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Boycott Calls Against Israel
Unethical Conduct of the AAA Task Force

10.12.15 

Editorial Note

On the 20th of November 2015, the executive board of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) has decided to recommend a boycott of Israeli institutions. The final vote would be held during the next annual members conference in April 2016.

The decision was made following the recommendation of a Task Force commissioned in August 1, 2014, to investigate the Israeli-Palestinian disputeAccording to the mandate, the “Task Force is charged with helping the Executive Board consider the nature and extent to which AAA might contribute – as an Association -- to addressing the issues that the Israel/Palestine conflict raises." The question relating to the concern of the AAA was explained as, "These issues may include, but are not limited to, the uses of anthropological research to support or challenge claims of territory and historicity; restrictions placed by government policy or practice on anthropologists’ academic freedom; or commissioning anthropological research whose methods and/or aims may be inconsistent with the AAA statement of professional responsibilities."

The Task Force was specifically asked to "develop principles to be used to assess whether the AAA has an interest in taking a stand on these issues. This may include providing a comprehensive and neutral overview of arguments for and against a range of specific possible stands (including no action)." 

The Task Force was to provide AAA with a written report of its findings no later than October 1, 2015.  To prevent the appearance of bias, Task Force members were expected to be neutral and “no one with publicly identified positions on the issue."

The Task Force included Ramona Pérez, the Executive Board Liaison ; Niko Besnier ; Patrick Clarkin ; Hugh Gusterson ; John L. Jackson ; and, Katherine Spielmann The Task Force report acknowledges those who helped them, "Obay Odeh, Tarek Maassarani, and Adina Friedman assisted with planning the delegation’s trip to the region. The Task Force is grateful to Alisse Waterston, who assisted with assembling the bibliography and background materials, and to Monica Heller, who offered reflections and encouragement in the planning and development stages of the Task Force’s work."

A short investigation indicates that the Task Force did not live up to the AAA mandate of neutrality. 

Hugh Gusterson co-authored in March 2014, Israel/Palestine: A Resource Document with Alisse Waterston. The Document which explores BDS, is very much in favor of it, its arguments against BDS are exceptionally weak. (See Document below); 

Niko Besnier is closely related to a large Palestinian family and mentions them twice, first in his 2007 book where he thanked them and stated that their "daily existence in Palestine redefines the meaning of resilience in the face of untold oppression." His second time is in his 2009 book, where he again thanked them ; 

Patrick Clarkin is perceived as influenced by certain media which is considered biased against Israel. For example, his article from July 20, 2014 on civilian casualties in war stated that "Much of the world’s attention has been focused on two recent tragedies: the Malaysia Airlines flight shot down over Ukraine and the civilian casualties in Gaza...Not all incidents will be nearly as visible as the deaths of four young children playing football on a beach near a hotel filled with journalists." His reference is to the article "UN: 80 per cent of Palestinians killed in Israeli offensive are civilians."   On the issue of displacement, he has been using statistics from Palestinian sources only.  Also, in January 2015 Clarkin was enthusiastic about an article, Nonviolent Resistance in Palestine and Israel, which favors the Palestinians. It states that"Many Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip tire of the constant question: 'Where is the Palestinian Gandhi?' In reality, there is a great deal of nonviolent resistance in the Palestinian Territories, as well as a great number of grassroots activists with a sophisticated understanding of its strategic advantages. As the Gaza War raged over the summer of 2014, media attention was understandably distracted away from the many thousands of Palestinians engaged in nonviolent struggle for self-determination—and the Israeli soldiers who refused to participate in the war." Clarkin Reblogged the article and commented: "Reasons to be hopeful" ;

As for those helping the Task Force, they are openly pro-Palestinian. Obay Odeh is a Palestinian human rights activist from Jerusalem involved with Alternative Information Center (AIC). He spoke during an 'Israeli Apartheid Week' in 2014 on "Israeli apartheid in Jerusalem," where he elaborated on "the apartheid policies that Israeli implements in East Jerusalem. From different legal status for Palestinians and Israelis, a lack of infrastructure and services for Palestinians and home demolitions amongst many other policies, Israel discriminates against Palestinians in Jerusalem on the basis of their nationality" ; 

Tarek Maassarani, co-authoured the article "Gendered Occupation and Resistance in Palestine", which states "My name is Su'ad Al-Najjar. I live with my husband, five sons and three daughters in the 'Khan Shahin' neighborhood of the Old City of Hebron...Our house is located in front of an Israeli military base. We are exposed to daily assaults by Jewish settlers and soldiers.  After the outbreak of the Intifada, the assaults have increased. The soldiers have also occupied the roof of our house" ; 

Adina Friedman once commented to an article, "penetrating the wall of denial and apathy, moving Israelis beyond their eternal sense of victimhood, and getting Israelis to critically examine their past and present – seem to be quite difficult…" ; 

Alisse Waterston, mentioned above for the Resource Document authored with Hugh Gusterson advocating BDS ; 

Monica Heller signed in 2012 a petition to the Israeli Education Minister, "Academics against the moves, initiated by Israel’s Council of Higher Education, to close down the Department of Politics and Government at Ben-Gurion," Heller is signatory #404.  For those not familiar with the Ben Gurion University Department of Politics and Government report, the department was found to be of poor academic standards by a professional comittee headed by Professor Thomas Risse of the Free University of Berlin.  The department, which is a home for many political activists, manouvered the international community to oppose adopting resolutions of the Risse's committee ;

As for the neutrality of the AAA Task Force, all of these findings of pro-Palestinian standpoint of members, as well as of those who helped the Task Force in the region, should have been known before the appointments to the Task Force were made.  

Given the political sympathy of the members, it is not surprising that the AAA Task Force report has serious flaws. 


1
Israel/Palestine: A Resource Document
Hugh Gusterson and Alisse Waterston
March 2014
1. Background
On December 4, 2013, the American Studies Association (ASA)1 National Council proposed
a resolution on the academic boycott of Israel;2 on December 16, 2013, the ASA announced
results of the membership vote: of 1252 voters (nearly 25% of the membership), 66.05%
voted in favor of the boycott.3 Please see Appendix 1 for the text of the ASA resolution.
 
Coming as it did around the time of the 2013 AAA Annual Meeting, the ASA resolution
caused us to examine not only that resolution but the movement and debates connected to it,
and the general position of academic associations regarding Israel/Palestine and the BDS
(Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions) movement. At the request of AAA President Monica Heller,
we gathered information that we felt would be potentially useful for understanding ongoing
debates and for considering our own positions and options with respect to them. While at this
point we acknowledge that the debates cover a wide range of issues, we began with the
circumscribed question of the ASA boycott. The purpose of this memo is to provide
information on the ASA boycott, the rationale for it and responses to it, as this information
may factor into the interests and concerns of the American Anthropological Association.
 
This document does not take a position for or against a boycott (or any other position,
including no position at all), but offers information to facilitate open dialogue about the many
issues concerned, and to help AAA leadership, and potentially membership, think through
those issues, especially as they relate to anthropology, anthropologists and the Association.
 
The original draft of this document was prepared between December 22, 2013 and January 12,
2014. Additional sources have been gathered in an addendum (a list of links, not in
bibliographic form). We do not claim this document contains up-to-date information. We do
believe there is need for the ongoing gathering of information.
 
2. Overview of BDS
Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) is a global campaign (begun in 2004, see below),
in response to calls from Palestinian civil society organizations,4 to pressure Israel in regards
to Palestinian rights.5


2
The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC)6 coordinates the global campaign,
described on its website as follows:
 
The campaign for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) is shaped by a rights-
based approach and highlights the three broad sections of the Palestinian people: the
refugees, those under military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and
Palestinians in Israel. The call urges various forms of boycott against Israel until it
meets its obligations under international law by:
1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967
and dismantling the Wall;
2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to
full equality; and
3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return
to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.7
 
BDS involves various campaigns: consumer,8 cultural,9 and academic10 boycotts; 
divestment;11 and sanctions.12 We focus here on academic and cultural boycott, since this
has been the dimension most discussed among academic associations recently.
 
