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Boycott Calls Against Israel
American Anthropological Association: A Thin Victory for the anti-BDS Camp?
13.06.16
Editorial Note 

On the 7th of June the AAA members decided by a small majority vote to reject the BDS resolution.  But the discourse on the issue indicates that the fight between the BDS and the anti-BDS factions is ongoing.
 
The AAA resolved to censure the Israeli government over practices that "restrict freedom of movement for Palestinian academics and foreign academics going to the West Bank; restrict access to publications on the West Bank; inflict damage on Palestinian academic life; deny full accreditation for Al-Quds University; deny freedom of expression to Palestinian and dissenting Jewish faculty and students at Israeli universities; and obstruct payment of salaries to West Bank faculty." 

To "repeal Israeli laws that make it a crime to speak publicly in favor of a boycott; change visa regulations for foreign scholars to teach, study and do research in Palestine; dismantle the “closure regime” that includes physical impediments such as checkpoints, roadblocks and gates; improve Internet access in the Occupied Territories; desist from having the IDF raid universities, arrest students on campuses, and use tear gas on campuses; grant Al-Quds University its long overdue accreditation; grant the same rights to Palestinian students on Israeli university campuses as Israeli students enjoy for gathering and action, including expression of their identity."

To "identify the ways in which US government resources and policies contribute to policies in Israel/Palestine that violate academic freedom and disenfranchise Palestinians, and will call on relevant US government agencies to work towards effective changes in Israeli government policies and practices."

To implement the 2015 AAA business meeting's “call on the US Government to cease supplying any military and economic aid to Israel which is used directly or indirectly to support the occupation and to violate Palestinian human rights.” 

"AAA will participate in conversations with sister societies with regard to... Israeli-authorized excavations in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and the contested ways in which cultural heritage and archaeological research are implicated in these issues."

"AAA will provide active resource support for Palestinian and Israeli academics as well as visiting scholars in the region...Considering the ways in which Israeli government policies and practices make it difficult for Palestinian academics and non-Palestinian academics working in Palestine...AAA will make its digital, online literature (AnthroSource) available free of charge to Palestinian universities".

"Considering the ways in which Israeli government policies and practices make it difficult for Palestinian academics...AAA will establish fellowships to enable the travel of Palestinian and/or Israeli academics to AAA conferences, and of academics and/or visiting scholars in anthropology" working with "colleagues in the West Bank and Gaza."

The "AAA has no investments in any company anywhere that does not fit this criterion, including Israeli companies." It is expected that Securities "Not have policies against discrimination regarding race, gender, religion, age, disability, or sexual orientation."
 
A long list indeed. IAM has already noted that the AAA-appointed Task Force mission to visit Israel/Palestine was biased even though its mandate stated that Task Force members comprise of “no one with publicly identified positions on the issue," three of the six proved to be pro-Palestinian. Moreover, the newly elected AAA president, Alisse Waterston, has co-authored with Hugh Gusterson, a member of the Task Force, the Israel/Palestine: A Resource Document in March 2014.  Though the document purports to be balanced, it is quite clear that the arguments in favor of BDS are much stronger than those against it.

Waterston said in response to the failed BDS vote “The consensus within the AAA remains and that is that there are serious human rights problems that exist in Israel/Palestine as a result of Israeli state policy, practices and the occupation and that AAA must take a course of action." Not surprising, Waterston is a lifelong donor to the New Israel Fund (NIF), a report by the Adva Center published in 2002 on "Government Funding of the Israeli Settlements in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Golan Heights: Update," thanked Waterston and husband for their support. The 2004 Annual Report by New Israel Fund thanked Waterston and husband for their donation, as well as the 2006; the 2011; and the 2013 NIF Annual Report.

Also, Tel Aviv University professor of sociology and anthropology Dan Rabinowitz told Inside Higher Ed that, with regard to the AAA plans to censure the Israeli government, it is a welcome "measure directed in the right direction."

Moreover, Anthroboycott, the group of anthropologists that promotes the boycott through their website Anthropologists for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions reported that about 1,300 anthropologists have signed a pledge to uphold the boycott of Israeli universities in their personal capacities, though some 200 signed the petition anonymously.

