Over 300 Anthropologists Oppose a Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions

8 thoughts on “Over 300 Anthropologists Oppose a Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions”

  1. The anthropologists who want to get on the BDS train need to think seriously as to whether they wish to risk the American Anthropology Association’s 501(c)(3) tax exemption (not legal advice) the way the American Studies Association risked its own, and damaged ASA’s reputation regardless of how the 501(c) issue went down.

    “13909 the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement” (13909 is the Internal Revenue Service form number for filing a complaint about the activities of a tax exempt organization.)

    Should people lile Nadia Abu El-Haj, Lisa Rofel; Ghassan Hage; Lori Allen; Magid Shihade; Lara Deeb; Nadia Abu El-Haj; Julia Elyachar; Jessica Winegar; Ann Stoler, Lori Allen; Omar Barghouti; Richard Falk; Rebecca Vilkomerson; Saba Mahmood; Noura Erakat; Daniel Segal be allowed to jeopardize the AAA’s credibility (at the very least) for their anti-Israel and, by implication, pro-misogyny, pro-gay-bashing, and pro-terrorism agenda of Hamas and similar Palestinian institutions?

  2. Gee. Nice to see the AAA taking a bold stand.

    I anxiously await their future boycotts targeting all the (many) other universities situated in (all the many other) countries targeting human rights (North Korea comes to mind; and so does the sound of chirping crickets).

    I would say “hypocrisy”, but a hypocritical act based on intention assumes more rational thought than I currently am willing to attribute to voting members of the AAA.

    Pathetic. Glad to know I soon can retire from this pseudo-educational occupation (oops. In context, let’s make that “profession”).

  3. ¬The anti-boycott petition and David Rosen’s November 14 blog do not misrepresent the recent boycott declaration by anthropologists.

    In their declaration, these anthropologists clearly state that, following the guidelines of BDS, they won’t come to Israeli universities, won’t publish in Israeli journals, etc. These refusals in themselves constitute a boycott of individual Israeli scholars impinge upon their ability to participate in global scholarly debates and exchanges It will also profoundly affect graduate students and those anthropologists who cannot afford traveling abroad to the U.S. and elsewhere. Despite all the legalistic distinctions offered by the boycotters, and their claim that the boycott is against institutions not individual scholars, boycotts have many actual real life consequences for individual scholars, even if this is not the openly stated intent. It is naïve at best (and cynical prevarication at worst) to sign a boycott as a ‘symbolic’ gesture of protest, without considering the consequences of that ‘symbolic’ action in the real-world lives of local anthropologists, our colleagues.

    In boycotting the academic institutions of an entire country, every individual in those institutions, no matter what their political position, is presumed to be guilty, and can suffer real harm. The boycott redefines the scope and purpose of academia: rather than a site of activity focused on the free exchange of ideas based on research and expertise, it becomes a site of pre-determined standards regarding what constitutes “social justice.” Those who claim the right to establish such standards further position themselves as having the right to vet the ‘political correctness’ of other anthropologists. When those views are found wanting, the individuals are shunned. We wonder especially about the language of the academic boycotters (our colleagues): “We support working with allies inside Israel who oppose the state’s policies.” In effect, the boycott will turn anthropology into a space of judgment– probing into other colleagues’ moral and political stands, trying to make sure these Israelis are critical enough of their government. What objective moral test do they intend to create that will measure the ‘right’ kind of opposition? How can anthropologists claim – without irony – that they can fairly judge the right kind of government “opposition,” without which one is not allowed to enter the anthropological club.

    What role do anthropologists play in Israel? All Israeli anthropologists desire a peaceful resolution to the conflict with Palestinians. All or most are critical of the political situation, and in their day-to-day work they strive to open their students’ minds to understand their society in new ways by teaching anthropology. Some Israeli anthropologists are engaged in collaborations with Palestinian Israelis, and many have Palestinian Israelis students in their classes. These scholars face criticism for their work: Their research and their perspectives are often considered controversial and even threatening to right-wing groups and politicians. It is extreme irony that this is the group that will be affected by a boycott –for being ‘part of the occupation.’ Further, it is important to realize that anthropologists in Israel who are critical of Israeli government policy are the most likely to be harmed by the boycott, as they are the ones most in need of the support of international anthropologists. If they lose that source of support, if they are not able to invite international scholars to department seminars at Israeli universities, conferences and other meetings in Israel, if they are not able to have international colleagues review their work or their applications for promotion, etc., their careers and their impact will be seriously weakened.

    In the long run, the Israeli government will hardly care that Israeli anthropologists have been boycotted by their colleagues. The only real effect will be the damage to our own colleagues and community and to their ability to promote peace and justice. To be able to make a difference, anthropologists, like all those who are critical of government policy, need the support and encouragement of an international community. We should be working to encourage more conversation and critical discussion, not the isolation and disengagement that will result from the boycott. The international community of scholars should help defend critical perspectives in Israel, not stay away. The boycott, however, does precisely the opposite: it threatens to make these scholars more vulnerable to local conservative forces, which would like to remove them from any position of influence.

