The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today called a vote by the American Anthropological Association to support a boycott of Israeli academic institutions “a deeply misguided attack on academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas.” The association voted at its annual meeting in Denver in favor of a resolution calling for an academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions. The vote in favor of the resolution was 1,040 for, and 136 against.
The full 10,000 members of the association will vote in April on whether to fully adopt and implement the policy. A group of anthropologists, including some Israelis, had presented an alternative resolution which rejected academic boycotts. That resolution was rejected.
Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO, issued the following statement:
With this misguided vote, the Anthropological Association has aligned itself with the global BDS movement whose effect is the demonization of Israel. 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.
Boycotts are antithetical to core notions of academic freedom – the free exchange of ideas among academics. It is particularly reprehensible that Israeli academic institutions are targeted. Israeli colleges and universities are paragons of free exchange and the broadest embrace of and respect for diversity — deeply integrating Israeli Arabs and established ongoing collaborations with Palestinian institutions of higher education. While this boycott targets universities and not individual scholars, it’s a distinction without a difference. Academics’ ability to advance their scholarship is inextricably connected to their institutions.
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.” 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 a time when extremists are wantonly destroying remnants of age-old Middle Eastern societies and cultures we urge the association’s membership to reject this extreme and discriminatory approach and instead pursue one which engages Israelis, Palestinians and other regional academic institutions and encourage collaborative efforts to promote academic exchange and mutual understanding.