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Boycott Calls Against Israel
Inaccurate Report on 20 Israeli academics promoting anthropology associationĺs boycott of Israel

06.06.16

The general media announced that 20 Israeli academics are backing the boycott call of the AAA. This was based on a report conducted by Dr. Shahar Golan on behalf of Im Tirtzu.  The group's website states that it "reveals the truly deep and disturbing connection between Israeli academics and the international boycott movement." Specifically, "the report focuses on the Israeli Anthropological Association as a case study, and reveals how Israeli anthropologists are promoting and encouraging the proposed academic boycott of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) on Israel." 

A large number of media outlets reported on this, including "Jerusalem PostIsrael National NewsIsrael HayomAlgemeinerJewish Press, and more. The report was even covered by Press TV, the state-funded English news network of Iran!"

Im Tirtzu also announced that as "as a result of the report MK Oded Forer (Yisrael Beiteinu) called for an emergency meeting in the Knesset’s Education Committee to discuss these disturbing findings."  

IAM found the letter by the group of Israeli anthropologists to the AAA (see below) with all the names mentioned by Im Tirtzu. But contrary to the group's conclusions, IAM established that the signatories did not endorse BDS.   In fact, they stated the following, "One does not have to be a supporter of BDS in order to believe, as the undersigned do, that discussion of the academic boycott and other measures of censure of the State of Israel is an ethical prerogative for the AAA... we support the AAA Executive Committee’s call for an open, transparent, and productive process and discussion of the position that the AAA should take with respect to Israel/Palestine... we do not expect that only BDS supporters will participate in the debate. Indeed, we welcome the participation of individuals and organizations that oppose BDS, question it or are simply curious to learn more about BDS...  We therefore encourage an open and public discussion of BDS, along with other possible measures. We wish the American Anthropological Association success in pursuing this debate at the coming Annual Meeting, whether its end result is adoption of the boycott or other measures of censure, or simply a productive professional exchange." Nothing in their statement indicated an endorsement of boycott.  Also, some of the signatories are not academics but students.
 
However, Im Tirtzu mentioned another petition, signed by 22 Israeli anthropologists supporting the boycott, which is anonymous. The petition explains that "to help protect early career academics–in an atmosphere of increasing intimidation and legal restrictions on advocating for academic boycott–all the signatories have agreed to sign anonymously as a single collective."  Because of this anonymity, it is hard to establish whether these anthropologists are employed by an Israeli university.  Some or all may be based abroad and some maybe students.

If the signatories to the second petition are indeed employed by Israeli universities, it creates legal and ethical problems.  Preaching for boycott of Israeli institutions while receiving a salary from the same institutions is dishonesty and should be exposed as such.   