The AAA targets Israel alone; it does not censure other countries. AAA is a prime example of the double standards which is a part of modern anti-Semitism. Indeed, the exclusive focus on Israel extends well beyond the AAA into virtually all of Western social sciences. As Steven Salaita wrote in the Chronicle of Higher Education, "Israel Boycott Has Staying Power."  
 
IAM has frequently discussed the underlying causes of this singular obsession with Israel by Western social scientists: neo-Marxist, critical paradigm; heightened activism; the influx of Arab and Iranian money into higher education in general and social sciences in particular.  The results are unmistakable: the profession as a whole has remained silent about the most egregious manifestation of radical Islamism, including the treatment of women and gays by ISIS and other jihadist groups.  Those who try to discuss these issues are described as suffering from Islamophobia.  
 
The double standards in the social sciences hurt the discipline first and foremost.  It robs it of the moral authority that is essential to its viability. It is hardly a coincidence that the term "political correctness," first developed on the campus, has become a major political issue in American politics, triggering a major backlash. 

Social scientists, including the AAA scholars need to understand that a loss of moral authority has been part of the rising tide of anti-"political correctness."
 
  
 




June 7, 2016

Contact Name: Jeff Martin 
Contact Email: jmartin@americananthro.org 
Contact Phone: 571-483-1163

AAA Votes Down Academic Boycott Resolution
Other Actions Planned
In a close vote, the American Anthropological Association (AAA) membership voted against a resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions. Voting took place by electronic ballot between April 15 and May 31. Fifty-one percent of AAA’s eligible members voted, the largest turnout in AAA history, with 2,423 members opposing the resolution, and 2,384 voting to support it.
“The membership has spoken and we hear them,” said AAA President Alisse Waterston. “We appreciate this was a difficult vote on an important and contentious issue. I’m especially proud that our members participated in knowledgeable, thoughtful, respectful debate throughout the process, and that AAA offers a model for informed engagement on difficult subjects. Now is the time for us to come together as an association steadfastly committed to advancing scholarly knowledge, to finding solutions to human and social problems, to giving voice to the underserved and to serving as a guardian of human rights.”
AAA members are generally in agreement that serious threats to academic freedom and human rights have been noted in Israel-Palestine as a result of Israeli government policies and practices, and that AAA should respond to these threats. The AAA Executive Board has approved a set of actions that are aligned with the Association's core values and mission as a professional society and in accordance with the findings, guiding principles, and list of possible actions detailed in the Task Force on Israel Palestine (TFIP) report. The Board-approved actions include:
  • Issuing a statement of censure of the Israeli government
  • Issuing a letter to relevant authorities in the US government identifying the ways in which US resources and policies contribute to policies in Israel/Palestine that violate academic freedom and disenfranchise Palestinians.
  • Approving ways to provide active resource support for Palestinian and Israeli academics as well as visiting scholars in the region.
To view the full set of actions click here.
By means of these actions, AAA will contribute to raising critical awareness of the dynamics of peace and conflict in the region, draw attention to the disproportionate suffering of the Palestinian people as a result of the Occupation and what can be done about it, and expand the space for dialogue on these sensitive and important human rights and academic freedom issues. AAA believes that these actions can contribute to the enrichment of the health and welfare of all citizens in the region, increased circulation of anthropological scholarship, eased restrictions on scholars’ travel, increased freedom of expression for Palestinian and Israeli anthropologists, and increased dialogue about how archaeology is used in political arguments.
Waterston added, “We understand the Association’s capacities and limitations to effect positive social change. We also see the conditions on the ground in Israel-Palestine and understand the multiplicity of factors that have created them. Our actions do not come from a position of easy moral superiority but from love for all of humanity.”
- - AAA - -
Founded in 1902, the American Anthropological Association, with almost 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.






http://www.americananthro.org/StayInformed/NewsDetail.aspx?ItemNumber=13454


June 6, 2016

Courses of AAA Action Concerning Israel-Palestine

Approved by the AAA Executive Board, May 2016

 

