U.S. Historians Decline to Vote on Call for Israel to Stop 'Restrictions on Academic Freedom'

American Historical Association faced resolutions, proposed by another group, demanding that Israel enable academics from outside the West Bank and Gaza to lecture and attend conferences in the territories.

A New York protester calling for a boycott of Israel.
AP

The American Historical Association, the largest U.S. group representing history scholars, declined to vote on two resolutions demanding that Israel stop what it called restrictions on academic freedom.

Specifically, the resolutions accused Israel of, among other things, denying lecturers from outside the West Bank and Gaza the right to speak in the territories and refusing students from Gaza permission to travel to further their education.

The resolutions, linked here and here via History News Network, were sponsored by Historians Against the War, which was founded in 2003 to oppose the Bush administration's approach to Iraq.

During Israel's summer 2014 war against Hamas, the group condemned Israel's efforts against Hamas and called on President Barack Obama and Congress to suspend U.S. aid to the country.

The New York Times reported that HAW sponsored the proposals after the historical association's leadership voted down an earlier one, sponsored by another group, that called for a full academic boycott of Israel.

Reports, including the blog from www.legalinsurrection.com, said the HAW missed the deadline by which the proposals could be considered by the historical association in its annual business meeting.

The vote to take up the resolutions was 144 voting no, 51 voting yes and 3 voting present.

American academia is certainly trying to make its presence felt in the debate.

Last month, the membership of the American Anthropological Association turned down a measure rejecting academic boycotts of Israel.

In spring 2014, the Modern Language Association, a prominent scholars' group, failed to pass a resolution critical of Israel and travel restrictions in the West Bank.

And in December 2013, the American Studies Association passed a resolution to boycott Israel. A year after that vote, the move was reverberating within the group.