Israeli Anthropologists Support the Boycott


Anthropologists for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions is pleased to share this letter we received from 22 Israeli anthropologists endorsing the boycott. As anthropologists critical of state power, who object to Israel’s gross violations of international law and crimes against humanity committed in their names, they urge members of the American Anthropological Association to support them and their Palestinian colleagues in putting pressure on the Israeli state by boycotting the academic institutions which are complicit in these violations and crimes. Due to the increasing atmosphere of intimidation and threats against boycott supporters in Israel, they have all signed anonymously as a collective.
Voting on the resolution is open from April 15-May 31. To join AAA or renew your membership, click here.
***
We, the undersigned anthropologists, Israelis and citizens of Israel:
  • endorse the vote from the 2015 AAA Business Meeting in favor of an academic boycott of Israeli institutions,
  • urge our colleagues in the AAA to vote in favor of the resolution for Academic Boycott,
  • reject spurious arguments that blame boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) measures for the rise of the Israeli right, and that the AAA academic boycott is targeting Israeli anthropologists and moderates.
We, the undersigned anthropologists, Israelis and citizens of Israel, concerned about the devastating continuation of colonial dispossession in Israel/Palestine, applaud the courageous stance of members at the 2015 business meeting of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) who, overwhelminglyby 88%, voted to boycott Israeli academic institutions—a decision that must be ratified in a final electronic membership vote April 15 to May 31. We urge our colleagues in the AAA to vote in favor of this resolution. We believe that an academic boycott puts pressure on the Israeli government to advance our common goal of a just peace for all the inhabitants of this land.
We believe this pressure is vital, and we especially reject any spurious arguments that attempt to blame boycotts, divestments, sanctions (BDS) measures for the rise of the Israeli right. The crisis situation we now face is the result of long political history, in which Israeli politicians have been undermining the possibility for a just two-state solution since settlement activity began in the 1960s. Blaming BDS for the chilling political reality in Israel is a new form of “blaming the victim,” as Edward Said put it long ago.
The call for boycott is not the result of a happy situation, but the outcome of a frightening occupation that destroys Palestinian life and welfare. To quote one critic of academic boycott, Dan Rabinowitz, it is “the disturbing policies which resemble those practiced by the Apartheid regime of South Africa” that produce support for this resolution.
Critics often claim that the boycott undermines the “two-state solution,” making disingenuous claims that the majority of Israelis support this position. No remotely possible governing coalition currently supports any semblance of a just two-state solution (for leading politicians making the case against the two-state solution, see here and here). Further, dissent even among Israeli Jews is under attack, as ruling politicians and extremist, racist groups like Im Tirtzu and Lehava whip up public hysteria against NGOs that attempt to protect Palestinian human rights. No doubt, when our colleagues write about the curbing of dissent in Israel, it is this reality that they are registering.
We agree that we have reached a crisis point, where under certain international conditions, another mass expulsion of Palestinians could occur—or worse. A recent Pew report, based on 3800 interviews with Israeli Jews between October 2014 and May 2015 found that 79% of Israeli Jews (strongly) agree that Jews “deserve preferential treatment in Israel,” and 48% of Israeli Jews (strongly) agree that “Arabs should be expelled or transferred from Israel.” That is, the Israeli Jewish population overwhelmingly favors the institutionalized racial supremacy of Jews, and a plurality favor outright ethnic cleansing.
We believe it is possible to take a positive stand against this reality. The Palestinian call for BDS is at its core an anti-colonial, non-violent form of international protest against an enormously violent occupation. The AAA resolution calling for an academic boycott does not target Israeli anthropologists nor moderates. It is targeting the frightening and murderous military regime over Palestinian life that shows no signs of ending. It is responding to the urgent need for international condemnation of this regime. Even critics like Rabinowitz recognize this, writing: “I also agree that BDS has dramatically enhanced global awareness of the situation in Israel and Palestine, successfully propelling a realization in the West of the urgent need for meaningful change.”
Some critics charge that the timeline for ending an academic boycott is too vague, and that this could lead to an interminable boycott. On the other hand, they basically admit that dialogue—whatever that could mean, nowhere is it set out—is also an interminable process.They state that dialogue is “frustrating,” and ask for patience. The vague timeline for dialogue echoes the continually deferred “peace process,” which has allowed for the continuing expansion of settlements, but has not approached “peace.” At what point, we ask them, can we acknowledge that dialogue is not producing positive change? Are we to wait and see if the mass expulsion of Palestinians is finalized? If a boycott can seem long, it is only because the occupation is interminable and increasingly intense.
International pressure is necessary now. The most effective non-violent measures available at the moment are boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against the Israeli state as called for by Palestinian civil society organizations. We are proud to join in solidarity with our Palestinian colleagues and support this call. We believe that BDS points a way forward to creating truly united action, to defeating colonization, and to making possible a more peaceful and just future for all the inhabitants of this contested land.
We urge all members of the AAA to join in supporting the academic boycott resolution on the spring ballot. Only a principled, international stand can defeat the devastation wrought by the ongoing process of colonization.
Endorsed by 22 anthropologists.
To help protect early career academics–in an atmosphere of increasing intimidation and legal restrictions on advocating for academic boycott–all the signatories have agreed to sign anonymously as a single collective.



