Anthropologists for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions have submitted a boycott resolution to the American Anthropological Association to be voted on by mail ballot. Jewish Voice for Peace is proud to endorse this resolution and thanks its authors for its introduction.
The boycott of academic institutions is a non-violent and promising tactic that aims to end the brutal occupation of Palestine, which, as the resolution points out, obstructs Palestinians’ right to education by destroying Palestinian universities and schools in military strikes; periodically raiding and forcing those institutions to close; preventing Palestinian anthropologists from freely studying their own society; preventing Palestinian archaeologists from accessing, studying, stewarding, or protecting their own cultural heritage; and restricting Palestinians’ movement which limits their ability to attend and work at universities, travel to conferences, and study abroad.
Israeli academic institutions are complicit in the Israeli state’s regime of oppression against Palestinians. Israeli universities systematically discriminate against Palestinian students and communities, engage with the Israeli military industrial complex and fully support the state’s apartheid policies (see: IsraelAcademicApartheid). In March 2022, a new Israeli government policy — the “Procedure for Entry and Residency of Foreigners in Judea and Samaria Region” — was passed. The policy grants the Israeli military the authority to prevent international faculty, students, and researchers who wish to teach, study, and conduct research at Palestinian universities from entering Occupied Palestinian Territories (see: MESABoycott).
The AAA Task Force on AAA Engagement with Israel-Palestine Report, released on October 5, 2015, details even more egregious violations of Palestinian academic freedom and the right to education, including restrictions on access to books, research materials, and the internet. The report enumerates several ways that Palestinians are treated as second-class citizens within Israeli universities, even as 20% of Israeli citizens are Palestinian. In the West Bank in particular, the checkpoints, settlements and the wall contribute to the “provincialization” of Palestinian universities. This “cuts Palestinians off from one another, crippling the flow of ideas and cross-fertilization.”
The AAA boycott resolution marks a strong stance against the harassment and policing of Palestinian academics, and also against the policing and censure of Jewish Israeli academics who are critical of Israeli state policies. We welcome the proposed academic boycott as a timely call for action, and a necessary step toward peace and justice in the region. The resolution builds on the AAA’s valuable record of scholarly research and dialogue by proposing a concrete strategy for solidarity, one that targets the institutions complicit with the occupation, rather than individual anthropologists.
As Jews and allies, we are heartened by this effort at the AAA to stand for human rights and social justice. We hope that this resolution passes and acts as a moral guide to academics everywhere.
Jewish Voice for Peace is a national, grassroots organization inspired by Jewish tradition to work for a just and lasting peace according to principles of human rights, equality, and international law for all the people of Israel and Palestine.