ADL condemns American Anthropological Association after adopting boycott motion

ADL responded to the decision by saying that the action was a “a deeply misguided attack on academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas.”

November 23, 2015 09:30
2 minute read.

A demonstrator wears a shirt reading 'Boycott Israel' [File]. (photo credit: AFP/ MOHD RASFAN)


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The Anti Defamation League condemned the American Anthropological Association (AAA) on Sunday after the organization adopted a motion to boycott Israeli academic institutions.

The resolution, in favor of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, was approved by an overwhelming majority, 1040-36, of some 1,400 members of the association participating in its annual conference in Denver.

In response, the ADL released a statement, saying that the action was  “a deeply misguided attack on academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas.”

"With this misguided vote, the Anthropological Association has aligned itself with the global BDS movement whose effect is the demonization of Israel," the ADL statement added. "It places the entire onus of the conflict on one side: the Israelis. The BDS movement does not support a two-state solution and opposes the continued existence of Israel as a Jewish state."

The ADL also condemned the language the advocates utilized for the resolution, accusing it of inflammatory and "biased" public statements that cast aspersions on the Jewish state.

"We are alarmed that the advocates of this resolution used incendiary and biased allegations in its public statements, using terms such as 'settler colonial regime' and 'Jewish supremacy,'" the statement noted. "Should the membership of the association wish to express its views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there are constructive ways to do so which do not place the onus of a two-party dispute on Israel alone and hold all of Israeli academia responsible for the resolution of this complex dispute."

At the time of the resolution's passage, the Anthropologists for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions, who pushed for the resolution, said: “As heirs to a long tradition of scholarship on colonialism, anthropologists affirm, through this resolution, that the core problem is Israel’s maintenance of a settler colonial regime based on Jewish supremacy and Palestinian dispossession. By supporting the boycott, anthropologists are taking a stand for justice through action in solidarity with Palestinians."

A final vote is set to take place in April, where more than 10,000 members will cast their vote on whether to officially adopt a boycott to refrain from formal collaborations with Israeli academic institutions, though not of individual academics.

Some 30 Israeli anthropologists were present at the annual meeting Friday, and despite a competing resolution to reject the boycott, failed to stop the vote.

“The phenomenon of academic boycotts has intensified and in recent years expanded beyond the marginal radical borders of academia and onto leading US campuses,” said Prof. Peretz Lavie, president of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and chairman of the Association of University Heads in Israel, following the vote.

“This phenomenon is likely to cause heavy damage to research, reliant on international cooperation, which in turn will also affect industry, the economy, and the future resilience of the State of Israel,” he said.

Should the boycott resolution pass, it will mark the largest association to date to call for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

“As long as the American Anthropological Association, which is one of the largest professional associations in the US, will adopt the decision officially by the organization’s institutions, it may sway other associations to take similar declarative decisions,” said Lavie.

“We must recognize the issue as a matter of national importance and jointly act to halt and prevent the spread of this phenomenon,” he said.

Lidar Grave-Lazi contributed to this article

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