On November 20, 2015 during a meeting in Denver, the American Anthropological Association (AAA) decided to support a BDS resolution. Having previously embraced a pro-boycott recommendation by a Task Force, the decision of the AAA was not surprising. Commentators noted, however, the overwhelming disparity in the vote - 1,040 in favor to 136 against. For the decision to become binding the entire 10,000 membership would need to approve the vote.
If approved, AAA would follow the American Studies Association (ASA), the Middle East Scholars Association (MESA), and the Association for Asian American Studies.
The practical impact of the decision is not clear as the Association hastened to emphasize that individual scholars would not be affected.
Still, the BDS resolution is bound to deepen the negative image of Israel on campus.
November 21, 2015
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Resolution Calling for Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions to be Placed on AAA Spring Ballot
Members attending the American Anthropological Association's (AAA) Annual Meeting in Denver yesterday voted overwhelmingly in favor of placing a resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions on the organization's spring ballot in April. The resolution, considered by more than 1,400 members attending the AAA business meeting, will now be put to a vote by the organization's 10,000+ members for a final decision.
"We provided as much relevant information to our members as we could and used the same approach we apply to everything else, namely utilizing an anthropological framework to understand what the range of positions is and why people hold them," said outgoing AAA President Monica Heller. "We're encouraged by the turnout and expect our members to continue an informed and respectful conversation regarding the issue."
The resolution to be placed on the spring ballot calls for the AAA to refrain from formal collaborations with Israeli academic institutions only and not individual scholars.
The vote came after the Task Force on AAA Engagement with Israel/Palestine issued a report listing recommendations as to how the organization might best engage with the issues concerning Israel/Palestine. The report included a wide range of measures that could be adopted and strongly urged that the "no action" option be taken off the table.
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Founded in 1902, the American Anthropological Association, with more than 10,000 members, is the world’s largest professional organization of anthropologists. The Association is dedicated to advancing human understanding and tackling the world’s most pressing problems.
US anthropological association moves closer to Israel boycott
Resolution passes by massive majority, calls for embargo on Israeli academic institutions, but not individuals; heads to full vote next year
BY TIMES OF ISRAEL STAFF
November 21, 2015, 11:29 am
The American Anthropological Association (AAA) on Friday voted overwhelmingly in favor of a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. If it receives final approval from the full 10,000-strong membership early next year, the embargo will apply to all institutions, but not individuals.
The resolution calling for the boycott passed by an overwhelming 1,040 votes in favor and 136 against, at a meeting in Denver on Friday night.
US Jewish newspaper the Forward said the resolution was sponsored by academics from Columbia University and Tufts, as well as other US educational institutes, and will bar the AAA from “formal collaborations or other relationships with Israeli academic institutions.” But, the Forward said, there are currently no such collaborations between Israeli bodies and the AAA. The boycott also means that Israeli institutions will be unable to access the AAA’s database of anthropology.
According to US website Inside Higher Ed, the resolution stresses the distinction between individuals and institutions, and states that “Israeli scholars will still be welcome to participate in AAA meetings, use funds from their institutions to attend the meetings, publish in AAA journals and take part in other AAA activities in their individual capacities. The boycott does not preclude communication and collaboration with individual Israeli scholars.”
The resolution will be presented for final approval in a further vote in the coming months, Israel’s Ynet news website reported.
Writing for The Times of Israel blog section on Thursday, Daniel Elbaum of the American Jewish Committee lambasted the resolution, saying those behind it “are not interested in a two-state solution,” and “consider Israel itself an illegitimate entity that has no place in the community of nations.”
Last month, more than 300 British academics signed a public letter pledging to boycott Israel over its alleged treatment of the Palestinians, responding to a letter urging the opposite by a star-studded list of over 150 British writers and artists.
The signers declared that they would not “accept invitations to visit Israeli academic institutions; act as referees in any of their processes; participate in conferences funded, organized or sponsored by them, or otherwise cooperate with them.”
The academics wrote, however, that they would “continue to work with our Israeli colleagues in their individual capacities."