3. The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel13
 
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) issued a
call in 2004 for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel. The call begins as follows:
“[Whereas] Israel's colonial oppression of the Palestinian people, which is based on Zionist
ideology, comprises the following: Denial of its responsibility for the Nakba14—in particular
the waves of ethnic cleansing and dispossession that created the Palestinian refugee
problem—and therefore refusal to accept the inalienable rights of the refugees and displaced
stipulated in and protected by international law; Military occupation and colonization of the
West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza since 1967, in violation of international law
and UN resolutions; The entrenched system of racial discrimination and segregation against
the Palestinian citizens of Israel, which resembles the defunct apartheid system in South
Africa…”
 
14 Palestinians use this Arabic word for “catastrophe” to refer to the mass displacement and exodus of Palestinians
in the 1948 war.
3
It also states that “…Israeli academic institutions (mostly state controlled) and the vast
majority of Israeli intellectuals and academics have either contributed directly to maintaining,
defending or otherwise justifying the above forms of oppression, or have been complicit in
them through their silence…”
 
These are among the bases for the call, which reads as follows:
 
We, Palestinian academics and intellectuals, call upon our colleagues in the international
community to comprehensively and consistently boycott all Israeli academic and
cultural institutions as a contribution to the struggle to end Israel's occupation,
colonization and system of apartheid, by applying the following:
1. Refrain from participation in any form of academic and cultural cooperation,
collaboration or joint projects with Israeli institutions;
2. Advocate a comprehensive boycott of Israeli institutions at the national and
international levels, including suspension of all forms of funding and subsidies to
these institutions;
3. Promote divestment and disinvestment from Israel by international academic
institutions;
4. Work toward the condemnation of Israeli policies by pressing for resolutions to be
adopted by academic, professional and cultural associations and organizations;
5. Support Palestinian academic and cultural institutions directly without requiring
them to partner with Israeli counterparts as an explicit or implicit condition for such
support.15
 
FAQs about the US Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (on the
USACBI website) contain further information on various aspects of the boycott strategy.16
 
4. Components of the ASA Boycott
The American Studies Association boycott bars the ASA as an organization from entering
into partnerships with Israeli institutions and bars the ASA (again, as an organization) from
issuing invitations to Israeli academics as official representatives of their universities—e.g.
invitations to deans and provosts. It does not bar individual Israeli academics from attending
conferences or entering into research collaborations with ASA members. “The resolution does
not apply to individual Israeli scholars engaged in ordinary forms of academic exchange,
including conference presentations, public lectures at campuses, or collaboration on research
and publication. The Council also recognizes that individual members will act according to
 
4
their convictions on these complex matters.”17 “However, the boycott does oppose
participation in conferences or events officially sponsored by Israeli universities,”18
and individual academics whose travel is sponsored by Israeli institutions are subject to boycott.
 
5. Other academic associations that have adopted a boycott
 
1. British Association of University Teachers, 2005 (rescinded one month later).19
2. Asian American Studies Association (AAAS; http://aaastudies.org/content/), May 3, 2013. Text at:   http://www.usacbi.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/AAAS-resolution.FINAL_.pdf (see also Appendix 2).
3. Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA; http://naisa.org/), December 15, 2013. Text at: http://naisa.org/node/719(see also Appendix 3).
4. Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI; http://www.tui.ie/), April 4, 2013. Text at:
5. Federation of French-speaking Belgian Students, April 2013 (see http://comite-
of-all-academic-partnerships-with-israel/).
6. The University and College Union of the UK, in 2008 and 2011, called for the
circulation to all members of the call to boycott, but stopped short of formally
endorsing the boycott.20
7. March 2014 the Modern Languages Association (MLA) executive board decided to
put before the membership a resolution condemning Israel that had been passed by a
vote in its delegate assembly in January 2014.21 Text at http://www.mla.org/2014_resolutions (see also Appendix 5).
 
6. Backlash Against ASA
The media and pressure groups largely ignored the boycott resolutions passed by the
Asian American Studies Association and the Native American and Indigenous Studies
Association, although the AASA president notes that the leadership received hate mail.
Nearly all the public attention was focused on the ASA resolution:17


 
5
➢ 8 former presidents of ASA condemned the resolution22
➢ Brandeis, Penn State Harrisburg, Indiana University, Kenyon College, and Bard College
withdrew membership in ASA23
➢ The AAUP condemned the boycott24
➢ American Federation of Teachers (AFT) condemned the boycott on December 13, 2013.25
➢ Association for Jewish Studies condemned boycotts in general on December 17, 201326
➢ American Council on Education condemned the boycott on December 20, 2013.27
➢ The boycott was condemned by 182 university presidents as of January 11, 201428
(including the presidents of Harvard, Yale, MIT, Princeton, Brown, Cornell, the University
of Chicago and Johns Hopkins).
➢ Two NY State legislators said they would introduce legislation to bar state funding to public and private universities that have memberships in the ASA or any other organization that boycotts Israel. The legislation would also ban employees of state universities from participating in ASA conferences.29  The Maryland legislature isconsidering similar legislation at time of writing.30 Former Harvard President Larry Summers also called on universities not to pay for faculty travel to ASA conferences or
for ASA membership dues.
➢ William Jacobsen, a Cornell law professor, filed a legal challenge to ASA’s non-profit status in January 2014.31


boycott.html?hpw&rref=education&_r=0
Israeli-Academic-Institutions.aspx
faculty-and-presidents; For a complete list, see
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.565245 For a riposte to one of these presidents
6
In the time between the passage of the resolution and the end of 2013, 4 ASA members
resigned, but 63 new members joined. 32
 
7. Arguments that have been made for and against a boycott
 
N.B.: This is a collation of arguments made for and against from a variety of sources; it
is not an endorsement of those arguments’ accuracy or veracity.
 
FOR
i) “So if the two-state solution is the way to stop the apartheid state, then how does one
achieve this goal? I am convinced that outside pressure is the only answer. Over the last
three decades, Jewish settlers in the occupied territories have dramatically increased their
numbers…. The Israeli peace camp has gradually dwindled so that today it is almost
nonexistent, and Israeli politics are moving more and more to the extreme right. It is
therefore clear to me that the only way to counter the apartheid trend in Israel is through
massive international pressure” (Neve Gordon, Ben-Gurion University).33
ii) “Boycotts are the weapons of the dispossessed; they are pleas for global solidarity from
people who have few other forms of power. They are peaceful attempts to disrupt
business as usual by setting up a global picket-line and by asking us not to cross that
picket line” (Alex Lubin).
iii) Israeli universities are STATE institutions, and they are complicit with persecution of
Palestinians (training Israeli soldiers and intelligence agents, developing weapons
systems for the military, suppressing Palestinian campus events, acquiescing in practices
that make Palestinians second class citizens). “Every major Israeli university is a
government institution that is intimately tied to the Israeli military, furnishing it with
scientific, geographic, demographic and other forms of research that directly supports
Israel’s human rights abuses of Palestinians” (Rabbi Brant Rosen).34
iv) Joan Scott asks why we should “oppose the boycott campaign in the name of Israeli
academic freedom when the Israeli state regularly denied academic freedom to critics of
the state, the occupation, or, indeed, of Zionism, and when the blacklisting of the state’s
critics is the regular tool of state authorities against Israel’s own academic institutions?”35
“For all of the concern over the resolution’s attack on academic freedom, it is important
to note, as the ASA statement does, that Israel actively curtails and denies the academic
freedom of Palestinian academics and students on a regular basis. Palestinian universities
have been bombed, schools have been closed, and scholars and students have been
 
faculty-and-presidents
7
deported and even killed. Palestinian scholars and students have their mobility and
careers restricted by a system that limits freedoms through an oppressive bureaucracy.
Many Palestinian scholars cannot travel easily, if at all, for conferences or research
because they are forbidden from flying out of Israel” (Rabbi Brant Rosen).36 “If there has
been anywhere a systematic denial of academic freedom to a whole population, rather
than to specific individuals or to institutions, it is surely in Palestine under Israeli
occupation” (David Lloyd and Malini Schueller).37
v) The Western invocation of academic freedom as grounds for refusing to sanction Israeli
universities, ironically, provides cover for the ongoing attack on the academic rights of
Israeli dissenters and Palestinian academics. And “by positing its particular notion of
academic freedom as being of paramount importance, the AAUP effectively, if not
intentionally, sharply limits the moral obligations of scholars in responding to situations
of serious violations of human rights” (Omar Barghouti).38.
vi) Although critics of the boycott claim that it will punish those Israelis (academics) most
likely to criticize government policy, very few Israeli academics have in fact stood up for
the rights of Palestinian faculty and students.39
vii) The AAUP opposes a boycott on academic freedom grounds, and yet they publish a list
of “censured institutions”. Is that so different? The AAUP has also supported faculty
strikes for better working conditions that enjoined speakers not to cross picket lines.40
viii) “As long as Israelis don’t pay a price for the occupation, or at least don’t make the
connection between cause and effect, they have no incentive to bring it to an end… A
boycott is the least of all evils, and it could produce historic benefits. It is the least violent
of the options and the one least likely to result in bloodshed. It would be painful like the
others, but the others would be worse” (Gideon Levy).
ix) Boycott played a significant role in ending South African apartheid, according to
Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela.
x) Palestinians have called for a boycott. “The ASA did not initiate this boycott – it made a
principled, good faith decision to respond to the Palestinian call for support. Thus the
real question before us when addressing BDS is not 'what about all of these other
countries?' but rather 'will we choose to respond to this call?' To miss this point is to
utterly misunderstand the essential concept of solidarity” (Rabbi Brant Rosen).41


