American Anthropological Association Endorses Resolution Supporting Palestinian Rights and Boycotting Israeli Apartheid

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The American Anthropological Association (AAA), representing thousands of anthropologists and scholars, has passed a historic resolution in support of Palestinian rights and freedom, pledging to boycott Israeli academic institutions that are complicit in maintaining Israel’s oppressive apartheid system. The vote passed with an overwhelming majority following a successful referendum held June 15-July 14, with 71% voting in favor.

Founded in 1902, the 12,000-member AAA is the largest and oldest scholarly body in the United States to endorse a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

“This resolution is a meaningful demonstration of solidarity by thousands of scholars standing alongside their Palestinian colleagues, whose work and lives are impacted on a daily basis by Israel’s racist, discriminatory policies and brutal military rule,” said Jessica Winegar, an anthropology professor and member of the Anthroboycott collective, which campaigned for the boycott. “As scholars with a long history of studying colonialism, anthropologists are all too familiar with the devastating harm of Israel’s oppression and theft of Palestinian land. This vote is an important step in showing that support for Palestinian rights goes hand in hand with the AAA’s values of human rights for all.”

The resolution precludes the AAA from engaging in any formal relationships with Israeli academic institutions. The resolution does not prevent individual Israeli scholars from participating in AAA activities or collaborating with AAA members.

“As a US-based association, the AAA has a responsibility to speak up against the nearly $4 billion in military funding the United States provides to Israel each year, enabling Israel’s brutal military rule, illegal theft of Palestinian land, and oppressive apartheid system against Palestinians,” said Winegar. “Just as scholars throughout the world came together to put pressure on South Africa to end its violent apartheid system, US academic organizations are following in their footsteps and joining the struggle for Palestinian freedom.”

The Palestinian Campaign for the Cultural and Academic Boycott of Israel (PACBI) celebrated this important win for the movement for Palestinian rights: “We thank those who took the time to learn from and listen to Indigenous Palestinian voices. The AAA membership vote to boycott complicit Israeli universities is wholly consistent with the association’s stated commitment to anti-racism, equality, human rights and social justice and furthers the drive to decolonize anthropology and academia in general.”

The Executive Board of the AAA will now proceed with implementing the resolution, joining the ranks of other scholarly associations that have endorsed a boycott of Israeli academic institutions, including the American Studies Association, the Association for Asian American Studies, the Middle East Studies Association, the National Women’s Studies Association, and the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association.

In 2016, a similar boycott resolution narrowly missed adoption by a mere 39 votes – less than 1% of ballots cast.

This breakthrough comes despite attempts to pressure, intimidate, and misinform anthropologists from outside pro-Israel organizations with no apparent link to the discipline. These efforts included unsolicited and harassing emails sent to all AAA members; lobbying university presidents across the country to intervene in the vote; and frivolous threats of litigation.

Anthroboycott extends its deepest congratulations and heartfelt thanks to everyone who voted, as well as the numerous volunteers who dedicated their time and efforts to persuade and mobilize their colleagues. We also thank the sections of the AAA that formally endorsed the boycott: the Association of Black Anthropologists and the Middle East Section. We are grateful to the boards of the Association for Feminist Anthropology, Association of Latina/o and Latinx Anthropologists, and Critical Urban Anthropology Association for encouraging their members to support the boycott. 

Anthroboycott (Anthropologists for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions) is a collective of AAA members, including faculty, contingent labor, and graduate students, working in support of Palestinian human rights.



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