Local Anthropologists Speak Out Against Academic Boycott of Israel

The statement by the Israeli association comes as a debate is being conducted by the American Anthropological Association about a boycott on Israel.

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A protester holds a sign that reads 'Boycott Israel' during a protest in Berlin against the Israel-Gaza war, August 1, 2014.
A protester holds a sign that reads 'Boycott Israel' during a protest in Berlin against the Israel-Gaza war, August 1, 2014.Credit: Reuters
Yarden Skop
Yarden Skop

The Israeli Anthropological Association issued a public statement on behalf of its members opposing an academic boycott of Israel, and calling for dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians, and end to the occupation.

The resolution, a product of the association’s general assembly last week, was passed by a majority of those in attendance and was published on Sunday.

In its announcement, the organization, which includes senior lecturers at Israeli universities, explains that the statement contains three different calls that are separate but related.

The first is aimed at the Israeli government, asking it to end the blockade on the Gaza Strip and to aid in the Strip’s rebuilding, to end the occupation and advance a diplomatic solution, to recognize the rights of Palestinians who are Israeli citizens to full equality, and to work on a fair resolution of the refugee problem.

The second part is aimed at the world’s anthropologists, asking them not to associate academic institutions with the policies of governments.

“Recognizing the important role that moderate segments in Israeli society, including academics, have played over the years in the difficult struggle for peace in the region, the IAA calls on anthropologists and academics abroad to resist conflating academic institutions with government policies and actions, and to oppose initiatives to boycott universities in Israel,” the statement said. “Associating academic institutions with the political regimes they operate in flies in the face of anthropology’s most enduring contribution to intellectual and political sensibilities: its ability to recognize and articulate nuance, deal with social and cultural complexity and avoid essentialism.”

The statement by the Israeli association comes as a debate is being conducted by the American Anthropological Association about a boycott on Israel. Three weeks ago a special task force came to Israel on behalf of the U.S. association to evaluate the state of affairs in the region. This task force will help determine whether a motion to boycott Israeli institutions will appear on the agenda during the association’s next annual meeting in November.

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