Kaplan, 2010. “In Palestine, Occupational Hazards.” Chronicle of Higher Education, November 7.
blasting-Israeli-universities-boycott?nclick_check=1
8
xi) “Opponents… claim that the resolution singles out Israel while sparing countries with
worse human rights records. They forget, however, that the U.S. not only gives far more
military aid to Israel than to any other country, but has also vetoed all U.N. resolutions in
recent memory that condemn Israel's abuses of human rights. The ASA resolution
specifically cites the 'significant role' the U.S. plays in underwriting Israel's violations of
international law” (Carolyn Karcher).42
xii) “The ASA boycott, like the rest of the BDS movement’s achievements, are not examples
of the world’s double standard against Israel—they’re Quixotic, rearguard actions against
the world’s blatant double standard in Israel’s favor. If this country were treated with a
minuscule fraction of the severity the West ordinarily visits on human rights violators, the
occupation would have ended long ago” (Larry Derfner).43
xiii) Other forms of engagement with Israel have not worked and, in the meantime, the
Palestinians’ situation has deteriorated. “The world has tried what used to be called
'constructive engagement.' It has failed utterly” (Naomi Klein).44
xiv) The boycott campaign is non-violent. “They are doing what many in the international
community, including President Obama, have repeatedly called on Palestinians to do:
embrace nonviolent means in their struggle for freedom and self-determination.”45
xv) Boycotting South Africa seemed radical when the idea was first introduced, but soon
became a normative position. The same will be true of the BDS campaign, and AAA will
look timorous to future generations if it declines to participate now. “The recent passing
of Nelson Mandela has reminded us of a time when people bravely stood up to apartheid
by initiating boycotts and other proactive measures to isolate the South African regime.
This was once a very unpopular position to take, but history proved those people right.
One day, after the tide turns, boycotts against Israel and the apartheid regime it has
instituted will be viewed in the same way.”46
xvi) “In my view, BDS does three key things: First, it serves to effectively highlight issues,
especially if its targets are strategically selected. The mix today is a pretty good one, going
from consumer products (Ahava cosmetics, Israeli produce) and calling on TIAA-CREF to
divest from Israeli military companies like Elbit through the Caterpillar campaign
(highlighting Caterpillar's role in producing bulldozers for the IDF custom-made top
demolish Palestinian homes) and on to calls for the US to stop giving arms to Israel. The
cultural boycott -- calling on prominent artists, writers, performers not to come to Israel, or
if they do, to spend time in the Occupied Territory -- is another important part of BDS. The
academic boycott is another key element of the BDS campaign. It is aimed at Israeli
universities who are complicit in the Occupation, either because they do not stand with
 
20131227,0,4082285.story#axzz2ov6P0QvR
9
their Palestinian counterparts when their academic freedoms are trampled on (Palestinian
students often cannot leave the West Bank or Gaza to study abroad) or because they are
actively involved with the Occupation (all Israeli universities do military research and give
academic training to soldiers, many have branches or even whole campuses in the
Occupied Territory). (In fact, many American universities should be BDSed because of
their close ties to the US military...). The second purpose of BDS: holding states and
corporations -- and universities -- accountable for their actions. They are not acting in a
vacuum; there is international law, human rights covenants, UN-formulated Principles of
Corporate Responsibility, UN resolutions and, yes, issues of academic freedom and
responsibility. Most of Israel's policies and actions in the Occupied Territory, from house
demolition to settlement to land expropriation to the economic closure to the building of
the Wall, is absolutely illegal according to the Fourth Geneva Convention. Governments
are required to adhere to international law, but they shirk accountability, which is what
BDS highlights and insists upon. This leads into a third element of BDS, which is to give
the people, citizens, civil society, the leverage to hold governments accountable… This
leads into a third element of BDS, which is to give the people, citizens, civil society, the
leverage to hold governments accountable.” (Jeff Halper, anthropologist, Co-founder and
Director, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions [ICAHD; http://www.icahd.org/]
in personal communication with Waterston). See also Appendix 6 for ICAHD’s position
and rationale for the call for sanctions against the Israeli occupation.
xvii) AAA boycotts Arizona for its anti-immigrant laws and many southern states for anti-
sodomy laws, and we effectively boycotted the US Army’s Human Terrain System
program, so why not boycott Israel for its treatment of Palestinians?
xviii) Boycotts and sanctions are not as extraordinary as opponents of this one make out:
there was a boycott of the Russian Olympics over its treatment of gays (and Israeli Prime
Minister Netanyahu was one participant in it); France was boycotted by the left in the
1990s for its continued nuclear testing, and by the right in 2003 for its opposition to
invading Iraq; Iran and Cuba are sanctioned; elite law schools boycotted military
recruiters over the military’s ban on gays (and the AAUP supported the law schools for
doing so).
 
EXPLICIT “NO POSITION”
“While Jewish Voice for Peace has no position on academic boycotts, we categorically reject
the assertion that boycotts to pressure Israel to abide by international law are inherently anti-
Semitic. On the contrary, these boycotts use nonviolent tactics to further human rights”
(Sydney Levy, Jewish Voice for Peace).47


10
AGAINST
i) “The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which now occupies center-
stage among Palestine activists, claims to anchor its goals in international law. On this
critical point, there’s no disagreement. Everyone starts from the premise that the strongest
card Palestinians have to play in the court of public opinion is international law. The
settlements are illegal, the occupation of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and
Gaza is illegal, the denial of refugee rights is illegal. The flaw in the BDS movement is
that it selectively upholds only Palestinian rights, and ignores Palestinian obligations.
Under international law, Israel is a state. If you want to appeal to public opinion on the
basis of international law, you can’t suddenly become an agnostic on the law when it
comes to Israel. However, that’s exactly what BDS does: it claims to have ‘no position’
on Israel, whereas international law does take a position on Israel. To be consistent, BDS
must either recognize Israel or cease to claim that it is anchored in international law. It
cannot both appeal to international law and fall silent on Israel’s rights under that same
law” (Norman Finkelstein).48
ii) The boycotters are, in former Harvard President Larry Summers’ words, “anti-semitic in
their effect if not intent.” “The ASA boycott has nothing to do with human rights. It’s an
exercise in radical chic, giving marginalized academics a frisson of pretend anti-
colonialism, seasoned with a dose of edgy anti-Semitism. And don’t tell me this is
merely about Zionism. The ruse is transparent. Israel is the world’s only Jewish state. To
apply to the state of the Jews a double standard that you apply to none other, to judge one
people in a way you judge no other, to single out that one people for condemnation and
isolation — is to engage in a gross act of discrimination. And discrimination against Jews
has a name. It’s called anti-Semitism” (Charles Krauthammer).49
iii) “We oppose the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. They see Israel as
hopelessly flawed. We see Israel as, pardon the syntax, hopefully flawed…NIF opposes
the ASA's decision and urges them to rescind it. We will always oppose efforts to shut
down debate anywhere, not just for academics but for activists, community leaders,
rabbis --- everyone…NIF's [has an] ironclad policy against funding organizations that
participate in the global BDS movement. We have written before, and will again, that we
think the BDS movement is at best misguided and at worst an attempt to eradicate Israel
as the Jewish homeland” (Naomi Paiss, New Israel Fund).50
iv) “J Street strongly opposes the American Studies Association’s decision today to boycott
Israeli colleges and universities. We recognize the legitimate and urgent concerns about
peace, justice and human rights that drive some of the calls from campuses and academic
bodies to boycott Israeli institutions and products. We believe that a two-state solution is
the best way to address these concerns and that this conflict can only be resolved through
engagement and diplomacy, not alienation and isolation. Boycotts not only exacerbate the
 
bigotry/2014/01/09/64f482ee-795e-11e3-af7f-13bf0e9965f6_story.html
11
divide between Israelis and Palestinians, but create new and deep divisions among those
who could be allies working together for a peaceful resolution of the conflict. In the best
tradition of the university, the way to counter views with which one disagrees is not to
boycott them, but to subject them to the scrutiny of vibrant and open debate. An inclusive
and civil conversation on campuses and in academic bodies about the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict best serves the cause of ending it.”51
v) “Any such boycott of academic institutions directly violates academic freedom, which is
a fundamental principle of AAU universities and of American higher education in
general. Academic freedom is the freedom of university faculty responsibly to produce
and disseminate knowledge through research, teaching, and service, without undue
constraint. It is a principle that should not be abridged by political considerations…
Efforts to address political issues, or to address restrictions on academic freedom, should
not themselves infringe upon academic freedom. Restrictions imposed on the ability of
scholars of any particular country to work with their fellow academics in other countries,
participate in meetings and organizations, or otherwise carry out their scholarly activities
violate academic freedom” (AAUP).52
vi) “We can disagree with the governmental policies of a nation without sanctioning the
universities of that nation, or the American universities that collaborate with them. To
restrict the free flow of people and ideas with some universities because of their national
identity is unwise, unnecessary, and irreconcilable with our core academic values”
(Wallace D. Loh, President of University of Maryland).
vii) “In this strange case, why the ASA would propose an academic boycott of Israel and not,
for example, of Syria, the Sudan, North Korea, China, Iran, Iraq, or Russia escapes
rational thought” (James Jones, President Trinity College).
viii) Some critics of Israeli policy towards Palestinians have been Israeli academics. Would
we punish Chomsky as part of a boycott to punish MIT for taking military funding? A
boycott is a blunt instrument, punishing Israeli academics who have worked for
Palestinian rights along with others. “It is not so easy to understand how moral outrage at
a political action can be so quickly translated into an obligation to deny professional
courtesies to people whose responsibility for that action is at best attenuated and in many
instances non-existent” (Stanley Fish).53
ix) “Israeli universities are actually some of the very few places in Israeli society where
Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel interact as equals” (Ari Kelman).54 Such spaces
should be nurtured, not attacked, in order to maximize their transformative potential.
 