1. Issue a statement of censure of the Israeli government
The statement of censure will address Israeli government policies and practices that: restrict freedom of movement for Palestinian academics and foreign academics going to the West Bank; restrict access to publications on the West Bank; inflict damage on Palestinian academic life; deny full accreditation for Al-Quds University; deny freedom of expression to Palestinian and dissenting Jewish faculty and students at Israeli universities; and obstruct payment of salaries to West Bank faculty.
The censure will be lifted at such time that Israeli government policies and practices indicated above, many of which are codified in law, are amended. AAA will charge the Committee for Human Rights (or its future substitute) with monitoring the situation on a regular basis.
2. Issue a letter to the relevant ministries of the Israeli government
The letter will call on relevant ministries of the Israeli government to:
  • Repeal Israeli laws that make it a crime to speak publicly in favor of a boycott
  • Change visa regulations for foreign scholars to teach, study and do research in Palestine
  • Dismantle the “closure regime” (term used by the World Bank in a 2007 report) that includes physical impediments such as checkpoints, roadblocks and gates
  • Improve Internet access in the Occupied Territories
  • Desist from having the IDF raid universities, arrest students on campuses, and use tear gas on campuses
  • Grant Al-Quds University its long overdue accreditation
  • Grant the same rights to Palestinian students on Israeli university campuses as Israeli students enjoy for gathering and action, including expression of their identity
3. Issue a letter to relevant authorities in the US government concurrently with the statement of censure of the Israeli government and letter to the relevant ministries of the Israeli government
The AAA letter will identify the ways in which US government resources and policies contribute to policies in Israel/Palestine that violate academic freedom and disenfranchise Palestinians, and will call on relevant US government agencies to work towards effective changes in Israeli government policies and practices.
AAA will charge the Committee for Human Rights (or its substitute) to monitor changes in US policy on a regular basis (time frame to be determined).
Note: A related course of action was presented to the 2015 business meeting for Executive Board consideration in the form of an advisory motion by AAA member Ellen Oxfeld. The Oxfeld motion would oblige AAA to “call on the US Government to cease supplying any military and economic aid to Israel which is used directly or indirectly to support the occupation and to violate Palestinian human rights.” We believe our proposed recommendation is in keeping with the spirit of the proposed motion, is more specific in identifying the problem areas, and will be more effective in its call on the relevant parties in the US to work towards effective change.
4. AAA will participate in conversations with sister societies (e.g., Society for American Archaeology; the Archaeological Institute of America, the European Archaeology Association; the American Schools of Oriental Research) with regard to ethical and legal issues related to Israeli-authorized excavations in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and the contested ways in which cultural heritage and archaeological research are implicated in these issues.
5. AAA will provide active resource support for Palestinian and Israeli academics as well as visiting scholars in the region, as delineated below:
Considering the ways in which Israeli government policies and practices make it difficult for Palestinian academics and non-Palestinian academics working in Palestine, including anthropologists, to access publications, acquire and maintain research equipment and get paid, AAA will make its digital, online literature (AnthroSource) available free of charge to Palestinian universities in the same way it does for Tribal Colleges and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (i.e., AAA will ungate content to specific IP addresses).
Considering the ways in which Israeli government policies and practices make it difficult for Palestinian academics, including anthropologists to travel to international conferences, and considering the ways in which Israeli policy emplace obstructions on Palestinian and dissenting Israeli academics, AAA will establish fellowships to enable the travel of Palestinian and/or Israeli academics to AAA conferences, and of academics and/or visiting scholars in anthropology to act as teachers, mentors or research collaborators with colleagues in the West Bank and Gaza, assuming financial feasibility and/or successful fundraising efforts.
6. AAA will issue a statement reiterating its socially responsible investment policy (see below), pointing out that AAA has no investments in any company anywhere that does not fit this criterion, including Israeli companies
Socially Responsible Assets:
Securities should fall under the classification of “Socially Responsible Assets” and, to the best of the managers’ ability, should specifically avoid companies that are broadly understood to:
  • Manufacture tobacco, weapons or ammunition (10% or more of the earnings derived from)
  • Use forced, compulsory or child labor
  • Not comply with national hour and wage laws/health and safety standards
  • Not have policies against discrimination regarding race, gender, religion, age, disability, or sexual orientation
Note: The TFIP report (p. 80) offers, AAA “could articulate an investment policy statement to ensure it does not invest in companies that have been spotlighted by pro-Palestinian activists as particularly complicit with violations of Palestinians’ basic rights.” A related course of action was brought to the floor of the business meeting for Executive Board consideration. The Oxfeld motion would oblige AAA to divest from all corporations that profit from the violation of Palestinian human rights and the illegal occupation by Israel of Palestinian territory.
The statement AAA recommends is a reiteration of its existing policy that is consistent with the spirit of divestment. AAA cannot divest from that which it has no investments. AAA’s socially responsible investment policy applies to corporations operating anywhere across the globe.
The Oxfeld motion would also oblige AAA “to advocate that all its affiliated academic institutions follow suit (economic divestment).” We believe such an action will be very poorly received by our affiliated academic institutions, in part because of the presumptions it makes. 
7. AAA will request other AAA entities to take responsibility for particular actions, as follows:
  • The Middle East Section: to be responsible for assessing the feasibility of setting up and institutionalizing a collection/distribution system for AAA members to donate journals and books to Palestinian universities.
  • The Committee for World Anthropologies (or its equivalent): to be responsible for developing and maintaining an up-to-date international bibliography of relevant sources on Israel-Palestine (as part of their existing world anthropologies bibliography project).
  • AAA Publishing sections/editors: to consider publishing special issues on the topic and spotlight conference panels that would draw attention to these concerns. 
8. AAA will leave it up to individual members to take responsibility for particular actions on their own behalfas follows:
  • Write letters to relevant government authorities concerning cases where there is felt to be a violation of academic freedoms.
  • Assess individual employer investment portfolios in order to make investment choices according to their conscience.
 
