeli university libraries from subscribing to AAA journals, including AnthroSource.

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The statement says that AAA will end its boycott of Israeli academic institutions once they have "substantially ended their complicity in violating Palestinian rights as stipulated in international law." As such, AAA has said it will regularly monitor the situation.

"By means of these actions, AAA will contribute to raising critical awareness of the dynamics of peace and conflict in the region, draw attention to the disproportionate suffering of the Palestinian people as a result of the Occupation and what can be done about it, and expand the space for dialogue on these sensitive and important human rights and academic freedom issues," Pérez added in the group's public statement. 

AAA's announcement comes shortly after a group of Republican lawmakers accused US President Joe Biden's administration of engaging in an Israeli boycott after it reversed a policy from the previous administration that allowed for US funding of Israeli academic research in the occupied territories.