52 https://www.aau.edu/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=14859; see a similar statement by the Middle East
Studies Association in response to the 2005 AUT boycott vote:
universities/?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&_r=0
12
x) “The primary role of a professional academic organization is to advocate for the needs
and concerns of its members within their professional lives. In that regard, I believe that
the American Studies Association should be devoting its energies to supporting and
advancing the careers of its members by, for example, advocating for improved working
conditions for adjunct faculty members” (Marc Rice).55
xi) Attempts to distinguish Israeli academics from their institutions, saying we boycott the
latter but not the former, are impossible in practice: where does an Israeli academic’s
funding come from? And when does an individual exchange become institutional? (For
example, would an American academic be allowed to affiliate as a Fulbright Scholar with
an Israeli host university? Would an Israeli provost be allowed to give a talk on his or
her research?) “The ASA tries to defend the boycott on the ground that it applies
formally to Israeli universities rather than individual faculty, but of course, this neglects
the profound impact such a ban will have on the scholars who form the intellectual heart
and participate actively in the academic life and governance of those universities”
(Ronald Daniels, President Johns Hopkins Univeristy).
xii) “It’s repellant to contemplate Israeli professors being shut out of conferences or barred
from journals for no reason other than their ethnicity” (Michelle Goldberg). “Scholars
would be punished not because of what they believe – which would be bad enough – but
simply because of who they are based on their nationality. In no other context does the
ASA discriminate on the basis of national origin – and for good reason. This is
discrimination, pure and simple."56
xiii) When the British Association of University Teachers briefly put in place a boycott of
two Israeli universities in 2005, it included an exemption for “conscientious Israeli
academics and intellectuals opposed to their stateʼs colonial and racist policies.”57 If
individual Israeli faculty are exempted from a boycott because they oppose Israeli policy
towards Palestinians (a situation that developed with regard to the academic boycott of
South Africa in the 1980s, though this is not what the ASA resolution advocates), then
the boycott turns into an ideological blacklist.
xiv) “Economic implosion, which a fully implemented BDS would bring about rather quickly,
will cut the ground out from under Israel’s most educated and cosmopolitan people. It
will not just pressure them, it will destroy them—ruin their lives, force the emigration of
their children. Settlers and their ultra allies, in contrast, have no problem with Israel
turning into a poorer, purer, Jewish Pakistan. Do we really want to cause Israel’s private
sector to collapse or its universities to be isolated?” (Bernard Avishai).58


56 From letter opposing boycott by some ASA scholars, quoted
academic-boycott
13
xv) “In a massive reordering of Jewish life geographically during the past century, there have
developed two centers of Jewish life in the post-Holocaust world: North America and
Israel. A call on American institutions to boycott Israeli institutions and academics says to
us who teach and research in Jewish Studies that we cannot study directly or explore fully
half of contemporary Jewish life. Our programs have no right to exist and func'tion like
other centers or programs in universities, which regularly host visiting scholars and
speakers, establish ongoing exchange relations with universities abroad, and send their
students to study abroad in those universities” (Kenneth Waltzer).59
xvi) It would make more sense to target the Settlers with a boycott since they are primarily
responsible for human rights violations. “What we need… is a vibrant, globalizing Israel,
businesses, universities, etc. that expect to be part of the world and show the way to it;
people who find Greater Israel an embarrassment and, indeed, will see an international
boycott of settlements as a way of selling their case for compromise” (Bernard
Avishai).60
xvii) A majority of Israelis consistently tell pollsters that they would prefer a two-state
solution to the current occupation and would welcome the opportunity to work out a
compromise that would end the occupation and allow Palestinians to fulfill their
national aspirations in the context of security guarantees for Israel and a genuine
willingness to end hostilities. But they feel themselves to be without a credible partner
in the peace process” (Eric Alterman).61
xviii) “BDS proponents note that the movement takes no position on whether there should be
one state or two between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea…. This is the
fundamental problem: Not that the ASA is practicing double standards and not even
that it’s boycotting academics, but that it’s denying the legitimacy of a democratic
Jewish state, even alongside a Palestinian one” (Peter Beinart).62
xix) Proponents of an academic boycott advocate boycotting academic institutions because
these are the only targets they, as academics, have the power to reach; but a boycott of
academic institutions will have marginal impact compared to a boycott of economic
and financial institutions.
xx) A boycott could hurt Palestinian students at Israeli universities.
xxi) It is unclear under what circumstances the boycott would be ended.
xxii) Israel is one of the most democratic states in the Middle East, and its values regarding
women, gays etc. are more in line with Western values than those of most of its
neighbors.
 
14
8. Observations on the debate:
 
Without taking a position for or against either side of the debate, here are some observations
on the terms of the debate:
1) The ASA’s distinction between institutions (which are boycotted) and individuals (who
are free to participate in academic exchange) is problematic, since an institutional boycott
will to some degree curtail opportunities for academic exchange (see #2 below). At the same
time, there is surely a difference between academic exchange between individuals or small
groups on the one hand, and the legitimacy an institution confers when it enters into a formal
agreement as an institution, on the other. To give an example, NYU (which has condemned
the ASA boycott) has a formal institutional agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE),
where it has opened a campus. The UAE bans Israeli citizens from entering its territories.
NYU’s institutional agreement with the UAE does much more to legitimize its regime than
academic exchanges with individual NYU faculty would; further, probably few would
condemn NYU for withdrawing from its agreement with a formally anti-Israeli regime while
allowing individual NYU faculty to continue their exchanges with counterparts in the UAE.
In the same vein, while no one is suggesting an end to individual faculty exchanges with
Chinese academics, faculty at a number of campuses (most notably Wellesley) have opposed
institutional agreements with Chinese universities because of their systematic violation of
academic freedom.
2) The ASA has defended itself against accusations that a boycott interferes with academic
freedom by drawing a strong line between a boycott of institutions (which their resolution
calls for) and interference in the academic expression and exchange of individuals (which
they say they oppose). This distinction is not altogether tenable. For example, individual
scholars whose travel to the U.S. was paid for by their institutions would fall under the scope
of the boycott on institutions.63 Moreover, the boycott movement’s website gives this answer
to the question whether inviting an Israeli academic to a conference would violate the
boycott: “In principle, since the call is specifically for institutional, not individual boycott,
such activities do not violate the boycott. However, all academic exchanges with Israeli
academics do have the effect of normalizing Israel and its politics of occupation and
apartheid. Academics could consider whether equally valuable contributions might not be
made by non-Israeli colleagues; whether an invitation to a Palestinian intellectual might be
preferable; whether the exchange is intellectually or pedagogically essential… it may also be
that as a consequence of the boycott Israeli academics are now having a harder time
publishing outside the country, participating in formal exchanges, sitting on boards and
international committees, and the like.”64



63 Making a distinction between rights and privileges, Omar Barghouti says of Israeli scholars: “What they do face
as a result of the boycott is the 'inconvenience' of having to seek independent international funding to cover their
international academic projects, instead of relying on Israeli state or institutional funding for that. An effective
international isolation of Israeli academic institutions will undoubtedly curtail some privileges that Israeli scholars
take for granted, from generous travel subsidies to various perks and services that have no bearing on their
15
3) The argument for academic freedom is the one most consistently cited by university
presidents in condemning the boycott, and it may be the most compelling argument against
the boycott. And yet it is inconsistently applied. The AAUP has condemned the boycott as an
infringement of academic freedom, but it remained silent when the Israeli government closed
the political science department at Ben-Gurion University, apparently because the department
was critical of Israeli treatment of Palestinians.65 Those American university leaders who
condemn the boycott for abridging academic freedom have not condemned Israel for limiting
the ability of Palestinian academics to travel and speak.66 Nor have they condemned Hillel
chapters on U.S. campuses, which have barred their own student members’ attempts to co-
sponsor events with the liberal Jewish groups J Street U and Jewish Voice for Peace or to
invite Palestinian speakers for debate and discussion. At one university, a Hillel student
leader was forced to resign after showing the Palestinian documentary film Five Broken
Cameras at a campus event.67 It seems to us that if free academic exchange is to be at the
center of a rejection of the boycott, then that rejection should be matched by a condemnation
of the curtailment of academic freedom by the Israeli state and by some pro-Israel pressure
groups in the U.S.
4) Surely there are limits to the absolutism of the academic freedom argument. Most of
those who condemn the boycott of Israeli universities today presumably would not have
condemned a boycott of universities in Nazi Germany in the late 1930s. The question is,
where is the line that makes a boycott warranted? Marjorie Heins, who generally opposes
academic boycotts, says: “A state-mandated purge of all dissenters, for example, or of all
professors who are not orthodox Jews, would deprive an institution of much of its claim to be
a true university committed to academic freedom. Excluding such a mock or shadow
university from the international community of scholars would do little harm to academic
freedom; the harm would already have been done. And there would, at that point, be no
dissenters left about whose academic freedom one might be concerned.”68
5) ASA, unlike AAA, does not have a community of scholars whose professional careers have
been built around travel to and study of the Middle East. AAA should take into account the
special situation of these members of our community. They may have densely networked ties
in the region and a boycott may put them in a situation where they are pressured to turn down
conference invitations, or cut off communications with colleagues and research subjects. Quite
beyond the possible damage to their professional careers that a boycott might inflict, the work
of these scholars may well require them to maintain contacts with a wide range of people in
the region, and may suddenly find themselves pressured to stop talking to some. Thus,
potential victims of a boycott include not only Israeli academics, but also some of our own
professional colleagues.
 