For more information, please contact Executive Director, Ed Liebow: eliebow (at) americananthro.org




============================================================================================


Anthropology Group Won't Boycott Israel

Members of the American Anthropological Association narrowly vote down a resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions.
June 7, 2016
Members of the American Anthropological Association have narrowly voted to reject a resolution calling on the group to boycott Israeli academic institutions.
A total of 2,423 AAA members voted to oppose the boycott measure, while 2,384 supported it. About 51 percent of AAA’s 9,359 voting-eligible members participated in the boycott vote, which took place online from April 15 through May 31.
The results of the online vote contrast sharply with the results of a vote in favor of an academic boycott that took place at the association’s annual business meeting in November. At that time, members in attendance voted by an overwhelming 1,040 to 136 margin to move forward with a boycott resolution by placing it on an online ballot for consideration by the full membership this spring. The general sentiment among attendees at the annual business meeting was strongly pro-boycott, while the results of the online vote suggest a fairly even division of opinion among AAA members.
​The defeat of the academic boycott resolution notwithstanding, AAA plans to take a series of actions in response to member concerns about Israeli government policies and their impact on Palestinian rights. Planned actions include:
  • Issuing a statement of censure of the Israeli government addressing policies and practices that “restrict freedom of movement for Palestinian academics and foreign academics going to the West Bank; restrict access to publications on the West Bank; inflict damage on Palestinian academic life; deny full accreditation for Al-Quds University [a Palestinian institution in the West Bank]; deny freedom of expression to Palestinian and dissenting Jewish faculty and students at Israeli universities; and obstruct payment of salaries to West Bank faculty.”
  • Issuing a letter to the U.S. government that “will identify the ways in which U.S. government resources and policies contribute to policies in Israel/Palestine that violate academic freedom and disenfranchise Palestinians, and will call on relevant U.S. government agencies to work toward effective changes in Israeli government policies and practices.”
  • Identifying ways to provide “active resource support for Palestinian and Israeli academics as well as visiting scholars in the region,” by, for example, making AAA’s online database, AnthroSource, available to Palestinian universities free of charge and establishing travel fellowships. The proposed fellowships -- which are contingent on “financial feasibility and/or successful fund-raising efforts” -- would fund the travel of Palestinian and Israeli academics to AAA conferences and support travel for visiting scholars who want to collaborate with colleagues in the West Bank and Gaza.
Alisse Waterston, AAA’s president and an anthropology professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said these and other actions were developed to align with the mission and values of the association as a professional society as well as the findings and principles outlined in a report from a task force the AAA commissioned on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The task force -- whose report was criticized by boycott opponents as an “unbalanced, one-sided document” that “reduces this Middle Eastern conflict to a string of accusations toward Israel” -- urged the association to take action of some form in response to what it characterized as “the lengthy history of displacement, land loss, discrimination, restrictions on movement and free speech, and adverse health and welfare effects that Palestinians have experienced as a result of Israeli state policies and practices.”
“The consensus within the AAA remains and that is that there are serious human rights problems that exist in Israel/Palestine as a result of Israeli state policy, practices and the occupation and that AAA must take a course of action,” said Waterston.
