Today’s guest blog post is written by AAA member, David M. Rosen (firstname.lastname@example.org).
More than 300 anthropologists have now signed a statement strongly opposing efforts by the political organization Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) and it supporters within the American Anthropological Association to organize a boycott of Israeli academic institutions (http://anthroantiboycott.wordpress.com). The goal of the boycott is to sever all ties between members of the American Anthropological Association and Israeli anthropologists, many of whom are also members of the AAA. A boycott will severely damage professional anthropological life, scholarly interchange, free speech, and free association. The boycott effort damages the American Anthropological Association by giving a partisan political issue center stage at the annual meetings. Finally, a boycott will create a discriminatory and hostile environment against Israeli anthropologists and anthropologists working in Israel, and a rift with many members of the American Anthropological Association who refuse to become collaborators in this process.
Boycott supporters offer a strange and dangerous theory of vicarious complicity to bolster their arguments. Israeli academic institutions, they assert, must be punished because, as institutions, they have not adopted public positions against Israeli government actions and policies with respect to the occupation of Palestinian lands. But no such idea of second- hand complicity has ever been applied to any other academic institutions. Many BDS supporters themselves come from universities that never took official positions against the wars in Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan. Indeed, many come from state universities that were major recipients of defense funding at the time that thousands of innocents were killed by US forces. Furthermore, when the American Anthropological Association voted to boycott the state of Arizona over its immigration laws, it did not target Arizona public universities and our colleagues in Arizona because Arizona universities did not take a public stand against such laws. We did not treat such universities as complicit simply because they did not act against state government actions and continued to accept funding from the state of Arizona.
Indeed, many Israeli academics, in their work within and beyond the university, are leaders in advocating peace, non-violence and the end of the Occupation. Our unique skills as anthropologists lie in examining and challenging the taken-for-granted while suggesting new perspectives and previously unimagined ways to subvert the violence of the status quo. We urge all anthropologists to consider the manifold ways in which anthropology and anthropologists might move forward in the search for justice and in striving for peace in Israel/Palestine. Boycotting and demonizing Israeli academic institutions and our Israeli colleagues is not one of them, and is in fact, counterproductive. We urge our colleagues to join the thousands of others in organizations such as the American Association of University Professors and Modern Language Association in wholly rejecting boycotts of academic institutions. Such boycotts are subversions of the academic freedoms and values. necessary to the free flow of idea in the anthropological community. Anthropologists interested in signing this statement can go directly to the petition at http://anthroantiboycott.wordpress.com/sign-the-statement or forward an email with your name and academic affiliation to email@example.com.