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



Letter to the AAA in response to IAA's letter of 28 August 2014
10 September 2014
Dear colleagues,
As anthropologists and citizens of Israel, we are writing to express our thorough
opposition to the letter sent to the American Anthropological Association (AAA) by the
Israeli Anthropological Association (IAA) on 28 August 2014 with regard to the scheduled
discussion of the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) at this
year’s AAA Annual Meeting.
In our opinion, the letter contains misleading statements regarding what BDS sets out to
achieve and the manner in which it does so. Moreover, the letter misrepresents the
structural position held by anthropologists in Israeli society, as well as the responsibility of
the practitioners of anthropology in Israel as elsewhere towards the Palestinian people
and other victims of Israel’s policies. One does not have to be a supporter of BDS in order
to believe, as the undersigned do, that discussion of the academic boycott and other
measures of censure of the State of Israel is an ethical prerogative for the AAA.
The letter you received from the IAA purports to speak on behalf of Israeli anthropologists,
claiming that the adoption of an academic boycott (and by extension, its very discussion)
would “render … impossible any discussion, exchange of views, dialogue.” The letter
impugns “the call for considering a boycott” as “misleading – to the point of dishonesty – in
providing an apologetic attempt to separate Israeli institutions from individual
anthropologists.” Yet the undersigned, as anthropologists and citizens of Israel, have faith
in the AAA and the manner in which its Executive Committee has prepared the coming
Annual Meeting. Specifically, we support the AAA Executive Committee’s call for an open,
transparent, and productive process and discussion of the position that the AAA should
take with respect to Israel/Palestine. The IAA letter aims to prevent this discussion, finding
fault with the AAA for hosting panels and talks that have yet to take place. Perhaps unlike
the IAA, we do not expect that only BDS supporters will participate in the debate. Indeed,
we welcome the participation of individuals and organizations that oppose BDS, question
it or are simply curious to learn more about BDS, including the IAA of course. We do not
expect this to be a placid, easy process; but then, true dialogue never is.

The IAA letter suggests that the distinction between individuals and institutions, which the
call for boycott makes, is misleading, and further, that boycotting the latter “would
stigmatize and cause concrete harm” to the former. But in conflating Israeli
anthropologists with the institutions that employ them and the associations they join, the
authors of the IAA letter set a bar they themselves can hardly reach. First, despite
implications to the contrary in the letter, Israeli anthropologists have never as a body
declared their opposition to the occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people.
Second, contrary to the claims of the IAA letter, and as the proponents of BDS claim, the
Israeli academy is a central pillar of the state, playing a key part in its repressive policies.
Israeli academic institutions cooperate in myriad ways with the security establishment,
including intelligence agencies. These institutions partake in the structural restriction of
access to higher education for Palestinian citizens of Israel and other oppressed groups,
such as Mizrahi Jews. At the same time, the right to education of Palestinians in the
Occupied Territories continues to be violated outright by Israel’s military occupation, and
some anthropologists have been employed by the Israeli Army for their “cultural expertise”
or methodological research skills. The IAA has never collectively repudiated these
practices, nor has it ever publicly questioned the legitimacy of the “University” of Ariel, a
higher education institution recently established on confiscated Palestinian land in the
post-1967 occupied Palestinian territories. De facto, the IAA - like all other academic
associations in Israel - recognizes Ariel as an Israeli academic institution, and counts
academics affiliated with it among its members.
Unlike the AAA, which has over the years made efforts to protest civil and human rights
violations, the IAA has never, as a body, dissociated itself from the Israeli society-military
complex. It is true that a substantial number of individual anthropologists in Israel have
been involved in various initiatives to widen access to higher education. Moreover, In the
past, a number of anthropologists promoted discussions on issuing IAA statements on
political issues, but the results of these relatively rare attempts oscillated between
protection of human and civil rights to protesting AAA's interventions on similar topics.
Thus, in 1980, the IAA issued a statement in support of “the rights of the Bedouin in the
Negev.” However, in 1983, following AAA's condemnation of the Israeli occupation in
Lebanon, the IAA issued a statement condemning AAA's condemnation. Then, in 1988,
the IAA Plenary decided to publish a statement in the national press regarding the