Waterston said that AAA’s executive board feels comfortable moving forward with the planned actions without a separate vote based on the feedback it’s gathered from members on the issue over the last few years. And she noted that each of the two formal resolutions put forward at the November business meeting -- the one in favor of boycott that proceeded to the full membership vote and one against boycott that was voted down by business meeting attendees -- both express concerns about Israeli government policies and practices, including Israel’s occupation of territories captured in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
“There is disagreement around the academic boycott, but there is a general consensus on the rest,” Waterston said.
The defeat of the boycott resolution is a setback for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, which has in recent years gained momentum in American academe. If the resolution had passed, the AAA would have been the largest academic association to endorse a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. Smaller scholarly associations that have approved Israel boycott resolutions since 2013 include the African Literature Association, the American Studies Association, the Association for Asian American Studies, the Critical Ethnic Studies Association, theNational Women’s Studies Association and the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association.
The movement to boycott Israeli universities is controversial, both because its opponents reject what they see as a singling out of the Jewish state of Israel for special opprobrium and because of a more general opposition to academic boycotts as incompatible with academic freedom. The American Association of University Professors opposes academic boycotts in light of its commitment to the free exchange of ideas and urges academic associations to “seek alternative means, less inimical to the principle of academic freedom, to pursue their concerns.”
A group of anthropologists who oppose the boycott, Anthropologists for Dialogue on Israel and Palestine, issued a statement expressing "delight and relief" at the vote results. The group maintains that an academic boycott would "erode our discipline’s professional ethos," while failing to aid in the Palestinian cause.
"One of the successes of BDS not only in the AAA but also elsewhere was creating an impression that you either support boycotting academic institutions in Israel or you’re a fascist, or you're a supporter of the occupation," said Dan Rabinowitz, a member of ADIP's steering committee and a professor of sociology and anthropology at Tel Aviv University. "I think what’s happened in the last six months is that through our campaign we made many more people aware that this is a very simplistic choice and that really the argument here is not for or against Israel but rather how decent people everywhere should engage themselves with a situation that is complex and tragic and needs engagement. Boycotting universities has very little to do with changing anything in favor of Palestinians."
By contrast, Rabinowitz said he welcomed AAA's plans to censure the Israeli government as a "measure directed in the right direction."
Other anthropologists who favor the academic boycott argue that the tactic is effective in pressuring Israel to end its violations of Palestinian rights. Proponents describe the academic boycott as a way for scholars to protest Israeli policies and to stand in solidarity with Palestinian colleagues. 
In a statement, Anthropologists for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions called attention to the role they said was played by outside organizations that sought to defeat the boycott resolution and said it would "press on with its campaign to educate colleagues about Israel-Palestine and to mobilize anthropologists to take effective action in support of Palestinian rights through the boycott." The group noted that more about 1,300 anthropologists have signed a pledge to uphold the boycott of Israeli universities in their personal capacities (about 200 of those 1,300 anthropologists signed anonymously). 
"The incredibly narrow margin -- 50.4 percent to 49.6 percent -- is a statistical dead heat," Lisa Rofel, an organizer of the boycott resolution and an anthropology professor at the University of California at Santa Cruz, said via email. "It is an indication of how successful anthropologists in support of the boycott have been in our efforts. I take this incredibly narrow margin as a virtual tie vote. We have come such a long way in a very short amount of time. We have opened a space for discussion of Palestinian rights that did not exist before. This virtual tie means we should continue our efforts."


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