67 See Laurie Goodstein, “Members of Jewish Student Group test Permissible Discussion on Israel,” New York Times December 29, 2013, p.21.
16
1. Some alternatives
There is a wide range of positions AAA leadership could take, including no action, further
information-gathering, and deeper consideration of what the exact nature of AAA interest in
the debate might be, as well as whether the issues it wishes to consider are even well-captured
by the kinds of positions we have tried to describe here. In this section, again without
prejudicing an open-ended conversation, we present some alternatives to a boycott that have
been proposed or can be imagined within the scope of the debate as it has been presented here.
Others are certainly also imaginable. Alice Kessler-Harris, a former ASA President who
opposed the boycott, asks "Could not a well-intentioned group of academics think of a less-
divisive strategy—a strategy that would invite Palestinian academics in and provide
opportunities for them, a strategy that would enrich and widen the conversation rather than
close it down?"69
i) Resolution condemning Israeli policy toward Palestinians with specific reference to
violations of International law, human and civil rights; and a resolution condemning
US participation in supporting the occupation. (AAUP distinguishes a “censure” from
a “boycott” —and this would be like a censure in AAUP terms.)
ii) Call for universities to divest from Israel or businesses (like Sodastream, Dell, General Electric and Hewlett-Packard70) that help sustain inequitable treatment of
Palestinians. (This could be modeled on the AAUP position on the South African
divestment movement: AAUP supported economic divestment from South Africa, but
opposed an academic boycott, and former AAUP President Cary Nelson at one point
said he supported a boycott of Israeli goods produced in the occupied territories, but
not an academic boycott.)71
iii) More selective boycott.
iv) Use AAA resources to create special opportunities for Palestinian scholars or for
Israeli-Palestinian dialogue.
v) The boycott campaign website notes that “Academics [in the West] might also build
momentum behind existing international efforts to overturn restrictions on foreign
passport holders living and working in the Palestinian areas by helping to organize
various events at Palestinian universities or by applying to work at these institutions
in a temporary or permanent capacity.” The site also mentions “making fellowships
 
corporation/13055?fb_action_ids=10203142064698991&fb_action_types=og.recommends&fb_source=other_mult
iline&action_object_map=[1452686841621079]&action_type_map=[%22og.recommends%22]&action_ref_map=[]
17
available to Palestinian students; sending educational materials to Palestinian
institutions.”72
vi) Join the campaign to pressure TIAA-CREF to divest from companies that profit from
the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank (See
vii) The MLA took a different approach with a resolution calling for US scholars,
obstructed by Israel, to be allowed to accept invitations to visit the occupied
territories.73 (See Appendix 6.) (The MLA approach spared the MLA criticism that it
was attacking academic freedom, but not allegations that it was singling out Israel).
viii) The Middle East Studies Association (MESA) is on record as opposing boycotts,
saying in 2005 “We find thoroughly objectionable the call of the AUT to refrain from
any and all scholarly interaction with the entire professional staff of two universities
because of the policies of the state in which they are situated.” MESA has two
committees (one for North American universities and one for Middle Eastern
universities) that draft carefully researched “intervention” letters to protest violations
of academic freedom. Of the 185 such letters sent since 2001, 28 were sent to Israeli
officials.74
10) Recommendations for process (learning from the ASA’s and MLA’s experiences)
Some background:
1) According to the ASA’s council statement
_of_israel_resolution/), it took six years of various kinds of dialogue within the ASA before
the boycott resolution was adopted by the membership.
2) At an ASA open forum attended by 745 members, many more people wanted to speak
than was possible. Speakers were each limited to two minutes and those who wanted to
speak put their names into a box, from which questioners were randomly selected.
3) We know from prior AAA experience that some complaints about actions taken by the
executive board are inaccurate and unfair. Bearing in mind that some of these allegations
may not be entirely accurate, among complaints that were made about the ASA’s process in
endorsing a boycott was that the ASA website was biased against anti-boycott arguments
and resources (such as the AAUP statement, which ASA refused to have posted there). A
 
academic-group-considers-israel-censure.html?_r=0; http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/01/13/mla-
delegate-assembly-narrowly-votes-criticize-israel
18
letter signed by eight former ASA Presidents complained that “ASA Members were
provided only the resolution and a link to a website supporting it. Despite explicit requests,
the National Council refused to circulate or post to the ASA’s website alternative
perspectives.” The ASA President responded that the ASA refused to post some documents
because “the documents misrepresent the current version of the resolution and the process by
which it has been put forward.”75
Suggestions for AAA:
1. AAA should invite and/or organize panels at its annual meeting on the Israel/Palestine
situation and on the boycott movement. Unlike a panel at the MLA meeting that attracted
criticism for only featuring pro-boycott speakers,76 these panels would be open to a range
of views. (ASA sponsored several such panels.) The AAA program chair(s) should be
part of the discussion about ensuring programming on the issue that is open to diverse
points of view.
2. The AAA annual meeting program should include the showing of informative films
and documentaries, such as The Gatekeepers
(http://www.sonyclassics.com/thegatekeepers/), Where Should the Birds Fly?
children), and Five Broken Cameras (http://www.kinolorber.com/5brokencameras/), an
Academy Award nominated documentary.
3. Robust advance notice should be given to the membership about fora on this topic at
the annual meeting.
4. As much as possible, those moderating discussion fora will be “honest brokers.”
(Some criticized the MLA delegate meeting where a resolution was discussed and voted
on because the meeting was chaired by a boycott advocate, and there was confusion about
parliamentary process.)77
5. On the basis of “learnings” from ASA and MLA, it would be best if any debate in
AAA were led by AAA members, rather than by a cluster of professional opinionators
who tend to polarize the issue.
6. The AAA leadership should enter into dialogue with anyone developing a resolution
on this issue to ensure that the resolution is carefully/thoughtfully/accurately crafted.
(The MLA resolution had to be rewritten at the last minute when it became apparent that
its language about Gaza was factually inaccurate.)
7. AAA should set up a website for debate of a resolution and refrain from policing
people’s comments unless they are obviously defamatory or abusive. This was part of
AAA process in the referenda on the Honduras issue and on the new ethics code. If
 
19
people make arguments that are inaccurate, we should trust that the debate will make that
clear, and that AAA members are capable of judging when an argument is invalid.
8. A final decision be taken by a referendum of the AAA membership, not by the
Executive Board acting alone, and not at a business meeting that might be packed by a
well organized pressure group.
9. The MLA was criticized for denying press credentials to two reporters who wanted to
cover its annual convention. One was from the Jewish News Service and the other was
from the right-wing Daily Caller. AAA should give press credentials to any legitimate
reporter and avoid giving the appearance that it is trying to pre-censor news coverage,
which it has no intention of doing.
10. AAA may consider organizing a Task Force.
11. Given criticisms at the MLA meeting that the Association, whose members largely
lack expert knowledge about the Middle East, was exceeding its expertise, AAA should
be energetic in drawing on the expertise of the Middle East section and of anthropologists
who are knowledgeable in this area. This may be in the form of a Task Force designed to
gather and disseminate information on the Israel/Palestine issue and/or the broader
questions it raises.
20

