Anthropologists for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions

Renewing the Call to Boycott 

On March 3, 2023, 206 members of the American Anthropological Association submitted a petition to the Executive Board requesting a full-membership vote on a resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions. We expect that information about how the vote will be conducted will be forthcoming from the AAA executive board soon. We will keep you updated. In the meantime, please make sure your AAA membership is active.

As anthropologists who care about academic freedom and social justice, we must speak out in support of our Palestinian colleagues and oppose the systematic effort to make Palestine an exception to free speech.

A similar resolution was endorsed by a vote of 1040-136 at the AAA business meeting in Denver on November 20, 2015, and narrowly missed adoption in the subsequent full membership vote by a margin of only 39 votes (2,384 in favor and 2,423 opposed; 49.6% - 50.4%). The strong participation in that vote indicates that the matter is one of grave concern to AAA members.

Palestinian human rights and civil society organizations have called for the boycott of institutions complicit in Israeli apartheid and violations of international law. Since the last vote, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, as well as Israeli human rights organizations, have found Israel to be committing apartheid, a crime against humanity. Several academic associations, including the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) and the British Society for Middle East Studies (BRISMES), have passed boycott resolutions. Within the AAA, the Middle East Section passed a resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions in 2021, and a Middle East Section Statement on Palestine was endorsed by twenty additional section boards and AAA subcommittees.

The need for this vote in support of Palestinian civil society’s call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions has only gained in urgency since the last boycott vote. The situation in Palestine has deteriorated, deepening the repression of Palestinians through ongoing and intensifying threats to their rights at every level, including the right to an education and to academic freedom. The recent Israeli elections, which installed the most extreme right-wing coalition government to date, suggest that additional restrictions on Palestinians’ academic and broader freedoms are imminent. In the first month of 2023 alone, Israeli military campaigns have killed 35 Palestinians and injured over 500, while settler attacks on Palestinians and their property have significantly increased, emboldened by the new government. 

The time for action is now.