Palestinian Intifada (however, this statement was sponsored only by those who supported
it). Ever since, the IAA as a body has not taken a position on these issues.
The current halfhearted expressions of opposition to the occupation in the letter you have
received, with its calls for “balance” and “complexity,” are as far as the IAA has gone in
the past 26 years. Importantly, even these gestures were not made of the IAA’s own
initiative, but rather under the pressure of the Palestinian call for BDS. Yet in this move,
the IAA letter forecloses any public debate. Instead, the letter invites “American and other
anthropologists” to “contact their ‘local’ colleagues and hear about our opinions regarding
boycotting academia.” AAA members are enjoined to contend themselves with calling
their individual Israeli colleagues, hear that they are personally against the actions of their
government, universities, and perhaps even against those of the IAA. What is true of
Israeli anthropology as a corporate association is not true of all Israeli anthropologists as
individuals, some of whom have come out publicly against the occupation as well as in
support of BDS. They have done so in the name of academic freedom - the same
principle that has led advocates of academic boycott to explicitly rule out the boycott of
individual academics for simply being citizens of Israel or affiliated with its academic
institutions. Of course, as individuals Israeli anthropologists stand to lose from the
imposition of boycott on institutions that employ them. However, in opposition to the IAA’s
claims, this potential risk is not inimical to dialogue. It is its condition of possibility.
We therefore encourage an open and public discussion of BDS, along with other possible
measures. We wish the American Anthropological Association success in pursuing this
debate at the coming Annual Meeting, whether its end result is adoption of the boycott or
other measures of censure, or simply a productive professional exchange. We are
confident that this critical discussion in no way makes the AAA an unsafe space for us as
citizens of Israel opposed to its policies. At the same time, we urge the IAA to condemn
the oppression of the Palestinian people, and especially the recent murderous war in
Gaza. In taking such a stance, the IAA would take a first step towards dissociating itself as
a body from policies and values that anthropologists cannot support in good faith. Until the
IAA does so, its call to avoid discussion of boycott in the name of “dialogue” evades the
cause it claims to uphold.



Signatories
Dr. Hanna Aviram
Eliran Bar-El, PhD Student
Dr. Naor Ben-Yehoyada, Academy Scholar,
Harvard University
Dr. Uri Davis, Erstwhile Associate Professor,
Israel Studies Track, Institute of Area
Studies, AL-QUDS University,
Jerusalem/Abu Dis, Palestinian Authority,
Palestine & Honorary University Fellow,
College of Social Sciences and International
Studies, Institute of Arab & Islamic Studies
(IAIS)/European Centre for Palestine Studies
(ECPS), University of Exeter, UK
Dr. Hilla Dayan, Social Science department,
Amsterdam University College
Dr. Khaled Furani, Department of Sociology and
Anthropology, Tel Aviv University
Dr. Erella Grassiani, University of Amsterdam
Chen Haklai, MA student, Tel Aviv University
Dr. Dafna Hirsch, Lecturer, Department of
Sociology, Political Science and
Communication, The Open University of
Israel
Dr. Barak Kalir, Associate Professor, University
of Amsterdam
Matan Kaminer, PhD student, University of
Michigan
Eilat Maoz, PhD Student, University of Chicago
Dr. Daniel Monterescu, Associate Professor,
Department of Sociology and Social
Anthropology, Central European University
Adi Moreno, PhD student, the University of
Manchester
Dr. Yeela Raanan, Sapir College, Sderot
Michal Ran-Rubin, PhD Student, University
of Chicago
Noa Shaindlinger, PhD student, Department
of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations,
University of Toronto
Dr. Nitzan Shoshan, Assistant Professor,
Centro de Estudios Sociológicos at El
Colegio de México
Dr. Dalit Simchai, Lecturer, Tel-Hai College
Dr. Hadas Weiss, Junior Research Fellow,
Central European University Institute for
Advanced Studies
X, PhD, Adjunct
X, PhD, Post-doc
X, PhD Student
X, PhD Student
X, PhD Student
X, PhD Student
X, PhD Student
X, PhD Student
X, PhD Student
X, PhD Student
X, PhD Student
X, PhD Student
X, PhD Student
X, PhD Student
X, PhD Student
X, PhD Student
X, PhD Student
X, MA
X, MA Student
X, MA Student
X, MA Student
[updated: September 11th [2014
* Due to fears regarding the possible repercussions of signing this letter, some signatories
(particularly early career academics) have chosen to sign anonymously.