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Yas, Jeffrey. 2000. (Re)designing the City of David: Landscape, Narrative and Archaeology in
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Websites
US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel: http://www.usacbi.org/faqs/
Palestinian BDS National Committee: http://www.bdsmovement.net/BNC#.T4268KuP9AE
Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel:
Birzeit University’s “Right to freedom” site: http://right2edu.birzeit.edu/
AAUP on academic boycotts in general: http://www.aaup.org/report/academic-boycotts
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Appendix 1
American Studies Association Resolution on Academic Boycott of Israel
l
December 4, 2013
Whereas the American Studies Association is committed to the pursuit of social justice, to the
struggle against all forms of racism, including anti-semitism, discrimination, and xenophobia,
and to solidarity with aggrieved peoples in the United States and in the world;
Whereas the United States plays a significant role in enabling the Israeli occupation of Palestine
and the expansion of illegal settlements and the Wall in violation of international law, as well as
in supporting the systematic discrimination against Palestinians, which has had documented
devastating impact on the overall well-being, the exercise of political and human rights, the
freedom of movement, and the educational opportunities of Palestinians;
Whereas there is no effective or substantive academic freedom for Palestinian students and
scholars under conditions of Israeli occupation, and Israeli institutions of higher learning are a
party to Israeli state policies that violate human rights and negatively impact the working
conditions of Palestinian scholars and students;
Whereas the American Studies Association is cognizant of Israeli scholars and students who are
critical of Israeli state policies and who support the international boycott, divestment, and
sanctions (BDS) movement under conditions of isolation and threat of sanction;
Whereas the American Studies Association is dedicated to the right of students and scholars to
pursue education and research without undue state interference, repression, and military
violence, and in keeping with the spirit of its previous statements supports the right of students
and scholars to intellectual freedom and to political dissent as citizens and scholars;
It is resolved that the American Studies Association (ASA) endorses and will honor the call of
Palestinian civil society for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. It is also resolved that the
ASA supports the protected rights of students and scholars everywhere to engage in research
and public speaking about Israel-Palestine and in support of the boycott, divestment, and
sanctions (BDS) movement.
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Appendix 2
The Association for Asian American Studies
Resolution for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions
Resolution: for AAAS to honor the call of Palestinian civil society for a boycott of Israeli
academic institutions; and to support the protected rights of students and scholars everywhere to
engage in research and public speaking about Israel-Palestine and in support of the boycott,
divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement;
Whereas the Association for Asian American Studies is an organization dedicated to the
preservation and support of academic freedom and of the right to education for students and
scholars in the U.S. and globally; and
Whereas Arab (West Asian) and Muslim American communities, students, and scholars have
been subjected to profiling, surveillance, and civil rights violations that have circumscribed
their freedom of political expression, particularly in relation to the issue of human rights in
Palestine-Israel; and
Whereas the Association for Asian American Studies seeks to foster scholarship that engages
conditions of migration, displacement, colonialism, and racism, and the lives of people in zones
of war and occupation; and
Whereas the Association for Asian American Studies seeks to advance a critique of U.S.
empire, opposing US military occupation in the Arab world and U.S. support for occupation
and racist practices by the Israeli state; and
Whereas the United Nations has reported that the current Israeli occupation of Palestine has
impacted students “whose development is deformed by pervasive deprivations affecting health,
education and overall security”; and Whereas Palestinian universities and schools havebeen
periodically forced to close as a result of actions related to the Israeli occupation, or have been
destroyed by Israeli military strikes, and Palestinian students and scholars face restrictions on
movement and travel that limit their ability to attend and work at universities, travel to
conferences and to study abroad, and thereby obstruct their right to education; and
Whereas the Israeli state and Israeli universities directly and indirectly impose restrictions on
education, scholarships, and participation in campus activities on Palestinian students in Israel;
and
Whereas Israel imposes severe restrictions on foreign academics and students seeking to attend
conferences and do research in Palestine as well as on scholars and students of Arab/Palestinian
origin who wish to travel to Israel-Palestine; and
Whereas Israeli institutions of higher education have not condemned or taken measures to
oppose the occupation and racial discrimination against Palestinians in Israel, but have, rather,
been directly and indirectly complicit in the systematic maintenance of the occupation and of
policies and practices that discriminate against Palestinian students and scholars throughout
Palestine and in Israel; and
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Whereas Israeli academic institutions are deeply complicit in Israel's violations of international
law and human rights and in itsdenial of the right to education and academic freedom to
Palestinians, in addition to their basic rights as guaranteed by international law; and
Whereas the Association for Asian American Studies supports research and open discussion
about these issues without censorship, intimidation, or harassment, and seeks to promote
academic exchange, collaboration and opportunities for students and scholars everywhere; Be it
resolved that the Association for Asian American Studies endorses and will honor the call of
Palestinian civil society for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. Be it also resolved that
the Association for Asian American Studies supports the protected rights of students and
scholars everywhere to engage in research and public speaking about Israel-Palestine and in
support of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.
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Appendix 3
Council of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association
Declaration of Support for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions
Declaration of Support for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions by the Council of the
Native American and Indigenous Studies Association
December 15, 2013
The council of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) declares its
support for the boycott of Israeli academic institutions.
A broad coalition of Palestinian non-governmental organizations, acting in concert to represent
the Palestinian people, formed the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott
of Israel. Their call was taken up in the United States by the US Campaign for the Academic
and Cultural Boycott of Israel. A NAISA member-initiated petition brought this issue to
NAISA Council. After extensive deliberation on the merits of the petition, the NAISA Council
decided by unanimous vote to encourage members of NAISA and all who support its mission to
honor the boycott.
NAISA is dedicated to free academic inquiry about, with, and by Indigenous communities. The
NAISA Council protests the infringement of the academic freedom of Indigenous Palestinian
academics and intellectuals in the Occupied Territories and Israel who are denied fundamental
freedoms of movement, expression, and assembly, which we uphold.
As the elected council of an international community of Indigenous and allied non-Indigenous
scholars, students, and public intellectuals who have studied and resisted the colonization and
domination of Indigenous lands via settler state structures throughout the world, we strongly
protest the illegal occupation of Palestinian lands and the legal structures of the Israeli state that
systematically discriminate against Palestinians and other Indigenous peoples.
NAISA is committed to the robust intellectual and ethical engagement of difficult and often
highly charged issues of land, identity, and belonging. Our members will have varying opinions
on the issue of the boycott, and we encourage generous dialogue that affirms respectful
disagreement as a vital scholarly principle. We reject shaming or personal attacks as counter to
humane understanding and the greater goals of justice, peace, and decolonization.
As scholars dedicated to the rights of Indigenous peoples, we affirm that our efforts are directed
specifically at the Israeli state, not at Israeli individuals. The NAISA Council encourages
NAISA members to boycott Israeli academic institutions because they are imbricated with the
Israeli state and we wish to place pressure on that state to change its policies. We champion and
defend intellectual and academic freedom, and we recognize that conversation and
collaboration with individuals and organizations in Israel/Palestine can make an important
contribution to the cause of justice. In recognition of the profound social and political obstacles
facing Palestinians in such dialogues, however, we urge our members and supporters to engage
in such actions outside the aegis of Israeli educational institutions, honoring this boycott until
such time as the rights of the Palestinian people are respected and discriminatory policies are
ended.
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Appendix 4
Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI)
TUI is the first academic union in Europe to endorse the Palestinian call for an academic
boycott of Israel.
241. Executive Committee/Dublin Colleges(x4)
TUI demand that ICTU step up its campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS)
against the apartheid state of Israel until it lifts its illegal siege of Gaza and its illegal
occupation of the West Bank, and agrees to abide by International law and all UN Resolutions
against it.
Congress instructs the Executive Committee to:
(a) Conduct an awareness campaign amongst TUI members on the need for BDS
(b) Request all members to cease all cultural and academic collaboration with Israel, including
the exchange of scientists, students and academic personalities, as well as all cooperation in
research programmes. (ENDS)
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Appendix 5
Text of Resolution sent to MLA membership in a referendum, March 2014
Resolution 2014-1
Whereas Israel has denied academics of Palestinian ethnicity entry into the West Bank;
Whereas these restrictions violate international conventions on an occupying power’s obligation
to protect the right to education;
Whereas the United States Department of State acknowledges on its Web site that Israel
restricts the movements of American citizens of Palestinian descent;
Whereas the denials have disrupted instruction, research, and planning at Palestinian
universities;
Whereas the denials have restricted the academic freedom of scholars and teachers who are
United States citizens;
Be it resolved that the MLA urge the United States Department of State to contest Israel’s
denials of entry to the West Bank by United States academics who have been invited to teach,
confer, or do research at Palestinian universities.
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Appendix 6
The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions Position on Sanctions (2005)
Anthropologist Jeff Halper, Co-Founder and Director
PO Box 2030
Tels: +972-(0)2-624-5560
Fax: +972-(0)2-622-1530
Rehov Ben-Yehuda 7
+972-(0)505-651425
E-mail:
91020 Jerusalem, Israel
+972-(0)548-046999
Website:
January 27, 2005
SANCTIONS AGAINST THE ISRAELI OCCUPATION: IT’S TIME
After years of diplomatic and political efforts aimed at inducing Israel to end its Occupation,
while watching it grow ever stronger and more permanent, ICAHD supports a multi-tiered
campaign of strategic, selective sanctions against Israel until the Occupation ends; i.e. a
campaign targeting Israel’s Occupation rather than Israel per se. We believe that in most cases
merely enforcing existing laws, international as well as domestic, would render the Occupation
untenable and would pull Israel back into compliance with human rights covenants. We also
favor selective divestment and boycott as tools of moral and economic pressure.
Since sanctions are a powerful, non-violent, popular means of resisting the Occupation, a
campaign of sanctions seems to us the next logical step in international efforts to end the
Occupation. While it will develop over time, ICAHD supports the following elements at this
time:
• Sales or transfer of arms to Israel conditional upon their use in ways that do not perpetuate
the Occupation or violate human rights and international humanitarian law, violations that
would end if governments enforced existing laws and regulations regarding the use of
weapons in contravention of human rights;
• Trade sanctions on Israel due to its violation of the “Association Agreements” it has signed
with the European Union that prohibit the sale of settlement products under the “Made in
Israel” label, as well as for violations of their human rights provisions;
• Divestment from companies that profit from involvement in the Occupation. In this vein
ICAHD supports initiatives like that of the Presbyterian Church of the US which targets
companies contributing materially to the Occupation and certainly the campaign against
Caterpillar whose bulldozers demolish thousands of Palestinian homes;
• Boycott of settlement products and of companies that provide housing to the settlements or
which play a major role in perpetuating the Occupation; and
• Holding individuals, be they policy-makers, military personnel carrying out orders or
others, personally accountable for human rights violations, including trial before
international courts and bans on travel to other countries.
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ICAHD calls on the international community – governments, trade unions, university
communities, faith-based organizations as well as the broad civil society – to do all that is
possible to hold Israel accountable for its Occupation policies and actions, thereby hastening the
end of this tragedy. While we also call on the Palestinian Authority to adhere to human rights
conventions, our support for selective sanctions against Israel's Occupation policies focuses
properly on Israel which alone has the power to end the Occupation and is alone the violator of
international law regarding the responsibilities of an Occupying Power.
SANCTIONS AGAINST THE ISRAELI OCCUPATION: RATIONALE
“If apartheid ended, so can the occupation. But the moral force and international pressure will
have to be just as determined. The current divestment effort is the first, though certainly not the
only, necessary move in that direction.” -- Bishop Desmond Tutu
You can’t have it both ways. You can’t complain about violence on the part of the Palestinians
and yet reject effective non-violent measures against the Occupation that support their right to
self-determination, such as economic sanctions. You can’t condemn the victims of Occupation
for employing terrorism while, by opposing divestment, thereby sheltering the Occupying
Power that employs State Terror. You can’t end the isolation and suffering of people living
under Occupation while permitting the Occupying Power to carry on its life among the nations
unencumbered and normally, by withholding a boycott of its economic and cultural products.
The Case For Sanctions
Sanctions, divestment and boycotts are absolutely legitimate means at everyone’s disposal for
effectively opposing injustice. As penalties, protest, pressure and resistance to policies that
violate fundamental human rights, international law and UN resolutions, they are directed at
ending a situation of intolerable conflict, suffering and moral wrong-doing, not against a
particular people or country. When the injustice ends, the sanctions end.
Sanctions, divestment and boycotts represent powerful international responses that arise not
only from opposition to an intolerable situation, but also to the complicity of every person in
the international civil society that does nothing to resolve it. Because they are rooted in human
rights, international law and the will of the international community, and because they are
supremely non-violent responses to injustice, sanctions carry a potent moral force. A campaign
of sanctions, even if it proves impossible to actually implement them, mobilizes what has been
called “the politics of shame.” No country wants to be cast as a major violator of human rights.
Precisely because it is so difficult to enforce international humanitarian law, holding up its
oppressive policy for all to see is often the only way of pressuring it to cease its oppressive
policies. The moral and political condemnation conveyed by a campaign for sanctions and the
international isolation it threatens sends a powerful, unmistakable message to the perpetrator:
cease your unjust policies or suffer the consequences.
Rather than punishment, a campaign of sanctions rests upon the notion of accountability. A
country threatened by sanctions stands in violation of the very principles underlying the
international community as articulated in human rights covenants, international humanitarian
law and UN resolutions. If we go by Amnesty’s annual report, virtually every country could be
“called on the carpet” for their human rights violations. A campaign of sanctions constitutes an