    Anyone who signs on to a boycott has a duty to take into account the foreseeable consequences of their actions. That includes the direct harm to their colleagues and the permission a boycott gives for unleashing all kinds of atavistic attitudes and behaviors. No one can hide behind the meaningless claim that a boycott targets institutions and not people

    Sergei Kan
    Professor of Anthropology and Native American Studies
    Dartmouth College

    Michele Rivkin-Fish
    Associate Professor of Anthropology
    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  4. Boycotting the Jewish State of Israel, which has now proved itself (beyond any doubts) to be a criminal nation, populated with what is obviously a nation of criminals is required of everyone who disagrees with their methods to assert their baseless and asinine claims.
    These claims are essentially based upon the fiction that their ancestors invented in the late Bronze or very early Iron age.
    Without a distinctive DNA the Jews cannot claim to be a race; they are simply a religion that has several tribes attached to the fiction their ancestors invented as described above. The fact that they “worship a deity” that their ancestors invented, WHO, according to the ‘fiction’ could create the entire universe (AND YES EVEN THE DISCOVERIES WE HAVE NOT YET MADE) in just six days; but cannot write his own book; much less publish it and constantly needs propitiations and attention in much the same manner as an infant human being who needs these things. For just one simple example; the FIRST “commandment” by/of this Deity reflects his “jealousy” which is an emotion exhibited by human beings as well as many other animals.
    This same “deity” cannot seem to accomplish his “goal” of setting the Jewish people “up above all others”; without what appears to be a tremendous amount of help from many human beings; and untold fortunes over the generations at the expense of those whom the “chosen ones might meet”——————–or their beneficiaries the Christians who currently are called upon to “help the poor Jews” with millions of dollars of aid. Indeed the “American Christians will send Israel more than 11 billion dollars this year that they mostly borrow from China.
    Then one must realize that these Christians are a people who believe that THEY will “live in heaven forever with their Jesus”; the illegitimate “son” of the Deity of the Jews; if they simply “believe”. This also, along with many other ridiculously asinine rituals one including practicing a ritual where they ‘symbolically eat the flesh and drink the blood’ of their “culture hero”—-the illegitimate “son” of the “deity” the ancestors of the Jews invented.
    All of this would simply be ridiculous (a word derived from ridicule) if the Palestinian people were no subjected on a daily basis to the same deprivations including war crimes and crimes against humanity; that my own Native American ancestors suffered at the hands of the Christians—-just barely over a century ago. They STILL DO NOT HAVE SOVEREINGTY.

    Boycotting the Israeli academic institutions should be THE FIRST THING OTHER ACADEMIC INSTITUTIONS DO—-especially Institutes of Anthropology —-otherwise their “silence will be considered their consent”.

    Presently the Jewish State of Israel along with the USA are terrible examples and warnings to humanity; a subject that “Anthropology” is charged with examining; is this not true?

  5. Anthropologists for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions (over 1,000 have now signed our petition at http://anthroboycott.wordpress.com/) welcome an open and constructive debate on this issue.

    An excellent letter from some Israeli colleagues in support of a free and open discussion about the boycott thoughtfully addresses the points made in this post: https://sites.google.com/site/anthropoligstsletter/.

    They argue that the image of Israeli universities as lonely islands of dissent is sorely misplaced and point out the irony of attempts to invoke “dialogue” as a pretext to shut down discussion of the boycott.

    Also very important: contrary to what David Rosen writes, the boycott does NOT aim to “sever all ties between members of the American Anthropological Association and Israeli anthropologists.” We support working with allies inside Israel who oppose the state’s policies. Under the boycott, individual Israeli scholars can still be invited to conferences outside Israel, publish in academic journals outside Israel, and the like. The guidelines are flexible: for example, because we do not call on Israelis to boycott their own institutions, an Israeli scholar with state funds can still be invited to a conference abroad. At last week’s American Studies Association meeting, several Israeli scholars made presentations, which is completely compatible with that organization’s support for the boycott.

    For more information, see the guidelines published by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel: http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1108

  6. This is a complex issue, with colleagues of decency and intelligence on both sides. We should proceed to debate it in a way that recognizes this and that embraces democratic dialogue.

    Misrepresenting the opposing point of view, as this blog post does, does not do this. Specifically, this blog post claims: “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.” This is false. The proposed boycott is a boycott of institutional relations. It is fully consistent with this proposal for Israeli anthropologists to be members of the AAA and to attend AAA meetings. It is fully consistent with this proposal for US based anthropologists to invite individual Israeli anthropologists to speak at the AAA meeting and on US college and university campuses.

    Indeed, the American Studies Association passed such a boycott resolution last year, and this past month, Israeli scholars attended the most recent annual meeting of the ASA without facing any barriers from either the ASA or advocates of the boycott.

    As an advocate of this institutional boycott, I welcome colleagues who disagree to voice their reasons for opposing it. But I think we owe it to each other, and to the seriousness of the crisis of social justice in Israel-Palestine, not to misrepresent the position we oppose in this debate.

    1. I am amazed the AAA moderator has not yet removed this open anti-Semitic post by “Rev. Harrison”. ……

      Those anthropologists who’ve decided to “get on the BDS train,” should think carefully about their “fellow-passengers”……

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