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

Report: 20 Israeli academics encourage anthropology association’s boycott of Israel

Posted on May 26, 2016 by JNS.org(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) 
A new report compiled by Dr. Shahar Golan of the right-wing Zionist organization Im Tirtzu has revealed that 20 Israeli academics are encouraging the American Anthropological Association (AAA) to boycott Israel. 

The AAA—the world’s largest professional body for anthropologists—has opened a vote among its 10,000 members on whether to sever all ties with Israel. The voting continues until May 31.

The 20 Israeli academics supporting the boycott are university lecturers and faculty members, some of whom receive their salaries from Israeli tax dollars, meaning that they are essentially supporting a boycott against themselves. The AAA boycott would end all cooperation with Israeli researchers. In an effort to stop the boycott motion, the Israeli Anthropological Association wrote a letter to its American counterpart. But two weeks later, 20 Israeli academics who belong to various left-wing groups expressed support for the boycott in a second letter.

“We encourage an open and public discussion of BDS (the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement) and other protest measures,” the letter states. 

Among the signatories are Dr. Khaled Furani of Tel Aviv University, Dr. Yeela Raanan of Sapir College, Dr. Dafna Hirsch of the Open University, Dr. Dalit Simchai of Tel-Hai College, Chen Haklai of Tel Aviv University, Dr. Hanna Aviram, Noa Shaindlinger of the University of Toronto, Prof. Daniel Monterescu of the Central European University, Matan Kaminer of the University of Michigan, Adi Moreno of the University of Manchester, Michal Ran-Rubin of the University of Chicago, and Eilat Maoz of the University of Chicago. The letter was also signed by a number of Israeli researchers who apparently do not live in Israel, including Prof. Uri Davis (who converted to Islam and married a Palestinian woman from Ramallah), Dr. Naor Ben-Yehoyada, Eliran Bar-El, Hadas Weiss, Barak Kalir, Hilla Dayan, Erella Grassiani, and Nitzan Shoshan.

Tel Aviv University said in response to the Im Tirtzu report, “The university strongly opposes the academic boycott, and it works on many levels to fight against the phenomenon. In keeping with academic freedom and in accordance with the law in the State of Israel, the university does not intervene in the personal opinions expressed by faculty members.”

The Open University released a similar statement, saying, “The Open University opposes any boycott of Israeli academia, a stance we have expressed repeatedly. Faculty members are free to express their personal opinions on any topic, whether they align with the university’s stance or not.”

Tel-Hai College said regarding Simchai’s support of the boycott letter, “Dr. Simchai is expressing her personal opinion alone. Tel-Hai College strongly opposes any boycott of the State of Israel and condemns those who call for a boycott.” Sapir College said Raanan’s stance “does not represent the stance of Sapir College. The academic boycott of Israel and support of [the boycott] are unacceptable phenomena.”


Editorial Note

 


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