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extraordinary step, however. It is invoked when injustice and suffering have become so
routinized, so institutionalized, so pervasive, so resistant to normal international diplomacy or
pressures, that their very continuation compromises the very validity of the international system
and the moral standing of its members, countries, corporations and citizens alike. And it targets
the strong parties. The very basis of a call for sanctions is that the targeted country has the
ability to end the intolerable situation. A campaign of sanctions embodies a fundamental
principle of the international system: that each country must be held accountable for its policies
and actions in light of accepted international norms. The message to all countries must be:
Participation in the international community depends upon conformity to the “rules of the
game.”
Campaigns of sanctions are in essence educative, and that is part of their power. Since the
reasons for taking such drastic action must be explicit, weighty and compelling, it forces those
calling for sanctions to make a strong case for them. The very act of initiating such a campaign,
then, raises awareness not only of the injustice itself, but of the principles it violates, thus
strengthening the understanding of the international system itself. And since a campaign of
sanctions must be accepted by the international community in order to succeed, it necessitates
discussion and dialogue. The considerations behind the demand for sanctions are made
transparent, and the targeted country given an opportunity to present its case. The likelihood,
then, is that a campaign of sanctions initiated by civil society will express broad-based
international consensus if it is to take hold.
Again, at issue is a serious violation of international law and norms. Just as in a case of an
individual caught breaking the law, what is in question is what acts have been done, not who the
country or the individual is. To paraphrase Jefferson, who spoke of “a government of laws, not
men,” here we are speaking of “an international system of laws and not only countries that do
whatever they want.” Thus, when the violations end, the sanctions cease and the country in
question rejoins the international community.
The Case for Sanctions Against Israel
In line with the principles just discussed, economic sanctions against Israel are not invoked
against Israel per se, but against Israel until the Occupation ends. With this proviso it is Israel’s
policy of occupation that is targeted, its status as an Occupying Power, not Israel itself. When
South Africa ended its system of apartheid, sanctions ceased and it fully rejoined the
international community. When apartheid ended, so did the boycott of its sports teams, one of
the most potent measures employed to impress on the South African government its
international isolation. The divestment campaign currently directed against Caterpillar has
gained considerable momentum among the international public, effectively educating people
about Israel’s policy of demolishing Palestinian homes. It has generated calls for other
sanctions, such as the Presbyterian Church’s initiative to divest from companies profiting from
the Occupation. The European Parliament has also called for trade sanctions on Israel given
Israel’s violation of the “Association Agreements” that prohibit the sale of settlement products
under the “Made in Israel” label. The American Congress should take similar steps, since
Israel’s use of American weapons against civilian populations violates the human rights
provisions of the Arms Control Exports Act. The boycott of California grapes in the 1960s
played a key role in gaining employment rights for migrant workers. The current boycott of
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settlement products is intended to express moral opposition to the very presence of settlements
while making it economically and politically difficult for Israel to maintain them.
Once it builds momentum, there is probably no more effective means for civil society to
effectively pursue justice than a campaign of sanctions. Its power derives less from its
economic impact – although, with time, that too can be decisive – than from the moral outrage
that impels it. Sanctions themselves seriously affected the South African economy. Following
massive protests inside South Africa and escalating international pressure in mid-1984, some
200 US companies and more than 60 British ones withdrew from the country and international
lenders cut off Pretoria’s access to foreign capital. US Congressional pressure played a crucial
role as well, an element totally lacking vis-à-vis the Israel-Palestine conflict, which makes the
possibility of actually imposing sanctions on Israel that more difficult. In 1986 Congress – with
a Republican-controlled Senate – passed the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act over the
Reagan’s veto. The Act banned new US investment in South Africa, sales to the police and
military and new bank loans.
Although the Act was not strictly enforced by the Reagan and Bush Administrations, although
European governments found ways of quietly doing business with Pretoria (while Israel, by the
way, was helping South African businesses by-pass sanctions by peddling their products in the
US and Europe under a “Made in Israel” label, as well as by continued involvement in military
development in South Africa, including nuclear; Hunter 1986), it did generate a climate – moral
and economic – that made it increasingly difficult to maintain business-as-usual with the
apartheid regime. The moral dimension led to a delegitimization of the very apartheid system
that left no room for “reform.” Carried over to Israel’s Occupation, the moral element in a
larger political condemnation of Israel’s policies could delegitimize the Occupation to the point
where only its complete end is acceptable. A campaign of sanctions which highlights the moral
unacceptability of Israel’s Occupation could have a great impact, eventually impelling
governments to impose economic sanctions while creating a climate difficult for businesses
(beginning with Caterpillar) to continue func'tion.
It is not only the political unacceptability of Israel’s Occupation which makes the call for
sanction urgent and obligatory, it is the massive violations of Palestinian human rights, of
international law and of numerous UN resolutions that the Occupation entails. If Israel as the
Occupying Power is not held accountable for the intolerable situation within its ability, indeed,
within its responsibility to end, the entire international system of justice is rendered
meaningless and empty. And that is what makes the Occupation an international issue. If Israel
succeeds in defying the Fourth Geneva Convention and making its Occupation permanent, if an
entire population is literally locked behind walls and its right of self-determination trampled,
then the ability of human rights to win out over an international order founded on power politics
and militarism is jeopardized. We all have a stake in ending the Occupation; the implications of
occupation actually prevailing and a new apartheid regime emerging are chilling. Since the
Palestinians do not have the power to shake off the Occupation on their own and the Israelis
will not, only international pressure will effectively achieve a just peace. A campaign of
sanctions represents one of the most efficacious measures.
ICAHD’S Position on Sanctions
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In principle ICAHD supports the use of sanctions against countries engaged in egregious
violations of human rights and international law, including the use of moral and economic
pressures to end Israel’s Occupation. An effective approach to sanctions operates on different
levels, however, and requires a number of strategic considerations as to its scope and focus.
First, the generic term “sanctions” actually includes three main types of economic and moral
pressure:
(1) Sanctions, defined overall as “penalties, specified or in the form of moral pressure, applied
against a country guilty of egregious violations of human rights, international law and UN
resolutions, intended to bring that country back into compliance with international norms.”
Since they must be imposed by governments, regional associations (such as the EU or SEAC)
or the UN, the power to actually apply sanctions falls outside of civil society. Nevertheless,
governments can be prodded in that direction – and the “prodding” itself constitutes an
important form of conscious-raising and moral pressure.
(2) Divestment, the withdrawal of investments in companies doing business with the offending
country or directly involved in violating human rights and international law;
(3) Boycott, the voluntary refraining from purchasing the products of the offending country or
allowing its companies, institutions, representatives or even professionals from participating in
international intercourse.
Now sanctions, divestment and boycott can be applied either totally or selectively, the decision
involving a strategic mix of efficacy and moral stance. In the most successful case of sanctions,
apartheid South Africa, the call was for total sanctions, since the entire system was considered
illegitimate. In the case of Israel and the Occupation, it is the Occupation which is considered
illegitimate, illegal and immoral, not Israel per se. Although there are those who would argue
that a Zionist Israel whose ongoing policy is to displace Palestinians from the country or
confine them to reservations is, indeed, as illegitimate as apartheid, this is a position from
which it would be difficult to generate mass support. Most advocates of a just peace – including
the Israeli peace movement, ICAHD included – support Israel’s right as a recognized member
state in the UN to rejoin the international community when the Occupation truly ends and a just
peace is attained. Since governments must be induced to impose sanctions, on a purely
pragmatic level it is difficult to imagine the international community, with the US at its head,
actually agreeing to blanket sanctions.
More do-able would be a campaign for selective sanctions. This could be no less principled and
focused than a call for total sanctions, but it targets Israel’s Occupation rather than Israel itself.
A campaign of selective sanctions can be effective if the choice of targets is strategic: refusing
to sell arms to Israel that would be used to perpetuate the Occupation, especially in attacks on
civilian populations, for example, or banning Israeli sports teams from competing in
international tournaments, especially potent in the South African case. (Israel is currently the
European basketball champion and is scheduled to play in the World Cup of football/soccer).
These and other selected measures could have a great impact upon Israel, as well as the ability
to mobilize international opposition to the Occupation. Yet, with strong civil society advocacy,
they also have a reasonable chance, over time, of being adopted.
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ICAHD, then, supports in principle a multi-tiered campaign of sanctions against Israel until the
Occupation ends. We believe that a selective campaign is most effective and we would
incorporate into that campaigns that other organizations have already launched. At this stage,
ICAHD supports:
• Sanctions: Sales or transfer of arms to Israel conditional upon their use in ways that do not
perpetuate the Occupation or violate human rights and international humanitarian law,
violations that would end if governments enforced existing laws and regulations regarding
the use of weapons in contravention of human rights. Rather than adopting new policies of
sanctions, ICAHD calls on the governments of North America, Europe and Asia to stop
selling arms to Israel that are used in perpetuating the Occupation in accordance with their
own laws prohibiting sales of weapons to countries engaged in serious human rights
violations. No new policy of sanctions has to be adopted; the existing laws prohibiting such
sales must simply be enforced. In addition existing international law must be applied against
Israel for using its weapons illegally: against civilian populations, for example, or in
campaigns of extra-judicial executions, to name but two. Sanctions that comprise
implementation of international and domestic laws should include a ban on purchasing
Israeli weapons as well.
ICAHD is currently investigating Israel’s involvement in the world’s arms trade, including
weapons development, joint production and coordinated sales with other countries. We
believe this is a hidden element that underlies the broad support Israeli receives from
governments, including those outwardly critical of its occupation policies. We hope that
advocates for a just peace will use our information to expose their own country’s complicity
in policies that perpetuate the Occupation. We also call on activist groups to investigate and
publicize the forms of aid their country – and especially the US – is giving Israel.
Components of that aid that support occupation or settlement, whether military,
technological or economic, should be opposed. We also call on Jewish communities to
oppose the use of their donations to Israel – to the Jewish National Fund, for instance, or to
the United Jewish Appeal, Israel Bonds and other channels of funding – in the Occupied
Territories.
• Trade sanctions on Israel due to its violation of the “Association Agreements” it has signed
with the European Union that prohibit the sale of settlement products under the “Made in
Israel” label, as well as for violations of their human rights provisions.
• Divestment in companies that profit from involvement in the Occupation. Here ICAHD
supports the initiative of the Presbyterian Church of the US to divest in “multinational
corporations that provide products or services to…the Israeli police or military to support
and maintain the occupation,…that have established facilities or operations on occupied
land,…that provide services or products for the establishment, expansion or maintenance of
Israeli settlements,…that provide products or services to Israeli or Palestinian
organizations/groups that support or facilitate violent acts against innocent civilians,…that
provide products or services that support or facilitate the construction of the Separation
Barrier.” We certainly support the campaign against Caterpillar whose bulldozers demolish
thousands of Palestinian homes.
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We join with the Jewish Voice for Peace in the US whose statement in support of the
Presbyterians says in part:
At JVP, we fully support selective divestment from companies that profit from Israel's
occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. This includes American
companies like Caterpillar who profit from the wholesale destruction of Palestinian
homes and orchards. It also includes Israeli companies who depend on settlements for
materials or labor or who produce military equipment used to violate Palestinian
human rights.
We believe that general divestment from Israel is an unwise strategy at this time. We
believe that economic measures targeted specifically at the occupation and the Israeli
military complex that sustains it are much more likely to produce results. However, we
absolutely reject the accusation that general divestment or boycott campaigns are
inherently anti-Semitic. The Israeli government is a government like any other, and
condemning its abuse of state power, as many of its own citizens do quite vigorously, is
in no way the same as attacking the Jewish people. Further, it is crucial not only to
criticize the immoral and illegal acts of the Israeli government, but to back up that
criticism with action.
We also note with satisfaction the many Jewish and Israeli organizations who support the
idea of selective sanctions on Israel: European Jews for a Just Peace (a coalition of 16
Jewish groups from eight European countries); Not in My Name (US); Matzpun
(Israel/International); Jews Against the Occupation (NYC Chapter); the petition of South
African government minister Ronnie Kasrils and legislator Max Ozinsky, which has
gathered more than 500 signatories from South African Jews; Jewish Voices Against the
Occupation (US); Jewish Women for Justice in Israel and Palestine (US); Gush Shalom
(Israel); Jews for Global Justice (US); and Visions of Peace With Justice (US), among
others.
• Boycott of settlement products and of companies that provide housing to the settlements or
which play a major role in perpetuating the Occupation, a campaign initiated several years
ago by Gush Shalom.
These campaigns, it seems to us, build on existing initiatives. They are capable of garnering
broad international support, are focused, raise public consciousness over the economic aspects
of the Occupation and expose the complicity of the international community in it. They bring
significant moral pressure to bear on Israel, while moving towards effective forms of economic
sanctions designed to end the Occupation.
We believe that Israel as a powerful state occupying the territory of another people should be
held accountable for its policies and actions. We would therefore add to the list of sanctions the
following element:
• Holding individuals, be they policy-makers, military personnel carrying out orders or
others, personally accountable for human rights violations, including trial before
international courts and bans on travel to other countries.
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Since sanctions are a powerful non-violent means of resisting the Occupation, ICAHD supports
this burgeoning movement and calls on the international community – civil society as well as
governments – to do all that is possible to bring a swift end to Israel’s terrible Occupation so
that all the peoples of the region, and especially Israelis and Palestinians, can enjoy the benefits
of a just and lasting peace for the generations to come. The time has come; sanctions seem the
next logical step in a global campaign to end the Occupation.

