American Anthropological Association Votes to Boycott Israeli Academic Institutions
The American Anthropological Association (AAA), the largest professional organization of anthropologists in the world, has decided to impose an academic boycott on Israeli academic institutions, citing their complicity in violating Palestinian rights and international law. The boycott resolution, which was approved by 71% of the association’s members, is the first of its kind by a major academic association in the United States.
The boycott will entail a series of measures that will prohibit any formal collaboration between the AAA and Israeli academic institutions, such as listing them in AAA publications, allowing them to advertise in AAA journals, using AAA conference facilities for job interviews, or participating in joint events with AAA. The boycott will also prevent the republishing of articles from AAA journals in publications owned by Israeli institutions.
The resolution states that the boycott will be lifted only when Israeli academic institutions have substantially stopped violating Palestinian rights in line with international law, as determined by experts. The resolution clarifies that the boycott does not target individual scholars or students affiliated with Israeli academic institutions, who will still be able to attend AAA conferences, register for events, publish in AAA journals, and subscribe to AAA publications.
The AAA’s president, Ramona Pérez, said that the decision was motivated by the association’s core values and mission, and that she hopes it will raise critical awareness of the situation in the region and expand the space for dialogue on human rights and academic freedom issues.
The AAA is not the only academic association that has endorsed the boycott of Israeli academic institutions. Other associations that have passed similar resolutions include the American Studies Association, the National Women’s Studies Association, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, the Critical Ethnic Studies Association, and the African Literature Association.
The academic boycott is part of a larger global movement of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, which was launched in 2005 by a broad coalition of Palestinian civil society organizations. The BDS movement aims to pressure Israel to end its occupation and colonization of Palestinian lands, respect the right of return of Palestinian refugees, and grant equal rights to Palestinian citizens of Israel.
The BDS movement has also gained support from various non-academic sectors, such as trade unions, churches, cultural figures, artists, musicians, writers, athletes, and celebrities. Some examples of BDS actions include divesting from companies that profit from Israel’s violations of international law, refusing to perform or exhibit in Israel or in venues that sponsor Israel, canceling academic and cultural exchanges with Israeli institutions, and calling for sanctions and embargoes on Israeli goods and services.