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Task Force on AAA Engagement on Israel-Palestine

Objective

As part of a more encompassing AAA effort to respond to members' interest in dialogue about the ongoing Israel/Palestine conflict, the Task Force is charged with helping the Executive Board consider the nature and extent to which AAA might contribute – as an Association -- to addressing the issues that the  Israel/Palestine conflict raises. The Task Force will: 1) enumerate the issues embedded in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine that directly concern the Association. These issues may include, but are not limited to, the uses of anthropological research to support or challenge claims of territory and historicity; restrictions placed by government policy or practice on anthropologists’ academic freedom; or commissioning anthropological research whose methods and/or aims may be inconsistent with the AAA statement of professional responsibilities; 2) develop principles to be used to assess whether the AAA has an interest in taking a stand on these issues; 3) provide such an assessment; 4) on the basis of that assessment, make recommendations to the Executive Board about actions the AAA could undertake.

Duration of Task Force

One Year

Responsibilities

  • Enumerate the issues embedded in the conflict between Israel and Palestine that directly affect the Association.
  • Develop principles to be used to assess whether the AAA has an interest in taking a stand on these issues. This may include providing a comprehensive and neutral overview of arguments for and against a range of specific possible stands (including no action).
  • Apply these principles in completing an assessment of the nature and extent of AAA’s interest in taking a specific stand on these issues.
  • Assess whether the AAA has an interest in taking a specific stand on any broader but relevant issues that are raised in the context.
  • Recommend a course of action (this may include no action) for the Association.

Selection Criteria, Appointment and Reporting Structure

Appointed by the President.

Membership

  • Chair: Don Brenneis (UC-Santa Cruz; AAA past president).
  • Executive Board liaison: Ramona Pérez (San Diego State U)
  • Niko Besnier (University of Amsterdam)
  • John Jackson (University of Pennsylvania)
  • Kate Spielmann (Arizona State University)
  • Patrick Clarkin (University of Massachusetts-Boston)
  • Hugh Gusterson (George Washington University)

Task Force Reports

The Task Force will provide AAA with a written report of its findings no later than October 1, 2015.

Meetings and Schedule

The committee will regularly meet regularly by phone and email in the months leading up to the Annual Meeting in Washington, DC. The Task Force will meet face-to-face at the Annual Meeting. 

Staff Liaison and Contact Information

Katie Vizenor, Professional Services Fellow American Anthropological Association, 2300 Clarendon Boulevard, Suite 1301, Arlington, VA 22201, (o) 703.528.1902, ext. 3004 (f) 703.528.3546, kvizenor@aaanet.org Date Created: August 1, 2014

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